My Fivefinger Journey (Andrew Stead - PT and Fitness Coach)
Reflecting upon my health and fitness journey, I recognized the pivotal role Vibram Fivefingers played.
In my youth, I led an active life—playing football, cycling, climbing trees, and more. But university and urban work life changed that. A colleague once remarked how everything becomes more challenging after 30. I was skeptical until, by 27, I found myself in poor shape. With the birth of my second son in 2010, I was determined to make a change.
Like many, I took up running as it's affordable and accessible. I bought standard running shoes and began my journey. While initially I encountered no issues, my involvement in health and fitness deepened. Books, podcasts, weight training, and a decade of coaching football became foundational.
Around 2011, I read Mark Sisson's "Primal Blueprint" and later, Christopher McDougall's "Born to Run." The latter introduced me to barefoot or minimalist running. Consequently, I acquired my first pair of Fivefingers, the Bikila LS.
Despite regularly running 20-30 miles weekly, I naively tried a 5k in my new footwear. The aftermath? Extremely sore calves! This challenged me to refine my technique, eventually mastering the mid-foot strike.
My running experiences then transformed—participating in marathons and even ultra trail marathons. Issues like blisters and runners knee disappeared. Fivefingers became my staple, wearing them for various activities and daily use. Of course, their unique design often sparked curiosity and conversations.
Being made redundant from my desk job seemed like a setback. However, it was a blessing in disguise, enabling me to become a Personal Trainer. In the gym, my Fivefingers became my identity, distinguishing me from others. Over time, I experimented with various Fivefinger models, catering to diverse needs and occasions.
Today, Fivefingers remain integral to my identity. They've sculpted me as a trainer and individual, playing an unimaginable role in shaping my life and career ever since I first embraced them.
"What are those?"
If you wear Fivefingers, you'll often hear the question, "What are those?"
Responding to this question isn't easy, especially within the brief moment before people lose interest. I'm talking about the average person, the ones donning typical shoes.
In the past, when I was still new to Fivefingers (as well as fitness and coaching), my response would be exhaustive and slightly preachy. Coaches, including myself, tend to be verbose, eager to flaunt our knowledge. I'd passionately discuss how our ancestors never wore shoes, label contemporary shoes as "foot prisons," and extol their benefits. However, I soon realized that many would look at me incredulously, laugh, or even mock.
So, how should one reply? Over time, I've deduced that simplicity is key. Engage them by letting them steer the conversation and answer their inquiries succinctly. Most will only listen to answers that address their queries directly. If you preach or criticize their footwear choices, they'll disengage. Remain genuine, and your authenticity will shine. Continue wearing your Fivefingers confidently, and soon, they might even inquire where they can buy a pair.
A quote from Gandhi, a renowned minimalist footwear advocate, resonates: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win.”