Natural Movement Q&A with Curtis Hall of BAREfit
Tell us a bit about you and your projects - what got you into fitness? And, what is BAREfit?
What eventually became BAREfit, began in my independent study class at the University of Louisville where I studied Exercise Science. During my independent study, I researched and designed training programs that were specific to rock climbing -a sport I had recently developed a passion for. Throughout my research, I began to discover a huge lack of fitness programs that catered towards outdoor adventure sports and training. I then realized that I could develop programming to fit that specific need.
The necessity for movement and exercise was instilled in me at a young age as I grew up playing team sports. In high school, I found that I enjoyed coaching and training others just as much as playing the actual sports themselves. By senior year it was clear that I wanted to study Exercise Science in order to further enhance my knowledge and skills so that I could better help others succeed in their fitness and sports goals. In college, I transitioned from traditional team sports into the realm of outdoor adventure & endurance sports such as trail running, mountain biking, cycling, rock climbing, paddling, etc. In addition, I also worked with youth in outdoor based team building and leadership development. I graduated in 2009 with my Exercise Science degree and then went on to receive my NSCA CSCS certification. During this time I worked in both the outdoor and fitness industries, seeking to understand and work out what a training program for outdoor adventure sports would look like. My active upbringing, participation in sports, passion to teach, exposure to outdoor adventure sports, volunteer work with youth, and experience in the work force all greatly influenced the formation of BAREfit.
BAREfit became official around 3 years ago through my partnership with Rob Bratcher, a good friend and veteran of the fitness industry. We teamed up with a vision to create a fitness company that used all reclaimed, upcycled and repurposed materials. The use of these real world materials would help people train in ways that are applicable to outdoor adventure in addition to conserving the environment. We also had a vision of promoting a minimalist plant based lifestyle along with providing a solution to the need for outdoor sports training.
Our training model includes mostly small group training with a focus on developing natural movement, strength, mobility, flexibility, durability, balance, and outdoor skills like: climbing, jumping, landing, crawling etc. This style of training helps client’s performance abilities in outdoor sports and adventure as well as makes them happier, healthier and more capable humans in general. We also focus on corrective exercise since body misalignment is a pervasive issue within modern society. Overall, we just had a passion to accurately tend to the needs of our clients, help them achieve their fitness goals –especially those with interests in outdoor adventure sports- and promote health and wellness through a loving community.
What are some of your philosophies that motivate and guide your fitness and lifestyle?
I believe that all humans were designed to create, move, enjoy & explore nature. I also believe that humans were created to be in community with each other. When this is not the case, a person’s physical, mental, spiritual and relational health is negatively impacted. One of the biggest ways I've pursued this philosophy is, along with my wife Janae, moving into the developing urban neighborhood of Shelby Park. We are within walking/cycling distance of work, friends, food, green spaces, our church, and of course, BAREfit. This creates, for us, a platform for an active lifestyle in a community that supports us, where we can serve.
BAREfit, is essentially an extension of these philosophies. The WORKsite (our gym), also in Shelby Park, happens to be the only fitness space in the neighborhood. We were passionate about incorporating a taste of the outdoors in this unique urban setting in order to give those that already love nature a respite from the city and help develop that love in those it has yet bloom.
How long have you been wearing Earth Runners? What made you decide to give them a try?
I've been wearing Earth Runners for almost a year. I've spent the past 5 years transitioning to more minimal footwear and discovering how less really is more when it comes to shoes. Minimal footwear and developing natural running form has allowed me to adventure by foot in ways clunky, overly padded shoes never could.
About 2 year ago I began the search for a minimalist running sandal (I used to live in Chacos, but they felt like wearing bricks by this point) because my feet have never been happy in closed toed shoes. I eventually discovered Huaraches and looked into the different options, but none of them really hit the mark for me. I even made a few pair of my own, but wasn't able to get the design exactly right for my feet. Earthrunners actually discovered me via Instagram and started liking and commenting on my posts. Through these interactions, I ordered my first pair and knew I'd found my sandal. The top notch materials, the hand crafted quality, the sleek and minimalist single strap design, the conductive sole/straps, and the custom fit bested anything else I could buy or make.
What do you like best about them? How do Earth Runners affect your movement practice?
When I'm wearing my Earth Runners, I often forget I'm wearing anything at all. They form to my feet and protect them from pointy objects on the ground, but are otherwise invisible, which is the highest praise for any minimalist footwear.
My Earth Runners make me more mindful of what’s around me. I tread lighter and more intentionally. Since my feet are more exposed, I've become more connected with the ground, the roots, the rocks, the plants that make up the trails that I explore. My feet and ankles have become stronger. My proprioception and body awareness has also certainly increased.
Earth Runners are designed to support natural movement and connection with the earth. What are some of your favorite ways to connect with nature?
I love trail running and exploring local trails with my wife. I love finding new ways to traverse trails using rocks, trees and roots to find my path.
Rock climbing in the Red River Gorge is also a favorite activity and Earth Runners make great approach footwear.
I also enjoy working out in nature. Finding new spaces and using whatever rocks, limbs, hills, etc. are around to design adventure inspired workouts.
BAREfit: Adventure Training