No Death by Feet: A Personal Review of the Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport, the Best Fitness Shoe Ever

Black/Charcoal Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport
Black/Charcoal Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport | Source

Like any sensible person approaching aged 50 and death, I embarked on a quest for the Fountain of Youth. This including joining my local CrossFit facility and transforming myself from Jabba to gymstud. One of the main ingredients of the anti-aging regimen was weight training, so I signed up for the Olympic lifting class as soon as it was offered.

The human body in sneakers is incredibly unbalanced with a two-ton weightlifting bar propped on its front shoulders. Because such shoes lift the heels off the ground, the body wants to tumble forward to the floor and crash into the suddenly dropped metal. (Actually, the bar weighed only 15 pounds, but my then state of Jabbadom made it feel heavier. However, the crashing effect was the same.)

My trainer prevented this ungraceful fate for me by recommending that I remove my shoes and lift in my bare feet. After the class had recovered from the overwhelming stench, I discovered that I was indeed able to balance the bar better on my shoulders.

Waxman Jump

And then came the Waxman Jump, an essential part of many weightlifting moves. This involves lifting the body on the balls of the feet, and then coming down hard on the flat of the foot. (A squat then follows with elbow movements to propel the bar to the shoulders.)This jump launched a jolt that shook me from my bare soles to my teeth. In other words, it hurt.

My trainer said that I needed specialized weight lifting shoes that did not have a heel. I agreed, but was beginning to think that he and Waxman jointly owned a shoe factory.

Outsole View.
Outsole View. | Source

Description

After pouring through shoe reviews and observing others at the gym with the same shoes, I settled on the Vibram FiveFingers brand. With each of the toes separately gloved in individual slots, the apparel looked vaguely bionic, especially with its unusual patterns of rubber, nylon mesh, coconut fiber and polyurethane. Only two tiny logos in shining yellow interrupted the black and gray shades. A velcro strap secured the contraption to my feet.

The brand came in several versions but I picked a black/charcoal TrekSport. This option studded the outsole with ridges and crosses, making it grab the ground or a sheer stone face, should I lose my mind some day and try rock climbing. The bottom had no cushioning or heel. Instead, its hard rubber material conformed to the flat of the foot. The shoes weighed 13 ounces, which almost felt like I was in my bare feet.

Squatting with Vibram

Performance

After I wore these shoes, my weight training performance improved immediately. I no longer had to worry about compensating for the forward tilt of a raised heel. Instead, my body now traveled in a straight vertical line. And the hard outsole provided just enough support and cushioning to minimize the jolt from the Waxman Jump.

The shoes also worked well for general calisthenics such as situps, lunges and box jumps, because the sole ridges gripped the floor and prevent slips.

Avid marathoners and joggers who run with the balls of their feet or their heels, may find that the shoes a source of aching shins, requiring an adjustment in the gait. But this discomfort typically disappears after a few circuits. Since the last time I ran was away from a hungry German Shepherd when I was a child, I suffered no such ill effect and did not need to adjust my stride.

Bottom Line

I recommend the Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport highly for any kind of fitness activity. However, those who do require cushioning, may want to reserve these Vibrams for weight training only, and switch to running shoes when needed.

One caution when ordering this footwear: you do not use normal sizes but have to use a special numbering system. For example, I wear size 9.5’s, but ended up with size 42 shoes. Most online stores carrying the line will have a size conversion chart. Otherwise, you’ll need to be personally measured at a fitness or running store to determine your correct measurements.

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Comments 20 comments

fit2day profile image

fit2day 5 years ago

That's really interesting, the first time I heard of the vibrams, I saw a guy with them and thought "what in the world", but now I'm in a place to at least try on a pair. I hear they're great for making the feet stronger.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

I'd heard about that too, fit2day. I don't know that my feet are any stronger, but they are moving in different ways. Some say, Vibrams make your feet move more naturally.


Alladream74 profile image

Alladream74 5 years ago from Oakland, California

Looks like somebody put some thought in to this one


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho

I've had students wear socks like these and I wondered how they would feel. I have a AA narrow foot, but usually a 43, yes I hate shoe shopping. The toes in the photo above look very spread out to me which is probably why I wonder so much what they will feel like. Have you ever heard of Earth shoes? They're made with the toe 3 degrees higher to help align posture and tone your legs. I bought a pair about a year ago and I love them. They mimic the action of walking in sand and they do tone your legs without looking ridiculous. Initially it took some of the tiny muscles in my lower back to adjust. Probably why they recommend wearing them a little at a time to get used to them. Nothing horrible, just felt like I really needed to stretch. Thanks for sharing your experience with the Vibram TrekSport. I'm always looking for good shoes. Voted up, useful, and shared.


jonmcclusk profile image

jonmcclusk 4 years ago from Cinnaminson, New Jersey

Very informative hub, no I know what I'm getting into when and if I decide to get myself a pair of these shoes!


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

I've always wondered about these. I also wonder if these would work for people with orthotics. Interesting read. Voted up and SHARED.


jeyaramd profile image

jeyaramd 4 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

Thanks for this enlightening hub. I have never heard of these shoes until now. I had a similar problem with my heels hurting badly after those massive squats. I thought it was part of the process. Never realized that it could be my shoes that was not up to par.

I will definitely look into these shoes in the future. These shoes have quite an interesting mix of materials. Hmm. I am not sure if I would be wearing these outside the gym. However, I take my health seriously and any fitness buff looking into practicing safe weight lifting methods should take note of these shoes.

Also, posture, clothing, gloves, shoes and the actual equipment used makes a world of difference. Thanks again for an awesome hub. Voted up.


Curiad profile image

Curiad 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

Very interesting, they do look a bit odd but I would think that the design would be beneficial for sporting activities.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

Actually haven't heard of earth shoes. Perhaps you should write a hub about them?


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

I don't think this will work for those with orthotics, although they may have versions that accommodate those.


formosangirl profile image

formosangirl 4 years ago from Los Angeles

One of my son's teachers wears those five toe Vibrams, and we had thought she was just a bit hippy-like. Thanks for your hub. Now, we know that she's just smart.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

I would never wear this for daily wear -- but for fitness, nothing beats it.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

In addition to learning about Vibram shoes, I love the humor that you used in writing this hub. The very first sentence grabbed me..."Like any sensible person approaching aged 50 and death..." because I have definitely passed that threshold. Ha! Useful and interesting votes + tweeted.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

One hopes, Peggy, that past 50 one gets more sensible.


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca

I have always been intrigued by these shoes. I am not really sure if it is because of what these shoes do or if it is because I like the looks of them. I do plan on buying these in the near future. I have found research saying these are actually better for you running wise than what shoes people have previously thought. In fact, the new thing is barefoot running to avoid shin splints. Interesting hub and thanks for the recommendation and sharing your thoughts on the shoes. I will definitely put these on my too be purchased list! :)


kelleyward 4 years ago

Wonderfully written article Alocsin! You had my attention with this one for sure. I've thought about looking into these shoes before and now I'm going to set a time to do just that! I don't run much long distance runs any longer so these shoes would be perfect! Voted up and Shared and Tweeted! Take care, Kelley


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

Nice review. I will see if this is available in Nepali market.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

I think you'll find them useful for certain sports, barbergirl28.


wash5000 profile image

wash5000 4 years ago from Philadelphia and Surrounding Areas

I am an avid Crossfitter and was looking for a lightweight shoe for better performance. I have to try these. Thanks for the review!


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

I've been using them for awhile now, wash5000, and think they're great.

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