Walking or running barefoot is something one would associate with a romantic movie song. But there is more to it than just that! Understanding this and helping people connect to nature is one of the newest clubs in the City — ‘Bangalore Barefooters’ — which has about 30 active members and more people joining by the day. The club has hosted a few events in the last two months and encourages anyone to join.
The person behind the idea, Thomas Bobby Philip, has been passionate about running for years. He has been running barefoot for more than two years now. “I jogged barefoot one evening and then repeated the process. Post this, I found running with shoes uncomfortable. That’s how I started running barefoot regularly,” says Bobby.
People started asking Bobby how he was running better than earlier. “I wrote a blog about running barefoot which triggered all the more interest. Many were asking about how they could do it. This was when I organised the first event. It was a small run for 30 people but somehow, the idea spread and around 85 turned up for the event, which was held at Cubbon Park. Then we organised our second event at Lalbagh. Since then, the interest has grown,” says Bobby.
Bobby says that while the group walked and ran in these parks, people would stare at them with curiosity. “Many people assume that such activities are only meant for the poor. Many had apprehensions about it being a dirty activity. But these are all just inhibitions.”
His wife Susan is also a regular and says that it has been a rejuvenating experience to run and walk barefoot.
“I couldn’t run continuously for a long stretch with shoes. That’s when I tried running barefoot and realised that running long distance wasn’t an issue anymore. I could go to work the next day and felt energetic as ever,” says Susan. She says that like most people, even she had apprehensions about running barefoot. “But once I started, I got over all my inhibitions,” says Susan. She adds that feeling the texture of the earth is refreshing.
Pramila Das, a senior consultant with the Danish Embassy, says that though she has been running for a while, running barefoot has been a different experience altogether.
“I’ve been running for a year now. But though I would enjoy running every time, I would feel the pain after every run. I would have to rest for at least two weeks after the event. When I heard that Bobby was running barefoot, I tried walking barefoot and didn’t feel the pain,” she says.
Pramila adds, “I feel much more energetic after running barefoot.”
Another member who has been there from the beginning of the club is Giridhar Kamath, a businessman, who turned to barefoot running recently. “It is comfortable to run barefoot,” he says.
He adds that the deep connect one feels with nature while running barefoot is a fulfilling experience. “I’m able to enjoy each run much more now. There is much more satisfaction and I feel at peace,” he says. He adds that one has to experience the run to understand it.
Bobby says that there might be no scientific studies to prove that barefoot running is the healthiest option but there are many people who have felt much better
He says that when one runs with shoes, they land on the heels first. But while running barefoot, one will land on midfoot or forefoot first, which is the best way of running. “Even in holy places, we are asked to remove footwear to connect deeper with nature,” he says.
Bobby is extremely hopeful about the popularity of the club and wishes that the club should meet at least once a month. “But at the moment, we’ve been meeting at least twice,” he says excitedly.