[Update, June 22: I'm pleased to report that I've received a bare foot pardon from the Courthouse Athletic Club. The River Road location, at least. Gary, the manager, says that it is OK to be shoeless in the corner of the weight room where I like to do my Tai Chi and Yoga thing. Thanks, Gary.
I ordered some lightweight kung fu shoes before I got the news, though, and may end up wearing them at the club. Regardless, it's nice to have the bare feet option. I appreciate the support I received via comments from the bare foot community, all two or three of you. With every shoeless step, we move together toward open air freedom.]
This is a mug shot, so to speak, of the culprits. They’re what led a Courthouse Athletic Club employee to take me aside this afternoon and say, “Bare feet on the weight room wood floor aren’t permitted. If you want to do Tai Chi on a hard surface you’ll have to go upstairs.”
Busted! Where is the justice? The constitution gives us the right to bear arms; it seems like I should be able to bare feet. I doubt that the NRA is going to take up my cause. Maybe the Society for Barefoot Living will lend me support.
What surprised me is that I’ve been Tai Chi’ing and Yoga’ing along in bare feet for at least six months in a corner of the machine weight room. This area has mats and exercise balls and obviously is designed for stretching and such.
Granted, my barefoot “and such” has been unique. But countless athletic club employees have walked by while I’ve been doing my Tai Chi and Yoga thing, smiled, and never said a word about my lack of shoes.
Methinks I was turned in today by one of those fastidious women who wipe down every machine with disinfectant before they use it. I can picture one of them going up to the front desk and complaining: “There’s a man exercising in bare feet. Do something!”
I’m a victim of cultural bias. My comrades at the Society for Barefoot Living speak the truth when they say “the USA is one of the most anti-barefoot countries.” In Japan it is highly discourteous to wear shoes in a home, inn, temple, and many other places. In India I’ve seen thousands of people checking their shoes at a spiritual gathering and walking around barefoot or in socks to their seating places on mats.
We’re strangely bare feet-phobic in this country. Seemingly someone was disturbed about my clean dry feet stepping on a wood floor which they walked across on shoes. But they entered the athletic club after grabbing a door handle with their bare hand, which other bare hands had grasped after touching who knows what.
I can tell you: I’ve never covered my nose with a foot after I’ve sneezed. Nor have I used my foot to perform any toilet functions.
I was going to let this affront against bare feet slide and meekly either use Tai Chi slippers in the weight room or go upstairs to a proffered alternative hard floor. But I’m leaning toward taking a stand. Shoeless, of course.
My wife tells me that 80% of the people in her Courthouse Athletic Club Pilates class are barefoot. On a hardwood floor. Likewise, for nine years I took karate classes at the athletic club. We all were barefooted. On a hardwood floor. During warm ups we’d do push-ups and sit-ups on the floor that bare feet had walked on.
This article, “Why Bare Feet?”, explains why the martial arts traditionally are practiced in bare feet. One reason is cleanliness. Shoes are a lot filthier than feet. Yet many people at my athletic club enter already dressed in their workout clothes. Their shoes may have walked across a gasoline and oil-soaked parking lot, or a pesticide-strewn lawn.
Those same shoes then walk across the hardwood floor that I’m lying on, doing my Yoga routine. Yuk! Shoes suck! Bare feet are neat!
I’m always searching for a cause that will give meaning to my life, yet not take up too much time or energy. Advocating for bare feet might be my thing, and Oregon the place to do it.
In this regard, the Society for Barefoot Living conducted a state-by-state survey of Health Department rules concerning shoeless feet. The Oregon response was positive. There is no statute or administrative rule that requires shoes to be worn in restaurants. A restaurant may require this on its own, but it isn’t a Health Department edict.
Oregonians, stand up for your right to be free. All we have to lose are our shoes.
Here is our manifesto.
Right on, brother! Most maladies of the foot are directly related to shoes, and you aren't likely to pass anything of consequence to your fellow gym rats from your feet via a hardwood floor. Americans are, in general, germophobes, and our collective shoe-fetish is directly related to that.
I love walking outdoors in my bare feet, usually across the back lawn over to the strawberry patch through the morning dew...
Stand your ground, man. Stand your ground.
Posted by: greenink | June 02, 2006 at 10:35 PM
My Dad was a shoe person. I think he spitshined his jammy footies as a boy. Mom's a barefooter. My favorite picture of her includes them.
I'm with Mom. I only wear shoes when compelled to, mostly at work. Feet keep me grounded, in touch with the earth.
Just ignore the instruction unless the one who gave it is near. Feets gotsta be free!
Posted by: Kevin Hayden | June 03, 2006 at 01:28 AM
Gosh, it's been many years since I took Wu Ying Tao, a Northwest original martial arts philosophical cousin to Bruce Lee's Jeet Koon Do. It was all bare foot but I don't remember the reasons given for it at the time. This was back in the early 80's after all. What I do remember is that I had vastly better tactil feedback from bare feet than I would have had with shoes on. But, I also remember how fragile the bones across the top of the foot are and how wearing padding was a must for a track jock like I was waaaaaay back then.
I've been sorely tempted these last couple years to try Tai Chi. One of these days I'm just going to have to make the time and do it.
Posted by: Kevin | June 03, 2006 at 08:14 PM
If somebody drops a weight on your foot, a shoe might help somewhat.
I'm sure it's a lawyer/insurance thing.
Posted by: Jack Bog | June 03, 2006 at 11:17 PM
As I sit writing you, I am barefooted, my shoes left on a mat by the front door. Everyone who comes to our house removes their shoes without being asked. However, in Walnut Creek, we had to post a sign on our front door saying: "No shoes, please".
Posted by: Carol Ann | June 04, 2006 at 09:03 AM
I like bare feet. I almost always have bare feet at home, and those times that I walk around in shoes it makes me feel dirty! "Oh no! I'm getting nasty stuff all over the floor!" And mind you, our floors are not exactly these beautiful, pristine, virgin floors. They're 70s wood-looking vynil and carpet. Gotta love it!
Posted by: Eric | June 05, 2006 at 01:29 PM
Peach on, brother! Now this is a cause I can kick off my Birkenstocks and get behind!
Seriously, what on earth must have crawled up the b bum of the person who complained. Goodness! I love being barefoot, it feels so free and sensuous compared to the imprisoned feel of shoes. That might be a bit melodramatic, but seriously, that's the way it feels!
Posted by: amy | June 05, 2006 at 11:38 PM
I too am a member of the Society for Barefoot Living, and go barefoot everywhere. Even if they have a "No Bare Feet" sign I still go in, normally without a problem. There some very foot-phobic people out there, don't let them get you down. I'd rather get kicked out of a place than pay 50+ dollars for a pair of shoes that some deserving person in India, forced to work in a sweatshop, got paid 15 cents to make. I'll be barefoot forever, thanks.
Keep 'em bare and God bless -John
Posted by: John Taylor | July 07, 2006 at 02:24 PM
In Japan, bare feet are also discourteous. Japanese wear tabi socks.
Posted by: Me | June 08, 2011 at 07:20 AM
This claims, Thanks also to this said Editor, reporter and/or ' ' scribe ' ' for ' ' HinesSight ( Looks also to the way How an Oregonian sees things ) ' ' for that this i of his/hers said columns for ' ' HinesSight ( Looks also to the way How an Oregonian sees things ) ' ' on that that's so also with it now here STILL recounts also that in this case also, " ' ' ' ' The writer him/herself's ' ' ' ' ' ' BUSTED ' ' ' ' ' ' for padding around on BARE FEET ' ' ' ' " for him/herself for him/herself, for ANYONE whosoever accepts also that this even claims also, Thanks also to this said Editor, reporter and/or ' ' scribe ' ' for ' ' HinesSight ( Ganders thus at the way How an Oregonian sees things ) ' ' for that this i of his/hers said accounts for ' ' HinesSight ( Ganders thus at the way How an Oregonian sees things ) ' ' on that that's so also with it now here STILL recounts also that in this case also, " ' ' ' ' The writer him/herself's ' ' ' ' ' ' BUSTED ' ' ' ' ' ' for padding around on BARE FEET ' ' ' ' " him/herself for him/herself, for fans, for OUTSIDERS, for readers, for visitors, for others also and even for us, too....
Posted by: Warren H. | April 14, 2019 at 03:51 PM