BRS's Network Analytics Over the Years

Discussion in 'Front Page News' started by Barefoot TJ, Feb 21, 2023.

  1. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
    1. Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Messages:
    21,005
    Likes Received:
    6,819
    BRS's Network Analytics
    Over the Years

    (TheBarefootRunners.org)


    I believe that most people who try barefoot running don’t end up staying that way. I think most of those who look into running barefoot (or even minimal), for example, who stumble onto the BRS’s site, are mostly curious but then move on. It is niche after all and a big change to make; it involves having to relearn how to run and pay attention in the process. People are lazy. They want the easy button. Most runners are also too modest to try it for fear of being judged. You know, the usual explanations. I point to our web analytics for this insight:

    2008: Runner’s World BFR forum founded

    2009: BRS founded

    2010: Host out of business, lost analytical data

    2011: First year of solid site stats:
    BRS Monthly History_2011.png

    2013/2014: After steadily growing, first big numbers:
    BRS Monthly History_2013 2014.png
    BRS Monthly History_2014.png

    2017: Steadily growing:
    BRS Monthly History_2017.png

    2020/2021/2022: Pandemic numbers:
    BRS Monthly History_2020.png
    BRS Monthly History_2021.png
    BRS Monthly History_2022.png

    2023: Post pandemic numbers (if I can call it that):
    BRS Monthly History_2023.png

    Prior to the pandemic, you can see the interest is there, but people are mostly window shopping, not serious buyers.

    After the pandemic, not sure what happened. I have some thoughts, but I'd like to hear what you all think about these stats, that is our growth numbers and then our decline throughout the pandemic.
     
    Bare Lee and Rémi like this.
  2. duckfeet

    duckfeet Barefooters
    1. Pennsylvania

    Joined:
    May 3, 2014
    Messages:
    193
    Likes Received:
    288
    Thank you for all that you do TJ
     
    Bare Lee and Barefoot TJ like this.
  3. Rémi

    Rémi Barefooters
    1. France

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2016
    Messages:
    216
    Likes Received:
    414
    Thank you TJ for all the hard work. :cool:

    Just to share my modest experience: I came, I tried, I stayed. A journey that indeed requires progressiveness and really rich in emotions, at my humble level.


    Some personal milestones:
    • In the fall of 2015, I had jammed a foot on a consequently aborted attempt at a handball resume, improperly shod on that occasion.
    • My first attempt at barefoot running: January 24, 2016. Nice experience on... 500 m. :barefoot:
    • I bought "Born to Run" on January 27, 2016.
    • My BRS account was approved on April 21, 2016. I still have the email! :D
    • The opportunity to virtually cross paths with some amazing people.
    • On October 13, 2019, some of us met in Oignon, France for the "EcoTrail du Massif des Brasses".
    And we are still in touch, especially through the BRS forum, sharing our experiences, adventures and projects.

    Last week, at the factory, we did some tidying up in the workshop this week and I came back with a kind of sciatica-lumbago. Not serious, but a little rest, a few days, will do some good.

    Spring is coming, an opportunity to continue/resume barefoot running, practiced with ups and downs since 2016.

    Thank you again, TJ and all the BRS Network. :)
     
    Bare Lee likes this.
  4. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
    1. Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Messages:
    21,005
    Likes Received:
    6,819
    Thank you for that! It’s good to know how the BRS has helped others…the whole reason it exists. I love that you still have your first BRS email too! Ha!
     
    Bare Lee likes this.
  5. Bare Lee

    Bare Lee Chapter Presidents
    1. Minnesota
    2. Presidents

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Messages:
    6,049
    Likes Received:
    6,586
    Barefoot TJ likes this.
  6. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
    1. Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Messages:
    21,005
    Likes Received:
    6,819
    I’m not able to read it unless I subscribe. I may have hit my free views’ limit. Please tell, what was it about?
     
  7. Clark

    Clark Barefooters
    1. Arkansas

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2015
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    83
    Joe DeRuvo took off his shoes while waiting for a planned surgery due to the pain from his bunions. He noticed immediate improvement, put off the surgery, and has rarely worn shoes for twenty years. He wears shoes only when necessary for protection (welding) or to avoid inconveniencing others (dinner reservations). He runs, shops, dines, works, does just about everything shoeless including occasionally having to defend his lifestyle.

    TJ, check your email.
     
    Bare Lee and Barefoot TJ like this.
  8. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
    1. Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Messages:
    21,005
    Likes Received:
    6,819
    Thanks for the backstory. I will check my email soon.
     
  9. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
    1. Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Messages:
    21,005
    Likes Received:
    6,819
    Strange how this was the very first time he ever took his shoes off and noticed the pain went down/away. I’m being facetious, but you get my point.
     
    Bare Lee likes this.
  10. Bare Lee

    Bare Lee Chapter Presidents
    1. Minnesota
    2. Presidents

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Messages:
    6,049
    Likes Received:
    6,586
    Sorry, here's the full story. I don't subscribe either, but my internet is slow enough that I can "select all" then "copy" before the paywall comes up. I then "paste" to a word document and read . . .

    He Took His Shoes Off 20 Years Ago. He Hasn’t Put Them Back On.

    Joseph DeRuvo Jr. has lived a mostly barefooted life for nearly two decades. The experience has given him a thick skin.

    By Katherine Rosman

    • Published March 1, 2023Updated March 2, 2023
    NORWALK, Conn. — A few years back, Joseph DeRuvo Jr. made a quick stop at an upscale supermarket to buy eggs and was stopped in the dairy aisle by a store manager. “You’re not wearing shoes,” he recalled the manager saying to him.

    He was right. Mr. DeRuvo wasn’t wearing shoes. He almost never does.

    The employee cited health codes; Mr. DeRuvo disputed that he was in violation. The employee made vague references to insurance policies; Mr. DeRuvo replied, “More people break their necks with high heels than they ever do going barefoot.”

    “A customer is complaining,” the manager finally said, as Mr. DeRuvo remembers it. “We’d like you to leave.”

    Mr. DeRuvo initially decided to forgo shoes because of agonizing bunions, but he has stayed barefoot for reasons that transcend physical comfort. In that time, he has become a litmus test of people’s forbearance and their willingness to tolerate a stranger’s unconventional lifestyle and perhaps even try to understand it.

    There are questions he is asked frequently that he is always happy to answer. How does he manage snow and ice? Doesn’t he get sharp objects stuck in his thick calluses? But that’s the simple stuff. “Navigating the terrain is easy,” Mr. DeRuvo said. “Navigating people is tricky.”

    When asked to leave a shop or a restaurant, he normally does so without protest, said Mr. DeRuvo’s wife, Lini Ecker, a shoe-wearer who serves as a bridge between her husband and a world that generally asks for conformity.

    “When someone has put on their ‘I’m in charge personae,’” she said, “once they start, they can never change their minds.”

    On occasion, Mr. DeRuvo pushes back. “If I’m feeling feisty,” he said.

    The egg excursion was one of those times. Mr. DeRuvo argued with the manager for a few moments and then walked away and bought his eggs.

    For two decades, Mr. DeRuvo, 59, has lived an almost entirely barefooted life, one he has constructed, with Ms. Ecker’s help, to limit or avoid such confrontations. After years spent as a photographer and a photography teacher, he is still self-employed, now as a Pilates instructor, a particularly barefoot-friendly profession. And the couple stays close to home. When they go out, they gravitate toward mom-and-pop stores and restaurants where they can forge personal connections with owners and managers, and he can be seen as more than the guy with the feet.

    Still, said Ms. Ecker, 61, “we get thrown out of a lot of places.”

    Sympathy for Dogs

    It was an unseasonably warm day in February when Mr. DeRuvo headed out for a short run. The weather was a welcome respite from the record-setting wind chill of the previous week. While hot days can be more challenging than cold ones, with the sun-baked pavement forcing him to run on the painted centerline or in the shadows cast by telephone poles, nothing is as painful underfoot as chemically treated, ice-melting salt. “It gives me a lot of sympathy for dogs,” he said.

    Back at home, Ms. Ecker, a preschool teacher, prepared lunch, lightly grilling bagels in a cast iron pan, slicing avocados, tossing a salad. Mr. DeRuvo grabbed a pair of chop sticks, his preferred cutlery. This is among his “quirks,” as he calls them. He needs reggae music to play in the background at almost all times; the only numbers he can remember are of radio stations, which he uses for internet passwords.

    “I clearly have one foot on the spectrum,” he said earlier (though he clarified that he has never undergone an autism evaluation).

    Mr. DeRuvo’s lifestyle has given him reason to think a lot about bare feet, assessing their safety and hygiene and whether they threaten polite society. He can come up with no health risk. What germs can his feet carry that the bottom of someone’s shoes do not? (Connecticut has no regulations banning customers with bare feet at stores or restaurants, Christopher Boyle, a Department of Public Health spokesman, said, “but retail establishments can set their own rules.”)

    Mr. DeRuvo assumes all risk of stubbed toes, or worse. He has performed a number of jobs all in his bare feet and all safely. He is a tinkerer and a maker, including of his own Pilates equipment that he fabricates in the elaborate workshop he built out of the garage behind his house, sometimes wearing safety goggles but rarely shoes. (He will wear moccasins while welding.)

    In case he steps on something sharp, he carries a sunglasses case filled with tweezers to remove detritus, pulling his feet close to his face to spy metal splinters and shards of glass. He showers at night, scrubbing his feet clean before getting into bed with his wife.

    And he knows when to capitulate, he said, keeping a pair of loosefitting sandals in the car in case there is an event where others would be inconvenienced by him getting refused entry, like when they go to dinner with friends.

    But generally Mr. DeRuvo chooses the comfort of his feet over doing anything or going anywhere that forces him to force them into a pair of shoes.

    ‘People get skeeved’

    Bare feet outside of the beach, the yoga studio or the pedicure chair tend to attract attention. “Shoeless Joe” Jackson was infamous for conspiring to fix the 1919 World Series, but legend has it, it was playing a game barefoot because of blisters that gave him his enduring nickname. Britney Spears’ visit to a gas station in 2004 became a global news event when paparazzi captured her leaving the bathroom in soles al fresco.

    “People have a thing about feet,” Mr. DeRuvo conceded. “People get skeeved.”

    Mr. DeRuvo’s look like they would hurt inside a pair of shoes: His big toes, with a protruding large bump at their bases, jut aggressively toward the pinkie toes on a diagonal.

    The bumps are bunions. About 20 years ago, they had become painful — throbbing during long runs in tight sneakers and interfering with his life. Mr. DeRuvo saw a doctor who recommended surgery. As he awaited the scheduled procedure, he went without shoes because the pain was so intense. In the intervening days he learned that the screws that were to be implanted in his feet contained a metal he was allergic to. He also realized that he felt better since he quit shoes.

    It did not take long before he came to see that going barefoot was enriching his life in ways he did not anticipate. There were physical benefits in addition to the relief for the bunions: He found comfort from the ground beneath him. “The tactile feedback just kind of makes everything else going on feel a little bit smoother,” he said.

    There are spiritual benefits too, said Mr. DeRuvo, a religious man. “God says to Moses, ‘Take off your sandals, you know, this ground is holy,’” he said. “Well, I kind of like to take that as far as it can go.”

    Shoelessness also provides him a mindful life, not rooted in the past, the future or the iPhone. “I pay attention to every single step I take.”

    For these reasons, he said, he considers his lifestyle a gift, and, despite all the store managers who question his choices, a privilege. “A Black person going around shoelessly,” he said, “I just don’t think a Black person would have that freedom. The cops would be called.”

    He explains all of this in a practiced manner. “When you always have to justify what you’re doing,” he said, “you find a context to put it in.”

    ‘People don’t like to be reminded that they’re animals’

    Mr. DeRuvo was born in New York. His mother was a nurse at Bellevue Hospital. His father worked in the print shop at B. Altman, the department store, eventually overseeing the mail-order catalogs.

    As a child, he struggled with language development, and only his sister could understand him. “My mother relied on me to translate for her what Joseph was saying until he was five,” said Alesa Cunningham, who is six years older.

    The family moved to Greenwich, Conn., where he received special education services for dyslexia and a litany of other learning issues. From a young age, he liked to take apart and reassemble items, like doorknobs and rotary telephones. His mother gave him a camera when he was 16. “It combined the artistry of an image and the mechanics of how a camera works,” he said. “Everything clicked.”

    In the mid-1980s, he enrolled at New England School of Photography in Boston. There, he met Ms. Ecker. They have been mostly inseparable since and married in 1987.

    He does not remember exactly when he took off his shoes for the last time. “It was about five years before the iPhone,” he said (which would make it roughly 2002).

    Mr. DeRuvo was nonetheless able to keep his former wedding-photographing career afloat for years, even after telling potential clients of his shoelessness.

    Kate Lindsay recalled her sister’s 2009 wedding, which was photographed by Mr. DeRuvo and Ms. Ecker. At the backyard reception, she said, Mr. DeRuvo answered guests’ questions about his feet without becoming a sideshow.

    “He was able, if you’ll forgive the pun, to walk that line,” said Ms. Lindsay, who hired him to photograph her own wedding reception in 2016.

    His children don’t remember a big pronouncement that Dad would be abstaining from shoes, just that their father’s footwear grew increasingly minimal. “Somewhere along the way, something turned and he didn’t trust shoes anymore,” said Nate De Ruvo, 33, a barista in Boston.

    As a child, Nate had a general awareness that his father was greeted with suspicion by strangers. “It was clear he violated a social contract, but it didn’t make any sense why that one in particular was so embedded into people,” he said.

    He once asked his father why people got so upset. “People don’t like to be reminded that they’re animals,” he said his father told him. “They don’t like to admit we’re not that different from any of the other creatures walking around.”

    Opal DeRuvo, too, grew up witnessing the often angry reaction to their father’s bare feet. Opal identifies as nonbinary transfeminine and has experienced society’s lack of acceptance. “People take such offense when someone tries to make the world easier to navigate for themselves,” said Opal, 31, an artist.

    When dressed up, Opal wears stilettos, a shoe choice that provides an opportunity to reflect on their father’s experience. “When I cross a cobblestone street or a subway grate that has holes,” Opal said, “I have to be careful in a way that is not so dissimilar from my dad.” (“I find it humorous in the scope of things that I have a child that chooses to wear stilettos,” Mr. DeRuvo said.)

    Ms. Ecker was unfazed when asked how her husband’s shoelessness has limited their life. “You take the whole package when you marry someone,” she said with a shrug as she ate lunch with him at the Norwalk Art Space cafe, her clogs nestled under the table next to his toes.

    As for Mr. DeRuvo, he says that living without his shoes has let him be the person God wishes him to be. “Unless you see someone who is ‘different’ but is still able to cobble together a life,” he said, “you don’t know it’s possible.”
     
    #10 Bare Lee, Mar 9, 2023
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2023
    bfsailor and Barefoot TJ like this.
  11. Bare Lee

    Bare Lee Chapter Presidents
    1. Minnesota
    2. Presidents

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Messages:
    6,049
    Likes Received:
    6,586
    People look at me perplexed when I tell them I never have sore feet or back pain or smelly feet, like I must just be making stuff up to license my weird barefoot fetish.

    And they can't understand how wearing heels, even a one-inch heel, can throw off your entire posterior kinetic chain. Sadly, my kids are now insisting on wearing Adidas and Nike shoes. Oh well, I had them in Vivobarefoot shoes for the first ten years of their lives.

    But hey, most people I know think that strength training is an exercise in vanity, rather than just part of maintaining a healthy, fully functional body.

    Moving on to international news . . . not.
     
    #11 Bare Lee, Mar 9, 2023
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2023
    bfsailor and Barefoot TJ like this.
  12. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
    1. Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Messages:
    21,005
    Likes Received:
    6,819
    He and I share a lot in common, but he's definitely more artsy than I am. I think just by his attire people would know not to approach him about being barefoot; after all, bare feet go with his outfit, right? :barefoot: I like this part: “Navigating the terrain is easy,” Mr. DeRuvo said. “Navigating people is tricky.” :happy:
     
    Bare Lee and Clark like this.
  13. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
    1. Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Messages:
    21,005
    Likes Received:
    6,819
    Thank you, Lee! Clark emailed it to me.
     
    Bare Lee likes this.

Share This Page