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Going Barefoot is a Bare Necessity in Fitness. Flash Your Feet with SLT's Amanda Freeman!

Fitness

When shoes come off, workouts get interesting!

Barefoot exercise classes remove your feet from the familiar environment of your shoes to move in more natural, unsupported ways (i.e. making your workout so much harder). For most fitness lovers, this is great news (as long as you've gotten a pedicure). If you're a spray tanner like me, you might want to go "light" on your feet (brown toes look dirty--not tan--in a fitness studio).

But not everyone likes the concept of shoeless exercise. If it's not a fear of germs, it's the potential for injury that keeps some fitness enthusiasts laced and locked into their sneakers. The truth is, germs, injury and BOREDOM can happen in your shoes too. I asked a fitness expert (with really nice feet) to weigh in. SLT studio owner Amanda Freeman works out every day in her fleshy soles. Notice the pedicure?

Here's what Amanda has to say about the advantages of going bare in response to my questions.

Amanda, what's this barefoot workout called "SLT" that you offer in NYC all about?

It's 50-minutes of heart-pumping music, muscle quivering, and total body strengthening, lengthening and toning in an inspiring, small-group setting (only up to 10 people per class). SLT is performed barefoot and melds together cardio training, weight-bearing activity and Pilates to create a revolutionary, one-of-a-kind fitness program that burns calories rapidly and allows you to sculpt your physique in ways traditional exercise cannot.

Why is it so important to be barefoot for the workout you’ve created?

Being barefoot (or near barefoot in grippy socks or slipper) allows you to get a better grip on the Megaformer. There is a lot of standing on the machine and it requires a great deal of balance. Being able to curl your toes and feel the machine offers you maximum stability. We want our clients to be as safe as possible doing the workout and barefoot or near barefoot is the best way to go.

Complete this sentence: You know what they say about STRONG FEET…

...they are the foundation of a strong body! At SLT, we are about strengthening, lengthening and toning the entire body, from feet to shoulders. We build long, strong and toned bodies and if you’re feet aren’t in good, strong shape it’s difficult to build the rest of your body. 

Why should barefoot training be mixed in with other forms of non-barefoot training?

Many people under appreciate the impact a barefoot workout like SLT can have on their body. They wrongly assume it’s not cardio, so they won’t lose weight or see the desired changes to their body. SLT combines cardio, strength training and Pilates-like moves into one of the most efficient workouts around. It is sufficient on its own or mixed in with other more cardio-focused workouts. Clients feel results instantly and see them very quickly.

Do you believe in barefoot running? Would you ever do it?

I get the theory behind it and buy into it, however in practice, I’d never actually run barefoot on the streets of New York or around the park. You’d definitely step on something bad. And I’ve tried the barefoot running shoes and have trouble separating my toes enough for them to be comfy.

Do you own a pair of barefoot inspired sneakers?

Vibrams that I tried to run in, but never took to.

 

How does barefoot training strengthen the core?

All barefoot workouts strengthen the core in different ways. SLT works the core in nearly every single move performed on our Megaformers. Stability is a key aspect of our workout.  If you don’t use your core engaged, you can’t get through the workout. Whether you are primarily focusing on your arms, legs, glutes or core…the core must always be engaged in the SLT workout. In addition to always working your abs, our workout is uniquely focused on the obliques (the side of the waist) and whipping them into amazing shape.

 

What kind of foot accessories can you wear for your workout that are NOT sneakers?

Grippy socks and Blake Brody slip-ons.

What’s your best barefoot hygiene tip?

I have to admit, I rarely workout without a pair of grippy socks or Blake Brody shoes on. I have zero desire to get a foot fungus or something like that. So, my advice is better safe than sorry!

Is it possible to strike a compromise between being good to our feet and still wearing heels? Or, are there some heels that should be banned from our shoe collections?

Yes, I think it’s possible to strike a balance between wearing heels and wearing more comfortable options. I am all about carrying a comfy pair of shoes with me when I’m wearing heels and only wearing the heels when I must. I walk to a meeting in sneakers (cute ones) and change into heels as I approach my destination. Once I leave, I change right back. And I was always told that little kitten heels (low heels) are the ideal situation for most feet…perfectly flat isn’t always the best way to go.

(Photo courtesy of WellandGoodNYC)

Show Amanda what your bare feet can do! Connect with her & SLT here:

 

MizzFIT Bares All (ok...not everything, just my feet)

I love Amanda's barefoot-workout insight! I've been to SLT many times for her Megaformer workout--yikes! It's hard...harder than you'd think a workout without shoes would be. But it's also refreshing to be able to move my toes, lift and lower my heels and use all the smaller muscles within my feet to both propel and stabilize my body in ways that aren't possible when I'm wearing sneakers.

For the germaphobes out there, I recommend ZEMgear barely there booties ($35). They've got a flexible sole and feel more like a protective sock than a shoe. They're similar to the Blake Brody's that Amanda recommends but more functional for sweaty exercise. Click on the booties below to check them out.

You've gotta try another barefoot workout that SLT offers called SHRED. It's incredible. Part yoga, part strength training, part plyometrics. It's one of those workouts that you can feel for days in every inch of your body. There's nonstop movement (and sweating) in class, but everything remains low-impact...hence safe on your joints. Once you learn enough of the moves from class, you can recreate mini-classes at home or in your hotel room (as I often do when traveling) with slider disks and 1-2 pound weights. That's me below...SHREDDING it out at home. Love how it strengthens my core, balance, and poise, and makes me realize that I am only as strong as my workout!

Take off those sneaks and step up to the challenge yourself! Find a form of barefoot exercise that appeals to you and mix it up with everything else that you do.

WIN A PAIR OF GRIPPY SOCKS!

Leave a comment below sharing your favorite barefoot workout or training routine. Or tell me how you really feel about barefoot fitness. Speak your mind and spark a conversation! 1 lucky grippy sock winner will be picked on March 11th, 2013. Good luck!
 

written by Bianca Jade a.k.a Mizzfit

Tags

workouts

Say what's on your mind!

15 comments
Liz Stark February 26th, 2013 9:56PM

I have to admit, I don't do too much of my workouts barefoot (not only do I have flat feet, but I have an extra bone in my right foot - I'm a freak of nature, I guess - which can cause muscle spasms if I put too much pressure on it for a long period of time). However, on the pilates reformer machine, I wear very thin socks (which is close to barefoot, right?). I do understand and support the benefits that Amanda mentioned in this interview, so I'm all for it! And grippy socks? Those would be a lifesaver when balancing on the reformer machine - I often feel unsteady on my feet (and downright scared when I'm balancing on my right foot, afraid of the possibility of an oncoming muscle spasm).

There's my ramble for the day :)

MizzFIT February 27th, 2013 7:07AM

Hi Liz,

WOW, I didn't know this about you. I mean how would I know, but still, this is very interesting and yes, I understand that you'd want to take caution by wearing shoes. And yes, thin socks are pretty much barefoot because they're not impeding your foot movement or flexibility like a hard sole/cage-y shoe would. So glad you can enter the giveaway! You seem like the perfect candidate for a new pair of grippy socks! Your rambles are enlightening and always so fun to read.

Thanks for commenting, Lizzie!

xoxo, MizzFIT

Tamara March 11th, 2013 4:52AM

I feel like barefoot training would take some transition time . . . maybe start with a Nike Free, then move to a Vibram, and then the flesh itself? I wear regular sneakers, except during yoga. . .

MizzFIT March 11th, 2013 5:12AM

Hi Tamara darling,

You're right...it does take transition time. I spent so many years just working out in sneakers that I was hesitant to get into barefoot workouts. But now I love them even more than workouts you do with sneakers on. I assume your curiosity might be peaked since I've now entered you for the giveaway! Thanks girl and can't wait to speak with you this week!

xoxo,
MizzFIT

MARISSA March 11th, 2013 5:16AM

What an interesting article. I really enjoyed it, and will make sure to focus on incorporating more barefoot workouts in the future! Currently I do yoga after my long runs to get a good stretch. To be honest I skipped this morning(after a 19 mile run yesterday) partly because of the time change, and partly because it'd been too long since my last polish change, oops! lol. Would love to win me some grippy socks. Either way I should suck it up, but having grippy socks is one less excuse!

MizzFIT March 11th, 2013 5:33AM

Hi Marissa,

Oh my! A 19-mile run! That's amazing, girl! I am training for a half-marathon next Sunday. But my runs are a whole lot shorter than yours right now. Very cool that a new pair of Grippy Socks would motivate you to take barefoot fitness class (aside from yoga). Thanks for entering the giveaway!

xoxo,
MizzFIT

Zoey March 11th, 2013 5:54AM

I've been looking for a new class to try for my fitness series, and this is perfect! I can't wait to try out her class in Soho. Those grippy socks look amazing and comfortable. I'm a big fan of sneakers for stability, but I was raised in the country, shoeless a lot, so any time I don't have to wear shoes is a win. I bet these would work well in the SurfSet class.

MizzFIT March 11th, 2013 6:15AM

Hey Zoey!

Nice to see you back! The giveaway grippies are actually not the ones pictured above. Those are ZemGear shoes, but I am giving away a cute pair of Grippy Socks to 1 lucky winner. You're now entered for the giveaway and I absolutely love your response. Thanks so much for visiting and best of luck in this contest!

MizzFIT

Hilarie March 11th, 2013 6:18AM

Love this! I workout bare foot all the time at home (no matter what the workout is) and of course while I'm doing yoga. I'm super excited to try this new class, and would love the socks!

MizzFIT March 11th, 2013 6:35AM

Hi Hilarie!!!

Have I seen you here on MizzFIT.com before? Your name sounds new, regardless, so excited about your comment and that you love to do barefoot workouts! You should def try the class esp if you're located in NYC. I know Amanda plans to open up more studios too, esp outside of the city. And if you live in Brooklyn, a similar studio opened up called Brooklyn BodyBurn, which is also excellent. Thanks for entering the giveaway!

MizzFIT

MizzFIT March 11th, 2013 6:28PM

Hi ladies! I loved all of your responses! I had to pick 2 winners. Congratzz to Liz and Marissa for winning the Grippy Socks Giveaway here on MizzFIT.com. To Liz & Marissa: please contact me here:

http://mizzfit.com/contact

with your full name and address so I can send you your prize ASAP!

THANK YOU!

xoxo,
MizzFIT

Arlinda March 14th, 2013 4:53AM

My favorite barefoot workout is nia. It's a dance class that uses various forms of dance. Love it and I recommend it to all.

MizzFIT March 14th, 2013 5:22AM

Hi Arlinda,

1) I'm loving your name. Never seen or heard your name before! So purdy!
2) Nia has been around for soooo long and I feel like an idiot for never having tried it. Can you tell me more about what kind of dance it incorporates? Is it done in more formal dance-y type clothes or can you wear activewear? Does it mirror zumba in any way? Tell me and MizzFIT readers more about it!

Thanks!
MizzFIT

Arlinda March 14th, 2013 4:54PM

Nia is amazing. It incorporates the following:

Martial Arts Dance Arts Healing Arts
t'ai chi Jazz dance Feldenkrais method
Tae Kwon Do Modern dance Alexander Technique
Aikido Duncan Dance Yoga

It can be similar to Zumba in the sense the dances can be choreographed by the instructor. Wear clothing that you feel comfortable in yet are able to dance and move in. Dance clothing or yoga clothing is best. Get ready to move and most important get ready to experiment with various forms of dance.

MizzFIT March 14th, 2013 6:21PM

Arlinda,

Love it! Thanks so much for sharing this descriptive info about the workout. I need to try it and now I am psyched after reading what you have to say!

xoxo,
Mizz

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