I teach up to twelve fitness classes during the week. As a result, my participants view me as somewhat of a fitness guru.  They ask my opinions on weight loss, strength training, and mutual funds. 

Often their questions concern fitness footwear. They ask: “How much should I spend on shoes?”  “How often should I replace them?”  “Should shoe colour match my eyes?”  and  “What’s that smell?”

As a professional instructor, I strive to answer their questions to the best of my ability. “How should I know?” I say. I get my shoes by attending fitness workshops. I have to take workshops every year to remain registered. I select workshops sponsored by well known fitness shoe manufacturers. This way I get shoes for the price of the workshop. 

Now I spend more on corn plasters and callous removers than I spend on shoes and workshops combined.

I recently received a pair of exceptionally comfortable and well designed shoes from a workshop. They had many desirable features. For example, I could vary the tensions of the laces for comfort. They also had velcro straps near the ankle for added support. The high top design and electric blue colour made them the smartest item in my aerobic attire.

Unfortunately, they made my feet smell like skunks. The synthetic polymers used in their construction reacted with my sweat and some malicious brand of bacterium to cause a noxious odour.

One can make a general statement about aerobic odours. Human smells, emitted under the physically demanding rigours of exercise are sweet. Smells masked by colognes and perfumes can be described as interesting or even sensuous. 

The fumes generated by my feet are eye watering. They assaulted both the nose and the solar plexus. People grabbed their abdomens and double over in pain as I walked into the gym. The aroma scribed a ten meter dead zone emerge between me and my participants. My feet counted as pollution, and under Workers Compensation legislation about health standards in the workplace, I needed to clean them up.

Over the years I heard many tales extolling the virtues of ordinary baking soda to control bad smells. Legend has it that some people store open boxes of baking soda in the refrigerators to absorb the smells evolving from food rotting in their vegetable crispers. I once lived with a woman who used copious quantities of baking soda as an underarm deodorant. Some popular tooth pastes contain baking soda to control bad breath.

I wondered whether baking soda could be employed to quell the cold fusion experiments conducted by my new shoes. The search for a solution led me to the carpet cleaning department of the supermarket. There, between the Draino and the Vim, I found Arm and Hammer / Cow Brand Carpet and Room Deodorizer. The box said that it, “DESTROYS TOUGH PET ODOURS …  with the power of ARM AND HAMMER baking soda.”

There were two other types of deodorizers. One was for regular smells, and one was for cigar smoke. Since my feet smelled like skunks, the pet deodorizer was clearly for me and my skunk feet.

In the 1950’s – the early days of consumer packaging, Kellogg’s Sugar Corn Pops included toy submarines with their food product. The subs contained actual engines fuelled with baking soda. One tamped a pinch of fuel into a perforated metal container and launched it on a basin of water. The ship would rise and fall in the basin, and blow bubbles. I converted mine to a nuclear sub by adding vinegar to the mixture. I used it in the aquarium to terrorize the guppies.

This is essentially what happened to my shoes as I taught my next class. I sprinkled a liberal amount of the stuff on my shoes, waited for the prescribed fifteen minutes, and vacuumed the residual powder. As I tied the laces and secured the velcro, I had no idea that a carpet deodorizing baking soda residue stuck to my fingertips.

Once I began to sweat, I felt my feet getting warmer. As the class progressed, my feet began to sputter. I looked down. Foam spat from the grommets securing my laces. 

Sweat ran down my forehead. I wiped it with my hand. I began depositing the baking soda residue on my brow. When the baking soda reached my eyes, they also began to sputter and foam – and sting.

Happily, my participants still respected that ten meter dead zone. I gave everyone a vantage point to witness an act of levit-ation. Levitation is a very difficult aerobic feat – especially with foam gushing out of your eyes and shoes.

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 does some work as a field Archaeologist and is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive magazine in Port Coquitlam. You can reach him at home at or at If you’’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates

When he is not doing all this he lives in Port Coquitlam with his


4 Responses to “SENSIBLE SHOES”

  1. Joanie Says:

    Mike, you could use charcoal to control the smell! Joanie

  2. mikebroderick Says:

    Thanks Joanie, but Does thet mean I’d need to take up smoking? I’d have nicotine stains on my toes.

  3. Dawn W. Says:

    Funny! Foaming shoes. I’ll never look at baking soda the same way again.

  4. JODY Says:

    I’ve made a science project volcano spew and foam but never shoes. If you and Wanda with her white pants/orange undies got together it would definitely be a Fashion Explosion, or at least Fashion Foam Fusion or something like that. The Medicare Mom

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