Kemme Fitness

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Archive for Barefoot

For somebody who hates running, I’ll tell you why it is still a priority for me

As usual, I’ll give a touch of boring history to get things into context.  I have for the most part always hated running. I’ve done it. I didn’t die, but it is too mind-numbing for me.

In 2009 I broke my thumb and so I opted to run each day until it healed. At first it wasn’t that big of a deal. I had some coworkers to entertain me during the runs. It was almost fun, like a nice break from the intense Functional Fitness workouts. They were around 3 or 4 mile runs, so a nice 35 to 45 minute workout.

That is when I realized my problems.  I supinate, which is when your feet roll out to the side. I should’ve known this since all my shoes wear down on the outside and not the inside. The symptom I obtained was a flaring of my IT band at my knee.  I tell you, that stops you in your tracks pretty quickly.

Bummer.

But then….I discovered Good Form Running, thanks to my good friend and Good Form/Barefoot running expert, Jason Robillard.

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Next thing I knew and 2011 was the year for fitting in barefoot runs. I did 5 miles many times and even ended the good weather (I’m a fair weather runner) with a 7 mile trail run. I even wrote about Good Form running. I’ll speed up the history here: took winter off, didn’t do so well in 2012 and stopped really prioritizing the runs. This brings us to 2013.

2013 meant I didn’t care about running. Tried out a run in minimalist shoes, but my form was easily lost (barefoot was not an option due to heavy gravel). My knees ached again and I realized my form was horrible, yet didn’t care. So what if I couldn’t run a mile without discomfort!  So what!!  There!!

Then it hit me – when did I settle for not being able to run 1 stink’n mile? Really? That is when I got motivated and decided to make running a priority for me.  I now make sure I get in a mile around once or twice a week when it fits in well with my Functional Fitness workouts. I am starting slow and concentrating heavily on my form. In order to go barefoot-to where my form would self-correct-I would have to drive somewhere. Instead, I am working on concentrating with my Trail Gloves on to where I keep good form.  So far so good and my knees are doing well.

The point?  Well I need to be able to run a mile or two without a problem. If not, I can’t claim to have an excellent level of fitness. I will not settle! I will not give up!

I have no problem saying I hate running, but I won’t say that I can’t run.

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Painting a picture of the Urban run: what it really looks like

We had recently talked in some comments on a previous post about what an Urban really looks like.  If you find yourself in the midst of total boredom, I have written about it before here and here and here and here and here and here. If you want a “Reader’s Digest version” and a quick painting, so to say, of an Urban Run, skip the links and read below.

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The quick explanation is you run for a while, then stop and do some bodyweight exercises while using your urban landscape, then repeat for a total of about a mile (or shorter or longer).

But does this “stop and do some bodyweight exercises while using your urban landscape,” look like?

First off, a true Urban Run is not running down the sidewalk and stopping for some Push-ups and Burpees here and there. That would still qualify as a Functional Fitness workout in an urban environment, but you would be missing all the fun and benefits of the Urban Run. You need to keep an eye out at all times for things suchs as cement walls, railings, stairs, tunnels, bike racks, and benches (among other objects).

When you see those items, you have to utilize them. Here is what it looks like:

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Pull-ups on a cement wall, Bodyweight Rows hanging under a railing, Dips on the bike racks (depending on what style they are), crawling under objects or small tunnels, Bear Walking down a small flight of stairs, declined Spiderman Push-ups while your feet are on a small wall or bench, Box Jumps on a bench, Lunge Walks across a bridge, Frog Jumps for 4 or 6 or 10 parking spaces, Crab Walk up a hill and then back down, or run up the stairwell in a parking structure with Hindu Push-ups at each floor.

This is just the beginning. If you find a green space, or even if not, come up with little mini-circuits.  Steal some from the Bonus Circuit or Warm-up pages, or just use your imagination. Try a small sprint with Burpees at each end, or do various planks together, or have a V-Sit competition with everybody, or do animal walks back and forth, or….you get the idea hopefully by now.

The key is to have fun and be as creative as possible.

Functional Fitness barefoot

I stole from an old post, but wanted to share some of these thoughts again.

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There is a movement out there that is picking up momentum. It is the barefoot running and minimalist shoe running movement. Shoe companies such as Merrell have even changed the way they do business and are turning towards minimalist shoes that they call “barefoot shoes.” I know it is an oxymoron, but it is the new buzz word in the shoe industry, so deal with it.

A leading expert in the barefoot and mimimalist running industry is Jason Robillard from the Barefoot Running University. He is on the forefront of educating the masses about the benefits of barefoot running. He still uses minimalist shoes as tools for various races, training, or terrains. You want to buy a minimalist shoe? Well check out his website for reviews.

Now, let’s get on topic. Crosstraining is a different animal than running, so even if there are benefits for barefoot running, what does that mean for crosstraining?  I’ll be honest with you, there is little research in this area. Having good running form is essential to avoiding injury, and being barefoot is the best way to learn good form. However, what we do here at Kemme Fitness does not involve long distance running.

So why do I crosstrain barefoot?

I’ll be honest with you again…it just feels sooo good!  I love the feel of the tactile response I get from getting out of my “foot coffins.”  Ok, I stole that phrase and I’m probably not cool enough to use it, so I’m sorry to you real barefoot runners out there.

There are some other practical reasons here as well. I originally started because we still do some running and my IT bands would flare where they attach on the outside of my knees whenever I ran frequently. I began barefoot walking as suggested by Jason Robillard in his successful book, The Barefoot Running Book (I strongly suggest you read his book for tips on good form and how to start slowly and avoid pain as you learn to walk and run properly). Myself, I felt some top of the foot pain originally, as well as some discomfort from my calf stretching out to the natural shape. But guess what…no more IT band flares!

I have written another post on some safety issues for crosstraining barefoot. That post included some of the benefits as well, such as better balancing and the ability to perform Olympic lifts with heavier weights.

The barefoot crosstraining movement is no where as explosive as the barefoot and minimalist running movement, but I am here to tell you…we are not alone!

I urge you to try taking off your shoes. Make sure you are not doing box jumps on hard edged wooden boxes or anything your first day, but try doing a workout barefoot.

If you need a little protection and don’t want to purchase those expensive minimalist shoes, then pick up a pair of Aqua Socks from Meijers (or whatever your local supermarket chain is called) for $9.99 and use those. They are just as effective, but most likely won’t fit perfectly. But since we aren’t running 25 miles, a little sloppy shoe seems to work just fine.

And we want to here from any of you out there who are already crosstraining barefoot. What advice would you give? What do you like best? What safety tips can you share?

Have you met my friend Jason Robillard?

I’m sure there are many out there who only know about Kemme Fitness because of Jason Robillard and his insanely popular blog at Barefoot Running University.

For those of you that haven’t met Jason Robillard, let me explain why you should. 

Most people know Jason as a leading expert in barefoot and minimalist running. His incredibly popular book, The Barefoot Running Book, has sold over 25,000 copies in the 2nd edition. His third edition, which is going to be even more refined, streamlined, and informative, is coming out soon.

But you’re not a barefoot runner?  So why would you want to meet him? Be patient.

Jason had been a high school psychology teacher with a history background. He is also one of the original partners I had while developing Kemme Fitness, so his knowledge on Functional Fitness is also vast.  He is still sharing with others the benefit of our workouts as he trains for crazy 100 mile races.

Another interesting twist that adds to Jason’s experience, is that 2011 marked the year that his wife, Shelly, and he retired from teaching, moved into an RV and have been traveling the country (and the world) teaching about running in proper form, among other things.  The people they have come in contact with, the diverse environments they have learned to exericse/run in, have added to Jason’s tool box.

Jason’s blogs and social media connections have provided precious feedback from all types of people who are engaged in all types of fitness programs. Because I monitor his sites, we have learned together many things about how people exercise. This is also where his educational knowledge plays into things, as he adds insight into the way human beings process information and relate with each other.

Besides, there would be no Kemme Fitness.com if Jason hadn’t had a few beers with me a year and a half ago and talked me into it.  He has always been encouraging me to join him in his quest to share information freely to people who could benefit from it. 

Want to know why things at Kemme Fitness are free?  It is because Jason pointed out how sharing with others is the only way to engage in a business like this (especially when I have a day job). Greed, as so many websites are clearly about, will only close you off to growth.

And yes, I do run barefoot at times. And yes, I always workout barefoot. I have talked about it many times already here and here and here and here. I do it not just because it feels great, but there are some benefits that I explain in some of those posts.

Even if you never run barefoot, nor exercise barefoot, nor want to wear more flexible shoes as you workout, the information you can gleam from spending some time reading the ramblings of Jason Robillard will give you more knowledge in your tool box, so you can move forward with a healthy, well balanced, fitness program.

And if you follow his travels and see that he is coming to your town (or county), make sure you pay him a visit.  Bring a good wheat beer with you and he’ll sit down with you, believe me, you will be glad you did.

Say hi for me (he won’t come back to Michigan in winter).  So not fair!

book proposal & the certification issue revisited

I am been hemming and hawing for quite some time about redoing my ebook, “The body that God intended us to USE.” The reason I want to rewrite the book is because I realize how ineffective it is. I love the beginning where I go over the research behind Functional Fitness, and there are some other chapters I still feel are important, however, the book focuses on creating exercises and workouts. It even goes so far as to try and help folks share their workouts with others. I realize now my mistake.

This last year has taught me a lesson – only a very small select few want to take the time and create their own workouts. Making the main theme of a book about guiding people to create their own program is…well I hate to say it…asking too much of people. As my wife had always said, “who wants to do all that work? Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”  Of course she only is referring to the workouts (I don’t tell her what to do in any other aspect of our life). 🙂

There is another facet of the book that I feel is out of touch with what I want to say. The book has a sort of “we are elite crazy people doing weird and exciting exercises.”  Basically it has this cult-like feel similar to Crossfit. And those that know me, know that I am not Crossfit. I even redesigned this website months ago to reflect the new direction.

Also I have written K-Crosstrain, the 8 week crosstraining program for runners and ultra runners to get into Functional Fitness, as well as “The Low Cost Gym,” another free ebook on the site written to help save money by creating a really cool at home gym with things like the Clubbell and the Macebell.

I want this book to be a accumulation of all of those things. Here is a gist of the topics I want to cover:

-I want to keep a chapter on defining Functional Fitness.

-I plan on keeping the research and science behind the idea of working movements versus muscle isolation.

-I will continue to talk about equipment, but focusing on homemade equipment.

-I was hoping to talk about natural form running, being barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes for running and for the workouts.

-I need to make the chapters flow better. I had a review that gave me good ratings, but talked about my poor writing. Ouch!  I need to fix that.

-I was thinking of cutting out the whole idea of creating your own workout program. I will still give tips on how to work around injuries, weak joints, etc., but I will steer readers to this website instead. Basically I realized that there are too many exercises and workouts to put into a book. Instead I will send readers here for all the resources they need. That way the website can grow with its tool box and the book does not become outdated.

-I was also hoping to write this as a manuscript to submit to a literary agent for publishing (an actual real book) in lieu of the ebook format.

Now that brings us onto the next big issue:  certification.  I recently wrote a post about the certification debate, which is huge right now in the natural form (or barefoot) running community. Since I am contemplating querying a literary agent, I am wondering if it would give legitimacy to have a Functional Fitness Specialist certification. If I don’t would that impede any agents from wanting to help publish a fitness book?

Let me know your thoughts on the these matters. Just comment on this post.

Oh and here are some ideas for a title.  “The Functional Fitness Guide:  Get a natural shape through natural form crosstraining.”  The problem with that one is there is a website called the Functional Fitness Guide.  I could go with the Functional Fitness Book, but then I just feel like I’m mimicking Jason Robillard’sThe Barefoot Running Book.”  I already steal enough of his ideas as it is! 🙂  There is always,”The Functional Fitness Book:  You don’t need a gym or even shoes.”

Again, let me know what you think. Should I spring for a certification? How about the subject of the book?  Any ideas on a title?

Good form running – I love to share & all, but I’m getting in over my head

I have no problem sharing tips and advice when it comes to all things Functional Fitness. Now, I have been barefoot cross training for 2011 and half way through the year finally began running barefoot just for fun.

Barefoot Running expert, Jason Robillard, from Barefoot Running University warned me of my current problem earlier this year over some good draft beer and burgers. See, Jason has been teaching others to run with good form through his barefoot running clinics for years.  I never took one of his clinics and now he is out across the country (and sometimes world) so I’m stuck on my own.  He warned earlier this year and said that others that work out with me will be interested and will start trying to go barefoot.

What Jason didn’t warn me about, was all the friends, family, and coworkers constantly asking me about minimalist shoes, barefoot running, and good form running. I know I am using the term “good form” running, but that is becoming a popular term to describe how to run properly. Barefoot running is the best way to get their, but you don’t necessarily have to be barefoot to run with good form.

But I’m getting off topic (as usual). So I have been talking to all these folks about what I do know.  See how this sounds:

– The increased amount of force on the body from heel striking instead of a mid-foot strike.

-How many folks have less injuries and pain when they avoid heel striking.

-How to land mid-foot versus the heel.

-Leaning forward at the ankle and letting gravity help move you.

-Keeping your arms loose, yet core still firm.

-Trying to land quietly (I am still horrible at this with my clogging around).

-Move the feet faster and keeping your legs underneath your body.

-How you actually save energy running in good form versus swinging your arms and whipping your legs out in front of you.

-I talk about how a raised heel affects posture.

-I talk about the importance of taking it slow and to expect some discomfort in the calf or possibly top of the foot pain, and to listen to that and back off if needed.

-I even talk about the history behind the modern running shoe.

-I talk about how you need arch support with a heel strike because your foot turns inward with the extra force generated by the unnatural heel strike. More padded heels and more arch support then is needed and the vicious cycle continues until you can’t run anymore

So hopefully I have things right here. But even if I am spot on, that doesn’t solve my current problem.  I have an ever increasing number of interested people wanting me to show them how to run barefoot, or at least what is proper form.  I have never run a clinic. I don’t know how to watch their gate and teach them how to fix it. I can tell when somebody heel strikes easy enough, but how do I get them step-by-step to correct that.  Especially if they want to do it in minimalist shoes.

Help!!!  Can anybody out there give me some guidance. People are turning to me and I feel totally unqualified to fix their running form. It is one thing to explain why they should change their form, but another thing all together to help them do it.

I am counting on you BFers out there to guide me. Help me to help them. Or help me to avoid helping them. Maybe I just need to steer them someplace else. Please, please give me advice.

Sincerely,

your friendly barefoot loving, Functional Fitness, in-too-deep, friend.

The certification debate…if barefoot nerds can have one, so can us Functional Fitness geeks

My good friend and another really cool guy are helping to lead a debate among the main proponents of barefoot and minimalist running. The proverbial question:  “to certify or not to certify.”

On September 3rd of this year, my good friend and barefoot running expert (yes you are an expert Jason) wrote this: “Barefoot running coach certification: why it’s a bad idea.” Then he followed up a few days later with another post.  See Jason Robillard’s website at Barefoot Running University for more great insight.

Then a really cool guy, the Maple Grove Barefoot Guy, a man with so much swag that he shares it with those around him, wrote a post about the benefits of barefoot running certification. His post is here.

The saga continued on October 9th with Jason’s response to MGBG. Jason wrote about the certification alternative with his post. Personally, I’m not sure where I fall in on this. They both have good points and so far I’d say Jason’s response is compelling. Personally, I have issues with certifications myself.

That brings me to our discussion – Functional Fitness Certification.

So what certifications are out there?  I googled that exact term and immediately came across the American Fitness Professionals & Associates (AFPA)’s Functional Fitness Specialist Certification Course for a reasonable $395.  Hmmm.  NESTA (National Exercise & Sports Trainers) has the same cert for $199. Ooooh, FiTour has one for $299, but on sale for $79. The list went on and on.

So where do I go for a certification?  Do I chose the cheapest (I am quite the cheap bastard)? Do I chose the most expensive, since that is probably better?  Do I go with AFPA because it is more well known?  Maybe I should go for the one that also certifies in Kettlebells, since that one is probably closer to what we do?

And what about the dozen to twenty people I have been training these part few years?  They have been been training with somebody who is…oh no…uncertified.  Can I actually train people, or should I stop sharing until I pay for one of those courses? By the way, I’m a great test taker and could most likely pass any online certification after studying the material, but that doesn’t make me qualified to teach anything safely and effectively.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-certification. Nurses, teachers, police officers, and fire fighters have certifications, and they are important ones. I like that my physician has a license.  But I have also seen certified police officers who are poorly trained (the certification itself is not rocket science). On the flip side,  I can easily imagine highly trained police officers who don’t have to do the yearly certifications by the State. They simply practice and research and train on their own. It would be up to the individual municipality to make sure their force is trained. See…this debate is not an easy one.

So weigh in will ya.  What do you think about the issue? What do you think about doing our workouts knowing I have no certifications?  Maybe I should start my own Kemme Fitness Functional Fitness Certification?  KFFFC? On second hand…maybe not.

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