Marguerite Friesen of Elk Point, Alberta confessed to never having been a sporty gal or a lover of being active outdoors. Indeed, she agrees the label “couch potato” suited her well. Until Valentine’s Day, 2017 when everything changed.
On that fateful day, Marguerite sat on her comfy couch and opened the Edmonton Journal on-line to an article about Urban Poling that was published a few days earlier. The article and video piqued her interest. She thought, “What a novel idea! I could do that! I would like to try Urban Poling!” Right then and there, she dialed in to the Urban Poling website and covered the content from end to end. As there were no instructors and no classes nearby, that very night, she signed up for the on-line course, which came with her very own pair of Urban Poles. If Marguerite was going to take something on, she was going to do it right. A transformation to a thoroughly “sporty gal” began.
Before a month had rolled by, Marguerite had booked a one-on-one session in Edmonton with Master Trainer, Susan Yackulic. That was followed by Marguerite giving her first Urban Poling presentation to the local TOPS weight loss group and on April 11th, after meeting with the Town Rec Director, gave a presentation at the library for the public. Immediately after that, she formed the Elk Point Pole Walking group, which meets every Wednesday, no matter the weather, for a group walk. It continued throughout the winter of 2017-2018 even adding a Sunday walk. Not content to simply complete the on-line instructor course to obtain her Urban Poling certification, Marguerite travelled to Calgary in June to take the course in-person, along with City of Calgary fitness staff.
Marguerite set two very ambitious walking challenges on the UWALK website, which tracks steps walked and encourages people to set and complete walking goals. The specific challenges she set up via UWALK for 2018 were: (1) to walk 1000 km in 2018 and (2) to walk 1000 miles in 2018. Marguerite admitted she was really nervous about the huge commitment she had made. But in successful goal-setting fashion she shared her goals with her husband, her fellow Nordic walkers and colleagues at work. Not only did Marguerite complete her Walk 1000 miles goal, she did it with an astounding 51 days to spare, inviting and encouraging others to join her (including me!).
Three years ago, Marguerite visited the Amalfi Coast of Italy while on a bus tour. She marveled at the tiny ants she saw marching up the near vertical cliffs along the coastline. Then she realized they were not ants, but people ascending thousands of steps. She was amazed that people could do that, or would even want to do that. She definitely thought that was something she could not or would not want to do.
But with the growing confidence of an emerging sporty gal, she signed up for my 2018 Nordic Walking Tour of the Amalfi Coast, calling it a “working holiday” on which she would earn the label of “hiker.” I can report that Marguerite earned the hiker designation in grand style, logging 233,067 steps on her Fitbit during her 15 day European holiday. That converts to 177 kms, which works out to almost 12 kms per day. Marguerite even lost 4 pounds despite all the delicious Italian cuisine and wine on offer. But even more inspirational was the fact that Marguerite hiked the breathtaking Path of the Gods and hiked up to the summit of Mt. Vesuvius, challenges that would have been unheard of a year earlier!
Marguerite is presently giving thought to her goals for 2019, which will include another UWalk challenge that we can all join in on. Marguerite would also like to get her local community and her work community involved in stepping up with UWalk. More Nordic walking presentations are on the horizon and maybe even another Nordic walking tour.
Congratulations Marguerite on all that you have accomplished since Valentine’s Day, 2017. I hereby officially declare you to be a true sporty gal and invite you to join my hiking gal pals in the by-invitation-only group known as the “Women of Rock.” I hope I can keep up with your exploits in 2019!