Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Germans are Coming

So, Adidas, the Avis of the athletic shoe world, has jumped into the minimal-shoe race. Their newest footwear, the Adipure Trainer, is due out in November, ninety bucks a pop, and while they are being touted as runners, Gizmodo says they are targeted for the gym more than the track, more like cross-trainers.

I think they are every bit as attractive as Vibram fives myself, but I'm guessing the barefoot crowd can't wait to grab 'em.

I won't go through the whole discussion again. The folks who like these kinds of things will probably like the new offering from Adidas. They reportedly have a bit more sole than Vibrams, foam-cell cushioning, but still not anything close to traditional arch-support and fat-heeled athletic shoes.

Fans say these are like ebooks–they aren't nearly as popular as paper, but coming on. Athletic shoe biz in the U.S. alone pushes 22 billion dollars a year, and the minimalist footgear is a little over $750 million, that's what? between three and four percent?

I think ebooks will probably get a lot more of the book market than rubber slippers will get the running shoe market, but I've been wrong before. 

Frankly, I think they'll do better as gym shoes for several reasons. First, iron pumping, riding a stationary bike, using a treadmill or stair-climber are all much lower impact activities than running on the sidewalk. When I had my home gym, I usually worked out barefoot and never had problems.

Second, if you are the kind of guy who can drop a nice monthly chunk  on your gym membership, chances are you will wear spiffy and spendy clothes, and the foot gloves would go with three-hundred-buck co√∂rdinated Physique gym outfits and Big Dog muscle shirts.

Third, if you go to the gym to pick up women as much as you do to work out, anything that's a good conversation starter is an asset. As long as the conversation doesn't start with "Wow, those are the stupidest-looking shoes I have ever seen!"

I can see places where minimal footwear would be useful. Couple weeks back, whilst jumping hither and yon in the sandpit at my silat teacher's, I managed to raise a blister on the ball of my right foot. That's because I prefer dancing shoeless in the sand. Great, as long as you are sinking ankle-deep in the stuff after a fifteen-foot step-and-hop; not so great if you repeatedly hit a patch where the sand has thinned to a dusting with packed earth under it. Like jumping barefoot onto a big sheet of sandpaper. Bad idea.

But the It's-natural-to-run-barefoot business still doesn't work for me, and since I'm not apt to be running anyway, doesn't really matter anyhow.


Jim said...

I don't like the "glove" approach for the toes. My feet are weird, and I doubt I'd fit 'em comfortably. I know the time when I tried Japanese tabi style footwear didn't work well...

New Balance has a new shoe out called the Minimus. (
If I had a hundred bucks or so to spare, I might try 'em out for training and the gym.

Right now? That hundred bucks has a lot of better uses springing to mind... even if it's just a pair of shoes I can comfortably wear more places than just the gym or for training.

Mushtaq Ali said...

I'll stick with my $11 a pair Wu Shoes, or just run around barefoot.