Training in MovNat is proving popular at The Fit Lab, but some of you are becoming aware that chunky Nike Airmax shoes and similar do not give you the feedback that you need and have asked for footwear suggestions. It can be hard to balance on a beam, a metre off the floor or even just a couple of inches off the floor if you can’t feel anything through your feet. So what to do?
The Purist Approach
The purist approach would be to go completely barefoot. There are those that are comfortable doing this inside or out and for some exercises such as the various crawl patterns we recommend that you do this. But for balancing on beams, especially the narrower ones, going barefoot can be quite tough on unpracticed feet.
The “barefoot shoe” approach
Barefoot shoes, better named as minimalist shoes, are a popular way of getting the barefoot feel with a degree of protection. There is a wide range of this type of shoe such as Vibram Fivefingers or Vivo Barefoot or Merrells. These companies all produce great shoes and you are bound to find at least one that you like. However, be prepared to part with £70-£100 for a pair – also be prepared to not be able to try them on very easily – these shoes are not commonly stocked in shops where you can try them out. An internet/mail-order lottery may be the only way to find what you need.
The “good enough” approach
As many of you are looking for a pair of shoes as an addition to your normal trainers, perhaps this option will prove the best start point. Feiyue, a chinese brand, makes a simple canvas shoe which has been popular for years with martial artists, particularly the Shaolin Fighting monks. These shoes have also been adopted by Parkour and free-running fans and they are cheap, comfortable and flat with a relatively thin sole. And they cost typically £8-£12 for a pair so its a low risk investment.
You can buy them in black or white here for £11 per pair – avoid the “high top” versions though. And if you want to stick to Amazon they have a whole range of colours and prices available – stick with the low top wushu variety and you’ll be fine! The shoes are on the narrow side but being canvas do give with time.