It’s been 6 weeks since my article Toe Shoes – Vibram Five Fingers and Working Out. That feels like enough time to have developed a solid opinion on working out in these things.
As far as I can remember, I’ve done every workout in these shoes since I got them (except for yoga, which I do barefoot). My article 10 Week Training Cycle Using Kettlebells and Dumbbells will fill you in on the workouts I’ve been doing.
I admit that I was skeptical when I saw that people were working out in Vibrams. Not only was I skeptical about working out in these shoes, I was skeptical about the shoes in general.
Fortunately, my curiosity got the better of me, and now 6 weeks later, I can honestly say that I don’t think I will ever do kettlebell workouts again in any other shoe, if I can help it.
While wearing these shoes you are connected to the ground in a way that you’ve never felt before. You have the same comfort and ease as you do when you are barefoot, but you also have a nice grippy tread on the bottom of your foot. You can walk, turn, and twist without fear of slippage. The shoes are extremely light weight and non-obstructive. You can feel your toes actively engaged in your balance, motion, and plantar dexterity.
To put it simply, Vibram Five Fingers are perfect for doing kettlebell workouts!
Everything I just said about Vibrams and kettlebells ^ up there, applies here! I wore them while working every part of my body. I wore Vibrams while working my legs, upper body, arms, and abs and will continue to do so!
Cardio is where my gushing review of these shoes takes a stumble. I know that some runners swear by them, but I’m not a runner so I cannot attest to that. I did do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) calisthenics, plyometrics, and hiking in them.
The calisthenics were fine, and I remain neutral about wearing them for this type of workout. It might be that I am just used to a lifetime of firm support and cushion that cross trainers provide, but regardless, I do not have the same gushing praise as I did with the kettlebells.
Plyometrics hurt my feet while wearing Vibrams. It might be different if I did this workout in grass or on softer ground, but I did this workout in my living room like I usually do. The jumping, landing, turning, and bounding in opposite directions took their toll, and after my 40-minute workout, my feet were sore! I think I’ll stick to my cross trainers for doing plyometrics!
Hiking and walking in general was also a mixed bag. Walking through a park and on grass is absolutely wonderful and I really recommend that! Hiking in rocky terrain is not so wonderful. I hiked for several miles around Mt. St. Helens and wished that I had brought my hikers! Walking on concrete and around the city is fine, but I think that I’ll be wearing other footwear for long distances on concrete.
We only had a few weekends this summer here in Oregon where it was warm enough for me to get in water. I wore my Vibrams on a sandy beach and while wading on the banks of a river. They were fine for support and for knowing that my bare feet would be separated from any junk or debris, but once sand finds its way into the Vibrams, there is no way for it to get out without your stopping to remove the shoe and shake it out. My girlfriend wore her Keens in the river and didn’t have that problem.
When you first put the Vibrams on, they feel like they are already broken in. After several weeks of wear I can say that is not the case. They do break in more as you wear them and I suggest going easy in them until they are broken in with several weeks of wear.
I did develop a couple of calluses on the bottom of my foot and big toe that I didn’t have previously, and I can only attribute these to the Vibrams. Calluses never hurt anyone though, and I did not get any blisters.
I bought a pair of injinji Performance Mini Crew Toesocks, and they increased the snugness and warmth of the Vibrams – and that was just fine as the shoes are not very warm. I’ve only worn them with the socks a couple of times but will be doing this more as winter moves in. The temperature began to drop the other day while I was working out on the back patio, and my toes were cold by the time I finished.
No Vibram review is complete without mentioning the funkiness that occurs after several weeks of sweating in these things. I don’t care if your feet usually smell like roses, they won’t after wearing Vibrams with 3-4 weeks of built-up sweat juice dried in them! Fortunately, all it took to clean them was throwing them in the wash with my regular dirty clothes. I wash everything in cold anyway, so I didn’t have an issue with that. They came out clean and without the smell. I couldn’t help but wonder how many washes a pair of shoes can take before something starts falling apart on them. I don’t know, but I’ll find out I suppose. One wash and wearing them in water sure didn’t faze them.
Due to the smell, I’ve decided that I should use my KSOs only for working out, and for everything else, well…let’s just say that I’m waiting for my TREKSPORT pair to arrive any day now!
Note: I am not an affiliate of Vibram and this article is not sponsored by them. I do not benefit monetarily from talking about Vibram Five Fingers. I’ve written this review just for you, and for me!