My evening at the Vibram FiveFingers Clinic, Runners Need, Holborn

As you know, last week Vibram FiveFingers® started running a fortnight-long series of drop-in clinics in London welcoming runners of all abilities to come in and find out a bit more about minimalist running.

On Monday, I went along to the one at Runners Need in Holborn. On arrival, I was greeted by fitness journalist and guru Julia Buckley, Running Bug founder and all round top bloke John Griffiths (both of whom I’ve known online for a few years and so was delighted to meet), Women’s Running Magazine Online Editor Carys Matthews, and a couple of cute Italian men (aka the Vibram experts).

First up was a presentation by Coach Corrado Giambalvo who went through the past, present and future of Vibram and also taught us how to pronounce Vibram properly – it’s ‘vee-bram’, not ‘vie-bram’ (ha, you didn’t know that, did you?) Also appealing to the trivia-geek side of me, was the snippet of information that the name Vibram came from the founder, Vitale Bramani.

After the theory, we had the practical. Coach Corrado asked us to take off our shoes and socks. What? No one told me the clinic was going to involve getting my feet out in public. Still, being the brave, carefree and reckless soul I am, I took off my checkerboard Vans (you’ll see them on the floor in the video in a mo, they get shown more than I do) and went through the warm up exercises that were demonstrated.

You too can play at home with the video Julia took (I’m the uncoordinated one inappropriately dressed in jeans and a t-shirt with a picture of a lion saying ‘woof’, standing at the back looking scared).

(Video © Julia Buckley, originally published on her Fitness Rocks website)

I was fine with the exercises where we rocked onto the sides of our feet and onto our heels and stuff but then we had to start moving our arms and legs in unison. NO ONE TOLD ME THERE WERE GOING TO BE GROUP ACTIVITIES AND I WAS GOING TO HAVE TO MOVE MY ARMS AND LEGS AT THE SAME TIME IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!!!

Of course, I did it wrong and the coach dude had to stop me and correct me (very nicely, of course). I willed it to be over and it was eventually, then it started again. I wondered if I could go and hide behind Julia who was still videoing it (although, thinking about it now, Julia’s tiny and I probably would have been better off hiding behind John, who was photographing everything) but decided not to draw attention to myself and so I tried to join in and not look like I’d rather be in the pub where the only kind of active group participation thingy is to get a round in when it’s your turn.

Exercises over, we were asked if we wanted to go for a run. Unfortunately, I had to decline as I was meeting a friend in the pub but Coach Corrado asked me if I wanted to try some Vibram FiveFingers® on and so I said yes and I eventually managed to get them on my feet (with a lot of help) and wow, they were really comfy. These are the ones I tried on (I think).


All in all, it was a fab, informative, informal and friendly evening and I recommend it to anyone who can get to one. There are three left (although it looks like only one of the dates is holding a clinic):

Weds 8th August – 6.30pm
Sweaty Betty- Kings Road
Run only

Thurs 9th August – 6.30pm
Altimus- Holland Park
Clinic & run

Friday 10th August – 7.30am
Sweaty Betty- Kensington
Run only

And if you need any other incentive to go, at the end I got a goodie bag containing a step-by-step guide to running in Vibram FiveFingers, a lanyard, a foot-shaped keyring, a shoe-shaped keyring and a shoe-shaped memory stick.


If you can’t be arsed to get yourself down to the clinic, but fancy giving minimalist running a go, don’t forget about the competition I’m hosting to win a pair of Vibram FiveFingers® (ends 31 August).

Vibram Five Fingers review

After Adam from Fitness Footwear offered a pair of Vibram Five Fingers as a Juneathon prize, I emailed him and said I can’t win them, I’m organising Juneathon, can I have some anyway and he kindly said yes, as long as I write a long review about them.

Well, I don’t know about long, as I haven’t tried them out properly as, after hearing things such as you have to take it slowly in them and build up the mileage and walk in them first for a few weeks before running in them and stuff, I haven’t done any proper research to find out just how I’m supposed to build up and so, after leaving them sitting in the box for a few weeks, I took them out to wear in the house for an evening.

I read somewhere that the best way to try and get them on your feet is to place your toes into the little toe compartments and then slide your heel in. It took me three goes to do this, as my little toe is so little, it didn’t want to go in.

Apparently, you’re supposed to choose a size or two smaller than your usual size but when I was sent a size smaller, they were uncomfortably tight and my big toes wouldn’t straighten in them. This could be because I have abnormally long toes though, as I was told by a man tripping on acid in a park in Brixton at a festival many years ago that I was ‘really long. Everyone else here is normal but you’ve got really long arms and legs.’ Strange man.

Eventually, all toes are safely cocooned in their little canvas casings and if you want to further adjust them, there’s an elastic cord at the heel you can tighten.

vffs 002

As they’re made of a rubber sole with a canvas upper, they’re quite comfy and flexible, although not as flexible as I thought they might be, but that could come with time, I suppose, as I’m sure I’ve seen a photo of someone wearing them with curled toes.

I don’t usually wear shoes around the house as I prefer a barefoot feeling to be caused by actually having bare feet, although I did start wearing slippers last year after moving from my toasty house in London to the arctic climes of Ashford.

I settle down on the sofa with a glass of wine and put my feet up in front of the TV. It’s probably not their main use and I haven’t seen it as a marketing feature, but the rubber soles did stop my feet from slipping off the chrome coffee table.

They were quite comfy, but half way through Eastenders, I take them off and spend the evening properly barefooted.

I’m not sure what this latest craze for barefoot running is all about. I blame it on ‘Born to Run ’ by  Christoper McDougall that everyone seems to be either reading or has read recently (including myself). Have Asics, Brooks, New Balance, etc. been wasting their time with their hi-tech shoes with promises of better performance and fewer injuries, when all we need to do really is spend approximately £100 on something that will scare small children?

Next time, I’ll take them for a test lap around the garden.