Feet First


My first introduction to our training cabin, documented in ‘Loving the Boy, was a demand from Ivo to put my feet through a footbath. Similar rules apply at Chad’s gym, where most guys will take a full shower anyway before setting foot into the training area. And that ‘foot’ will be scrupulously clean.

I vividly recall Ivo’s threat about what would happen if he found that my foot in his face wasn’t anything other than sweet and fresh, and that philosophy has governed our training and performance ever since. Since we train and perform barefoot, and even go for runs barefoot now and again (although that does need you to toughen up your soles a bit), it is a rule which all of us would wish to follow. Hence, the bottom guy in the picture above should have little to fear…

One of our coaching colleagues in the public gymnastics center has an absolute phobia about feet. Since all girls perform barefoot and most boys prefer to train that way on all the apparatus, perhaps he is in the wrong job! My dad says that in his days at school, the removal of shoes and socks in a changing room would release a powerful and noxious ‘pong’. These days, everyone (even boys!!) treats their personal hygiene more seriously – we teach kids who are always sneaking off to their bags to get an aerosol to freshen up their armpits…

…so, when you take gymnast boys on a trip and there seems to be one bed short (as in this next pic), at least the feet don’t worry the next guy down…


As gay guys, I suppose we take a closer interest in other guys than some. And feet, for some reason, have always fascinated me… I “go for” (whatever that means) feet which are sufficiently fleshed to keep the tendons from being too prominent. Dave and I even once compiled a list of our mates’ feet in order of preference (in ‘The Power of Love’ I think). OK, so we are weird.

Some young friends of ours in central Europe at play…


Bottom boy there, who was in fact the referee in this wrestling match!!, unphased by his friend’s foot on his face, just as it should be. And this next, which looks a bit like a love-in, is in fact another refereed barefoot wrestling match…


By the way, have you noticed the increasing willingness of boys, especially in Europe and Russia, to appear in public in just their underpants?

Even pole dancers do it barefoot…


…and, as for artistry, how would this image strike you if the guy had kept his socks on?


That is one fit-looking (and oily) dude, with nice flexible feet. The gym coach’s mantra is an endless stream of “stretch your feet! Point your toes!‘… it makes so much difference to the artistry which the general public may not always notice, but judging panels in competitions most certainly do… and the public ‘get it’; subliminally I think, because the artistry factor is obvious even to the non-specialist. Sorry, professional coach-speak…

‘OK boys… front support, piked, stretch out your feet…’


All gymnasts and ballet dancers must constantly practice their stretching…


A wonderful illustration of stretched feet now from Central Park New York, from two ballet boys when off duty (I’m assuming they are ballet boys):

Central Park New York

…and, when it comes to acrobatics:



A nice front walk over there: excellent stretched feet, although the leading leg should still be straight…

Stretched-out feet needed for the rings, too:

gymnastics 5

So. fresh athletic feet are the name of the game…


That’s possibly enough feet for one day. Except, perhaps, for a question I don’t know the answer to. In American collegiate wrestling, the boys wear a one-piece costume (unitard), socks and trainers. Why the socks and trainers? Doesn’t make any sense to me at all… maybe some theoretical ‘Health and Safety’ rule. No sense either to my son Leo, who just made the junior High School wrestle team. He has grown up as a barefoot and shirtless (but otherwise quite civilised) boy, driven to building and stretching his body to make a class acrobat. Now, he finds he has to wear shoes to wrestle.  At least one of the guys in this (presumably) training bout has managed, ‘Against All Odds’, to shed his top…


Loving the Boy: ISBN 978-1-907732-30-0

The Power of Love: ISBN 978-1-907732-41-6

Against All Odds: ISBN 978-1-908645-35-7

About tonycavanagh

Born Northampton UK; school Oxford UK and Oak Ridge Tennessee, where I met my wonderful partner Dave, also from UK. Oak Ridge is our main training base for acrobatics and circus stuff, but we also established a base in Wales (UK) to serve us when we are working in Europe. Our 'story', of finding gay love, learning the acrobatics trade and then of how we got shot at during our show (and worse was to follow - just to prove that the risks of being an acrobat are not always the most obvious ones!) are now available in my three books 'Loving the Boy', 'The Power of Love' and 'Against All Odds'. Links available on most blog posts. Actually, waiting for the imminent arrival of the first printed copies was far scarier than anything we do in performance. A fourth book - not about us but exploring the sadness of a gay Native American boy denied his true identity - is currently with an agent for evaluation. watch for 'Let The Future Find Me' in due time. And now to book five... another boy, another quest... seems its always boys...
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