Review: Five Fingers Performa

I have been wearing two pairs of the Five Fingers shoes for the last three weeks now and I'm falling in love with them.  The company sent me a pair each of their Performa and Performa Janes to test out in my studio.  (I received the products for free.) I started out wearing them for sessions with clients and got lots of positive comments. They look a bit like wearing driving gloves on your feet.  Mine were solid black (honestly, I wouldn't wear the other colors; I pretty much live in black leggings in the Pilates studio) and I find them cute and comfortable. From a performance point of view, the Performas have a little elastic in the heel area so you can adjust the snugness of the fit.  When I was teaching I kept them loose and when I was doing Pilates I tightened them up a bit.  The Performa Janes don't have the adustment in the rear because the strap across the arch of the foot keeps the shoe nicely in place, but the buttons on the Janes were a little uncomfortable when I was sitting cross-legged and the strap made it a little harder to put the pair on than the regular Performas. That being said, I really like the shoes.  The grips on the bottom are perfect for the studio.  I was upside down at a 45-degree angle with my feet on a metal bar and they gripped perfectly.  I haven't slipped once in them which happens all the time in regular socks and occasionally  in grippy socks (socks with little rubber nubs on the bottom to help grip the floor).  I also found just enough thickness to the sole to provide a bit of cushioning when I was supporting my weight on a bar. For those of you who haven't tried any of the Vibram shoes, it doesn't bother me at all to have my toes individually encased in leather.  They were comfortable and once I had them on I didn't notice it at all.  I prefer the Janes for working in the studio and the straight Performas for my actual workouts.  Has anyone else out there tried them?  What was your experience? If you'd like to support my little blog.  You could add your email to our newsletter (look to the right hand column) on the home page.  If you're thinking about buying these shoes, here's an affiliate link for them.  I haven't seen them in stores yet.  :-) Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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30 Responses to Review: Five Fingers Performa

  1. Jessica July 19, 2010 at 3:20 am #

    Hey Lisa!
    I haven’t yet seen the Performa Janes in any stores, but am glad Vibram is carrying them on their site since I am a huge fan of the Sprints (I’m on my second pair) and I’d really like a pair of the PJ’s. How was the sizing between the two Performa models? Were they similar or did one seem to run bigger than the other? I haven’t seen any information about sizing yet but would like to get a pair of the PJ’s. My only concern with the leather shoes is their breathability, what was your experience like? Did your feet stay comfy or did they seem to get warm quickly? My only criticism of the Performa/Classic model is the pull tab on the back: it seems too tall and stiff, so it irritates my Achilles tendon. It doesn’t hurt, but I don’t find it comfortable to have something sort of rigid rubbing against it. Perhaps Vibram could make the pull tabs with a softer material that didn’t stand up in the back but rather flopped or tended to lay away from the Achilles…

  2. Lisa Johnson July 19, 2010 at 7:18 am #

    I thought the back of the shoe on the regular Performa’s was fine and the tag that you use to tighten it didn’t bother me at all.

    the MJs didn’t have that though so it’d be completely eliminated for you. The sizing between the two models was identical as far as I could tell, it took a bit more wiggling to get the MJs on though because of the fabric across the arch of the foot. There is a little elastic there so it can stretch a bit but it still takes more finagling to get them on.

    As for breathability, I was wearing them during a heat wave and I was fine, but my feet don’t sweat all the much anyway if that helps …

    Hope that answers your questions, thanks for bringing them up!


  3. meg ford July 19, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    I tried to buy a pair but my feet are too small :-(

  4. Lisa Johnson July 19, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    oh boo! Really? That stinks … let me look into it …

  5. Deb July 21, 2010 at 7:22 pm #

    I’ve really got to try a pair of these shoes now. Thanks for the review. Had no idea that they made these new styles.

  6. Lisa Johnson July 21, 2010 at 8:36 pm #

    happy to enlighten. They really are cool. I had my MJs on all day! Even drove in the car with ’em.

  7. Tommy July 22, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    I have a pair of Vibram KSOs for running. I’m a yoga practitioner and runner, and believe that barefoot running is healthy, under the right conditions (in good structural health and running on safe surfaces). Given the streets of Atlanta aren’t ideal for bare feet, these are the perfect solution.

    Lisa, just curious – do you usually do pilates with footwear on? Most of the folks who do Pilates/yoga at the studio I practice in do so barefoot. Is there a benefit to socks?

  8. Annalise July 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm #

    My husband and I each have Vibrams, and like you, I really enjoy the subtle comfort and support they provide. I wear mine hiking, boating, for yoga (I have a couple of pairs), and I can’t get enough of them. I even wear them on my walk to work from the train station. I loathe things between my toes (you’ll never see me in flip flops), but I just love these. Can’t even feel them.

  9. Terrie Bolyard July 22, 2010 at 5:54 pm #

    I’ve been wearing my vibram shoes for over a year & I love them. I wear them white water rafting, dancing, hiking, running, to work on occasion lol. They generate plenty of conversation! I’d love to see them in stores, so far I’ve only seen them in Monterey shoe shops. They’re a bit too expensive for me to get multiple pairs but, I wear the black classics.

    I wish vibram made a flip flop or open toes shoe like these, because I love to show off my toes in the summer :)

  10. Tammy July 22, 2010 at 7:24 pm #

    Thanks so much for your review! I look forward to owning a pair of MJ’s soon!

    I have a pair of KSO’s and I absolutely love them! I have a bunion (I know, ew) and without my Vibrams on, I am in constant pain. The separation of the toes and the sturdy sole of the KSO Vibrams gave me that unexpected bonus of a pain free foot!! Mine are black and have held up with pretty much everything I could do with running,swimming, river rock hopping, sand and asphalt. I’d purchase a pair of each style if I could!

  11. Derek July 22, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    I’ve been wearing a pair of KSO for awhile now and I still love them. They are hard to find in stores and they really do need to be tried on before buying them. These shoes breathe better than any other shoe I have ever tried, but my feet sweat terribly even when completely bare. These shoes have an advantage though… they go into my wash with my laundry every week and come out just like new. These shows are worth seeking out but beware there are many fakes that do not last long before they fall apart. Be sure to get them from Vibram or one of there authorized dealers listed on their web page.

  12. Lisa Johnson July 22, 2010 at 10:02 pm #

    Tommy the simple answer is the board of health regulates against bare feet in commercial enterprises. At least in Massachusetts. The law plus a few germ phobes and some people really glare at you if you’re barefoot! Out of respect to my clients I do wear socks. To me the VFFs are a step up. They have a bit of a sole and they grip really well to the footbar and the push through bar when I have my feet on them. So now I pretty much workout with the VFFs. Just for the record we clean our reformers after every single client. NO EXCEPTIONS. :-)

    Thanks for asking Tommy,


  13. Lisa Johnson July 22, 2010 at 10:04 pm #

    Annalise, I know what you mean … flip flops bug me too, but the VFFs are just nothing, they don’t feel distracting at all. :-) L–

  14. Lisa Johnson July 22, 2010 at 10:09 pm #

    LOL, Terrie the post just below yours talks about flip flops being awful! Perhaps by next summer Vibram can come up with a way to show off a good pedicure … :-) maybe they’re reading this comment …


  15. Lisa Johnson July 22, 2010 at 10:11 pm #

    Derek, thanks for the advice :-) I have leather ones so I’m pretty sure they won’t go in the wash … I was pondering how to keep them clean the other day …

    Tammy, the MJs are very cute, they’re not meant for outdoors but I padded down the street for coffee in them the other day and got lots of remarks in the coffee shop. It’s funny watching people’s reactions … thanks for sharing your bunion story. Pain free is good.


  16. Jeff July 23, 2010 at 8:14 am #

    Would you run outside in the Performa Jane? I’d love to have the male equivalent, Moc. When I tried it on, it felt like wearing an Isotoner glove on my foot but it didn’t appear like it would hold up to the wear and tear of wearing it outside, let alone run in it.

  17. Yolie July 23, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    When you mentioned you wore your Performa outside, according to the Vibram website that voids the warranty. Performas are not meant for the outside. correct me if I’m wrong.

  18. Lisa Johnson July 23, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    Jeff and Yolie,

    You’re right it’s not designed to wear outside. So I guess I did just void my warranty :-) I was walking up the street for coffee. Just a block and a half but they are not designed for running that would be more like a Bikila. :-) Thanks for pointing it out and asking the question.


  19. Jon July 23, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    Per Vibram’s website, the Performa and Performa James are machine washable. Air dry away from sun or heat source.

    Ever since getting my Vibram KSO, I have not gone back to normal shoes.

  20. Crystal July 24, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    Hey, how are you, I was wondering if you could give me some advice regarding the Vibrams, I read that if you are allergic to latex that you shouldn’t wear these? i have sensitive skin, so i don’t know if i should spend the money on these or not,….also what is the best Vibrams to get for walking?

    Thanks so much,


  21. Lisa Johnson July 25, 2010 at 9:01 am #

    Thank you very much Jon. I appreciate that :-) in the machine they’ll go …

  22. Lisa Johnson July 25, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    Hi Crystal,

    Latex allergies are quite serious. If you’re allergic to Latex and Vibrams have them (honestly I don’t know what the material is made out of) then definitely DON’T get them. Skin sensitivities are entirely another matter and in that case you’d have to try them out and see how you do. Check the return policy at the store that you purchase them. (or online) and wear them enough during the exchange period to know that you can return them if they don’t work for you. As for walking if you read the comments most people seem to live in the BKOs … :-)

    Good luck,


  23. Bob July 27, 2010 at 9:07 pm #

    Struggling with a bad case of Plantar faciiatas. Any idea which model how these would work for running? Birkenstocks are about the only thing I can wear pain free. Would Vibrams be worth a try?

  24. Lisa Johnson July 27, 2010 at 9:54 pm #

    Hi Bob,

    I had a really bad case of plantar fasciitis and struggled with shoes too. Vibrams weren’t on my radar then I used the MBTs which helped a bit but wasn’t perfect. It’s a question for your podiatrist. I’m not sure what he’d say. The big thing is to rest as much as possible, stretch it regularly and follow the doctor’s advice. I had the boot and everything … took about a year to work itself out.

    Good luck with it and let me know what you decide …


  25. Noelle July 28, 2010 at 1:06 am #

    Hi Lisa,

    I have the KSOs and I love them. I’m ordering a pair of the Classics tomorrow (in black, probably…love the “chili/peach” color though). The Performas look so comfy, but I have to be able to wear them outside…I wonder if just wearing them to the mailbox or drive-in counts? You can get a few models and colors at REI, but they are usually sold out of most of them. My sister specializes in body alignment and she recommends these, and my gait has definitely improved since I’ve had them. They are so comfortable I occasionally get the feeling that I’ve forgotten to put my shoes on and look down at my feet to make sure :-)


  26. Lisa Johnson July 28, 2010 at 6:58 am #

    Noelle, I wonder the same thing which is why I padded down the street to get coffee. (just once!) I suppose it’ll accelerate the wear and tear and a bit and as someone pointed out voids the warranty. If you’re willing to take that risk I think you’d be fine ;-) L–

    BTW, love that you go to the drive-in … :-)

  27. jessica August 9, 2010 at 9:15 pm #

    Today I was at Vienna Airport, had 3 hours to walk around before my flight to Budapest, then back to NY tomorrow. Well, I saw the Fivefinger shoes and loved it. Tried on a few pairs and purchased a black pair, not sure which style, looks like the Performa, but not glove looking. I am writing this from the hotel in Budapest with my new shoes on. It feels great on, did some yoga with it on and felt stable and of course no slip. I really like how it separates the toes without feeling it. I want to sleep in them, lol. Was doing research on it and found you. Thanks for the nice report.

  28. Lisa Johnson August 9, 2010 at 9:45 pm #

    Thanks Jessica, Budapest sounds amazing! I was in New Orleans at a health club this weekend with them on and getting lots of looks and comments. :-) They do warn people not to wear them too long at first. You do have to break them in a bit. I found my toes got a little bit sore “in between” the toes part. Nothing awful.

    Altho maybe you’re just a natural for Vibrams and they’ll suit you to a T with no adjustments. Enjoy your trip and thanks for visiting my blog.


  29. Jane March 3, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    I know I’m a little behind asking a question here months after this post, but I just got my Performa Jane’s yesterday and so far I love them. I just have one question: after all this time, have they stretched any or fit a little “better”?

    Initially I tried on the Sprint in store and determined I’m a size 38 (I wear anywhere from a 7 to an 8 normally, because I HATE when shoes are loose on me). But then I couldn’t decide on a color and by the time I did they were sold out online (this was last summer). So I gave up for awhile, until EMS was having a sale in Nov. and I tried on every pair to end up purchasing a pair of KSOs in 39, although my second pick was the classic in 38. So I figured with the Classic sizing as 38 I’d get the Performa Jane’s in 38, and they fit, but they JUST fit. I wish I had a TINY bit more room… Like 38.5 would probably be perfect (in every style). I’m just wondering whether I should go back and order the 39 or if I’ll eventually have a little more give in the 38. Any options???

    Thanks so much!

  30. Lisa Johnson March 5, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    Hi Jane, they did stretch a bit the leather kind of “learns” your foot I think … I find them really comfortable. For workouts you want them on the snug side so they don’t fall off. The Performa (not Janes) had a little cord you could snug up for a class and then relax a bit afterwards, I like that too. :-) Hope that helps … L–

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