Vivobarefoot Training Session

Imagine being given a computer and, having no experience, you teach yourself how to work it. You use it as best you can until someone upgrades your software and shows you how to use it. Properly.

This is what I felt like after attending a training session at the Vivobarefoot store in Covent Garden yesterday. Beforehand I wasn’t sure what to expect or what I’d be asked to do. I arrived at the store with my running kit and a bottle of water and was met by Natalia, my trainer for the session, who took me through to a glass roofed room at the rear of the store. We chatted about the type of running I currently do, how long I’ve been running, how far I run and whether I get any injuries, before she asked me to step onto the treadmill so she could film how I run at the moment. I’ve been using “minimal” footwear for a couple of years now so hoped that I’d have good running form, landing beautifully on my forefoot with easy, relaxed strides.

A quick look at the resulting video and I am disappointed – it shows me lumbering along, a kind of controlled stagger and not at all like the fleet-footed image of my running style that I had in my head. I have stiff hips, I lean forward too far and lead with my head… but before I have a chance to despair, I’m quickly told that it can all be fixed.

I’m taken to a pressure sensitive mat to check my stance – to see if I favour one foot more than the other or concentrate all my weight on one part of the foot. I’m then asked to run across the mat so I can see how my feet land and where the weight is distributed.

And so I am shown a series of stretches that I can do for ankles, hips, toes. I am instructed how to squat, properly, with feet flat on the floor and a weighted bar held above my head to ensure correct posture. It’s all quite gentle stuff and my trainer explains the stretches and then subtley corrects me when I do them wrong.

Then it’s back onto the treadmill. I’m asked to jump, with both feet, like I’m skipping and then continue running, take smaller steps, look forward, keep my head up. Then my trainer places a small digital metronome on the arm of the treadmill, it’s emitting a series of fast, tinny bleeps. I am asked to time my paces with the bleeps. It all feels strange…so different to how I usually run and yet… easy. Like gently running on the spot. This too is filmed – it is to be the sequel, the “after” sequence compared to the disaster movie of the “before”.

Before (left) / After (right)

Before (left) / After (right)

I leave the treadmill to watch the footage, side by side with the footage from the start of the session. It’s been less than an hour but Natalia has managed to take my clumsy running style and sculpt it into something neater, tidier and way more efficient. I am pleasantly surprised as I thought it would take far longer to make such a change. Natalia patiently answers the many questions I have and I leave the store feeling positive. I am more aware of how I move but more importantly, aware of how I should move. I’ve learned that a barefoot running technique is more than just buying some new shoes and avoiding a heel strike. Most of all I’ve learned that, with the correct instruction, changing your running style for the better is easier, and more enjoyable, than you think.

I did my training session at the Covent Garden store:

Vivobarefoot Experience Store
64 Neal Street
Covent Garden

t: 02073795959
e: 64nealst@vivobarefoot.com

One to One training sessions are chargeable and need to be booked in advance. However, if you are curious, the store offer free breakfast clinics which happen twice a month and a Running club every Tuesday (also free of charge which anyone can attend – shod or unshod). For more information, contact the store or log on to: http://www.vivobarefoot.com/uk/

2 Responses to “Vivobarefoot Training Session”

  1. May 25, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Very interesting… good to see it can have such an immediate effect.

  2. June 11, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I really prefer running barefoot! Interesting way to learn.

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