As barefoot training continues to gain traction within the fitness industry, EBFA wanted to take a few moments and speak with Barefoot Training Summit Presenter and Creator of willpower & Grace® (wPg) – Stacey Lei Krauss.
In 2000, Stacey introduced her first barefoot fitness class and now 13 years later wPg can be found health clubs and movement studios across the world. Stacey has played a key role in the growth of barefoot training within the fitness Industry and we proudly welcome her to both the Delhi and Denver Barefoot Training Summits!
Thank you for taking a few minutes to answer my questions and share with our readers your passion for barefoot training and foot fitness. In 2000 you first launched your willPower & grace® workout. Can you tell us a little bit about the history of wPg, what led to the creation of a barefoot workout and what the name represents?
In 2000, I was living in NYC – developing a smart workout for discerning NYC ladies. I blended elements of cardio, strength, endurance and flexibility; a workout that could “get it all done” in an hour.
Mindful movement, at this time was still a “specialty” – in fact, most fitness consumers didn’t even know what Pilates was. I wanted my students to be aware of their bodies – to work with precision and focus. My workout evolved into a sequence that challenged my students to work without props (weights and steps). I fused functional training with old school calisthenics and dance, yoga fundamentals and Pilates principals. It became a fusion of the industry’s most efficient and effective workouts. I began to see movement quality improve, and I loved what I saw. We had started working “smarter” instead of harder.
The name? At the time, it was a play on “Will & Grace”, the hit TV show about hip NYC singles. As I coached my class, I cued “building willPower like a muscle” (self control) and “moving with grace” (elegance of action). Post 9.11, however, the philosophy grew much stronger. Each exercise started to have its own metaphor with regard to cultivating strength and flow in everyday life.
I was surprised, and honored when an instructor asked me if I would teach her my format. From there, the program began, and now, here we are, 13 years later… and we’re global.
Have you always had a love for feet or did you have an experience that made you want to focus on foot fitness?
I grew up dancing and I was barefoot whenever I could be. As an adult and a fitness professional, when I took aerobics classes, I was barefoot. Of course, when I taught I wore my “uniform” – highly cushioned and supportive shoes.
One summer morning, I walked to the gym in flip-flops. When I arrived in the studio, I realized I’d forgotten my athletic shoes. So, I announced that I’d be teaching barefoot. With this, a few of my students asked if they could kick off their shoes as well. Since our workout was equipment-free, I didn’t need to worry about my students dropping weights on their feet.
What I saw (and heard) amazed me. It was natural for me to move effortlessly and gracefully across the floor without cushioning. I didn’t make a sound. However, my students were thudding, clunking and banging their skeletons against the hardwood floor. Wow!
What a moment. I realized then, that I had a tremendous teaching opportunity. And so it began. willPower & grace® became one of the first “modern” barefoot cardio workouts, and certainly the very first to cue foot fitness as a fundamental concept.
As a bizarre side note, my high school year book aspiration was “To walk barefoot in the sand, with the world at my feet.” Being that I didn’t grow up on the water, or even near a beach, I think someone “up there” was making plans for me.
What is your response to the increased awareness in foot fitness and barefoot training that is happening throughout the fitness industry? Has barefoot training reached its peak? How big do you see barefoot training becoming within the industry?
My response to the increased awareness? IT’S ABOUT TIME
It’s been a tough decade, as I’ve needed to convince people to take their shoes off and exercise the feet the way they exercise the rest of the body. Until a few years ago, there was no evidence-based information that supported foot fitness. Now, as the Fitness Advisor for Vibram FiveFingers® (the shoe with toe pockets), I present to fitness professionals and consumers about how to train the feet and the multitude of benefits.
Thanks to Born to Run, running has become the modality that’s brought barefoot training into the spotlight – but what I teach reaches far beyond running. This is the evolutionary path that our industry will need to take.
From an industry perspective, barefoot training is barely in its infancy. I predict that within 5 years we will not see cushioned, structured shoes in the fitness arena at all. Those big bulky shoes will be sitting in a box with those big leather lumbar support belts that we used to wear.
Not familiar with willPower & grace®?
Check out the video below!
Stacey Lei Krauss is schedule to teach at the Delhi Barefoot Training Summit 13 – 15, March 2015 and Denver Barefoot Training Summit May 8 – 10, 2015.
In addition, Stacey will be teaching her willpower & grace® Certification as a Post-Conference on 16, March 2015 in Delhi, India
Learn more or register by click HERE