Matt Gornick

Vibram FiveFingers at the Gym and Running Day 3

Posted in Health, Personal by mgornick on May 1, 2009

So, I decided to experiment with my new Vibram FiveFingers KSO at the
gym today. I’ve worn them almost exclusively for 2 days in order to
build up the endurance I need to work out with them.

Lifts: Squats and leg press were great as I received more feedback
from the KSOs and my contact with the ground. It was much easier to
focus on correct form, stability, and using a variety of muscles to
stabilize.

Running: I was a sprinter back in high school so I was used to running
on the balls’ of my feet, but the design of the KSO’s pretty much
force you to do that. Running heal-toe isn’t possible as the shock
runs up your ankles, knees, etc. for each stride. Instead, your body
becomes pretty comfortable running on your toes/balls’ of your feet
which shifts the shock to your calf’s, Achilles, and arch which
actually feels quite comfortable. I ran on both concrete and a
rubberized track surface for a variety of 100-m sprints and 400-m
strides. Both felt very comfortable and didn’t cause any pain. I did
notice being sore after running on concrete, but I’m assuming that is
to be expected. I will continue to use these for my short distance
running and training.

Balance and Stability: Balancing on plates, planks, balls, and such
varied in difficulty. I found myself engaging a wider variety of my
muscles to stabilize and balance. I think this is going to greatly
help with rock climbing where flexibility and balance are critical.
On certain exercises where balancing on a plank (with a ball folcrum)
I performed quite poorly. I believe this was because using flattened
shoes push the stabilization and center of mass higher (possibly
knees); whereas, with the KSOs I felt that any slight change in my
ankles or specific points on my feet caused me to lose balance. This
was definitely a better workout with the KSOs than my Sauconys.

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Vibram FiveFingers Arrived: Review coming soon

Posted in Health, Personal by mgornick on April 28, 2009

I finally received my Vibram FiveFingers KSO from the Champaign
Surplus. I’ll be following the recommended 1-2 hour usage per day
before I start running with them. I’ll try them out at the gym soon
and see how they feel.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

New Shoes for Barefoot Running (Vibram)

Posted in Health, Personal by mgornick on April 26, 2009

A few months back, I saw a few students wearing a pair of Vibram Five Fingers shoes and I would definitely agree that they are an attention drawer.  For those who’ve never seen them, they looks like a glove that would fit over your foot while leaving spaces for your individual toes.  (See http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/)

I at first dismissed them for a recent fad (similar to the Croc’s), but after reading more and more about the actual mechanics of barefoot running I’ve become interested in them.  Popular Mechanics ran an article a few days ago discussing modern shoe companies vs. barefoot running (http://www.popularmechanics.com/outdoors/sports/4314401.html?page=1) and recently research has been surfacing about the benefits or lack there of additional shock absorption and support.  As humans, we’ve been evolving and modifying our running abilities naturally for thousands of years and thus it seems a little silly that we can’t even run without the evoluvationary advantages that we’ve acquired.

This leads me to Vibram; they are obviously a shoe company that has taken the approach of building shoes for barefoot running and sports.  Their prices are inline with other luxury vendors (Nike, Puma, etc.) while their brand is barely known.  I decided to by a pair of the KSO model to try.

Since I’m a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I had doubts that any nearby store would carry these niche shoes but to my suprise Champaign Surplus had several in stock for me to try on (http://www.champaignsurplus.com/).  They didn’t have the particular pair I wanted, probably because they haven’t sold enough of the shoes to have frequent shipments.  The sales staff was helpful and helped me get sized properly and let me try on a few different pairs.  I tried on a pair of the Vibram Five Fingers Sprint and they felt amazingly comfortable.  At that point, I was sold on ordering myself a pair and trying them out for running and lifting.

I’m currently waiting for my shipment to arrive, but it should be in this week.  Hopefully everything goes alright and I get my new shoes in soon!

Here are some reviews I read before making my purchase:

http://www.keith-in-training.com/2007/03/running-in-vibram-five-fingers-sprint.html
http://mygaragegym.blogspot.com/

Finding the “Perfect” Gym Without Getting Taken

Posted in Health, Personal by mgornick on May 22, 2008

Fitness and health is an important part of living a successful life.  At some point or another, you will consider paying for a gym membership.  If you can afford it and you’re dedicated to staying healthy, a gym membership can open up some great possibilities in your workout.  Unfortunately, you need to find the gym that meets your standards and budget.  I have compiled some tips for finding the perfect gym without getting taken and pressured into any commitments.

1. Start by tapping your social contacts and finding out where your friends or coworkers workout.  Ask them the name of the gym, location, price, and most of all their opinion of the gym.  Start writing down this information in some organized fashion and move on to step 2.

2. You should have a list of 3 or more gyms that your people in step one liked and enjoyed.  Now go to Google Maps, type in your address, and search for “gym” in your area.  Take note of those choices that come up and begin doing research into your online gym finds.  Cross-out gyms that are too far or have bad reviews.  Those aren’t the gyms for you.

3. By now you may have as many as 5 or more gyms that you could possible see yourself going to based upon location, price (if available), and recommendations.  Go to their websites and see if they offer a complimentary workout (some offer several days) and print out those coupons.  Now plan to visit each of these gyms.  A lot of times, a gym will take you on a tour of their amenities.  Take mental notes and write down questions for later.  Example, they may show you a rock climbing wall that you may be interested in using but it only opens after 5 pm.  This would be a big issue if you prefer your workouts in the morning.  Ask for as much paperwork on schedules, group fitness, and equipment that they have available.

4. Probably the most daunting task after the gym tour is when you sit in an office and they begin to start talking about membership offers.  Remember your goal is to physically try out the gym; not to sign up immediately.  If this discussion of joining lasts more than 10-15 minutes and the person is beginning to pressure you it may be a problem.  If the gym was highly recommended by a friend, ask to speak with a different representative.  If one is not available return on a different day when a different person can assist you.  If the gym was recommended on the internet and not a friend, you should consider walking away and crossing the gym off your list.  Almost all gym tour guides make a commission in signing people up and naturally forgetting that you want to “tryout the facility”.  If you are feeling pressured say something like: “I left my wallet [or money] in the car because I will not be spending any money today.  I’m simply wish to tryout your facilities”.  They might cut prices, give you free benefits, and other ways to convince you into signing up; just stand your ground with the above quote.  They should get the point and hopefully get you setup to try the gym for the day.  

5. When you’re finally in the gym and working out take special note to the equipment, people there, and your overall liking to the gym.  How was your first impression?  Do they have amenities that you like or are they lacking?  How were the costs (they will definitely tell you this)?  Are there people within your age group?  All these factor into a gym that you might want to be apart of.  

6. Decide and use your new membership to its fullest!