"People in Europe, when they go walking, they walk with poles," says Eric Okamura, owner of Fit For Life, an exercise and massage studio in Iwilei, Hawaii.
"It is very rare that you see them without them."
Although convinced for years that they were a good exercise, the 50-year-old Okamura
only began selling a line of poles locally in February 2005.
And yes, he's
heard all the comments, too.
"There is a little dork factor associated with Nordic poles because they are so uncommon, but there are too many health benefits to ignore," he
says."So you let it roll off your back."The Cooper Institute
, which studies fitness and health, found that Nordic walking burned nearly 43 percent more calories than traditional walking.Okamura
says that's because Nordic walking involves more muscles, but he
swears that the workout isn't more difficult.
"It is not harder," he
says."Because you are using the poles and it is your upper body supporting your lower body, it doesn't feel like you are working out."Okamura leads a group of up to 20 Nordic walkers every Thursday afternoon, walking around local parks.
"The bulk of my group are seniors," Okamura