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Tag: Vibram Five Fingers

I came across an article in the Vancouver Sun Health Section yesterday titled “Shoes your butt will love” and sadly the article was promoting the benefits of toning sneakers, more specifically Reebok Easy Tone.  The name of the shoe itself should be a warning light, easy and tone do not belong together, it takes hard work and tension in your body to create tone.  The name of this shoe is just another way marketing perpetrates the myth that it is EASY to get into shape and marketing gurus use the idea that individuals are looking for a quick way to solve their health and fitness issues when this is simply not the case for a majority of the population. 

The article states that the shoes “force you to engage your glutes, thighs and calves while providing a comfortable, shock-absorbing padding for your foot and knee” and “increases engagement of the abdominal muscles.”  These statements were backed up with the following numbers from a Physical Therapist “because the shoes cause that slight instability they can increase muscle activation BY UP TO (bolded by me) 14% in your calves, 29% in your quads and 16 to 28% in your glutes and hamstrings.”  I thought these were pretty impressive statements so I wanted to find out more about these shoes.  I did a quick search to find out if any of these claims were backed by a published peer-reviewed academic journal article and I found nothing.  What I did find was a great article in the New York times that reviewed these vary same shoes and within the article I found some great information that I would like to share.

But the claim that the shoes offer muscle toning is backed by a single study involving just five people, not published in a peer-reviewed academic journal. In that study, done at the University of Delaware , five women walked on a treadmill for 500 steps wearing either the EasyTone or another Reebok walking shoe, and while barefoot. Using sensors that measure muscle activity, the researchers showed that wearing the EasyTone worked gluteal muscles an average of 28 percent more than regular walking shoes. Hamstring and calf muscles worked 11 percent harder.

After finding the above statement I stopped my search for credible research.  Further along in the NY Time article I found the following…

The shoes are designed only for walking, and because of the instability design, wearers are discouraged from running, jumping and engaging in other athletic activities while wearing them. So the real effect may come from simple awareness that they are wearing a muscle-activating shoe, causing them to walk more briskly and with purpose.

NOTE:  I visited the Reebok website to find out more information about the shoe and I found a collection of exercises that involves all of the discouraged uses of the shoes.  Again look out for marketing, the road to health and fitness is not found through a quick fix.

So there is the answer, by simply wearing these shoes a person is more likely to walk more briskly and with purpose.  Any movement done with conscientious and deliberate thought including washing dishes, chopping vegetables, swinging Kettlebells, lifting weights, and walking briskly will cause an increase in muscle activation of the muscles required to perform the movement.  By simply thinking of a movement your nervous system activates your brain to run the motor program necessary for creating the movement, thus preparing your muscles to move.  So if you want to get better muscles activation when exercising and moving you don’t need any gimmick all you need is your thoughts!

Contact me at to learn more about conscious movement and personal training.


Move to Live, Live to Move,

Josh Neumann, BHK, PTS, TSCC-1

Monday and Thursday #FitTip at

Just over a month ago I reposted an article I found in the Province Newspaper on the importance of strengthening your feet (  The article mentioned a device called an AFX and I wasn’t able to provide any comment on this piece of equipment as I had never seen or tried it, but this morning I had the chance to test it out.  I spent a few minutes speaking with the CEO, Matt Ferguson, about just how important it is to be strong through your foot and how most individuals have incredibly weak feet.  We of course also chatted about my Vibram Five Fingers ( and how they are another great step towards re-strengthening the feet of humans.  Matt was enthusiastic and knowledgeable about feet and was genuine in his desire to help improve athletic performance and the lives of everyday people by strengthening their feet.  After our chat it was time to see what the AFX was all about, within seconds I had my foot strapped in and was holding the handles and performing a resisted plantar-flexion and at the cuing of “curl your toes” I could really feel my posterior chain fire from the arch of my foot right to the top of my hamstring.  I then worked on doing some inversion and eversion movements.  By quickly changing the position of the handles I was able to work on some dorsi-flexion.  The AFX was able to provide resistance in every possible direction the foot could move, and the possibilities are limitless as to what can be done when using the AFX.

In the short time I spent using the AFX I can tell that this will be an  incredibly valuable tool for trainers, physiotherapists, chiropractors, athletes, and many more.  I am looking forward to spending some more time with the AFX.  To find more information on this equipment visit

As always I am trying to keep you all on your toes,

Josh Neumann, BHK, PTS, TSCC-1

Monday and Thursday #FitTips at

I have saved perhaps the most important exercise of all for the end, the primal movement pattern: Squat.  This is another exercise that can be done anywhere and is an exercise that is performed every time you get in and out of a chair amongst the many other times you perform this movement during your day to day life.  Following are some important principles to consider when performing squats.

Body Weight Squats

·         Start by standing tall, shoulders back, feet shoulder width apart, and eyes looking forward

·         Push your bum back and bring your hands forward as you pretend to sit down into a La Z  Boy chair (hands go out to counter balance your bum going back)

·         When lowering yourself during the squat be sure to think your knees and hips are moving at the same time (not knees before hips or hips before knees) FLUID MOVEMENT!!

·         Keep your knees in line with your toes and don’t allow your knees to travel over your toes

·         The angle you create at your ankle should be the same angle you create at your hips

·         At the bottom of your squat the weight of your body should be equal throughout your feet

·         At the bottom of your squat imagine that you are pushing your knees out against something and use your bum and hamstrings to unfold your hips as you stand up

·         It is your goal to squat as deep as you can without breaking the above principles

You can do squats several different ways, with a bar over your shoulders, with dumbbells in your hands, or with a small child in your arms.  Each different squat represents a different challenge and slight variations in body position but if you follow the above principles you will find success in your ability to squat in nearly all situations.  If you are having trouble with the body weight squat try this regression: Chair Squats – Follow the above principles and lower yourself so that you actually sit down in a chair.  Be sure to use your bum and hamstrings to bring yourself back to a standing position.  To make your squat more difficult try the following progression: Quick Drop Squat with Full Extension to your Toes – Follow the same principles as above, however you are going to drop to the bottom of your squat as fast as you can and from there you will power all the way up to your tippy toes.

See if you can find 7 different ways to perform a squat, and do each different one every day of the week.

Move to Live, Live to Move,

Josh Neumann, BHK, PTS, TSCC-1

Monday and Thursday #FitTips at

It is always a tough decision when deciding what running shoes to buy.  You have to take in to consideration what you will be using them for, then you have to decide how much you want to spend, then you need to try them on to see how they feel, and if you are so inclined you have to make sure they look cool.  Now when I choose a shoe I first have to decide what I am going to use them for, are they going to be for running?  Are they going to be for training?  Are they going to be for competitive play?  After I have made that decision I try them on to make sure they fit and are comfortable, and from then on the price really doesn’t matter too much because after all I am probably going to be wearing these shoes a ton and I want a pair that is going to work for me.  Your feet are the foundation of your body, you wouldn’t want a contractor to skimp on the foundation of your house would you?  And yes I don’t really care what my shoes look like, for those of you who have seen me lately you will often find me wearing my Vibram Five Fingers  or no ahoes at all!  So if you are in the market for some new shoes take a look at this great website  The shoes are ranked using 3 categories, and you will find that the Vibram Five Fingers are #2 only to the painted foot (aka a bare foot with a shoe painted on it).  There is a ton of other useful information throughout the website so spend a few minutes browsing around.

Josh Neumann, BHK, PTS, TSCC-1

Monday and Thursday #FitTips at




I have seen a number of infomercials for fitness gizmos and gadgets that claim to train your core while burning more calories than any other exercise or piece of exercise equipment ever.  HA!  One such infomercial was posted on facebook and it was for a product called the i-JoyRide Exerciser (watch the video and have a laugh) and the comments that followed by fellow trainers were full of sarcasm and humour.  I mean how could you not poke fun at a mechanical bull like chair that “if you had someone over for dinner you would ask to hop on and go for a ride.”  Finally strength coach Paul Hemsworth made a comment that hit the nail right on the head “We as a society have to pull our collective heads out of our asses. As funny as this is, it is everything that is wrong with our outlook on fitness.”  Most fitness gizmos and gadgets make claims and guarantees that if you follow their simple and easy to use fitness program you will lose weight and tone muscles.  Unfortunately it isn’t that easy, you actually have to put in the work… no machine will do it for you. 

I would like to share with you two simple ideas in order to change your outlook on fitness and health.  These ideas are simple but they do however require work and effort.  I often tell my clients to “eat like a caveman” meaning you should eat food that could either be gathered or hunted.  I don’t expect every person to actually go out and hunt and gather food for themselves and their family but when going grocery shopping take a look at the food that goes in your cart.  Could a caveman gather a box of Oreo cookies, a frozen lasagna, or case of Coke?  NO!  What you should be putting in your cart is meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains.  Ideally you will choose these products in their least processed and preserved form after all that is how a caveman would consume them.  It will take some time to adjust to this but eventually it will get easier and your body will thank you in the long run.

Remember a caveman couldn’t just hop into his car and drive over to the local CaveMart and grab his groceries.  A caveman had to move to get his food, his survival depended on it!  The second idea is “move like a caveman” meaning performing the movements cavemen had to do to hunt and gather their food.  Paul Chek calls these movements “Primal Movement Patterns” and there are seven of them: Squat, Lunge, Bend, Twist, Push, Pull, and Gait.  Every single one of these movements was necessary for a caveman to hunt and gather, they had to walk/run (Gait) to chase their prey, they had to lunge to push their spear into their prey, they had to twist to reach up and pull fruit off of tall branches, and they had to squat and bend to pick up food from the ground.  All of these movements are still necessary in everyday life today but not nearly to the extent they were in the time of the caveman.  This is exactly why we have to find time daily to train/perform these movements.  If you watched the above infomercial you would see that only one of the seven primal movement patterns were performed.  If you don’t know how to perform these movements effectively find a qualified personal trainer to teach you and start putting them to work every day! 

We may not live in caves anymore, or hunt and gather our own food daily but we could all learn a few lessons from those that dwelled in caves,

Josh Neumann, BHK, PTS, TSCC-1

Monday and Thursday #FitTips at








I was sent the following article regarding the feet and how wearing supportive shoes and orthotics can actually be detrimental to your feet.  This is the reason I spend so much time in barefeet and when I can’t be in barefeet I wear my Vibram FiveFingers shoes (  Below is half of the article, enjoy the read.

Be one step ahead; Strengthen the all-important foot muscles

The Province
Wed Oct 28 2009
Page: B8 / FRONT
Section: Live It!
Byline: Rob Williams
Column: Body by Rob
Source: Special to The Province

When I use the term “bag of bones” it’s understandable that you might think I’m referring to something from a Halloween costume, but I’m not. I’m talking about the complex structure at the bottom of your leg known as your foot. Unfortunately, many people’s feet are no longer functioning the way they should. For a variety of reasons, muscle atrophy and weakness have left them like a bag of bones.

Podiatrist Dr. Roy Mathews of Vancouver’s Performance Posture points out that “the foot and ankle contain 28 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. At least 20 of these muscles act to hold the foot bones in place and create movement throughout the joints of the foot.”

An over-emphasis on extra-supportive footwear and orthotics can lead to foot musculature becoming incapable of supporting body weight during movement, which contributes to endless alignment issues and painful problems.

Even the elite athletes that I’ve worked with are subject to this condition. One 300-pound professional football player, who is obviously very powerful, saw how his performance and physical health were compromised, in part, because his feet were dysfunctional. His foot musculature was so weak that he was unable to transition the power from his hips and legs to the ground, resulting in changes in his sport-specific technique.

Recently, he’s been using a product known as the AFX, which has been shown to produce impressive results for high-performance athletes.

The AFX (Ankle Foot MaXimizer) is one of my favourite training tools ( because it’s the first product that can be used to specifically strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the feet through movement patterns and ranges of motion that are safe and effective. This allows for rapid progression of strength and function.


***I have never tried the AFX or seen it so I can’t share an opinion on the product, but I’m not a huge fan of gadgets and gizmos.  I’d prefer people to use their body to the fullest and strengthen their feet by performing exercises in their barefeet (squats, lunges, walking, running, etc).  However if you would like to try a simple foot strengthening exercise from a seated position try this… sit down on a chair and lay a small towel out on the floor, place your whole foot on the towel and try and scrunch the towel up into a ball and then try and spread the towel back out.***

Josh Neumann, BHK, PTS, TSCC-1

Monday and Thursday #FitTips at

Sunday night marked the close of our first StayFitAnywhere Walk Challenge and it was definitely a success, altogether we accumulated over 13 million steps in 3 weeks!  To all of you who participated in the challenge thank you for participating and congratulations on keeping your body moving.  It was my first time participating in a walk challenge, and although I didn’t win (I hate not winning) I had a great time trying to sneak in a few more steps throughout the day, from going for a walk around the block just before bed or marching on the spot while waiting in line for the ATM.   Following is my notes from the challenge (I wore my Vibram Five Fingers,, for almost every single step I took)…



Had a lacrosse game, couldn’t wear the pedometer during the game or else steps would have been much higher! 



Very sore today from 3 games in 4 nights, tough to move but still logged some mileage! 



Did a 20km bike today, played a few games of bocce… but also spent 6 hours sitting at my computer doing some catch up work… 



No workout today, still in recovery mode from finale of lacrosse season… contemplating a trip to Ontario to play in the Nationals with the team that beat me. Will get a good workout in tomorrow! 



Lots of movement today, first workout since lacrosse season finished… skipping rope is back! Planning a big day tomorrow, lots of steps! 



Hiked second and third peaks of the chief in squamish, 13000 steps… and walked to get groceries!  



The true definition of a lazy sunday… only walked around kits for a little bit today and spent the rest of the day with my feet up recovering. Check out for a post on my hike up the chief! 



Long day doing Personal Training sessions, but found sometime at night to do a bike/run/bike from my place to the end of spanish banks and back! 



Ran strength and conditioning component of wild west lacrosse camp this morning… biked to UBC and back (pedometer doesn’t do well on my bike). Walked around kits doing errands! 



Follow me on twitter… 



First kettlebell workout in 4 months in the sun (except counted for almost no steps)… but lots of moving during my personal training sessions and conditioning camp for Wild West Lacrosse. 



I am very consistent with my steps! New blog post at 



Coached BC U19 Selects lacrosse for 7 hours… didn’t get a chance to move much. 



Coached for 7 hours again today. Tomorrow I will be better! 



Not sure why I didn’t get a higher number felt like I was moving more… did a lot of cycling but the pedometer doesn’t track it 



Had a good skipping/movement workout! Ran conditioning camp for 9-11 year old lacrosse players… had a blast running around with them! 



Walked to do a bunch of errands and my usual training regiment… 20km worth of biking 



Lazy day… spent most of my time doing myofascial release with a lacrosse ball and my foam roller in preparation for this weekend’s Victoria Summer Slam Tournament… coaching and playing 



Busy day! 



Coached 4 lacrosse games, but played in 2! Also walked around Victoria! 


It was a lot of fun reading everyones comments and seeing how they got all of their steps in over the 3 weeks, be prepared for our next walk challenge in 2010!

Josh Neumann, BHK, PTS, TSCC-1

It has been an awesome busy week and I have had a great time training clients, athletes and myself!  All of the training took place at a number of different locations throughout the lower mainland and following are the locations and a little information about what happened at each spot.

·         King Ed Village – In an apartment buildings gym I took my client and her 1 year old daughter through a workout

·         Kitsilano Beach Basketball Courts – Trained Rob D in preparation for the Half Ironman Triathlon in Cancun, as well as a quick 30minute butt kicking, and a partner Kettlebell session

·         Target Fitness – Trained lots of clients 1 on 1 and partner sessions… and had a wicked pushup/pullup/skipping workout myself

·         Granville Island Apartment – Trained a couple in their Racquetball court (Agility Ladder and Medicine ball!) and the games room of their apartment building

·         Coopers Park (under Cambie St. Bridge) – Kettlebell and ballast ball workout

·         Charleson Park – Another 30minute butt kicking!

·         Newton Athletic Park – I was in Surrey running the conditioning component of Wild West Lacrosse College Prep Lacrosse Camp ( and 25 young men got put to the test before they took part in lacrosse specific drills with Cliff Smith (Projected first rounder in this year’s NLL pro draft), Jordan Hall (Former NLL #1 draft pick, Orlando Titans) and Bart Sullivan (Coach at Bellarmine University in Kentucky).  Cliff and Jordan are also training with me after they are finished vying for the Mann Cup!

·         Douglas Park – Evolution Bootcamp on the basketball courts, fitness circuit workouts, and a Rob D cricket pitch Ironman prep workout.

·         Seawall (Science World to Kits Beach) – Another Rob D Ironman prep workout with stops at Various places along the way.

·         Balaclava Park – Awesome circuit workout with 2 Kettlebells, Ballast ball and a band.  Did my own personal workout here as well… Kettlebell Swings, Kettlebell Cleans, Kettlebell Presses, Kettlebell clean and presses, and Kettlebell Snatches… while I was at the park I was inspired to write a blog post on Where I find the Energy? Stay tuned!

·         Granville Park – Not really a workout but an attempt to teach Marley (dogsitting for a few days) how to fetch a ball, but ended up running in circles with her and a bunch of little kids, still tons of fun!

·         Delta High School – Coaching Final Practices for BC U19 Selects in preparation for the National Championships over Labour Day Long Weekend in Winnipeg.

·         Seawall (Kits to Spanish Banks) – Quick Bike Ride out to Jericho Sailing Centre and then a run to the end of Spanish Banks and back (in my Vibram Five Fingers, and then back on my bike home

There are tons of locations for workouts, if you go by a spot that looks like a place you’d like to try a workout and aren’t sure what to do let me know and I will provide you with the solution!

Josh Neumann, BHK, PTS, TSCC-1  

I have had my Vibram Five Fingers Sprint anti-shoes ( for a little over 2 weeks now and I have used them to train clients, go on bike rides, walk the streets, play in the creek and many other things but I finally had a chance to really put them to the test yesterday when I wore them hiking The Chief in Squamish (  Well they certainly passed the test!  Throughout the day I had lots of comments on my shoes, what are those?  Are you crazy?  Where is the support?  Do your feet hurt?  Where do I get those?  And my answer to the questions were: they are my barefoot shoes, yes I am crazy, the point of the shoes is that there is no support (you have to work harder), no I am comfortable in bare feet, and mountain equipment coop.  I dug my toes into rocks, dirt, sticks, and everything else you could find on the mountain with outstanding grip and no pain in the soles of my feet an experience that I wouldn’t have got in my normal shoes and an experience that I am looking forward to trying during many more adventures.     

It was also my first time hiking The Chief and I must admit it was incredible and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun and challenging activity.  It is comparable to the Grouse Grind however it isn’t quite as developed which makes the experience more natural and unique.  There are is a great variety of obstacles to overcome including, manmade stairs, rock stairs, rock faces, trees, tiny bridges, ladders, and more!  There are 3 peaks to hike to and we picked the second and third on this trip and we were not disappointed, both peaks provided a different look at Howe Sound and Squamish.  I have posted some pictures on facebook but they don’t do it justice, it really is something you have to see for yourself!

Take a hike, a bare foot hike!

Josh Neumann, BHK, PTS, TSCC-1


PS.  It took 13000 steps to go up and down The Chief!