After the birth of my fifth baby at the young age of 40, I set an immediate goal to get back into shape, live a healthy lifestyle, and build strength and endurance. Keeping up with five energetic kiddos is no simple task, and I wasn’t going to let them conquer me. So I hired a local, powerful, and knowledgeable fitness coach.
It was one of my best decisions. Not only did I get someone to help me build strength and muscle, I was also able to create sustainable healthy eating habits that fit my unique lifestyle and body needs. Over three months, I got stronger, found a healthy balance between sweets and nutrient-rich food, and lost weight. But the best part was that she introduced me to working out barefoot!
Yes, barefoot. No shoes or socks, just my feet. Deadlifts and jumping jacks, barefoot. Cycling barefoot. Squats and rows, all barefoot. Muay Thai, barefoot. Home video workouts are all barefoot. You won’t find me running or walking barefoot (although there is such a thing as barefoot running), but if you see me in my garage gym, my trainer’s gym, or at Juniko having my private Muay Thai class, I will not have shoes on. Now, if I’m at a public gym or shoes are required, you will find me in them. But other than those circumstances, I cannot see ever going back to shoes for my weight training and high-intensity workouts again.
It’s all about the grip.
Without socks and shoes, I get a better grip on the floor. I do not slide in plank or when performing mountain climbers. My bare feet have the perfect traction to grip the floor and keep me stable.
Then there is the connection.
I love connecting with the Earth. It may be my floor and not the dirt, but it is closer to the Earth than when I have rubber between my feet and the ground surface. I get a sense of being grounded, stable, and connected. Interestingly enough, since I started working out barefoot, I’ve found myself more inclined to leave the shoes behind when I’m outdoors now because I enjoy the connection with the Earth.
Strength is found in stability.
I feel strong. My feet are my foundation. I don’t need sneakers. I don’t need foot protection. My feet alone are enough to enable my body to perform the work. By working out sans sneakers, I feel the muscles of my feet getting stronger, thus so is my foundation. I am strong, tall, and rooted.
Some evidence also supports it.
Finally, to top off my newfound love of training, there is some evidence floating around that barefoot training may improve spatial body awareness, increase foot strength, and point out body imbalances.
While I was unaware of any of these more specific benefits when my coach introduced me to the idea, I have come to develop an affection for the practice. The slipping and sliding of my sneakers on workout mats and solid floors was annoying. The continuous wearing down of the soles of my sneaker put my ankles in jeopardy of turning if I didn’t replace them promptly, and the lack of breathable air for my toes felt like an annoying bug bite that I always wanted to itch. Going barefoot felt freeing and grounding all at the same time.