HYVA Nordic Walking, a recently launched company located in the heart of New York City’s Central Park, is working hard to reintroduce a popular European sport to a westernized fitness culture here in North America by adding their own unique musical twist.
Nordic Walking Offers Great Exercise
Nordic Walking was created in Finland by a cross country skiing coach as an off season training method for athletes. This method of exercise involves exaggerated swinging of legs and arms, which involves 90% of people’s body muscles. It burns 40% more calories than walking, increases oxygen consumption by 46% and the heart by 10 beats per minute. Today, over 12 million people in Europe participate in this growing sport.
HYVA Nordic Walks was founded by Bill Rosson and his wife Sonja Johansson. On a recent trip to Germany, Bill discovered Nordic walking and immediately saw the fitness benefits. But upon his return to the United States, he found that while it’s very popular in Europe, the opportunities to practice it in New York City were very limited.
European Sport is a Western Opportunity
Only approximately 1 million people in the United States participate in Nordic walking. Rosson saw an opportunity in a niche market that hadn’t really been tapped into and he knew it had huge growth potential. So Bill and Sonja began by researching the U.S. market. What they found was Nordic walking had been branded as an exercise for rehabilitation and the elderly population.
Bill explains, “Over in Europe, nordic walking spans all ages, where here in the United States it has more this geriatric and elderly misconception to it. […] The people who are doing it here are 60-70 years old.” Sonja and Bill decided to take on the challenge of killing this misconception by rebranding Nordic walking as a true fitness tool for people of all ages in North America.
In order to rebrand Nordic walking, Bill and Sonja took a different approach to the traditional European method. Typically, it’s done as a nature walk with set of skinny poles, however, people in the west are so accustomed to being highly stimulated when working out. Many people need music or television. Bill and Sonja recognized this and decided they needed music on their walks to modernize Nordic walking to better fit the way people exercise.
The problem they encountered was bringing music outdoors without disturbing others, while still allowing a leader to communicate cues to their group, often led by the music.
Bringing Music into the Fitness Experience
To solve this issue, HYVA recruited the help of AudioConexus and our wireless group tour solution, HearMe. HearMe allows HYVA’s group leaders the ability to communicate instructions while playing music. Using an auxiliary input on the transmitter, Instructors know how to use music in a group setting while wearing a head worn microphone to provide the instructional information the group needs.
The HearMe’s noise cancelling boom microphone also omits any of the outside environmental noise that New York has to offer. “The system has been really amazing. It’s worked so beautifully. Our concern was because we were in such a high traffic area in the middle of Central Park amongst huge sky scrappers surrounding the park and the environmental noise like traffic and horns and sirens the solution wouldn’t work. There’s a lot going on. My first concern was, are we going to have problems with the channels or need to scan to move frequencies? But we haven’t had any problems at all. The HearMe Tour Guide System has aided HYVA’s mission of rebranding Nordic walking. We are incorporating music into our walks to create a whole new modern form of Nordic walking, a more exciting and a more stimulating one. Without AudioConexus being a medium for the music, we really couldn’t rebrand this here in the States.”
Bill and Sonja named their company HYVA, which means ‘good’. The name originated from the feeling that is achieved through the practice of Nordic walking. “We just want to make people feel really good about doing it. We want people to get outdoors, get out of the gym, and feel the same experience they can share in the gym, but outdoors and in touch with nature.”
Outdoor Fitness in Central Park and Beyond
Groups meet in Central Park every other day and walk along a Bridle Path, a soft surface composite that is easy on the joints. To learn more about Central Park’s fitness programs click here: HYVA nordic walking class description.
HYVA’s goal is to license the program and expand to other cities across the country, either to individuals who want to be certified in the HYVA technique or gyms who wish to run a Nordic walk program. They are currently recording more soundtracks for future walks to help them with the expansion of their business.
We wish them much success!