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

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.


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!



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