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Getting Back On the Trail

Connecting with Adventure Buddies' Jayah Faye Paley

by on December 05, 2013

Adventure Buddies' pole-hiking maven Jayah Faye Paley

Longtime hiker and mobility coach Jayah Faye Paley turned her passion for the outdoors into a mission to get people back on their feet – and back on the trail  – using the power of hiking poles.

BN: Are you from the Bay Area? 

No, I’m originally from Florida, where it’s hot, muggy, buggy, and flat. I arrived here thirty years ago, and I can’t imagine a better place than the Bay Area. To me, it’s the hiking mecca of the planet!

BN: What inspired you to start Adventure Buddies?

In 1998 I was facing knee surgery. My doctor cleared me  go on a challenging Sierra Club hike on Mt. Tam wearing a brace. On that hike I met my future husband, who was using poles to help him condition as a cross-country ski instructor. After my surgery, he gave me a set of poles and taught me how to use them. I searched for further training, but none existed. That’s when I became inspired, even obsessed, with creating high quality pole training. I created a video, did clinics for REI and the Point Reyes National Seashore, and it went from there.

BN: Is your background in rehabilitation?

Yes — as a personal trainer and massage therapist, I focus on rehab as well as achieving optimal physical health and mobility,  whether for hikers and walkers or for people with mobility challenges.

BN: What is the goal of Adventure Buddies? 

My goal is to help people enjoy the outdoors more safely and completely . Look at it this way: We’re born. We spend a year or more learning to walk. We leap and skip and hop and revel in our body’s movement until mostly somewhere in our 20’s. Then we spend the rest of our lives unlearning that healthy movement. Using poles restores this movement – you can call it attitude or even swagger. It’s spinal rotation, and it’s the natural, healthy, rhythmic walking pattern that lubricates the spine.Using poles engages muscles that support and elongate the spine. I see people reversing the aging process every day when they feel the engagement of their whole body when they walk. It’s powerful, uplifting and inspiring both for them and for me.

BN: Please describe some of your group’s activities. 

I teach Hiking with Poles, both a full-day class that includes a practice hike as well as a shorter basic skills and techniques class for people who prefer a more limited experience. For people with greater challenges, I teach mobility classes.  People with MS, Parkinson’s, peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, arthritis, or joint surgery can benefit significantly by learning whole-body walking and balance skills. I teach all ages, from 20 to 100 years old.

BN: Where do you offer your classes?

I teach a variety of classes at some wonderful places, including Point Reyes National Seashore, several parks in the East Bay Regional Park District, Yosemite  National Park, and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. I also teach classes for the cities of Pacifica, Santa Rosa, and Berkeley, and at senior  and community centers throughout the Bay Area.

BN: How do you decide where to  go with your classes? 

I pick the places for our hiking classes based on the weather.  For example, in the spring, we go to one of the most gorgeous parks in the East Bay Regional Park system – Black Diamond Mines, near Antioch.  In the summer, we head for the redwoods where it’s cooler.  We explore the coast when it’s hot inland.

BN: What’s your favorite place to hike in the Bay Area?

That’s easy – Mt. Tam. Why?  Because it’s diverse and available year-round. In the summer we’re in the cool redwood forest; in the winter, I’m looking for newts; in the spring, it’s all about the flowers. I hike there every week. For more information about Jayah’s poles and mobility classes, DVDs, and events, please visit: http://www.polesformobility.com.

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Annette Paley on December 6th, 2013 at 11:47 am

Terrific interview, Jayah! Now I truly understand the breadth of your activities, and I’m impressed. It’s wonderful to do something you love, and help others improve their lives

‘Annette Paley

David Georgi on December 8th, 2013 at 9:51 am

I began leading hikes in 1969 for the Sierra Club and as a high school teacher. About ten years ago, I came across Jayah’s DVD. I realized that I was not using poles efficiently. She explains some simple concepts (downhill is where the danger is) and helps you get procedures into muscle memory. Since learning her technique, my hiking has been revolutionized. I am stronger, have more endurance and am far safer using them. I started a Sierra Club group, PoleCats, to teach her method in the central coast area. I have trained several hundred people. When I meet one of them, he/she usually says they love their poles, but that using them to reduce impact on joints while hiking downhill is the best thing about them. I encourage everyone to get both her DVDs and experience a qualitative
lifestyle improvement.

Alfred I Paley on December 10th, 2013 at 3:10 pm

That was a great article.
I have to admire Jayah’s work with walking and with poles. My own experience has been to follow my cardiologist’s directions, who in 1980 when I recovered from a heart attack, told me to walk for my recovery and my health. “Just walk” was his orders.
That was 33 years ago, and I still walk about 30 minutes per day, 5 times a week. Jayah encouraged me at times that I read about her works, and when we met together. Al..

Rick Deutsch on December 13th, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Jayah is spot on. 20 years ago no one used hiking poles. I do a lot of hard core hiking at Yosemite and back then I ran into some Europeans with trekking poles. They explained the value, so I tried them. Wow, NO knee issues ever since. They save them going downhill – and help propel you going up. I see people not using them properly and stop for a few minutes to inform them. When you buy poles, there is no real instruction on how to use them. Jayah’s program solves that. I NEVER do any hike – short or long – without my hiking poles!

ann riddle on July 20th, 2015 at 6:54 pm

Would like lessons hiking with poles.

Shelly Fox on December 20th, 2015 at 6:05 am

I want to contact Jayah to take one of her classes on how to pick hiking poles and how to use them. thank you

Constance van Groos on January 10th, 2018 at 12:34 pm

I also would like to know how to contact Jayah and sign up for one of her classes.. I’d be completely new to this type of hiking but am very inspired to get moving and safely.. Appreciate any information on how to find her class schedule for 2018.. Thank you

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