You can discover the benefits of pole walking, which include increasing your cardio stamina, building bone density, burning calories, improving your posture and your mental health at a news eries of classes coming up at the North Fort Myers Community Center.
Evening classes begin Monday, Oct. 3, and day classes Tuesday, Oct. 10. Each is an eight-session class, night Mondays and Wednesdays, days Tuesdays and Thursdays.
"This year, we are offering something new - on-going pole walking where participants will meet twice a week, said Lee Parks Senior Recreation Specialist Libby Olive. "They'll have both group and one-on-one instruction. The classes in the past have been very popular, a big hit with residents, snowbirds and anyone who has mobility issues."
Lindy Smith and group with a signature pole salute after a pole walking class.
The classes are led by local Lindy Smith, who has been providing the classes for the last few years and giving one-on-one private sessions. In fact, she even mentors other instructors on her business website.
Smith said she enjoys the park classes. "My goal is to spread the word about the benefits of walking with poles and to help people feel better about themselves and lead a healthy lifestyle."
People who enjoy the class come from a variety of health backgrounds. "I've been impressed by the brave people who signed up for classes knowing that they have health challenges and body image issues," she said. "It takes courage to try something new, especially outside if they more accustomed to the traditional in-the-gym exercises."
The sessions will be a skill progression, she said. "They will learn different skills to build on, so over a four- week period each class builds on the class before it."
Besides improving your physical health, the sessions can greatly help your mental health, said one student.
Dr. Jeanette Bevilacqua is a mental health practitioner, in practice as a psychotherapist and in teaching at Florida Gulf Coast University. "I'm a cancer survivor and 'thriver,'" Bevilacqua said. "I started the classes and one-on-one private session with Lindy to help train for the Susan G. Komen Three Day Walk For The Cure to be held in Tampa/Clearwater this fall. It is 20 miles a day for three days - I can't believe I'm doing it. I needed to get in shape and also a big part of my thing is prevention of lymphedema, swelling after a mastectomy in the arms."
Pole walking works on the upper body, she said, like a pumping mechanism when moving your arms.
Of Smith, she said, "She's fun, she makes you laugh, she's supportive and encouraging - very complimentary - really a cheerleader. She's also very professional. She knows her business."
Bevilacqua said the activity can improve your mental health in many ways, including the improvement of your posture. "There's something when you walk, your posture is wonderful. When you walk when depressed you can slump over. What happens is, when poles are fitted to you, adjusted to your height, you have to stand up straight. This affects your cerebral spinal fluids, you are moving blood and getting more oxygen to your brain. It is very empowering - with better breathing and attitude it is something positive.
"You walk with a purpose with the poles - like power walking - and your mind feels more powerful." She said that those with anxiety can also benefit.
At 60, Bevilacqua said she may use her poles to go the full race. She also asks anyone interested in the Komen walk to go to the3day.org. (If you want to sponsor her in any way, her id number is 5728373 with event number 1630.)
The class schedule is:
- Morning Classes
Oct. 10 Nov. 3 Tues/Thurs 8:30 to 9:15 a.m.
Nov 29 Dec. 22 Tues/Thurs 8:30 to 9:15 a.m.
Feb 21 March 15 Tues/Thurs 8:30 to 9:15 a.m.
- Evening Classes
Oct. 3 Oct. 26 Mon/Wed 5:30 to 6:15 p.m.
Nov. 28 Dec. 21 Mon/Wed 5:30 to 6:15 p.m.
Feb. 27 March 21 Mon/Wed 5:30 to 6:15 p.m.
To learn more about Smith, go to walkwithlindy.com. The site ownyourwalk.com is for instructors.
The community center is located at North Fort Myers Community Park, behind the library. For more information or to register, call Libby Olive at 652-4512 or email Lolive@leegov.com.