Dear Urban Diplomat: Can I go barefoot on the treadmill at the gym?
Dear Urban Diplomat,
I’m a physiotherapist, and I recently started running barefoot on the treadmill at my gym. To my dismay, a manager informed me she’d received complaints. When I explained that it’s better for the gait to run shoeless, she said my membership would be terminated if I didn’t put my shoes on. I feel I have the right to choose, especially when it comes to the betterment of my health. Is there anything I can do?
—Footloose, The Village
Read your contract. As the barefoot running craze has exploded, some gyms have started including clauses stipulating footwear. If it’s in there, you’re out of luck. If it isn’t, I still wouldn’t raise a stink. You probably aren’t posing any new risk—the gym is already a funhouse of bacteria—but feet are generally gnarly and prone to smelling like Cool Ranch Doritos after a day of being cooped up in brogues. So, like the beefcake who’s dying to go shirtless but instead squeezes into a too-small tank top, you owe it to your fellow gym rats to suck it up. Buy a pair of those lizardy toe shoes, or cancel your membership and put the money toward a home treadmill.
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