The Answer Is Yes

Question posed to Climbing.com’s “Answer Man”:

Clipping your toenails in the middle of the gym is totally disgusting—am I right?

Answer from me:  of course you are right.  The fact that this is even a question does not speak well for the way some people comport themselves at the climbing gym.

And speaking of the way people comport themselves at the gym, what is going on with all the people at the gym and their bare feet?  Maybe I’m out of touch with what’s cool because the gym I grew up in had a policy against people walking around in bare feet, but here in Boulder there is literally no safe place in the gym from people walking around without footwear.  Whether it’s in between climbs, in the weight room or, yes, in the bathroom, you’re bound to see someone with no shoes on.  In the rope climbing areas I’d estimate that over 75% of the people not climbing are hanging out with no shoes on.

I asked about this situation on Twitter some months back and the majority of respondents disagreed with my get off my lawn mentality, but I stand by it:  get off my lawn put some damn shoes on!

Posted In: Asides, Climbing

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63 Responses to The Answer Is Yes

  1. johnnymcdonough October 16, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

    i agree about the toenails…but who cares if someone has barefeet while just walking around the foam pads every gym has? you want people to put on street shoes while belaying? or in between boulder problems? that shit just don’t make sense.

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  2. j October 16, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

    For sure Narc, and while you’re at it climbing gym peeps . . . maybe . . . , just maybe . . .

    -Take a shower/use soap if your odor wilts flowers
    -If above, maybe at least think about wearing a clean shirt?
    -Speaking of, maybe think about keeping your shirt on, like they require in “real” gyms, unless that 3oz differential really is the necessary ingredient to insure that gym V10 project send you’ve been dreaming about
    -Stop swearing and/or grunting/screaming like a child
    -Look around and see who might be preparing to climb a problem before you “jump on it”
    -Strike up a conversation with a climber who is new to the scene and not part of your clique
    -Don’ leave all your crap lying around in or in the way of climbing areas
    -Keep the lockers clean; throw away/recycle your empty beverage bottles
    -Eat your Taco Bell PRIOR to coming to the gym

    And finally, to gym workers . . .

    -Stop playing your acid/house/electroclash-laden ipods at headache-inducing volumes, such that it even drowns out customers trying to listen to their own music with earbuds.

    -Maybe smile/say “hi” or even “thanks” to a random gym customer now and again. I’m pretty sure these are the folks that are ultimately responsible for you getting a paycheck.

    (I love how the bare feet in the gym issue is one of the main things that Narc is consistently passionate about 😉 )

    -j

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    • Narc October 16, 2014 at 9:18 pm #

      Bare feet and tickmarks are pretty much all I care about in life at the moment

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      • Mike October 19, 2014 at 9:08 am #

        The number (and length?!) of tick marks at every crag I visit is obscene. Way worse than bare feet IMO.

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    • DDD October 17, 2014 at 12:38 am #

      People take their shirts off because it’s usually pretty warm in the gym and some people have more issues with temperature and finger sweat than others. It has nothing to do with weight (though I can’t discount vanity in all cases).

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  3. Andrew Bisharat October 16, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    you made the decision to move here and live amongst the hippies. Now deal with it.

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    • Narc October 16, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

      Why do most of the hippies look like professional adults???

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      • Andrew Bisharat October 16, 2014 at 10:51 pm #

        sheeps in wolves clothing

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      • James Baugh October 17, 2014 at 10:11 am #

        This is Boulder, CO. Even professionals have some hippie vibe in them.

        The hippie vibe is contagious. A couple more years and you won’t remember why people w/o shoes annoyed you.

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  4. James October 16, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

    I think its a little crazy to care about bare feet. Take your damn shoes off let those feet breath!

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  5. sean October 17, 2014 at 5:06 am #

    as someone that works at a gym and is responsible for climber safety id much rather see bare feet all day long than watch someone belay in slick soled shoes or flip flops. safe shoes or bare feet. if you trip on your flip flop or slide across the floor on an unexpected whip thats a potential decking situation.

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    • hmyles October 24, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

      If you’re sliding across the floor creating a potential decking situation, your problem is not footwear. You are way too far from the first draw.

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      • Narc October 29, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

        This x10000

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  6. Paul Campbell October 17, 2014 at 8:50 am #

    Honestly I don’t get the hate on bare feat. Like your shoes are somehow cleaner? I’m pretty sure I have stepped in shit with my shoes but my feet definitely don’t have shit on them.

    Just my 2 cents.

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  7. Duke October 17, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    Bare feet on the ground = OK.

    Bare feet on the wall = Disgusting.

    Don’t people realize that people will be putting their hands on those holds that they are stepping their sweaty nasty feet all over. Please people, stop the barefoot climbing.

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    • Joaq October 17, 2014 at 6:56 pm #

      Street shoes on the ground = OK
      Street shoes on the wall = Disgusting
      Climbing shoes in the bathroom then on the wall = Disgusting

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  8. DAC October 17, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    If you’re seriously concerned about people’s feet being nasty, you may want to reconsider climbing in general. Your hands carry far more bacteria et al. than your feet, and you grab holds that hundreds of other people have touched before you. Some people have probably even bled on them!

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  9. j October 17, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    First, I completely agree with Duke (above) and am ashamed that I left THE most offensive of all gym offenses off of my list: Barefoot-to-Handhold Climbing. If you do so, you are either a show-off fail, self-centered dork, or both. So stop that for sure.

    To all ya barefooters on the vertical plain: You ever think there may be a reason why feet smell? Very simple answer: Bacteria. That’s it. Narc and I don’t appreciate you spreading your juicy foot bacteria all over the gym floor, that we may fall on, etc. It’s avoidable so why not avoid it?

    Secondly, anyone ever contract athletes foot? It’s about as fun and easy to get rid of as herpes. Ya know where that commonly comes from? Moist places where people go barefoot, like locker rooms, and given proper conditions, concrete and other areas around climbing gym floors. The probability of spreading things like this around can be mitigated by simply exercising a little consideration for your fellow climber. So, why the resistance?

    Finally, short of wearing protective gloves, if one wants to climb in a gym, one simply cannot avoid touching surfaces others have also touched repeatedly. Hence, the good sense of frequent and thorough hand washing and. However, stepping in other people’s foot bacteria can easily be avoided, so why not do what can be done?

    -j

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    • Nathan Johnson October 17, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

      Athlete’s foot is a fungus caused by sweaty feet inside tight shoes.

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      • Narc October 17, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

        All the more reason to keep your feet to yourself when you’re not climbing…

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    • DDD October 17, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

      There is bacteria covering everything you touch all the time. There is no reason to be more concerned about “foot bacteria” than any other kind. And I doubt the typical padded climbing gym floor surface provides a good environment for athletes foot fungus. This seems to have more to do with some personal foot phobia than any genuine health concerns.

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  10. gustav October 17, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    flip flops are the best. You have to air out your feet otherwise they will surely be overly contaminated by bacteria. Also put some chalk on your feet while your at it.

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  11. Adam October 17, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    If your problem is that feet look or smell gross then flip flops doesn’t solve anything. If your problem is that it’s unsanitary to have your bare feet go where others’ bare feet have gone, then you shouldn’t have a problem if you’re wearing shoes.

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    • Ian October 28, 2014 at 11:29 pm #

      Nice skewer, Adam.

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  12. ky6er October 17, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    I have shoes that are comfortable enough that I don’t have to take them off for my whole session (bouldering gym so no belaying) and I never do anyway cause my gym shoes are old and stinky. That being said as long as peoples feet don’t stink (like mine) I don’t see a problem with bare feet (sure I’ll draw the line on climbing barefoot too but I only ever see kids and complete newbies do this so yeah it seems it barely ever happens and usually its just on lower foot holds anyway). The one flaw I see in some of these arguments is that if shoes are the protection against spreading and getting germs and you obviously are wearing shoes then whats to worry about? I mean if someone is stupid enough to walk in a public bathroom barefoot (gross) then they’re the only ones that are gonna catch anything or leave anything for the next poor barefoot guy. If something is nasty on the floor shoes are gonna spread it around just as a barefoot would and then, again, you have your shoes on so your not gonna be effected..

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    • Jackson October 17, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

      i think you mean affected…

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  13. ky6er October 17, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    doh!

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  14. Narc October 17, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    I’m glad we could all agree on this

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  15. Dave October 17, 2014 at 11:01 pm #

    I’m with you narc. Bare feet in gym = gross… And ubiquitous.

    I yelled at a girl for washing her hands in the drinking fountain a couple years ago and she told me it was no big deal and I should untwist my panties. Hah!

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  16. Narc October 18, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    I plan on fleshing out this point more in another post, but my general feeling is that I wish climbers would treat the places they climb (gyms, outdoors) more like they are guests in a special place with strangers (leave no trace and keep a low profile as much as possible) and less like they are at home by themselves (bare feet, music, dogs, trash, digging landings, etc).

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    • sierrasteeps October 29, 2014 at 12:03 am #

      I’m sorry, but who are the people voting against this comment. Do you really think that treating the places we climb respectfully is somehow a bad idea? When you climb outside, stay on trails, clean up all your trash, stick to smaller groups, leave your boom box at home, and be a responsible dog owner. Dispose of human waste properly and be nice to other climbers/hikers etc. Is there really any debate on this?

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      • T October 29, 2014 at 8:57 am #

        I agree with you. But a gym is not outside.

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        • Narc October 29, 2014 at 11:56 am #

          So we should just do whatever we feel like doing when we are in the gym?

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      • DDD October 29, 2014 at 11:59 am #

        It’s probably all the people who don’t have an irrational phobia of bare feet.

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      • Narc October 29, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

        Apparently there is?

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  17. Ramdoman October 18, 2014 at 8:41 am #

    At the gym I attend there are health issues I care more about than whether or not you take your shoes off between climbs. 1) Wearing your climbing shoes into the bathroom, where you are stepping in piss, then coming back out to climb again. 2) People having sex on the gym pads after hours. 3) Guy that use to come in and and lay all over the pads between climbs when he had scabies.

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  18. j October 18, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    So rad the post on bare feet has 33+ comments!

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  19. Winston Elliott October 20, 2014 at 3:37 am #

    All of you just have a problem with exposure. You have to build up an immunity. That’s why people who live in places like Haiti can handle 3 times the pathogens than those weak Americans. I have pursued this philosophy, and now I don’t get diseases, I give them…

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  20. DBR October 20, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

    What about people with bear feet? Rrrar.

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  21. the menace October 21, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    Grooming should be done at home. Finger or toe nails. I agree people should treat the crags or gyms like they are a guest. Bury poo, pick up your trash. And big tick marks are for the weakest most pathetic of climber. A thumb print is plenty. And climbs on a boulder are called problems, not boulders.

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  22. Jake October 21, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

    who cares…everyone should just mind their own business

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    • Narc October 21, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

      So, you agree with me?

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      • Jake Philpot October 22, 2014 at 12:52 am #

        I’m apathetic…if you want to walk around with shoes on, you should, if you don’t then don’t. What’s the big deal with bare feet anyways…if the gym isn’t ok what about the crag? Mountain? Beach?

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        • j October 22, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

          I’ll make it easy for you.

          Bare feet, okay: Crag, mountain, beach, your house

          Bare feet, not okay: Gym, church, Arby’s, my house

          -j

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  23. the menace October 21, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    We all share the same stone and so we should all care. To me it come down to respect for your fellow climber. Leave the gym or crag better than you found it.

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  24. david October 22, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

    bare feet is in the same category as chipping and or gluing.

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  25. rumneysmom October 29, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. Get a pair of sandals to wear between climbs and clip your damn nails at home!

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  26. grubbjasona October 29, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    This is, perhaps, the stupidest thing I’ve ever read. Bare feet in the gym, really? Being concerned about this reaches quite far into the phobic realm. How someone sees this as “disgusting” or “unsanitary” is completely beyond me.

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    • Narc October 29, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

      Apparently this topic is the equivalent to gun control and politics in the real world. Who knew?

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    • j October 29, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

      Has it escaped you that he is the self-proclaimed Climbing NARC, so addicted to climbing, that it hurts him? Obsessive-compulsive behavior in other realms is to be expected 😉

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  27. Nick R. October 31, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    Is there no poll option?!

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    • Narc November 3, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

      I’m afraid of what the results would be

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    • Nate November 3, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

      http://strawpoll.me/2922793

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      • Nate November 3, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

        Cast your vote all. The people seem to be saying it is chill.

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  28. anson November 4, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    I wonder if the no-barefoot mentality is a midwesterner thing; in that, I have only been in gyms that have a policy against barefeet when I was in the midwest (e.g., Minn).

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    • HeMan November 5, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

      The midwestern gyms that I climb and work at have no such policy. Maybe they’re an exception, but I doubt it.

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  29. James November 6, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    I’m going to touch you with my feet!!!

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