100 Days of Fitness: Week 7 – Footwear

How long does it take to change your life? Follow author Robert Fure as he begins a 100 day trek to a fitter, healthier life by following this simple program. Today, we talk about footwear on the 100 Days of Fitness program.

Footwear? Really? Yes. Really. It's pretty important. Vital, in fact, if you work outside or go running a lot. If you work out at home, then footwear isn't that big of a deal. In fact, you might not even need them at all. Sound strange?

Plenty of people work out barefoot – actor Tom Jane for one and some guy named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now, big Arnold used to work out barefoot in the gym, which I wouldn't recommend to my worst enemy (okay, to my worst enemy I would). Gyms are dangerous – full of lots of people dropping lots of heavy things. Even worse, the amount of dirt, grime, and bacteria swimming around the floor. You don't want any of that on your feet.

But at home – hey. I actually work out barefoot. There are some benefits. First, you don't dirty any of your socks. Yeah, I'm joking. Sort of. But really, training barefoot helps work on your stability and balance.Some people maintain that wearing a shoe changes the way that your leg muscles work in walking and running, so going the natural route can get you back in tune with nature. But really, I don't like going through two pairs of socks a day and I do feel increased performance in my balance and stability.

That said, I think people who run barefoot are idiots. I think people who would go barefoot to the gym are dumb. I think those five-finger shoe glove things stink, look terrible, and probably aren't that great for your foot. Running outside, or on the treadmill, involves a lot of hard impact on hard surfaces in areas that may be littered with sharp debris. Someone may try to tell you that cavemen went barefoot, but I would reckon cavemen never ran on concrete, nor did they just go for a two hour run in the morning to feel good. Wear shoes.

When selecting the proper footwear, you want to look for the following:

  • Fit
  • Comfort
  • Durability

Fit is most important – if you have a shoe that doesn't fit correctly, you're more prone to injury, both serious ones like twisted ankles and pulled muscles, and relatively minor ones, like blisters and ankle scrapes. After that is comfort, which is a no-brainer – if you're going to be working hard in a pair of shoes, you want a comfortable set. When I see people working out in dress shoes or boots, that's a no-no for me. Shoes like that weren't meant for hard, repeated impacts and running. You should get a shoe designed for the athletic activity you're going to be doing.

Last, but not least, is durability. I'm notoriously rough on shoes and can burn through them pretty quickly. That's just an annoying waste of money. I'm willing to spend a few extra bucks to get a quality pair of sneakers – though don't let price fool you. Just because it's expensive, doesn't mean that it's not going to break apart after a month.

Personally, I wear the Reebok Zigtech shoes. These are, without a doubt, the most scientifically advanced pair of shoes I've ever owned. They're also aggressive looking, which is a plus for me these days. The sole of the shoe has radically been redesigned in this zig-zag fashion, which serves a few functions. The soft-heel of the shoe seems to absorb more impact, which sends less of a shock into your body. This design also gives the shoe better flexibility, allowing it to bend and flex with your foot with every step, which is beneficial while running or doing more extreme activities that require greater flexibility, like free running or climbing. Reebok states that the Zigs decrease wear and tear on your body by 20%, though I've got no way of testing that.

In fact, all that science blah-blah-blah doesn't really matter to me. What matters is comfort and durability, and the Zigtechs are homeruns on both fronts so far. In terms of comfort, I've got a fat foot – I normally wear wide shoes when available, or order a half-size up. Even then, its hard to find shoes that fit great – its impossible for me to wear ADIDAS without buying like a size 14 because they're so narrow. The ZigTechs, upon first laceup, felt a bit snug, but actually accommodated my feet well and and had good breathability to them. On the subject of durability, I've worn them around the house, to the gym, ran them up and down pavement, and jumped just about every which way in them and they're still like new out of the box.

If you're going to be running around the house working out (which I highly recommend) then shoes aren't important. But once you step outside into that dangerous world of syringes and dirt, strap on a good pair of athletic shoes.

My Results

After a bad week last week, this weigh in gets us back on track with four pounds lost on the scale. Like I mentioned last week, I put some blame on the foods I ate late at night before last weeks weigh in. What probably happened was I lost a pound or two last week, but the couple of beers kept me a bit bloated. Then this week I probably hit a normal stride and lost two or three pounds. That would be a more reasonable guess of what's going on rather than I lost no weight last week and then a whopping four pounds this week. So anyway, that brings my weight down to 238.5 pounds for a total of thirteen pounds gone. Works for me!

Robert Fure is a fitness, lifestyle, and entertainment writer living in Los Angeles. He is also a certified Personal Trainer and the Creator/Editor of Fit and Furious, an online outlet dedicated to the pursuit of a fit lifestyle. His entertainment work can be viewed at Film School Rejects.