Despite using them so much, we don’t think about how healthy our feet really are. Here’s why barefoot training is fitness’ Next Big Thing.
While I am wary of anything that screams “fad diet” – eating for your blood type, cutting out whole food groups – I steadfastly believe that there is no such thing as a fad workout. Why? Because to me, any workout that gets you off your butt and moving is a good one!
When I first heard about the Willpower and Grace programme – which specialises in developing foot fitness – I was intrigued. It is part of a larger programme known as “The Willpower Method”, which was pioneered by fitness professional Stacey Lei Krauss. Krauss also happens to be the lead fitness advisor for barefoot shoe Vibram FiveFingers.
Why You Need Fit Feet
Willpower & Grace is a high-energy 60-minute barefoot workout (exclusively available at Momentum Lab) that combines calisthenics with dynamic yoga and pilates, as well as dance moves. What makes this workout different from the many other offerings out there is that during the workout, your awareness is constantly brought to your feet. You’re asked to “grip” the ground with your toes, for example; this will help stabilise your body when you’re performing some of your moves.
The point of this training is to improve functional foot fitness, which makes perfect sense. Think about it: We use our feet and legs constantly, yet we don’t really think about how they work in tandem with, as well as aid your body in the variety of movements you perform on a daily basis. Stronger ankles and feet will have a “domino effect”; these will lead to more stable knee and hip joints which, in turn, will help you develop a stronger core. With increased strength and balance, you’ll become more flexible and agile for better performance in a variety of sports – be it runnng or playing tennis. Plus, you’ll greatly lessen the risk of injuries.
I could already see how I was going to benefit from such a workout. Despite doing muay thai and boxing for close to five years now, my sense of balance leaves much to be desired. I’ve also sustained a number of lower-body injuries in the past decade: Multiple sprains in my right ankle, pain in both my Archilles tendons from running, and a tear in my MCL (medial collateral ligament) after a bout of muay thai sparring a couple of years ago.
In fact, I won’t be surprised if I injured myself so many times over the years because of poor foot fitness!
Stronger Feet, Here I Come
I was fortunate enough to try a Willpower & Grace class conducted by Stacey Lei Krauss when she was in a town awhile ago to help launch the programme at Momentum Lab. The workout was really intense – after 15 minutes, I found myself sweating buckets, yet because it was so much fun trying to keep up with the moves, time passed by in no time at all. If, like me, you’re not so coordinated, you will find yourself struggling at certain points of the class. Not to worry because the great thing about this workout is that it can be easily modified (I believe there are three difficulty levels), so beginners won’t stress themselves out feeling like they have to keep up with the more experienced ones in class.
Some people also perspire a lot at their feet – I’m one of them – and therein lies the challenge of a barefoot workout. You have to constantly grip the floor with your toes so you don’t slip, and this action of gripping will do loads in strengthening your feet.
The next day, I found myself aching slightly all over – always a sign that you’ve done a great workout. Of course, the results aren’t immediate, but I’m seriously considering doing this over the long term as I believe it will greatly help me in my other martial-arts based fitness activities.
I also had the chance to speak to Stacey about The Willpower Method. Here, she tells us exactly why you need fit feet.
Why is it that so many people in developed countries suffer from pain their feet?
That’s a result of poor choice of footwear. A lot of women squeeze their feet into pointy shoes or high heels; couple that with the constant pounding on the pavement and you have a recipe for the development of bunions, collapsing arches, and more. Also, when we work out, we’re used to doing them in sports shoes that are touted to “protect” your feet. In fact, a lot of these shoes actually make your feet “lazy” – causing their joints, ligaments, and muscles to become weak. Rather than preventing injuries, these sports shoes are actually the cause of many of them.
How did you become inspired to develop a programme specially to strengthen feet?
Having been a dancer for most of my life, I was used to exercising barefoot. But when I started teaching gym classes, I realised that a lot of people “slapped” their feet on their ground when they worked out barefoot, treating their foot as one big “paddle”. The impact is not good for their knees, and that’s when I realised that a lot of people actually didn’t know how to properly use their feet.
Who are the people you’re targeting for the Willpower & Grace programme?
Anyone, really. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been sedentary or a fitness junkie. The programme can be tailored to suit all fitness levels. I was also conscious of the fact that a lot of people just don’t have the time to put in hours of the gym, so one of the aims of this programme was also to create an intensive, full-body workout that can be done in an hour. That being said, I recommend that participants treat these sessions as one part of a larger, more comprehensive fitness programme. With regular barefoot sessions, they should see an improvement in their performance of other activities such as yoga, pilates, running, and martial arts.
The Willpower & Grace programme is available exclusively at Momentum Lab, 354 Alexandra Road, #01-15. Tel: 6339 2210. First time trial classes are at $35 per session. Besides Willpower & Grace, Momentum Lab also offers a selection of Pilates classes, HIIT training, and more.
Win a Willpower & Grace package!
4 lucky Material World readers will each win a 4-session Willpower & Grace package at Momentumb Lab, worth $200! To enter the draw, simply follow these steps:
1. In the comments section below, answer this question: “What’s the full name of the fitness professional who developed the Willpower & Grace programme?”
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This contest ends Friday, 4 April 2014, and is only open to followers of Material World and Momentum Lab.
Material World worked with Momentum Lab to bring you this review of Willpower & Grace. All opinions are the author’s own and were not vetted by the client. You may read our advertising policy here.