Unless you have a dance background, or take Yoga, or Pilates, you might find the concept of taking an exercise class or personal training without shoes to be odd. While shoe-less (or barefoot) training is not appropriate for all training disciplines, it is the optimal choice for Barre and Pilates classes, which are staples at The Workout Barre. The benefits of shoe-less training include incorporating many rarely used stabilizing muscles, core engagement, correct spinal alignment, and finally healthier arches.
Since shoes have a cushioned space and support, wearing sneakers inhibits the muscles in your feet and ankles, resulting in muscle instability and improper alignment during classes. By training without shoes, your feet and ankles can grip the floor, and the feet and ankle muscles are forced to work. This connection with the floor allows the bottom of your feet to properly balance and align your body, by incorporating the stabilizing muscles of your lower legs; muscles that typically lie dormant during fitness classes.
By spreading your weight over your entire feet and toes, you are distributing weight more evenly. This engages your entire lower body up through the core, recruiting those muscles to work to keep you balanced. Shoe-less training will automatically align your spine without effort, giving you a better foundation to move through the graceful yet challenging choreography.
But the benefits extend further down to the bottom of your feet. Not only will ,the stabilizing muscles of your lower body be strengthened, but also will the arches of your feet. Flat feet can cause an enormous amount of pain in your feet and your spine, but by regularly training without a constant source of support, you will strengthen your arches as they do their healthy share of the work.
Though it might seem odd at first, after just a few sessions you'll realize the benefits and enjoy the freedom of barefoot training. Yes really! No shoes.
By Joni Hyde
President, Workouts For Women, Inc.