Extreme minimalism Monday: Shoes are clutter

I went jogging this past weekend with the extreme minimalist.

He’s been exercising regularly over the past month. He’s actually lost a considerable amount of weight lately, which probably has nothing to do with his new diet.

By now I should really know not to be surprised by any of his newly-acquired eccentricities, but I still did a Danny Thomas spit-take after we met up on the trail and I saw that he wasn’t wearing shoes.

At first I figured I should probably just ignore it. Questioning him about such things only seems to encourage this type of behavior.

Twenty minutes into the run I saw him charge right through some dog shit someone had inconsiderately failed to remove from the trail. I figured this might be a good opportunity to gently remind him of the obvious benefits of footwear. I should have followed my initial instinct, as he began to lecture me on the issue.

  • I learned that Abebe Bikila and Tegla Loroupe set world marathon records without barefoot, so you obviously don’t need expensive sport shoes to be a good runner.
  • I learned that wearing shoes contributes to weakening of the feet.
  • I learned that I’m complicit in Chinese human rights violations by purchasing shoes made there.
  • I learned the I can find out more about going barefoot by visiting the site of the Society for Barefoot Living

After a few minutes I realized he hasn’t just stopped wearing shoes while exercising. He stopped wearing shoes entirely.

I’m worried this might be progressive and he’s going to slowly become a nudist one article of clothing at a time.

32 Comments for “Extreme minimalism Monday: Shoes are clutter”

  1. posted by Scott on

    He obviously hasn’t spent any time in Arizona. Just try walking down your driveway to the mailbox without shoes on during a summer afternoon in Phoenix.

  2. posted by Caro on

    Or Canada, where snow covers the ground 6-8 months a year!

  3. posted by Rob on

    Diabetics need not apply.

  4. posted by Callista on

    There is nothing wrong with being barefoot, it’s much better for you. Caro, not all of Canada has that much snow, we only get a month or two of snow and that’s not for the whole time period either. I know it wasn’t what you were trying to do but thanks for letting me know about the Barefoot Society. I joined!

  5. posted by Dean Johnson on

    He probably doesn’t work in a place like a hospital either.

    With regards to barefoot and winter, its not just the snow, but its also the cold. Wet feet from the snow and bitterly cold weather aren’t a winning combination.

    For running I would worry about running through feces so much, as they wash off. Its the broken bottles and sharp protruding rocks that I would worry about.

  6. posted by Caro on

    Callista- in Northern Alberta we have that much snow, and windchill warnings when it gets to -40, where exposed skin can freeze in under 10 minutes. I don’t even expose my face, let alone my feet!

  7. posted by disconnect on

    “Americans know as much about Canadians as straight people do about gays. Americans bring skis to the border in July, and straight people think that being gay is just a phase. A very long phase.”

    -Scott Thompson, Kids In The Hall

  8. posted by Christa on

    I Love this Guy!!!hahaha

  9. posted by Awurrlu on

    I recently helped a friend move, and realized he had exactly two pairs of shoes, both Merrell Jungle Mocs. I thought this was absolutely brilliant, and it inspired me to pare down my shoes to a few pairs for each season. While I’d love to go to a two-pairs-only system, my toes want to be free in the summer and cozy in the winter.

  10. posted by Laura on

    I spend a lot of time barefoot and agree that a judicious amount will help your feet be stronger, but come on. Not wearing shoes outside, in an uncontrolled environment, seems to be asking for lacerations and all other kinds of injury. Most people will also find that their feet need more support as they age and going without shoes can actually cause more damage. Our ancient ancestors may have been shoeless, but they also often lived without roofs over their heads, which I don’t think most of us would forgo permanently.

  11. posted by Jesse on

    I AM curious, however, as to how he gets around the “no shirt, no SHOES, no service” that seem to be just everywhere I go.

    And what about the warning that going barefoot can make you susceptible to tapeworms and the like?

    And I have to agree with Dean Johnson above – what about broken glass? Rocks? Sidewalks or blacktop (even in Missouri, it was bad growing up!)? He’s got tougher feet than I have, I can tell you that! *grin*

    However, I DO enjoy being barefoot around the house, and am not bothered by others taking their shoes off when they visit if they want to. This, regardless of my concerns, sounds very liberating!

  12. posted by Anonymous on

    Not wearing shoes is fun.
    Not wearing shoes EVER, as a rule? A wee bit odd.

  13. posted by Helen on

    I seem to remember seeing a podiatrist recommending that ‘non supportive’ shoes – basically, flop-flops, thongs, whatever you call them – are the way to go (contrary to the highly supportive shoes we have always been told were good for us). So if you don’t want to be extreme, go for a happy medium – a lightweight pair of breathable, canvas shoes, sandals etc. So your feet have some protection but can still move naturally. Go barefoot at home.

  14. posted by vanderleun on

    This person is going to need an intervention or institutionalization. Probably both.

    Get going. Well begun is half done.

  15. posted by Liam Quin on

    I also live in Canada, and I can go barefoot for about six months of the year.

    In fact, feces are more of a danger than broken glass. Broken glass that’s large enough to see is easy to avoid; after a while of going without shoes your feet can walk on smaller pieces without injury. Turds, in some parts of North America (and elsewhere) can carry parasites, although in most cases you’d need an open (bleeding) wound for anything to get in.

  16. posted by Not a Square on

    It is an interesting concept. I love his thinking outside the box and not conforming with normal standards but his extremities may end up being more irrational than logical at this rate if he fails to avoid animal waist.

  17. posted by Monica Ricci on

    I’m all about being shoeless (and naked) as much as possible. In fact, as a kid, I ran around barefoot outdoors CONSTANTLY and got my share of callouses, cuts, etc. However, these days, the naked and shoeless thing is typically limited to when I am indoors. And running through dog poop in bare feet is just horrid to me, I must say.

    If Mr. Extreme Minimalist wants to go shoeless everywhere that’s his deal and he’s welcome to it of course, but I’d not rationalize that it’s actually healthier or smarter in some way. As has been pointed out, there are schools of thought that say being shoeless ALL the time is actually NOT healthier for your feet or your immune system.

    Chinese women used to (and maybe they still do) routinely give birth squatting in a rice paddy but I’m not seeing throngs of pregnant American women eschewing the hospital in favor of copping a squat in their flower garden. Just because some culture in another time, in another part of the world did/does something, doesn’t mean it’s a best practice.

  18. posted by Liz on

    I live in a sketchy neighborhood in Chicago. I must say, the barefoot thing wouldn’t fly here. I worry about my _dogs’_ feet when we go on walks.
    I also have collapsed foot arches and am supposed to walk around in special arch-support inserts 🙂

    I actually have heard that it isn’t the best to run barefoot, that yes people have done it but it’s better to run with some support due to the pounding you’re giving your skeleton.

  19. posted by Dean Johnson on

    Going barefoot in a bad part of town may give you the psycho look you need to not get hassled.

  20. posted by Max on

    Extreme Stupidity

  21. posted by Charles on

    I would say this falls into the “Almost clinical” category. I mean, I don’t have more than 3 pairs of shoes (everyday shoes, dress shoes, and flip flops) but no shoes at all? I don’t think my restaurants customers/employees would appreciate it. Obviously, this is for the EXTREME minimalist.

  22. posted by H20 on

    In my country, most of us (99.9%)barefoot inside the house, and sometimes if i do jog around the park(which is covered with grass all over) it’s fun to put away our shoes… But barefoot at the roadside and anywhere else seems like a lunatic or extremely poor…. We dare not to hang out without shoes, and we never wear shoes inside our home… Most of us own just a pair of shoes and a pair of slippers (for outside usage only)

    Yes, Charles, obviously for extreme minimalist….

  23. posted by berta on

    is the extreme minimalist a real person? i like him!

  24. posted by Whoa Nelly on

    That is so gross. This guy wouldn’t be allowed to set foot (literally) in my house. No telling what kind of nasty stuff he’s tracking around on his feet: ringworm, athlete’s foot, bacteria, parasites. Yuck! I hope his wife or girlfriend (if he has one) makes him boil his feet before going inside their house.

    Whatever he wants to do on his own time is fine by me, but once he enters a public space, he’s putting others at risk. I’d say he’s Extremely Selfish.

  25. posted by Drew on

    A lot of the questions people have about barefooting are answered at the FAQ page of the Society for Barefoot Living, linked in the article. Barefooters routinely experience everything from curiosity to ridicule from “the shod.”

    Yes, there are some people who go barefoot almost all the time, even for running and hiking. Most carry some kind of sandal for times when they simply must enter an establishment that requires footwear. Some have made agreements with local business owners that allow them to go barefoot if they waive the right to sue if they are injured – because it’s not “hygiene” that’s the main issue, it’s liability. We don’t require people with colds to put on rubber gloves before touching a shopping cart, for example. Far more diseases are passed by unclean hands than from feet.

    For the record, I go barefoot a lot, but I’m not interested in the activist side of things. If a business owner wants me to put on shoes, I do, or I take my business elsewhere. And I don’t walk barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways. 😉

  26. posted by amanda lee on

    As much as I’d love to do this, I think that living in New York City means that if you go barefoot at all outside, you automatically expose yourself to all kinds of nasty communicable diseases, just like Whoa Nelly pointed out above.

    But I love going barefoot indoors–actually, no one is allowed in our bedroom with shoes on. It definitely makes it easier to clean.

  27. posted by howsyredge on

    I have over 70 pairs of sneakers. Imagine how my organizer wife feels (Hi honey!). I’d rather wear sneakers than hang out at my office barefoot.

  28. posted by Paula on

    Doesn’t anybody think about plantar fasciitis? I now only own one pair of shoes, after running around barefoot most of my life, because of that. I literally can’t walk unless I wear this particular pair of shoes almost all the time. Even to go to the loo in the middle of the night!

  29. posted by Dorianne on

    Ha! I feel much better now. On my one and only trip to NYC (part of a longer trip that involved MUCH walking), I wound up with half the soles of my feet covered in huge blisters. SO much pain. Upon reaching Liberty Island, I sat down on the side of the path, stripped off my boots, stuffed them in my backpack, and walked around for the rest of my trip in black socks. Nobody noticed.

    More seriously, these days I go barefoot a lot, and subsequently have very thick callouses on the soles of my feet. Usually when I step on a sharp rock or a piece of glass, I barely feel it, and never draw blood. But I don’t spend much time outside barefoot. One thing I do fear in this neighbourhood is hypodermic needles. Also, even though I can pick up things off the floor with my toes, I can’t drive barefooted for the life of me!

  30. posted by Twitchy on

    I dunno, going barefoot is like beer. It’s good in moderation, and there’s a time and place for both.

  31. posted by Teresa on

    Dare I say that most of us wash our feet on a daily basis in the bath or shower. How many of us wash the sole of our shoes… EVER? Those who are grossed out by the parasites, germs, bacteria that might come in on bare feet…do you not think that the same stuff attaches itself to shoes and is tracked all over the house anyway?

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