“The ACTIVATOR” – making a difference in people’s lives

The Nikkei Place Foundation (NPF) had an opportunity to hear from Mandy Shintani, who is the Fundrasing Chair of JC War Memorial Campaign.

Mandy-ShintaniQ. Why do you volunteer at Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre (NNMCC)?

A. The Nikkei Museum and the cenotaph represents to me all of the challenges and hardship that my parents, aunts and uncles went through as Canadian citizens, all for the sole purpose of providing their children with an exceptional life. I have really enjoyed volunteering at the NNMCC to raise funds for the renovation of the cenotaph.

One way that she works to provide people with an exceptional life is through her own work as the co-owner and co-developer of ACTIVATOR poles at Urban Poling.

Here is her story.

About nine years ago, I began to pursue the dream of developing an innovative tool which I named ACTIVATOR poles to be used for the purposes of therapy as a replacement for canes, crutches and, in some cases, walkers. To my surprise and delight, our Urban Poling poles also became a popular exercise device for general fitness and wellness now enjoyed by thousands of Canadians of all ages and fitness levels.

As an Occupational Therapist, my interest in walking poles was sparked while I was completing my Master’s degree in Gerontology at Simon Fraser University. A Swedish neighbour and I got into an interesting discussion about why the Swedes were so healthy compared to Canadians. It turned out, the answer was as simple as walking! She also explained that walking with speciality design poles in urban settings was incredibly popular.

I spent about a year evaluating the use of Nordic walking poles and became extremely excited when I discovered there were over 52 research studies (presently there are over 96 studies) which found improved posture, stability, balance, reduced impact on the knee joints and greater conditioning compared to regular walking. Hearing about all the positive health benefits of poling had me trying them out for myself. They turned out to be very effective for weight loss and conditioning. As I experienced the benefits, I began to work on developing the ACTIVATOR poles. I realized that re-engineering walking poles with features to increase stability for therapy could revolutionize walking and therapy for those with injuries, post hip and knee surgery, older adults and conditions affecting balance like strokes and Parkinson’s. The ACTIVATOR poles promote active independent living while providing significant health benefits compared to other walking devices.

While I intended the company to focus on training therapists on how to use the ACTIVATOR poles, our other poles designed for Nordic walking, which we branded as urban poling in Canada, began to emerge as a huge fitness activity. We discovered that women between the ages of 35-55 in particular were seeking activities providing core strengthening and increased caloric expenditure: in short, something more than just plain walking.

Urban Poling has grown enormously over the past nine years. ACTIVATOR poles are used in physio clinics, rehab centres, hospitals and retirement homes across Canada, and our urban poles are one of the most popular fitness brands in Canada due to their unique design and quality. It was been a very exciting roller coaster journey bringing a concept from idea to production and then to market. It is  tremendously rewarding to hear how this product has made a difference in people’s lives.

For more information, please check their website: www.urbanpoling.com


Posted in Health & Wellness.

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