Your first fitness class is this afternoon, and you made all the right moves to make your transition to better fitness a healthy one. Your doctor gave you the green light, you have a year’s supply of shorts and T-shirts, and you have a new water bottle. What are those things you have on tends of your legs? Are they the same sneakers you wore in high school in the ‘70s? Did you wear them in the garden last weekend? Are those holes on the sides, or are they specially designed ports to stick your toes through for better traction?

 Philosophically speaking, your feet are where you end and the world begins. If you take care of them, they’ll take care or you. Improper footwear can lead to a host of problems, the least of which can thwart your intentions of becoming fit. It’s difficult to do a jumping jack when there is a footwear-induced blister the size of a loonie on your heel.

 Blisters are the least of your worries. Worn footwear can lead to ankle, knee, hip, and back injuries. Some of these heal with time and rest, but resting isn’t fitness. It’s time away from achieving your goal.

 If you’re like me, you get attached to your shoes. It’s hard to part with them – especially since they take a week to break in, but every four months, I need to splurge. I use three indicators to decide whether my sneakers are shot.

 1. They’re no longer sneaky.

Over time, the special synthetic material in the sole breaks down and your shoes can emit sound. Then sound can range from the simple clicking to the sound of someone scaling a building using toilet plungers. If your shoes overpower the sound system in your class,  splurge

 2. Uneven wear.

Check your soles – especially at the heel. If the thickness of is less on the outside than the inside,  you are in danger of “going over” on your shoe. This is especially stressful on your ankles and knees because they force you to exercise in a bowlegged position. At least three times a week a participant asks me whether they should take additives to core their seemingly arthritic knees. Invariably, they ask me while their standing on the sides of their shoes. “Get new shoes,” I tell them. 

 3. Cracks.

Examine the sides of the shoes. If you have cracks on the side of the soles, the structural integrity has deteriorated. Buy a new pair.

 4. Talking about shoes.

If you find yourself talking to other classmates about their shoes, it’s time to buy. Find out whether they found any deals, and tell me about it as well.

 Sometimes it’s difficult to find the proper replacement pair. First, shoe manufacturers change their designs periodically. If you buy shoes every four months, they change every three months. The change may be good, but not usually. Try to remember the model number of the good ones you’ve had, and see if they have any in stock.  You may even find they are cheaper than the new ones. Retailers love to clear stock. Be sure to try them on before you buy them.

 I have to heed my own advice. I just finished putting duct tape over a toe hole, and this morning I engineered a reef knot to reattach my laces. It’s time for me to spurge. I’m lucky though. As a registered fitness instructor, I can claim in on my taxes.

Mike Broderick is an Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he finds employment for people with physical disabilities. Part of this work means affiliation with the Vancouver Board of Trade where he is a member of the Ambassador Club, the Burnaby Board of Trade where he is a member of the Labour Task Force, the Tri Cities Chamber of Commerce where he is an active member of the 10X10 initiative, and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. He also does some work as a field Archaeologist. He is also a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive magazine, and the proprietor of The Résumé Doctor in Port Coquitlam. You can reach him at home at or at When he is not doing all this he lives in Port Coquitlam with his partner Cecelia


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