I am a sucker for people creating a product/launching a business that they believe in. I suppose that's why I put my initial reaction to the idea of pricey yoga studio footwear (I believe my initial reaction was, "Are those really necessary?") aside to give Blake Brody In-Studio Footwear a try.
Now I should preface this by saying that over the past 5 years of so I've developed a dislike for shoes in general (I'm not that girl that loves torturing herself in uncomfortable shoes because they up the sexy factor). My heart doesn't go into palpatations when it sees Jimmy Choo shoes or whatever ridiculously high-priced shoes of torture designed by a man are the rage of the fashion world. Yes, I understand that wearing shoes is appropriate (and often necessary) and all of that, but given my druthers I'd be barefoot all of the time. Of course this isn't always wise, safe, or comfortable -- I want to protect my feet from bacteria and rough surfaces and all that (not to mention the fact that my feet get cold when it's chilly outside).
While I realize that no slip yoga socks are all the rage, I prefer to practice barefoot. My belief is that valuable sensation is cut off when you cover your feet during yoga practice. Granted, I prefer to practice in my home rather than a studio, so that might have something to do with my comfort with walking around barefoot (I know my floors and yoga mat are clean). I also love feeling the mat under my feet and the freedom -- and comfort -- that going barefoot brings. I don't have to worry about what germs lay on a heavily trafficked floor. The times when I do practice in a studio, I do find myself craving some sort of foot covering.
The same when I work with clients -- I prefer to wear something on my feet. I take off my shoes when I work with clients but socks can be slippery and depending on where I'm working (be it a studio or a client's home) I don't want to get dirty. Not to mention the whole cold feet issue. Enter Blake Brody In-Studio Footwear. My practical side loves the fit, comfort, and protection that these eco-friendly shoes offer while my girly side loves how they look (I have a pair of the Ali style, which are embellished with Swarovski crystals -- feminine with a fashionable flair).
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These shoes, which are made with environmentally-conscious and humane materials, are constructed to be breathable, antimicrobial, and delicate enough to maintain a feel for studio surfaces. Blake Brody, the designer of these practical yet pretty shoes is a yoga and Pilates practitioner who after falling off a Reformer in a Pilates class due to sweaty feet was inspired to create a shoe that allowed sensitivity for practice (without hindering movement) while providing traction and foot protection. You can read more about Blake and the development of her footwear line here.
When I first put these shoes on I was shocked at the arch support (these shoes have extra padding at the arch for protection against cramping). They may look like ballet slippers but no ballet slippers that I've ever worn have felt this comfortable and supportive. Still, the shoes, which start at $98 and top out at $135 (depending on the style you choose) seemed a bit of an extravagant splurge to me. These aren't outdoor shoes -- the soles feature translucent grips that won't damage or mark studio equipment or floors but can't stand up the great outdoors.
I find that what started out as extravagance is now feeling like a necessity. Even though I wouldn't practice yoga in these shoes (you certainly could, it's just not my own personal preference), I love wearing them around the studio and while working with clients. My feet stay warm, are protected, and my sensitivity to the ground is preserved (and they don't hinder the natural movement of my foot) so I can demonstrate an asana or two for a client without having to take them off. Have I mentioned that they're also very comfortable (at first it took me a while to get used to the snug fit, as I'm used to going barefoot)? And for the shoe lovers out there -- I've gotten quite a few compliments about these shoes. Even a girl like me who isn't into fashionable footwear can appreciate how adorable these shoes are. My practical side loves the marriage of form and function and is more than happy to shell out the dough (they certainly aren't as expensive as Jimmy Choos!) for these shoes because the value is there.
The shoes are packaged in a lovely box made from recylable materials. Yes, Brody, who is a vegetarian, is environmentally conscious and it shows in her footwear and the packaging. My feet and my conscience are happy.
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If you spend a lot of time in a yoga (or Pilates) studio and are looking for a comfortable and stylish (a rare combination, if you ask me) way to protect your feet, check out Blake Brody Footwear (even if you're thinking that you don't really need a pair of in-studio footwear). This is one yoga goody that is worth the price.