They're toting what appear to be ski poles -- but Nordic walkers are far removed from the snow-capped mountains of winter.
In fact, Nordic walking takes place mainly on dry land, often as the warm-weather alternative to cross-country skiing, and it offers a full-body workout.
The Wall Street Journal profiles the activity of Nordic walking, which involves "striding along, planting a pole on the ground as the opposite foot comes down and then swinging the pole behind them."
The recommended technique is walking with the arm stretched out with each step, as if you were reaching out to shake hands, with the pole nearly vertical to the ground. This technique, according to the owner of Nordic pole-manufacturing company, takes more weight off the joints than the European style, in which the poles are places at a much smaller angle to the ground.
The poles purportedly engage muscles in the upper body and core, helping burn more calories than walking alone -- about 20 percent more, according to one study cited by the Journal.
The Wall Street Journal reporter gives Nordic walking a try and says: "Since I'm a cross-country skier, I got the hang of it almost immediately and worked up a sweat pretty quickly. It definitely felt like I was burning off some serious calories, but I doubt I burned as much as claims on some websites: Exerstrider says you can burn 'up to 70 percent' more calories with each step."
Have you tried Nordic walking in New York City? What's been your experience with it?