Exel Joins Reebok to Promote Nordic Walking

- Exel Sports NA and Reebok International, Ltd. have joined together to promote Nordic Walking through marketing, sales, and professional development programs designed to help both brands capitalize on the increasing popularity of the activity.
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In 1997, Exel Oyj of Finland created Nordic Walking by developing Nordic Walking technique and designing specifically engineered poles for the activity. Often described as “cross-country skiing without snow or skis” or “power walking with poles,” Nordic Walking has grown quickly to over six million participants worldwide.

In the early stages of its development, Exel realized that Nordic Walking required scientific evidence to validate its fitness benefits which quickly led to cooperation between the company and a number of Finnish sports, health and educational organizations.

Shortly thereafter, in 2002, Exel commissioned the esteemed Cooper Institute in Texas to conduct a study on the benefits of Nordic Walking. The Institute's research concluded that Nordic Walking offered a significant number of health benefits including a 20-46% increase in caloric expenditure, an increase in heart rate of 5-17 beats per minute, and a lower rate of perceived exertion. Subsequent research revealed other notable benefits including an increase in upper body strength and low impact on joints.

“The fit with Reebok is a natural one for us,” said Exel North America's VP of Sales Chris Griffin. ”Both companies offer areas of expertise perfectly matched to grow this market rapidly.”

“As the worldwide market leader in Nordic Walking, we recognize that cooperation with Reebok will greatly increase the awareness of the activity in North America, leading to accelerated growth. Our goal is to benefit consumers by offering an exciting, effective and social form of physical activity, thereby creating a significant new business opportunities at retail.”

“Reebok has already done extensive research on the activity and has developed a comprehensive line of footwear specifically designed for Nordic Walking. We look forward to offering their shoes, apparel and accessories to our Nordic Walking coaches, master trainers and instructors throughout North America. It was important for us to align ourselves with a company with similar vision and growth expectations for this category. Reebok satisfies both criteria,” Griffin added.

Available at athletic specialty retailers across the country and on www.reebok.com, Reebok's Nordic Walking footwear collection, Premier Walk XC GTX, is especially designed for the unique sport for the suggested price of $95.

"We are extremely pleased to team up with Exel. Exel uses a network of Nordic Walking master trainers and instructors to introduce Nordic Walking to the retailer. Reebok's expertise in Nordic Walking footwear combined with Exel's expertise in Nordic Walking poles and programming make this partnership a perfect fit,” said Marcy Schwam, Director of Global Walking.

Exel Sports NA handles marketing, sales, logistics and product development of Exel Oyj's consumer products (cross-country, alpine and Nordic Walking poles) in North America. Exel Sports NA is a fully owned subsidiary of the parent company Exel Oyj. International operations account for some 80% of the Group's net sales, which were approx. EUR 93 million in 2005. The Group employs 450 persons worldwide and its shares are quoted on the Helsinki Exchange's Main list. Further information: www.exelsports.net.

Reebok International Ltd., based in Canton, Mass., is a leading worldwide designer, marketer and distributor of sports, fitness and casual footwear, apparel and equipment. A subsidiary of the adidas Group, the company operates under the Reebok, CCM, Jofa, and Koho brands. For more information, visit Reebok at www.rbk.com.

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