Pole manufacturer Leki hopes Olympic champ Lindsey Vonn will help attract more fitness enthusiasts to Nordic walking

Ski racing gold medalist and three-time World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn stars in a new promotional video for one of her sponsors, pole manufacturer Leki, on the benefits of Nordic walking. The video aims to spread awareness about the fitness beneifts of walking with poles.
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If Lance Armstrong can be good for indoor cycles, then could Olympic ski racing champion Lindsey Vonn be good for Nordic fitness walking?

Her pole sponsor, Leki, has laid its hopes of enticing more to the fitness activity with a five-minute Nordic walking promotional video featuring Vonn, www.lindseyvonn.com. The video premiered at the IDEA World Fitness Convention for instructors and trainers Aug. 12-14 in Los Angeles. 

Leki USA said it is attempting to prove Nordic walking can be used for more than just a good time outdoors or for sedentary older folks out for a casual stroll.

“I was looking for ways to promote our involvement with athletes – especially a world-class athlete like Lindsey,” said Greg Wozer, vice president of Leki USA. “She’s already well known enough in the Alpine market, and we felt that she would probably be a perfect connection for us to make in the U.S. for Nordic walking.”

Nordic walking, or fitness walking with poles, is not new to the IDEA, www.ideafit.com, show for fitness instructors and trainers. It premiered at the conference in 2004 and has made sporadic appearances since. Leki USA’s recent promotional video is the latest attempt to get fitness professionals to use Nordic walking with their not-so-fit clients – and to get retailers to consider their own promotional and sales efforts.

Walking to fitness

Nordic walking has had a hard time taking off in the United States, Wozer said, but he said he hoped Vonn will help it along.

“We’re using an athlete to help bring this message and the benefits of the activity to people who could use a little fitness in their lives,” Wozer said.

Even though IDEA highlights mostly indoor activities for personal trainers to use with clients, he said he thinks there is opportunity for growth of outdoor activities. In fact, Leki was one of the first to make appearances at the Health & Fitness Business Expo in 2005 to show off the opportunity to retailers.

Though Nordic walking is not new to the fitness world, Wozer said he’s hoping it will become more popular because of the continuing “trend with personal trainers taking their clients outside of the gym and outside of the four walls.”

Wozer said he’d also like ensure people know about the benefits of Nordic walking from helping people get in shape to helping injured athletes recover. 

‘Is this the key to your success?’

The video was produced by Leki Germany and features Vonn, Nordic walkerand former cross country skier Peter Schlickenrieder, world champion skiers Benni Raich, and Marlies Schild.

“The way they put it together is really kind of in a scripted story format where Lindsey is meeting up with some friends to go Nordic walking,” Wozer said. “Through the course of the video they touch on different aspects and benefits they get out from the activity.”

When the video opens, Vonn is at her house where she’s about ready to cut into a cake when Schlickenrieder pops in to see if she’d like to go Nordic walking.

“Is this for me,” he asks, motioning to the cake. When she begins to slice him a piece, he asks, “Is this the secret to your success?”

“No,” she replies. “It’s Nordic walking.”

Throughout the video, Vonn and her crew make soft sales of Leki products from poles to gloves and point out what’s different about the products.

Leki and various Nordic Walking associations throughout the country are currently promoting the video, and retailers carrying Leki products are welcome to link it on their websites but they must contact Leki customer service for permission.

Wozer said he is happy with the response the video has received.

People said it was great the video used an athlete in a cross-promotional way, Wozer said. “This is exactly what the activity needed over here – someone with some celebrity status.”

--Ana Trujillo

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