This summer I discovered a new form of daily exercise: Exerstriding. Exerstriders are a special kind of walking poles that are designed to smash the myth of “no pain, no gain” and provide a full upper body workout and cardio or aerobic or whatever you call that kind of benefits while the user simply walks briskly and swings his or her arms naturally. The word “Nordic” sticks in my craw, nice Jewish girl that I am, but that’s what this kind of workout is called generically, and you’re more likely to have heard of Nordic track than of Exerstriders. They’re good not only for fitness but also for people with balance and mobility problems, so presumably you’re never too old to use them. I first heard about them through a friend with Parkinson’s and looked into them for another friend with the same debilitating disease. But once I’d watched the video that comes with the poles, I was hooked. I’ve been running for the past ten years (45 minutes or three miles a day in an attempt to combat the sedentary lifestyle of the computer-bound writer), but I’ve been having trouble with my feet, so I was thrilled to find an effective and enjoyable alternative.
Here I am at the end of Gerard Drive in Springs (the part of East Hampton that was cheap when Jackson Pollock bought his house there in the 1950s). It looks like nothing, doesn’t it? But at 45 minutes a day, it makes me sweat, burns calories, tones my muscles, and gets me outdoors.
Road signs in the Hamptons exhort motorists to “share the road,” which they do with varying degrees of good will or the contrary. This summer I shared the road with cars, motorcycles, bicycles, skateboards, rollerblades, pedestrians (walkers, runners, and pushers of strollers, with and without dogs), deer, rabbits, wild turkeys, squirrels, and a single fox (if my two sightings were the same one).
Here are some of the beautiful roads I shared: Gerard Drive, the stunning peninsula I’ve blogged about before; the delightfully named Louse Point, across the mouth of Accabonac Harbor from the tip of Gerard; and Water Hole Road, where I sometimes start my run at my own front door.
Various removable tips on the Exerstriders allow me to walk on turf, dirt, loose gravel, wet sand, and even dry sand. This means I can do my striding on the beach if I want.
I have yet to meet another Exerstrider, though occasionally someone will stop and ask about the poles. More often, people make cracks about snow and skiing as they pass. I don’t care. When I’m 100 years old and still striding, I’ll have the last laugh.