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     The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2011 issue 9



Those Weird Looking Toe Shoes

I know that a lot of you had to have seen these goofy looking shoe/socks.  Well, I went a step further and bought a black pair of Vibram FiveFinger KSOs.  I haven't started running in them yet, nor am I planning on running a lot, but I got them mostly for weight training.  I've been studying more about kettlebell training and how positive ground contact and force is so much better than all your hip force being aborbed by the thick soles of running shoes... not to mention the changes in balance that result from the higher heel of running shoes.  So instead of using my wrestling shoes (which I prefer to use only on the mat) I figured these Five Fingers made sense to train in. 

Vibram offers several different models of their FiveFinger shoes.  The ones pictured above have more of a tread on the bottom for traction and running, as compared to the slicker soles that my KSOs have.  They range in price from $75 to $110.  The Vibram website does a good job of describing the intended use of each model as well as giving you close up pics and color choices.

The first thing that I can tell you is that they do take a little while to get used to.  You kind of have to wiggle into them since your toes each have their own individual pockets.  Having stuff between your toes (aside from jam and lint) takes a bit of getting used to also.  Before doing much of anything, I wore mine around the house for a week just to break them in and get used to them.

After a week of break in, I can honestly say that these shoes fit like a glove (for my feet).  I've done some weight training with them, some light short distance jogging, and they are surprisingly comfortable yet extremely flexible.

The article below was featured in a recent newsletter I received from the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

Like Barefoot, Only Better?

By McCarthy, M.S., Porcari, Ph.D., Kernozek, Ph.D., Willson, Ph.D., and Foster, Ph.D., with Mark Anders

Barefoot-style and minimalist shoes are one of the hottest trends to sweep the footwear category since Nike Waffle Trainer running shoes and Crocs. In fact, according to OIA Vantage Point and Leisure Trends, these types of shoes have continued to enjoy double-digit sales growth since the start of 2010 and have outsold nearly every other type of shoe during that time.

One of the shoes that has led the surge in popularity is the Vibram FiveFingers, a quirky-looking sock-style shoe with separate compartments for each toe. These shoes are designed to combine the feel of being barefoot with the abrasion protection of wearing a shoe. Many adherents also believe these shoes improve proprioception, balance and foot strength. You’ve no doubt seen people wearing these types of shoes to work out in the gym, for fitness walking, yoga, water sports and, one of the most controversial uses, running.

But why would someone want to run without running shoes? Lower-extremity injuries can be found in 20 percent to nearly 80 percent of all those who run, with some experts pointing to the high-impact forces of heels hitting the pavement and the use of over-cushioned, overly supportive running shoes as potential culprits. To that end, a small niche of runners have shunned shoes altogether as a way to escape chronic pain and injuries.

Here’s their logic: Barefoot runners tend to run more lightly, landing near the balls of their feet while generating less pounding than regular heel strike-style runners. Less pounding should then equal fewer injuries. And that notion seems to be catching on even more quickly with the advent of barefoot-style shoes, which make running “barefoot” more comfortable and more appealing to some runners.

In a study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the team reported that all of the subjects were rear-foot strikers while wearing typical running shoes, landing predominantly on the heel.  However, while running barefoot and in Vibrams, approximately one-half of the subjects switched to a forefoot strike pattern while the other half continued to impact the ground with their heels.


“It’s tough to re-learn to run,” says Dr. John Porcari. “When you look at the data even though we encouraged them to run with a more forefoot strike while wearing the Vibrams, half of the subjects still continued to land on their heels. Even with two weeks to practice and instruction in how to use the barefoot shoes, [the subjects’] bodies still tended to run the way they’ve

always run.”


Those subjects who switched to a forefoot strike showed a much more plantar-flexed ankle at ground contact

while wearing the Vibrams and while barefoot running. This greater flexion appears to allow better absorption of

the impact forces of running. However, those subjects who continued to utilize a rear-foot strike pattern experienced a higher rate of loading while wearing the Vibrams and running barefoot. In fact, load rates surpassed those of running with the typical running shoes, perhaps due to the lack of heel cushioning of the

Vibrams or while running barefoot. Researchers also noted that, for all subjects, there was less knee flexion while running barefoot and with the Vibrams, a condition associated with lower injury rates.


The bottom line is clear. “Just because you put the Vibrams on your feet doesn’t mean you’ll automatically adopt the correct running stride,” says Porcari.  Runners who fail to change over to a more forefoot stride while wearing Vibrams may open themselves up to discomfort and possible injury. “Buying these Vibrams and continuing to land your heels is probably worse than wearing shoes because the Vibrams don’t have any cushioning,” he says.

Whether you’re planning to run barefoot or while donning

Vibrams, follow these tips from ACE’s Pete McCall:

  • Walk first. “Give your body time to acclimate and adapt,” he says. “Start walking in them first and let your body get used to it.”

  • Ease on in. “If you’re currently doing 30 miles a week, try a quarter of that wearing the Vibrams or barefoot, and do the rest in your regular shoes.”

  • Change it up. McCall says it’s key to change your running style to fit barefoot running. In particular, focus on running with short strides while landing lightly on your forefoot.

As far as strength training goes, ACE Exercise Physiologist Pete McCall recommends trying Vibrams or similar style footwear while strength training. “They allow the foot to have better contact with the ground,” he says. “Having your heel elevated, like in a running shoe or other kind of training shoe, can actually throw off your balance.” Besides better balance, McCall says he’s experienced improved foot dexterity after a few years of strength training while wearing Vibrams.

ref:  ACE Certified News, August 2011



Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

Slider Slalom


More slider exercises... I figured I'd hit the abs again since everyone is so into it.  This slider move is kinda like a cross between the slalom jumps that Shawn T does in INSANITY and the jackknife exercise that you can do on a stability ball.  It's all abs for the most part and by crunching to each side, you add in some nice oblique work too.  Simple yet effective!


Target:  abs and sides (rectus abdominis and obliques)

Count:  4 count

Description:  Start in a pushup position with your feet on a pair of furniture sliders.  Keeping your back straight, crunch your abs while you try to pull you feet to the side of one of your hands.  Return back to pushup position before you perform the same movement to the opposite hand.  Repeat for maximum reps or until your form suffers.

My Latest Contraption J

For those of you that haven't been keeping up with the newsletters or Facebook group, our outdoor warrior workout club has been a blast.  We've had a few dozen people in and out over the spring and summer and a bunch that have become true veterans.  There's something about flipping tires, pushing sleds, sandbags, ropes, kettlebells, and the other toys that get the adrenaline pumping and make you feel like you've accomplished something!

I'm always looking to shake things up at these workouts and throw some new tools at the participants.  I've been thinking about making this outdoor exercise station for a few years now, so I finally decided to just go ahead and do it.  I tried to keep the standard chin and dip tower in mind when designing it, but I also wanted some versatility to perform as many exercises as possible on it since I was going through all the trouble of making it!

The design is pretty simple really.  My main focus was stability and versatility.  I got a pair of 12 foot 4x4s and a pair of 8 foot 4x4s that I buried about 2.5 feet in the ground with pea gravel.  I made some cross pieces out of 2x4s for stability and used some decking straps and screws to attach them.  I drilled 1.5 inch holes at various levels to allow me to thread 1 inch pipes at different locations, depending on the exercise that I'm doing.  I also added a few eye hooks for some rope work.

So as shown in the slide show above, I have used this multi-tower for chin-ups, dips, battling ropes, suspension training, lever rope climbs, inverted rows, and tricep blasts.  I'm planning to add some additional eye hooks up top with spring clips to allow for some more chin and suspension versatility, as well as my ab straps... but this has proven to be a good start J

Material total came in at just under $100 for this little project, with the 4 foot pipes accounting for just over $20 of it.  Not too bad when you consider the additional exercises that I'm able to add to my outdoor boot camps now.  Come join us one of these weekends and see for yourself J

Annual MS Bike Ride

Year number 14 for me with the Bike to the Bay.  I'll keep participating as long as I can in this one... it's a great ride for a great cause.  This is my annual pitch for riders, volunteers, and sponsors.  Participation in the National MS Society's annual ride will help raise funds for Multiple Sclerosis research and local programs.   

The 2011 ride is scheduled for Saturday, September 24th and Sunday, September 25th.  There are a variety of ride length options for all levels of cyclists.  You can do the new 25k ride (15.5 miles), 45 miles, 75 miles (the full route), 100 mile century, or 150 miles (full route on Saturday and returning on Sunday). 

If you are interested in participating in the Delaware MS150 Bike to the Bay this year, you can email me at or click here to join Team Bank of America

Sponsor dollars are good too!  If you are able make a charitable donation by sponsoring me for the ride, we can reach our goals that much quicker!  Every dollar contributed will help us to end the devastating effects of MS, sooner rather than later.

Thanks for your support!

Click Here to Register or
Sponsor Pete for the 2011
MS 150 Bike to the Bay

It's Go Time!

It's September already... that's it for the summer.  So how was the beach?  Did everybody feel confident wearing their swim gear?  I say it every year... now is not the time to relax and take it easy.  Now is the time to plan and attack your body changes for next summer!  These things don't happen overnight and you can't cram all your exercise and diet changes in a month or so before swim suit weather and expect big results!  Get a plan and START TODAY!

But wait, I'm moving too fast.  The kids might be back to school, but we still have time to take advantage of the weather!  I still have a charity bike ride and at least one more mud run scheduled before I go into winter hibernation, then I'm actually looking forward to digging into my INSANITY DVDs and sandbag intervals again during the winter months.  I like to mix things up and keep it interesting, but everybody is different.  Find out what motivates you and use it as fuel to continuously energize your workouts.

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Exceed Your Potential!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT


"You can tell how big a person is
by what it takes to discourage them."

youtube of the month --> Five Finger/Barefoot Study
ACE Certified Study on the Vibram Five Finger for exercise. | Personal Training | News | Tips & Tools | Fitness Stuff




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