January 20, 2014

Be Real Minimalist Shoes Giveaway! And Sort-Of Review

Are you curious about the whole minimalist running shoe notion, but reluctant to shell out the big bucks for a pair of Vibrams?

There's a new kid in town, coming in February.  "Be Real Shoes" are an intriguing Vibram alternative with some cool features, and you could win a pair for the price of a comment!

What's So Great About Going Minimalist?

This is a topic of much debate, with studies flying back and forth and lots of impassioned opinions and disagreement.

And ya know what? I ain't going there. Proponents point to many benefits of barefoot and minimalist running shoes; but there's been a backlash. Recent studies suggest minimalist running may not be better after all.  But there are, anecdotally, a ton of folks who say they used to have biomechanical problems that improved greatly once they ditched all the cushioning in their shoes.

Note: everyone seems to agree that one needs to be careful in making a transition to avoid injuries.

Like many debates in the health and fitness world, I think the best thing to do if you are curious is to try some out and see.  Which is why some price competition in the world of minimalism may not be a bad thing!

Why This is this Not a Particularly Helpful Review Along with the Giveaway

Unlike the recent Fitbit Force review where the timing was perfect, this one is kinda crappy. After signing on, I did something funky to my glute/hamstring/hip area, which running seems to aggravate, so it doesn't seen like the best time to embark on a thorough minimalist training program. (Of course the sensible thing would be to lay off running entirely and if it doesn't get better, go see a doctor, right?  Why am I incapable of doing this?)

Also, I can't really compare the experience to running in a pair of Vibrams because I've never tried them.

But (disclaimer) I did get a pair to try for free, and so I have a few pictures and thoughts!

But first..

Why "Be Real" Shoes?

The founder of Be Real Shoes "quickly fell in love with the more natural style of running and its health benefits," but he had some major gripes. And we're all about griping here at Cranky Fitness!

"None of them fit properly," he whined, "and their design restricted the movement of the toes, which is part of the natural running experience. I knew I could do better."

These shoes feature:

  • A patent-pending incredibly lightweight material, providing protection and traction while coming in at a fraction of the cost of the competition's shoes.
  • Shoes designed to work as a trail shoe, crossfit shoe, and water shoe.
  • Made in the US utilizing ecofriendly manufacturing techniques enabling the rubber soles to be 100% recyclable.
  • Named one of the top design finds at the Summer Outdoor Retailer Market.

FAQ's as Answered by Crabby McSlacker:

Do they look Weird and Funny like other Minimalist Shoes?

Yes!  The Lobster laughed at me wearing mine, but oddly enough I kinda liked looking down and seeing what resemble Bear Paws where my feet used to be.  I think they're adorkable.

Do The Shoes Have Separated Toes?

No, thank god.  I hate things between my toes, eww. My toes like to sprawl and these have a Huge Freakin' Toebox.

How Do They Feel Running on Hard Surfaces Like Sidewalks?

I avoid pavement and sidewalks anyway. But I'm afraid these would make me work even harder to find nice soft places to run.  I couldn't help but suspect the harder jarring would mean Even More Trouble Ahead for my aging body parts.  But if you are youthful and like the notion of toughening up your feet without actually shredding them on sharp things, these would be great for that.

How Do They Feel On Softer Surfaces Like Dirt and Grass?

Much better!

For my brief test runs, they were comfy and felt like somewhere in between barefoot and shod, which I think is what one aims for with this sort of footwear.

Hooray for grass!

Do They Promote a Forefoot Strike?

Well, I subjectively I thought they did, but the evidence seems to indicate that donning a pair does not immediately and magically turn a long-time heel-striker who is trying to change her ways into a natural forefoot striker.

How Do I Win a Pair of These Cool Shoes?

Leave a comment letting me know why you'd like a pair! A small pool of worthy finalists will be selected, then the Random Number Generator will choose the ultimate winner.

Winner will be selected a week from today, on January 27, 2014, and will have until midnight PST Friday January 31 to claim the shoes or I will redraw a new winner.

Note: I totally forgot to ask whether this giveaway is limited to U.S. residents or not, duh! So if you are non U.S. and would like a chance to win, go ahead and enter but let me know your status. I will wheedle and plead to see if at least Canadians can be included but even the nicest sponsors aren't always able to do this.

Want the Shoes? Or if Not, What Do You think of the Whole Minimalist Movement?


  1. Oh wow, you really are a heel striker! I'm sorry to hear about your glute/hamstring/hip area issue - unfortunately I can relate to that pain. The shoes look less funky on your feet than in the picture (I suspect it's because your toe caps are not neon yellow), but I'm leaning toward more cushion these days, so count me out of the generous giveaway. I hope you feel better soon.

  2. Crabby, I really hope your injury heals as quickly as possible. I know how it is to be thwarted in my attempts to do what I need to do.
    Good luck to all who enter this give-away. I would not wish to wear anything on my feet, with a sole that has cushioning under 5'' high (not that actually own such an add looking pair of sneakers). I do not run and hmmm let's just say that I agree that the look of this awesome product reflects only part of the generous term you used, to describe it...

  3. I run just like that, and blew out a hip, too. If I try to fix my stride then I tiptoe, which can't be good. I'd love to try minimalist shoes, but I'm not optimistic enough to pay $100+ for them. Let us know how it goes.


  4. Canadian here!
    I wear Vibrams every day for weight lifting and body weight exercises. I like the way they grip the floor better than regular shoes. I have bruised my heel a couple times trying to use them for other activities.
    I would love to try out your new shoes. Just not for running!

  5. I think I would like to try minimalist shoes - it would be a little scary given my history of injuries but who knows? Maybe it would help!!!
    And, if I start soon enough I might even like them for some of my super long running coming up!!!

  6. I thought about using the Vibrams, but I don't like the feeling of separated toes, either. Maybe these would be more comfortable?

  7. Hi Crabby! Since the Shoe Nazis at my gym now yell at me if I take my shoes off in the power rack and all attempts to thwart them have been futile so far, I'd like to give these a try.

  8. Oh man! I don't know that I could deal with the things between toes either, so I like that these don't have that. I got a pair of injinji toe socks at a race expo a few months ago, and my little Barney Rubble sausage toes are so much shorter than the socks think my toes should be, so I would think the Vibrams might feel funky on my feet (never tried on a pair).

    There is definitely a price barrier to trying this, so winning a pair would be AWESOME. I mean, I'm not going to bust them out for the long marathon training runs, but it could be cool to try on shorter runs, or even just being out and about. They totally look like paws, don't they? Hee!

  9. I've long preferred minimalist trail running shoes for weight lifting but these look like they might provide even more grip and a lot of freedom of movement for the toes. I think they're kind of cute in a funny way. I like to have a sense of humor about working out!

  10. I am slowly moving toward more minimalist shoes. I love them for doing my non-cardio workouts for the same grippy reasons Cindy mentions. I've also found my running stamina has gone up significantly when I'm not hauling boat anchors on my feet (or at least it feels like that). And it makes me more aware of how I'm striking. I'm trying to not be a heel striker and be more of a mid-foot striker, which, rumor has it is really the "better" form. (Rumor being my marathon running office partner who gobbles up running advice columns like I gobble cupcakes.) I just cannot with the toe striking what with the bad toe. I haven't taken the plunge to go this minimal, but I'd love to give it a try! And anything that makes your feet look like bear paws? Sign me up! :)

  11. I'd love to try a pair for hill sprints and "strides" particularly. I'd like to think that the ballet classes I've been taken have helped ready the feet for running with a lot less shoe. Ballet work spends lots of time and attention on foot strength.
    Hope they'll let us Canucks get in on the giveaway.

  12. I'd like to win a pair because I'm recently getting into the running scene and have read about the minimalist running, but I wasn't sure my feet were tough enough. I love that these shoes provide some protection and I am especially fond of the large toe area. I also love that they are made in the USA - huge plus!

  13. Ouchies.. I hope you heal soon. <-- (my minimalist comment)

  14. I would love these. I'm not a runner, and these look cool and workable. That said, I have very small feet and it's a pain to find me shoes that fit. I just know your sponsor wants a challenge.

  15. As is typical for me, i would love to have minimalist shoes, but the car repairs/sick cats/kids needs for everything under the sun/etc. eat the money i do manage to save up. Those do look adorkable, i'd love to try them for my crazy walks.

  16. I have no arch in my foot so I have no idea, my feet always feel better when I wear a heel so I'm not sure this would work for me but I have a friend who runs in them she can do 10 miles on pavement with no problem. She also got through a zumba class we took together with barely breaking a sweat while I was breathing as heavy as Fat Albert going up a flight of stairs.

  17. I would totally love to try these. Reason being my husband says I sound like a heard of elephants when I run in my cushy thick running shoes but funny enough when I run barefoot I almost tip toe and no sound at all. I suspect the shoes make me lose control of my feet by not feeling the ground but I haven't wanted to spend the money on Vibrams to test it out. I also cant run barefoot on cement sidewalks as thats all I have to run on (other than the dreadmill). Hoping this would be the solution and stop the teasing :)

    Lori K.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Typo in previous comment. Oh my!

    I am not a fan of shoes...I prefer bare feet and if I could wear Crocs everywhere, I would! But these look interesting...I can't even stand the thought of separated toes, so these would be something I would try. Especially for free...and yes, I am in Canada!

    I hope your glute/hamstring/hip area is feeling better...and if not, that you go and get it checked out. Take care!

  20. I was convinced that minimalist shoes were a farce, the first Vibrams and the little toes just a modern incarnation of The Emperor's New Clothes. You say I need expensive shoes to run barefoot? Right.... But then the Gods of Clearance Sale Shoes presented me with a pair of Merrell's Barefoot. The voices told me to get them for weightlifting. And it was good, they were perfect for squats and the deadlifts. Over time, I started wearing them to the gym, then just about everywhere including the office (once, humiliating -- I was branded "one of them").

    Now, I used to be a serious runner. However, I was told by sensible people that my running days were over due to injuries (car crash, not from running). But somehow, wearing those Merrell's, I felt compelled to run. I started slowly, transitioning from a heel to a forefoot strike and from a dying gasp to a slight wheeze. I'm a couple years in now and have been experiencing none of the former pain. I don't run far -- mostly sprints, stairs and the odd 5K -- but I do love that running is back in my training mix.

    Those Merrell's are still like new (an unrecognized advantage of minimal shoes). The Gods of Clearance Sale Shoes have since graced me with a pair of Brooks PureConnects (awesome!) and a pair of ECCO Biom (for the office -- minimal without the disapproval). The Clearance Shoe Gods I have not blessed me with a pair of Vibrams, but they do seem to be my destiny (if nobody asks my wife).

  21. I watched an episode of CNN with Sanjay Gupta and this barefoot running professor from Harvard. Watch it if you can find it, because I think he addresses your running style. IMO you are too upright and need to lean forward a little . The lead foot should not go ahead of the body on the strike according to that guy.

  22. Of course I don't want to win running shoes, but the comments from weight-lifting shoe minimalists are intriguing. I don't think I'm much of a minimalist about shoes, but the toe markings make me keep counting to be sure there are five and not six….

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  23. Toe shoes rock! I bought a pair of Vibrams last year and wear them all the time when it's warm enough. I found them kind of painful for running, but otherwise love their toe-spready goodness. My only complaint, which I think I would have with these too, is the apparent need to show off the fact that they are weirdo toe shoes. I'd really prefer my shoes to be kind of unnoticeable, so that I don't have to have the same damned conversation about the merits of minimalist footwear with someone every time I leave the house.

    Oh, the other downside? Dogs don't appear to recognize them as shoes and consider them fair game, so now I have to have the minimalist footwear conversation and the 'they don't usually have a hole in the side but my dog ..." conversation. I'd love to win a pair!

  24. I would actually love these for bike riding. I like to feel the petals on my fet and they wouldn't slip off so easily!

  25. I would love to have a pair because I am on a new journey of changing my lifestyle to healthy lifestyle. I have some back issues and my fiancé said he read the Vibrams are good for people with some kinks in their body. Plus, being a stay at home mom right now I haven't been able to find the money tree on my runs lol. :)

    I love love love my five fingers and wanna try these!

  27. I've been trying to get back into running and would love a pair of these to motivate me!

  28. I would love to win a pair of these shoes because they eill motivate me to run outside and enjoy nature more. :-)

  29. Tried posting reply earlier, to no avail (so, retrying now and highly suspect operator error on first send!)...
    Anyhoo. - 3 things (ok, more than 3)... 1 - You get props for posting video! 2 - And even though only 2 seconds long, it's hard to resist an urge to critique form, etc... 3 - the only time I ever tried having someone record me running so I could see what it looked like, I kind of 'seized up' trying to hit my mark, etc... and I looked more like Frankenstein than Joan Benoit-Samuelson :( 4 - LOVE that these have a large toe box 5 - but, sadly love/need/am addicted to a cushy ride and 6 - too close to an actual "race" to try anything new.
    I have no doubt the shoes will find a great home, though and thanks for trying them out on our behalf!

  30. As you know, I can't wear these - I am a Hoka OneOne lover & the minimalist does not work for me but cool looking! :)

  31. Recent lurker coming out to comment. I have to admit, these look tempting for someone with big feet like me... though I'm definitely more of a walker than runner.
    If this is open to your neighbours Up North, huzzah! If not, good luck to all you others.

  32. I would like to win these since Ive been back training after my achilles tear and I think barefoot running is really good for me to get back to my old strength

  33. This is so relevant for me. I discovered minimalist shoes while searching on how to avoid bunion surgery. Found "Correct Toes" and a whole big discussion on toe box and flatness. So now I do my 30 minute WALKS in Altra Intuitions - "zero drop" don't you know.

    Three months later I have donated ALL my heeled shoes - save a pair of 3/4" dress sandals and a pair of 1.75" nubuck Aerosoles sling backs in case of emergency dress up - like if i have to go on Oprah!

    Part of this recent journey has left me realizing that I really need bigger shoes. As a sexagenarian, (nice eh?), I finally realized I've violated the "if it don't fit, don't force it" adage. I need sizes 11.5 or 12 and settled for 11 because they are easy to find. I now have new soft FLAT shoes from SoftStarShoes.com - 100% American sourced and made and shipped by "elves". My feet are so happy.

    Finally, I'm reading the more minimal your shoes are, the more work you do/calories you burn all day. I need every way to manage this Cabernet I can get!

  34. When I try to fix my gait I tend to run on my toes. I've heard great things about these types of shoes and would love to win a pair. I plan on doing a record amount of races this year for myself! Please, please, please!

  35. Oh wow, shoes with a big toebox! I'd love to give these a try, I haven't been able to run due to neuromas and every shoe I've tried doesn't give me enough room. These could also give me an opportunity to correct my gait and maybe relieve other nagging impact injuries.

  36. I'm not too sure about minimalist shoes but these look great! I really like the fact that toes can move freely too. I would really love to win a pair although I am more of a hiker than a runner. Anyway, thanks for the info and offer.

  37. I have always wanted to try those crazy shoes. Maybe I'd run faster ( probably not...)
    I do hear that they are supposed to work some different muscles in your legs. Might be worth a try.

  38. I love the idea of them but don't think they'd be good for me. (So don't enter me in this one).
    I have nearly flat feet and suddenly am having issues with Plantar Fasciitis so support seems to be vital. If that wasn't an issue, I'd love some bare-foot like shoe for beach walks and such. Maybe never for running (or my version of it).

  39. I would like a pair because I am too cheap to buy a pair that I would not like or wear. Free is good. I am cheap…um, frugal..yes I am VERY frugal! And greedy. And cheap.

  40. I have never seen shoes like this! I'll bet they are super comfortable for running, so yes, I would love to win a pair!
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

  41. Do you really need to know "why" I want a pair of these? Because they're colorful and eccentric, just like me!
    Plus, I used to be a regular reader of your blog before you took that very long break/temporary retirement, and I sort of keep forgetting that you're back. If I win, there's no way I can forget to keep checking in!

    1. Oh shoot--so glad to see you back dragonmamma, but the giveaway thing ended yesterday. So sorry about that!


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