Barefoot workouts gain ground

Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:21am EST
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - With barefoot running all the rage, the unshod workout is gaining ground across the exercise spectrum.

Fitness experts from aerobics instructors to modern dancers are extolling the virtues of feeling the ground beneath their feet.

Connecticut-based fitness instructor Ellen Barrett teaches a mixture of Pilates, yoga and dance and conducts all her low-impact classes barefoot.

"I've been teaching barefoot forever. Shoes give you a false sense of a platform. You don't connect to ground," explained Barrett, creator of the DVDs "Grace and Gusto" and "Power Fusion."

"So goes the foot, so goes the body. If your foot is balanced and strong the rest of the body is too," said Barrett. "That connectedness between foot and core and balance, that core connection, that's ultimately what balance is."

A firm believer that bare feet are happy feet, Barrett recalled that when her perpetually work-booted father finally removed his shoes, "his feet looked immature, not like the rest of his body."

She believes shoe-encased feet need to ease out gradually.

For starters she suggests going barefoot around the house or performing the elementary exercise of pointing and flexing the bare foot 10 times.   Continued...

<p>David Robinson (L) and Anna Toombs run barefoot in a park in south London December 1, 2011. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth</p>