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Shoes – 1, Me – 0

On Sunday morning, I took a lovely, rainy, 8-kilometer walk with my mother-in-law around Maren lake in Västervik. On Monday evening, I did an Interval Body Pump class at my gym. Same shoes. No problem, right? Big problem in Sweden.

Maren lake on a rainy day


Since the start of my gym-going days in Sweden, I’ve scoffed at the idea of having a separate pair of indoor training shoes. That’s ridiculous, I always insisted. Such an expensive, unnecessary luxury. 

Instead of abiding by this nation-wide rule, I would sneak into the gym with my outdoor shoes only. It’s all in one’s self-assurance, right? No hesitation, no questions.

But today’s gym experience was worse than questions. About 10 minutes into my 75-minute class, I looked down to see my entire area covered in pieces of dirt. Big and small, some with clumps of grass – it was not a pretty sight. And only got worse over the next 65 minutes. 

I was ashamed. The other 29 pairs of shoes in the room were flawless – not a spot of dirt to be found across the grey rubber floor (although plenty of drops of sweat). And so I hopped, I squatted, I lifted for the remaining 65 minutes surrounded by the stigma of my carelessness. 

At the end of the class, I tried to discreetly sweep all the dirt up with a wet paper towel. And another. And then another. So much for discretion. 

Will I change my habits? Probably not. I’m not exactly in the position to spend 2,000 sek on another pair of training shoes for the gym. But I will never forget to scrape off my shoes after a muddy walk. And neither will anyone in the class who stood behind me. 

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