by Karen Gross


That Lady Who Walks With Poles

If you have noticed a lady walking along the Crescent Lake path with what looked like ski poles, it was probably me. If you saw two ladies walking together with poles along the same path, it was probably me and my partner in grime (my cleaning lady), Cyndi Toews. If you have noticed other people walking around Portage with or without poles or canes, it could have been anyone.

The poles that we have been walking with are made by a company called Urban Poling. My friend Cyndi is the only authorized dealer in Portage la Prairie, and I am her first success story.

Urban poling makes three categories of poles: for fitness, adventuring, and therapy. The poles that I have been walking with are called Activator poles. They are designed to make walking easier on the joints and safer for people with balance problems. People like me – I have Parkinson’s disease.


One of the outcomes of Parkinson’s and other neuro-muscular diseases that make walking difficult is the loss of fitness. It becomes a vicious cycle: the disease causes pain, pain makes it hard to exercise, not exercising results in pain, and on it goes. In my case, the loss of fitness has also resulted in a weight gain of almost 100 pounds. The extra weight puts pressure on my joints, the pressure on my joints causes pain – you get the picture. Speaking of pictures, here is one of me walking beside our beautiful oxbow river, Crescent Lake.


Before I started using the Activator poles, I could barely walk the half block from my house on 18th Street to the Crescent. Now, less than one year later, I can walk to 10th Street and back, which would be sixteen blocks, except that 14th Street is mysteriously absent. Last September I took part in the Super Cities Walk for the Parkinson’s Society for the first time. They have two courses, a long one and a short one. I chose the short one, and I finished it! Maybe this year I might try the longer course.


If this young lady looks familiar to you, you might know her as the fitness instructor who holds classes at several seniors’ complexes in Portage la Prairie: Windsor Estates, Queen’s Court Estates, and Dalton Grove Estates. The poles she is walking with are also made by Urban Poling, but they are designed for fitness. Their use turns walking from a good workout for the lower body muscles into a great full body workout that activates your arm, back and core muscles, while reducing the stress on your knees and hips. Pole walking (not to be confused with pole dancing, which is entirely different) can burn 20 – 40 more calories than just walking.

Other than promoting my friend Cyndi, her exercise classes for seniors, and her authorized dealership of Urban Poles, I am not a paid spokesperson or employee of I hope that you will be seeing less of me walking along Crescent Lake this summer.

 (If you would like to contact Cyndi to buy poles or to give a demonstration/lesson, you can contact her through the Hoop and Holler people)


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