Our Story

Inspired by the Mountains With a Passion for Unforgettable Experiences

Active by Nature is a sole proprietorship, launched by Mandy Johnson in 2007. Initially Mandy was a consultant in the field of active transportation with Active by Nature’s work focused on making communities more walkable and bikeable. Upon moving to Alberta in 2012, Mandy’s focus shifted to Nordic walking as she was appointed to be the Alberta representative for Urban Poling, Canada’s leading brand of Nordic walking instruction and equipment. In 2018, Mandy began offering Nordic walking instruction and tours in Canmore. In 2019 Active by Nature expanded to include walking tours, guided hikes and guided snowshoe hikes. Active by Nature experiences have been enjoyed by a range of individuals, both young and old, from less active to super active, from across Alberta, across Canada as well as visitors from around the globe.

Mandy has spent her entire career in fields related to physical education: She has worked as a fitness club owner/operator, a corporate health promotion manager, a senior manager in municipal recreation, a community college lecturer, and as a consultant with the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion and Green Communities Canada - Canada Walks. A natural teacher/trainer, Mandy has taught swimming and lifeguarding, aerobics classes, aquafit, and alpine skiing.

After an early knee replacement in her late 40’s, Mandy discovered Urban Poling in 2008 and uses her poles religiously wherever she goes, whether in the heart of a city like New York, or to ascend the mountain peaks surrounding her mountain home in Canmore, Alberta. Today, there is nothing more Mandy loves to do than share her "passion for poling!"

"I believe we were born to be active, by nature and when we are active in nature, it can bring profound joy, a sense of accomplishment and wonder, in addition to dramatically improving health or maintaining optimal health."

- Mandy Johnson
Owner

A Place of Commitment and Creativity

Meet Mandy

Mandy earned a Specialized Honours Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Physical Education from York University and she has a certificate in Adult Education from George Brown College. She is trained in wilderness first aid (40 hour). Mandy has completed the Interpretive Guides Association Apprentice Interpreter & 4 Season Group Management Certification and the Outdoor Council of Canada's Field Leader (Hiking) Certification. She is a master trainer with Urban Poling.

Mandy has spoken internationally and across Canada from PEI to BC and many places in between. The topics have been related to active living, active transportation, walking and Nordic walking. Mandy's presentations have often been described as "passionate" and "inspiring."

View a video of Mandy's talk about Nordic Walking/Urban Poling at the Arthritis Society Symposium: VIDEO

View a list of Mandy's Previous Speaking Engagements

Mandy is currently a brand ambassador for Lynne Harrison’s art-inspired line of clothing:

Small Groups
Stunning Location
Experienced Instruction
  • Mandy's Previous Speaking Engagements

  • THRIVE Health & Wellness Festival, Canmore, AB - November 2019
  • Seniors' Appreciation Day, Yellowhead County, AB - June 2019
  • Arthritis Society Symposium, Calgary, AB - May 2019
  • Arthritis Society Symposium, Edmonton, AB - Nov 2018
  • Grey Matters Conference, Hinton, AB – September 2017
  • Canadian Obesity Network Conference, Banff, AB – April 2017
  • Pecha Kucha Night, Winter Cities Conference, Edmonton – Feb 2017
  • Watch Your Step National Falls Prevention Conference, Calgary – May 2016
  • Fit Rendezvous, Edmonton AB – May 2015
  • PHE Canada National Conference, Banff AB – Apr 2015
  • Alberta Recreation & Parks Association Forum, Canmore, AB – Mar 2015
  • Alberta Retired Teachers' Association, Canmore, AB - May 2013
  • Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments Association, Invermere, BC - April 2013
  • Physical Activity Resource Centre Symposium, London, ON - May 2012
  • Atlantic Summer Institute, Charlottetown, PEI - August 2011
  • Building Sustainable Communities Conference, Kelowna, BC - Nov 2010
  • Velo Quebec Active Transportation Conference, Montreal, QC - June 2010
  • Healthy Communities Conference, Owen Sound, ON - May 2010
  • Walk21, New York City, NY - Oct 2009
  • Walk21, Barcelona, Spain - Oct 2008

About Nordic Walking

Urban Poling is Canada’s leading provider of Nordic walking instruction and equipment. After researching different Nordic walking companies, I decided to sign up for the Urban Poling instructor course in 2008 and like many of my clients, I was totally hooked the first time I tried Urban Poling. My eyes opened wide in amazement as I felt my arms, shoulders, chest and abdominal muscles working with every stride I took. The poling action was comfortable and the propulsion you get after perfecting the technique is amazing. After years of hiking with hiking poles, I was blown away to discover the simple "plant, push, propel" technique that enables you to walk purposefully with every stride you take rather than bringing poles along to use when clambering over obstacles on the trail, or descending steep routes.

I suggest you view this very brief video to get an inkling of what I am talking about if you are new to Nordic walking:

Nordic Walking

Poles Included

I include Urban Poling brand poles for Quick-Start sessions and Nordic walking tours if you don't have your own. I prefer Urban Poling equipment for the reasons outlined above plus I love the safe and easy-to-use strapless handles. If you have your own poles, please note there are many different styles and qualities of Nordic walking poles. Some people are disappointed to learn that the poles they bring to my classes aren’t the best quality (e.g., they rattle, they're difficult to adjust, locking system doesn’t hold, boot tips are too hard, straps are cumbersome, and the lack of shock absorption leads to an uncomfortable action that is jarring to the body). Other people discover that they’ve purchased trekking/hiking poles, not Nordic walking poles. One quick indicator: Nordic walking poles have angled (not round) rubber (not plastic) boot tips and specialized handles or straps that are very different from hiking poles. If you haven't already purchased a pair, I suggest learning about poles by using them in a session with me first. Then make an informed decision when you’re ready to buy. Visit the Urban Poling website for details about the equipment I recommend and sell.

If you are keen to learn more before your Quick-Start session, then spend a few minutes watching this video featuring Urban Poling’s Director of Education, Barb Gormley: How to Nordic walk with Urban Poles. This will be a good video to watch again, if you ever need a technique refresher.

If you would like to learn more about the amazing health benefits of walking and Nordic walking/Urban Poling, read "Walking is a Wonder Drug".

Now you're ready to turbo-charge your walks! Let's get to it!

Want to Know More?

What to wear & bring (Spring, Summer, Fall):

  1. Wear comfy casual clothes.
  2. Bring a warm extra layer & rain jacket, just in case.
  3. Running shoes are fine while light trail or hiking shoes provide even more support and are ideal.
  4. Please no flip-flops or sandals.
  5. Leave purses at home. A small backpack is a great bring-along.
  6. Don't forget your water, sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, insect repellent and your camera.

What to wear & bring (Winter):

  1. Wear a long sleeve t-shirt/thermal underwear top plus 1 or 2 layers (i.e.: light fleece top, heavier fleece top) & a wind/waterproof shell. Heavy winter parkas and snow pants are usually too warm.
  2. Wear winter boots or lined hiking boots. Icers, which go over your footwear to prevent slipping, are provided when necessary.
  3. Leave purses at home. A small backpack is a great bring-along.
  4. Bring water, gloves/mitts, a hat/headband, scarf/buff/neck warmer, tissues/handkerchief, sunglasses and don't forget your camera!

Reserve OnLine:

It’s as easy as 1-2-3! Simply click the "Book Now" button, select your preferred date to check availability, fill in your personal details and then make a secure payment via credit card. The system will automatically send you a confirmation of your session with the relevant details.

Liability Waiver:

Liability waivers are a necessary part of any commercial activity experience. I recommend that you take the time now to review this legal document that you will be required to sign before we start our clinic or walk together:

View the Waiver

Your Health & Physical Activity Readiness:

We ask guests who are experiencing cold symptoms and symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home and practice self-isolation under the direction of the appropriate governing body. For almost everyone, the benefits of physical activity far outweigh any risks. For some individuals, special advice from a Qualified Exercise or health care provider is advisable before becoming more active. This questionnaire is intended for all ages – to help move you along the path to becoming more physically active.

Please review this Questionnaire if you have concerns about your health or fitness level for participating in Nordic walking.

Cancellation Policy:

Full refunds are given if a cancellation is received 24 hours or more prior to the clinic or tour date. No refunds are given with less than 24 hours notice. Clinics/tours go rain or shine. If the weather is extreme, then it may be cancelled with a full refund given.

Malcolm Hotel

Canmore Public Parking

Parking:

Parking is available on-street or in public lots throughout Canmore. It is a good idea to arrive early on busy days to locate suitable parking.

Malcolm Hotel - Onsite

Restrooms:

Restrooms are available at the Malcolm hotel in the lobby.

Canmore Public Restrooms

Restrooms:

Public restrooms are available within a short walk:

Canmore Public Restrooms - Trailheads

Restrooms:

Public pit toilets are available at all trailheads.

Canmore Various

Where to meet:

Starting locations will vary seasonally with instructions included in your booking confirmation.

Parking:

Parking options will vary by location with details included in your booking confirmation.

Tour Canmore

Various Canmore Trailheads

Canmore Walking Tour 1.5 Hour

Canmore Walking Tour 3 Sisters

Hikes Cognito Form

Winter Hikes Cognito Form

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