Freiburg, the main urban centre in the Black Forest, is the first city in Germany to feature a Nordic Fitness Park.
The park is located on the Schlossberg near the old city centre of Freiburg, an ideal site for attractive routes due to its location, terrain and easy access by foot from several tram stops.
The park comprises a network of specific, designated routes with varying lengths and degrees of difficulty.
It has its own signposting system which is also designed to facilitate orientation for visitors to the area, categorised in the customary skiing colour codes of blue (easy), red (medium) and black (advanced) to provide information on the degree of difficulty of the individual routes.
In the Freiburg Fitness Park, four routes, which are certified in accordance with the regulations of the International Nordic Walking Association, have been laid out for sporting enthusiasts on existing woodland paths with two different degrees of difficulty (three medium and one advanced) and an overall length of 27 kilometres. These routes are named after their sponsors: "Stadthotel Kolping-Route" (5.9km), "Hotel Mercure-Route" (4.5km) and the "Rothaus Route" (6.4km).
The Freiburg Wirtschaft Touristik and Messe started the initiative to make Freiburg an attraction for Nordic Walking fans, and the fourth route is therefore called the "FWTM-Route" (10km).
The three starting points are the Stadtgarten, the Haus Tobias forest car park in the Wintererstrasse and the forest hikers' car park in the Kartäuserstrasse.
Signboards have been put up showing the routes with the starting and finishing points and all other important information.
Nordic walking is suitable for all ages and both individual and group training. However the correct motion and rhythm skills should be acquired at courses held by qualified instructors.
After completing the courses attendees will be able to enjoy a very efficient and easy way of improving their physical condition which does not strain the joints, and gently exercises around 90% of the body's muscles.
Everyone deciding to take a serious look at Nordic Walking is even subsidised by the national health insurance companies here in Germany.
The technique is basically similar to the movements employed when walking, but the movement itself is diagonal, similar to that of cross-county skiers - the right arm swings forward when the left leg moves forward and vice versa.
However, only the correct technique produces the desired results, and the coordination of all movements as well as the effective use of the poles must be practised with an eye for detail.
The most important accessories required for Nordic Walking are the poles. When used correctly they relieve strain on the lower limbs as well as the spine, and at the same time strengthen the muscles of the torso and arms.
In calculating the correct pole length for exercising the simple formula of using oneüs own height multiplied by 0.68 is recommended. Pole lengths are graded in 5 cm intervals, so the calculated ideal length should be rounded off to the nearest 5 cm. The rule of thumb is that a Nordic Walkerüs elbow should be at approximately a 90Â° angle when held by the grip with the tip on the ground.
The height of the Nordic Walker is not the only factor to be considered when choosing the correct pole length. Other important factors are level of fitness, joint mobility, proportions of limbs, walking speed, terrain, and the long-term objectives of the individual.