User Stories

Interview with Free the Animal’s Richard Nikoley on his Vibram Five Fingers

Interview with Vibram Five Fingers fan and health enthusiast, blogger Richard Nikoley of the popular paleo community blog, Free the Animal

Name: Richard Nikoley
Birthday: 1961
Age: 48
Regular shoe size: Approx. 9
VFF shoe size: 40
Feet are: cool

What prompted you to get Vibram Five Fingers?

I came upon a blog post at Modern Forager*, now LifeSpotLight, and it was one of those times where I realized I was already an authority and didn’t even know it.

So I blogged about it in a post I called: Learning to Walk. In that post, I recounted my 6 1/2 year story of walking a lot every day, how I developed foot problems, and how I finally re-taught myself to walk correctly (in spite of the shoes).

I saw the Vibrams as something I could just naturally step into, and that turned out to be the case.

What type and color Five Fingers do you have and how long have you had them?

Well, that’s a funny one, because I was late to the party, and all the colors I preferred were out of stock for my size. I ended up with the classics in all black, and the KSO (I prefer to call them “Keep Sh*t Out”) in brown. Boring, but same performance. 🙂

What do you do most while wearing your Five Fingers?

Walking the dogs, mostly at night in the classics. For my long morning walk, I still often wear my light running shoes. But, this goes back to the beginning. I have already retrained my muscles over years to walk correctly and I have never since had foot pain. I also like to do my workouts in the classics. For the occasional weekend trail hikes, I use the KSOs. I do it mostly for the looks from other hikers along the trail. Priceless.

I’ve also been known to hit the local pub in the classics. Easy way to get a conversation going.

Any unusual experiences while wearing them?

Only at first. I called it “data overload.” The feet, I’m told, have more nerve endings than human genitalia, which is saying something! What’s very interesting is that you learn to deal with the data over time and are no longer obsessed with where you’re stepping. It’s almost like developing a sixth sense.

How do Five Fingers fit in with who you are as a person?

Perfectly. They are many things, implicitly. I think my favorite is simply that they are unconventional and far from what the crowd is doing, so they’re profoundly distinctive in a way that’s hard to criticize. And, I think the criticism I’ve heard would more properly be classified as envy. While I’m not a rebel for the pure sake of being a rebel, I eschew doing what everyone else does simply because everyone else is doing it — or even worse: over fear of unpopular attention.

Anything else you’d like to share about your FiveFingers?

Yes. As great as they are, we must remember that they are still a compromise. As such, I also regularly walk barefoot. I think that should still be the ideal, and I doubt a great company like Vibram would dispute that.

Here’s another. My wife has always made fun of them (she calls them my “feet;” as in, “do you want me to toss down your feet?”). Well, last week we were on vacation and went into a sports outfitter shop. They had a full stock and now she has a pair, at my expense, which was the only way she was going to have them.

To her complete surprise, she loves them. The first night, before even testing them out, she watched a movie in them.

Thank you, Richard!

Richard shows off his brown KSOs, black Classics, and his wife's blue sprints!
Additional pictures of Richard’s birthday shoes sporting his brown KSOs and black classics can be found here.

Richard Nikoley blogs at Free the Animal dot com, where he is leading the charge for “World Paleo Domination” (An overview). I’m proud to say that I’ve been following Richard’s blogging since as far back as early 2006, back when his blog was called Uncommon Sense. Indeed, Free the Animal is all about applying uncommon sense to your life via the lens of evolutionary biology. And if that last sentence makes no sense to you, I’d encourage you to spend some time at Richard’s site. It could radically improve your life (And the lives of those you care about).

* The post Richard refers to at Modern Forager / Life Spotlight by Scott Kustes can be found here: You Walk Wrong And Your Shoes Are To Blame. I hope to get Scott to complete my interview at a future date!

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

2 replies on “Interview with Free the Animal’s Richard Nikoley on his Vibram Five Fingers”

Cool! Yeah, I absolutely love my 5-Fingers (I currently rock the black KSOs) for sprinting, weightlifting, and just kickin’ around the house. They *are* the official shoe of the Paleo set!

The first I hear about vibrams was on Richard’s site ‘free the animal’, I am very interested in nutrition and his sight is very interesting about that. It wasn’t obvious to me at first why they had toes but Richard explained that to me. I really had to have a pair and got my first pair, classics from ebay for about 1/2 of e store price. It took me forever to get used to them! I had to take time to even get used to wearing toed socks. It was too cold here in the uk to wear the vibrams outside so I’d wear them for an hour or so around the house. By the time warm weather came my feet were preped. I really love these shoes. Just yesterday I recieved my second pair, performas. I had to pay full price-dispite much searching couldn’t find this style discounted. When I saw for the first time a bright coral red, a colour I’d not seen elsewhere, I had to bite the bullet and pay full whack! I hope to post a pic on the forum as I think the colour is quite unusual. But I know from the packaging and the shoes themselves these are genuine five fingers. Sydney

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *