Joggers who love running barefoot are trying to bring the fad into fitness clubs—but fellow members and gym owners are saying no way, the Wall Street Journal reports. Fitness chains cite health concerns in banning the practice, and shoe-wearing members cite disgust over naked feet sweating on tracks and treadmills. "It was just a big, hairy dude with his big, hairy feet, clomping along beside me," said a 25-year-old woman in Seattle. "I just felt like that was an unnecessarily excessive human skin transfer."
But barefoot running has become more popular thanks to the 2009 book, Born to Run. And proponents say it promotes landing on the forefoot or midfoot, which lessens the chance of injury. Yet it's tough to run barefoot in winter, so they flock to gyms—where owners say naked feet can easily spread infections via small abrasions, and are prone to getting athletes foot and plantar warts. Not to mention the problem of falling dumbbells: "If someone were to drop a weight on their toe ... their toe is going to explode," says a fitness trainer.