I was glad to see your item about (almost) barefoot running, &ldquoIDEA Reader’s Choice: Fitness Find or Fitness Flop?&rdquo in IDEA Fitness Journal [Making News, June 2010]. I have been a barefoot runner for 3 years and have loved it. Yes, it was slow going in the beginning, just as any new training would be. But as a result, I was able to rid myself of a 15-month bout with plantar fascitis in only 4 weeks. Since the early days of barefoot running, I have gone barefoot for 10-20 minutes after a regular run. The feet adapt; running form drastically improves; and the enjoyment of not being confined in hot, stiff shoes continues to grow (especially here in Texas!).

I encourage my clients and running friends to try barefoot running whenever they can. They don’t have to be a “total convert” to gain some of the benefits. The strength that develops in the feet and lower legs, the lighter landing while running that reduces stress and the sheer fun of going without shoes is worth it.

Thank you also for titling your article “(Almost) Barefoot Running.” I hear about people “barefoot” running all the time, yet they have on Vibram® [footwear]. That’s like saying you’re naked, but yet you have on a robe. Vibrams have their place, and I know many who enjoy them (personally I found them hot, and they rubbed blisters on my heels), but let’s face it—it’s not barefoot running.

I would encourage everyone to try a little unshod running. But like anything else—speed work, longer runs, etc.—start slowly and gradually increase. That’s the key. Listen to your body, and make adjustments in your form. Your body will tell you what to do if you just listen!

Stacie Sauber
Purely for Fitness
Southlake, Texas

I’ve had the FiveFingers® Classic by Vibram footwear for over a year. I use them for stand-up paddle boarding and beach volleyball when the sand is too hot or filled with too much debris, and I have run trails with them.

I think [Vibram] is onto something. If only to increase awareness of proper ground strike, push-off, lateral forces, etc., I think they’re a valuable piece of equipment. As a Pilates instructor and practitioner, [I know that] feet are an important part of awareness for me and my clients. Poor movement often begins, and can be modified substantially, in the feet. Strong, balanced, correctly aligned feet can make a world of difference in movement and posture. I think [this footwear] can be a tool in helping that to happen.

Layla Khashoggi
Guest Instructor, PilatesAnytime.com
Glenbrook, Nevada

Video Web Extra! Brings Choreography to Life

I was so pleased to see that IDEA Fitness Journal included a Video Web Extra! for Julz Arney’s “Sample Class: Dance Boogie Blend” [Class Take-Out, June 2010]. As an untrained dancer, I sometimes have difficulty transferring written choreography into something I can use in my classes. Julz is a great instructor and choreographer. Now I can make better use of her article. I hope the magazine will include more videos like this in the future and archive them on the website so members can find them easily. I would love to see some videos for step aerobics and water aerobics.

Cecile Thomson
Group Exercise Instructor,
GlenLakes Golf and Country Club

Weeki Wachee, Florida

IDEA Stands Head and Shoulders Above the Rest

Your association is the best in the business. I have been training for 20 years but have owned and operated my own personal training and fitness consulting company for only 5 years. Of all the associations I have encountered, yours is head and shoulders above the rest. It has the market cornered on professionalism and up-to-date practices and techniques in the health and fitness world.

Scott Jenkins
Resurgence Health & Fitness Solutions
Port Hope, Ontario

Here Comes the Bride

Thank you for highlighting the wedding and bridal market in “Personal Training for Brides” [Profit Center, June 2010]. [I have] two additional suggestions and tips for fitness professionals looking to dive into this market:

1. If fitness professionals do not have a gym where they work or do not have the money for their own private studio, a great place to offer a program is a city park. The local city parks department is often open to offering new programs that will drive traffic to their facility and will offer help with marketing.

2. If fitness professionals [cannot afford] to be vendors at a wedding expo, they can always search local wedding events, partner with a particular store or event and offer their services (e.g., a free seminar on how to get in shape for the wedding). A great event offered in Chicago and other markets is the Running of the Brides. This event draws hundreds of brides-to-be, who line up outside a store a few hours before the doors open. The UNICUS Fitness Wedding Boot Camp team puts together marketing materials to hand out to brides in the line and conducts a raffle while the brides are waiting (and gathers contact info from the brides), and there is no additional cost to us.

Dina Castillo

UNICUS Fitness
Chicago, Illinois

Can Our Bodies Differentiate Good Stress From Bad Stress?

After reading “Can High-Intensity Exercise Cause Heart Disease?” [Making News, June 2010], I was inspired to respond.

From my understanding, which stems from research published in medical journals, the body cannot differentiate between good stress and bad stress (Kiffer 2010). In fact, whenever the body undergoes any type of stress or change in its internal environment, the body counterbalances this temporary state with a physiological response in order to re-establish homeostasis. For example, when we eat, leptin is said to be released into the body so that ghrelin is counterbalanced, which brings on satiety, and therefore helps us to diminish eating (Banks, et al. 2002). Another example is when we exercise, epinephrine and endorphins are released to counterbalance an increasing heart rate. With that said, I believe that excessive stress to the body, due to overtraining, overeating or any other overabundance of behavior, can tax our hearts and other systems beyond their ability, leading to system dysfunction. Chronic stressors of any sort that require excessive hormonal release lead to chronic hormonal imbalance, which ultimately accelerates the aging process and can eventually lead to death. If we [compare] our bodies to cars, one may agree that some people treat their four-cylinder engines as if they were six-cylinders and eventually blow the engine.

Regarding the point made by the author, Despina Kardara, MD, there is an inverted U-shaped relation with arterial stiffness for those who exercise too little or too much. I lost a very dear friend of mine to leukemia. He was an Ironman® athlete, a marathoner and a chiropractor, and I speculate to this day that his illness may have been brought on by his constant overtraining. We will never know for sure, but for someone who was as fit and healthy as he was prior to getting this disease, with no apparent family history of cancer, one can only wonder. As athletes, trainers and coaches, we must therefore educate people on the potential risks of overtraining, while doing our very best to ensure safety among the clients we work with at all times. We can do this is by staying on top of the latest research on exercise intensities, by knowing their long-term impact on one’s health and by using our common sense.

Jenn Zerling, MS, CPT
Los Angeles, California


Banks, W., et al. (2002). Extent and direction of ghrelin transport across the blood-brain barrier is determined by its unique primary structure. The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 302 (2), 822–27.

Kiffer, J. (n.d.). The effects of stress on your body. www.webmd.com/balance/guide/effects-of-stress-on-your-body; retrieved June 3, 2010.


In our profile of IDEA World Fitness Award finalist Ingrid Knight-Cohee, MS (July–August 2010), we incorrectly referred to her “YMCA staff.” Knight-Cohee is associate director of health and fitness at YWCA Vancouver, British Columbia. We regret the error.