No one said life was going to be easy – and for feet, itcan be quite tough. Covered up in sweaty socks and squeezed into uncomfortable high heels until the return of sandal season, feet seem to be fairly low on our list of priorities.
That is, unless you are Bastien Gonzalez, otherwise known as the “foot virtuoso”.
Gonzalez is the podiatrist-of-choice for many stars and celebrities. He lists the likes of Naomi Campbell, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchett among his many big name clients. His “dry” pedicures (so-called because clients don’t have their feet soaked before treatment) are focused on enhancing the overall well-being and health of the foot – so if you’re expecting to get your toes painted during one of these sessions, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
Now, Gonzalez – who introduced his celebrity-endorsed pedicures to Hong Kong through his Pedi:Mani:Cure Studio, which opened in 2012 – has launched a new foot care product, which is endorsed by athletes: the BGA Sports InSoles.
These custom-made slip-in insoles are designed for each individual, providing support for their feet when they are running, jumping, and turning. They promise to deliver optimal performance and ultimate comfort.
The insoles are available in three models: B Infinite, for runners and hikers; B Dynamic, for multi-directional athletes such as footballers or rugby players; and B Reactive, for sports players who need a light bounce in their step, such as badminton or squash players.
These new insoles are crafted for professionals and use materials that target the various zones in the foot. Each pair of soles is made up of three layers and uses ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), a thin micro-perforated material that offers better anti-perspiration protection, overall better fit and supple support.
To create a pair of personalised insoles, you first stand on a Podobarascope and a pressure platform to measure your plantar forces and pressures while standing and walking. Then you hop on a sand-filled mat to measure how your weight is distributed on each foot. Afterwards, the insoles are heated and placed on the foot prints, before being moulded. Et voilà, your own personalised set is ready – with the entire process taking 60 to 90 minutes at most.
Sessions for BGA Sports Insoles are available exclusively at The Oriental Spa, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental.
“What is magical [is] you leave with them the same day,” says Gonzalez with a smile.
We met Bastien Gonzalez to discuss what the benefits are of his new insoles, and to get some tips from him on how to care for our feet.
Why is it important to have good-fitting insoles?
Feet are the foundations of the body – they’re like the foundations of a house. If the foundations are weak, the house will have cracked walls. So it’s exactly the same idea. It’s to be able to restore good foundations so you can stand properly above them.
How did you identify the need for three different models of insoles?
We studied different sports and we [recognised that, in each sport, players have a different centre of gravity]. When you run, you’re always on the same line [running upright]. When you play tennis or football, you go crossways. And you have a speed [that you have to keep up, then stop suddenly], and then you need to accelerate again. [Those movements result in] completely different impacts, reactions, [modes of] stability.
And we can play around with the density, we can adapt for different people and for different fits. Sometimes you need support, so you need something stronger; sometimes you don’t need the support but you need more [impact] absorption. So [those needs] will be personalised for [each person].
A post shared by Bastien (@bastiengonzalezbga) on Jun 21, 2017 at 3:23am PDT
Are these insoles made for just professional athletes, or can regular people also benefit from using them?
[They are] for professional athletes, and also [for] people who are [non-sports] professionals. Sports have become a [major] lifestyle [choice]; a lot of businessmen want perfection... so we are open not just to sports people, but also to people who want to do sports and perform better.
What makes them different from the insoles you have launched previously?
We launched [the first line] a year and a half ago [in] two models: City, which controls the posture; and Sports. [Since then we have worked hard with our materials developers] to get better materials. So they are [now providing us] with different materials for different parts of the feet. They are the same cut in terms of design, but what we put inside is different.
Some zones [of the feet] want to absorb the impact [when they hit the ground]. You have energy, the energy [when you run or play sports] creates a reaction from the ground… so this energy you have when you impact the floor needs to be absorbed and needs to be redistributed. [With] some sports you want [the insoles] to absorb [the energy] deeply and slowly give [redistribution]; [with other] sports you want [redistribution] very fast.
What led you to create customisable insoles?
We wanted to customise them because the clients we are [catering for] are the elite, and the elite are looking for [something] better all the time. Sports cars never stop – you always build a new sports car. Same brand, same engines – but you will tune the materials, and that’s what we’re doing with BGA InSole projects.
Would you fine tune your pedicure treatments?
Pedicures, we don’t tune, because we’ve reached perfection, so we don’t [need to] add anything. When you’re there at perfection, it’s hard to get better. But with insoles, it’s about fine-tuning.
A post shared by Bastien (@bastiengonzalezbga) on Oct 27, 2015 at 2:54am PDT
It’s very hot and humid in Hong Kong – how does that affect our feet?
You’re lucky in Hong Kong, because you have very humid weather. So humidity helps your skin to look young, because it’s water. But when you have high heels and pointy shoes, the humidity doesn’t help. For feet it’s terrible – it’s like swimming in the shoes. It’s very important to control. Ladies wear very high heels and very pointy shoes, so they suffer.
We [launched] something very basic which is talcum powder. Talcum powder controls the humidity… and also the friction. When you wear pointy shoes, the friction can be intense. If [your feet] are sweaty and sliding about inside your shoes, it’s even worse. So talcum powder is fantastic as, what I call, “invisible socks”. Because you don’t see it. You don’t have to wear tights in the summer, but you do have to have something that really protects your skin.
What other tips can you offer about foot care?
If you want to live in high heels, as a podiatrist I have no problem. But I want you to do one thing: stretch your calfs. Make sure the calf is not retracted to a point where the feet are locked [and the calf muscles shorten and contract].
If you can play with the ankles, a little bit more by bigger amplitude – it’s called passive mobility – that’s fantastic.
A post shared by Bastien (@bastiengonzalezbga) on May 18, 2016 at 2:38am PDT
What is the best way to stretch our calves? By performing the standard calf stretches that we do before and after jogging?
Yes, that’s very important. Then play with your toes – stretch the toes, keep your toes moving. And another thing, which is very important, is fluffing the fatty cushions to restore their volume.
Feet will spend their lives constricted – you will never naturally stretch your feet, it’s not something that you do. So I want people, when they wear heels and pointy shoes, to play with their feet. Stretch [them] when you watch TV, before you go to bed, [and] at the end of the day to release the tension accumulated throughout the day by wearing heels.