Those in the know will quickly recognize who we are talking about when you hear “hiking guide and physio,” for all others - meet Jenna Nodding, ACMG hiking guide (Association of Canadian Mountain Guides) and physical therapist.
Nodding, also known for being the “knee” physio due to her expertise on knees from her own personal experience, has carved out a niche for her guiding service Get Outside.
“When I was working for other companies and going through my certification process, I noticed that a lot of the women that I was guiding expressed a desire to be able to go out backpacking and do all kinds of trips that they found amazing and inspiring, but they didn't have the confidence to do it anymore,” says Nodding. “Either they were tired of following their partner, or they had done it before they had kids, and they wanted to be able to go out now and potentially take their kids with them.”
Inspired by these women who were finding or returning to hiking and backpacking, Nodding decided to start her own guiding company with a focus on helping women gain skills so they could go out and experience the wilderness on their own. Nodding has a few programs that support this goal. First is her five-week training series.
“One of the interesting things, and we see it now with COVID, is everyone wants to reconnect with the outdoors. It's where we can feel safe, explore and, and be connected with one another,” Nodding continues. “Although our bodies are designed to adapt, it can only safely do so in smaller incremental changes. So when we transition from sitting at our computers all day to going out and hiking in the mountains, our bodies need to ease into it. Get Outside offers a program that is spread over five weeks. Every Saturday for five weeks we do a different hike. We start with an easy hike and progress to more challenging, harder hikes by the end of the five weeks. By doing this gradually over the five week timeframe, it allows our bodies to adjust so that we can then enter into our full summer season better prepared and stay injury free.”
This five-week course is one of Nodding’s specialties since it allows her to use both her guide training and her physio education.
“It’s the best of both worlds. I get to help people explore the mountains while keeping their bodies healthy. We cover warm-up techniques, stretching, and ways to keep our bodies healthy on the trail,” says Nodding.
Other programs like the Navigation Course and Women’s Intro to Backpacking offer very specific training for important backcountry skills.
“Part of getting comfortable with going into the backcountry is learning the skills. At Get Outside we also offer Intro to Backpacking courses so we can help women get out front, be involved in making decisions, and try out all kinds of gear,” Nodding tells us. “There’s nothing better than getting a bunch of women together in the backcountry, learning together. The laughter and chatting never stops!”
Besides paid courses, Get Outside offers some free group hikes, like their annual Summer Solstice Hike.
“Getting women together is actually quite powerful. It's a very supportive environment. And so is the Summer Solstice,” says Nodding. “That's the most amount of sunshine that we ever get, so I wanted to celebrate that with a bunch of women.”
Alongside the Summer Solstice hikes, Get Outside provides experiences for different not-for-profit organizations as well as an annual scholarship.
“We work with local women's shelters and other marginalized groups within the area. It is important for us to help break down any barriers for people getting access to the outdoors,” Nodding tells us. “One of the things that can stand in the way is financial. So we have a crowdsource scholarship. Anyone that registers for one of our programs can contribute a small amount to the scholarship and each year, we have women apply for the scholarship and be able to attend our Women's Intro to Backpacking program free of charge. Supporting the community is part of our vision, maybe we’ll convince some other people to do the same.”
To learn more about Get Outside, visit: www.getoutsideadventures.ca.