Posts Tagged ‘karen putz’

Is Barefooting on Your Bucket List?

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

barefooting bucket list

Skydiving. Mountain climbing.  Scuba diving. White water rafting. Barefoot water skiing.

More and more, I’m seeing barefooting as a “bucket list item” among new customers  whenever I’m down at the World Barefoot Center. No matter the age, they want to learn how to walk on water–and it’s right up there with skydiving, mountain climbing, and more. Today’s equipment and teaching methods make it easier than ever to try this extreme sport.

Four years ago, I took up barefoot water skiing again at the age of 44.   I had not barefoot water skied in over 20 years.  At that age, I pretty much thought I’d never barefoot again until I saw 66-year-old Judy Myers barefooting on the TODAY Show.  Judy took up the sport at the age of 53 and today, she’s the world oldest female competitive barefooter at 70. Just watching her on the show inspired me and I started feeling the old passion sparking up within me.  Judy invited me to the World Barefoot Center in March, 2010 and my life did a 180.

The first time I got into the boat at the World Barefoot Center, I was a nervous wreck and pretty intimidated by all the fancy moves everyone else was doing on the water.  If you told me then that I’d be doing some of those things four years later, I would have laughed you out of the boat.  But that day, I was embarrassed to get into a wetsuit and scared that I would make a fool of myself on the water with a boat full of people watching.  I got over that pretty quickly the moment I put my feet on the water and felt the old passion for the sport return.

karen putz back toe

I’ve been taught by every instructor at the World Barefoot Center and I’ve enjoyed learning from all of them (even the one who makes me cry, who shall not be named. <Insert grin.>)  I was once asked to rank each instructor, and I found it impossible to do so.  Keith St. Onge, David Small,  Ben Groen, Ashleigh Stebbeings, and Swampy Bouchard all have a professional attitude and the knowledge to instruct in every aspect of the sport.  They all know when to push, and when to pull back and rebuild your skills.  In fact, when Ben suggested a back toe hold during my last set of Women’s Week in 2013, I thought he had lost his mind. But by the end of the set, I had let go of the handle a few times and accomplished my first back toe on my feet.  Not bad for a 48-year-old!

I’m also seeing more and more “mature” folks taking up the extreme sport after several years off the water.  In 2012, Jill Broderick from Vermont came to the Women’s Barefoot Week for the first time.  The last time Jill barefoot water skied was 40 years ago.  In one short week, she learned the deep-water start, tumble turns, and longline. In 2013, she moved up to one foots and continued to build a solid foundation to her barefooting skills.  Oh yeah, Jill is over 60 years old.

Jill Broderick

The most famous barefooter of all, Banana George, took up barefooting at the age of 46, took up competition at 65, and barefooted behind a seaplane when he was 81. The last time he set his feet on the water, he was 93.  Even then, he managed to do a one-foot!

So if you have “Barefoot water skiing” on your bucket list, don’t wait for some day to make it happen.  Last I checked, there is no “Someday” to be found on any calendar anywhere.

By: Karen Putz

World Barefoot Center on Life Recharged

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Check out the World Barefoot Center on Life Recharged:

Female show with Karen Putz:

Male show with Keith St. Onge:

The Tommie Copper TV segment can also be found on cable. Check your cable station for local dates and times.

Tommie Copper at the World Barefoot Center

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Keith St. Onge, Tom Kallish, Jeff Sussman and Josh Chapman

In April, the Tommie Copper company came out to the World Barefoot Center to film Karen Putz and Keith St. Onge on and off the water.

Tommie Copper is a company which makes copper-infused compression wear for pain relief and injuries.  The owner, Tom Kallish, experienced a water ski accident after slaloming over a submerged log.  He endured several operations on his back, hips and knees.  His doctor prescribed compression wear for his injuries, but Tom found the products bulky and uncomfortable.  He researched the healing properties of copper, developed a copper-infused yarn and patented the fabric and process.  One year ago, Karen discovered the Tommie Copper products after recovering from surgery.  For the full story of how this film project came about:

Karen Putz and the Tommie Copper Story

A video is in the works and the company released a web commercial:

Tom Kallish slaloming at the WBC

KSO being interviewed

Tom Kallish and Karen Putz

Finding your Passion

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

This world and our lives are all about people!!  Helping others, serving others and always believing you can do it.  I look up to many top athletes and I know many people that look up to me.  Meeting people and seeing their achievements only help our own personal growth!

Back in 2009, Judy Myers had a segment on the Today Show and the husband of Karen Putz forwarded the segment to her.  She saw this 66-year-old woman barefoot water skiing.  Karen had not barefoot skied in two decades due to losing her hearing while taking a barefoot water skiing fall.  Her family had a rare gene; if they hit their head hard on something it would cause them to lose their hearing.  Her sister tripped on a throw rug, hit her head on the floor and lost her hearing just like that, and her brother also lost some hearing from barefooting.

Karen contacted Judy Myers, and in no time was down at the World Barefoot Center ski school in Winter Haven, Florida in the spring of 2010.

Judy Myers helped Karen Putz pursue her passion for Barefoot Water Skiing

I got Karen to barefoot water ski again for the first time in twenty years.  After her second visit just two weeks later, Karen asked me, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”  I told her I would like to be a keynote speaker.  She immediately asked me if I would ever be interested in writing a book.  “Funny you ask.” I said.  I began writing a book with my cousin Matt, but we had too many other things going on and the project never took off.  After Karen went home, we continued our discussion about writing a book. “I would be interested in writing your book.” Karen said without hesitation.  We discussed it some more and decided we could do it.

Two and a half years later, we have the book nearly complete.  Just imagine the communication barrier!  My hat is off to Karen on this one.  I had to speak to an interpreter over the phone.  The interpreter would then sign what I was saying to Karen and Karen would type out what I was saying.  Wow, made for some interesting conversations to say the least, haha!

The Book, "Gliding Soles" Lessons from a Life on Water

The book should be released in September on Amazon.com   Here is a great video below on Karen, with a small plug for the book called “Gliding Soles, Lessons from a Life on Water.”  Gliding Soles Barefoot Camp was the name of my first barefoot ski school.

Visit the link below to view the video on Karen Putz & Keith St.Onge:

http://www.kwtx.com/ourtown/home/headlines/Axtell-Deaf-Barefoot-Skier-Overcomes-Adversity-165939516.html

By: Keith St.Onge

www.keithstonge.com

Growing Bolder with Barefoot Water Skiing

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Judy Myers and Karen Putz were interviewed by Growing Bolder less than a year ago.  The amazing story about Karen’s husband forwarding a link about Judy on the Today Show changed her life.  The video link inspired Karen to take the sport of barefoot water skiing again and she came to the World Barefoot Center to put her feet back on the water after her last barefoot run twenty years prior.

Judy and Karen were approached by Growing Bolder to do a video on Karen and Judy’s relationship and how Karen lost her hearing from taking a fall while barefoot skiing.  Her family had a rare inherited gene where a sudden hit or blow to the head would cause hearing loss.  A Mom Who Walks on Water. They also did another video on Judy: The Barefoot Competitor.

Recently, Kellie Clark viewed the Growing Bolder video and decided he wanted to try barefoot skiing.  He visited the World Barefoot Center in Winter Haven, FL with his friend, Steve Franklin, and we got them on their feet.  We appreciate the time Growing Bolder took to come out and interview Judy and Karen.  We hope to have many new students that are inspired from watching Growing Bolder!!
By: Keith St.Onge

World Barefoot Center in MORE Magazine and Chicken Soup

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Grab a copy of the November issue of MORE magazine the next time you’re at the supermarket.  The World Barefoot Center gets a mention, along with Keith St. Onge, Judy Myers and sponsored skier, Karen Putz. You can also read the entire story here:

Reinvent Yourself After Misfortune

The trio can also be found in the newest Chicken Soup for the Soul book:

Chicken Soup for the Soul Find Your Happiness

Judy Myers Featured on Growing Bolder

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

KSO and Judy

World Barefoot Center sponsored skier, Judy Myers, is a legend in the sport of barefooting, being the oldest female competitor (Sharon Carlson is right behind her!). Check out the video that Growing Bolder did on Judy Myers and how she inspired Karen Putz to get back on the water. The video also has footage of Banana George Blair:   Barefoot Competitor Walks on Water.

Find more inspiring video, audio, and images at Growing Bolder.

Barefoot Wine “Foot Fan of the Month”

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Check out  Barefoot Wine’s “Foot Fan of the Month” for June–it’s the Fab Five ladies:  Judy Myers, Val Shinn, Joann O’Connor, Claudia Landon and Karen Putz.   The five ladies met up at the Women’s Barefoot Week at the World Barefoot Center in October, 2010.

Judy Myers

Known as the “Old Lady,” Judy started barefooting at the age of 53.  She’s been featured in More Magazine, on the Today Show and Suzanne Somers show.  She did a Subway “Fit to Boom” segment.   At her very first tournament, all she could do was stand up.  Last summer, she competed in the Worlds.  Today, this 68-year-old gal tells the younger gals to “suck it up” when they dare complain about their aching muscles after a run.  But at the end of Women’s week, we discovered her secret drug stash: a huge bottle of Motrin.

Judy Myers Inspires Deaf Mom

Val Shinn

Dubbed “The Show Girl,” Val presents grace on the water every time she barefoots.   Don’t let Val fool you– at first glance, it doesn’t seem like this delicate lady even belongs on the water, much less in a tough sport like barefooting.  Watch her on the water, and your jaw will drop, the lady can glide!  At the age of 60, Val still climbs pyramids in weekly water ski shows.  Every Thursday, she hosts a radio show on astrological topics.

Valerie Shinn–Show Girl on the Water

Joann O’Connor

Joann is one tough gal– she skis on a fused ankle, the result of a motorcycle accident many years ago.  The 62-year-old picked up barefooting again ten years ago.  Three years ago, she figured out how to make adjustments with her ankle and learned to barefoot backwards.  Some days, her back gives out and she has to crawl back into the boat, but a few minutes later, she’s back out on the water doing toe holds.

Barefooting with a Senior Citizen

Claudia Landon

Claudia is “pure poetry on water.”  When she does her back deep starts, she rises out of the water with the grace of a ballet dancer.   Claudia started barefooting at the age of 37 and ten years later, she entered her first barefooting tournament.  Just recently, she qualified for the Worlds in tricks.  Claudia has endured several ear drum blowouts.  She once donned ear plugs, a headband, a swim cap and a helmet to protect a burst eardrum, and then took a fall where the helmet collided with her arm–breaking the bone.  “I don’t think my arm is supposed to look like this,” she told her husband when the boat came to pick her up.  I think the rest of us would have been screaming in pain.

Claudia Landon, Pure Poetry on Water

Karen Putz

Karen tripped on a wake as a teen and went from hard of hearing to deaf in an instant.  In March of 2010, Karen met Judy and Keith, and put her feet back on the water again.    She taught the entire WBC boat crew to sign “awesome,” so now they praise her from 75 feet away.

Karen Putz on Growing Bolder

World Barefoot Center Skiers on Growing Bolder TV

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Karen Putz, Judy Myers and Keith St. Onge are featured on Growing Bolder, shown on over 250 PBS stations and Create TV:

Find more inspiring video, audio, and images at Growing Bolder.

Life at the World Barefoot Center

Friday, April 1st, 2011

What is it like to hang at the World Barefoot Center and receive instruction from the two World Champions?   Here’s a glimpse of life on water with Keith St. Onge and David Small.   (Written by Karen Putz.)

Joann O’Connor and I arrive at the World Barefoot Center early in the morning and meet up with Judy Myers.  Bill Nelson and Gene Burrish arrive.   In the kitchen, the number-one-ranked female, Ashleigh Stebbeings is digging into a bowl of cereal.  World Barefoot Center coach, Swampy, is at the desk in the living room doing some paperwork.  Ben Groen, from New Zealand, is gassing up the boats and getting them ready for the day.

The five of us head out to the dock with Keith St. Onge and we do some stretching exercises to limber up for the day.   We figure out the order of who goes first– I volunteer to go last.  I’m not quite awake yet in the morning.   We toss the gear in the boat and climb in.  Judy Myers puts her head on my shoulder– she’s not quite awake yet either.  Joann looks like she’s full of energy and raring to go.  Gene and Bill look the same way.

It’s not hard to wake up when you see the first skier break out of the water and glide up.  There’s something about barefoot water skiing that fires up that energy inside.  Everyone has a personal trick to work on, and Keith patiently goes through every step.   He’s been teaching since he turned pro at the age of eighteen, but he doesn’t skimp on instruction– he genuinely wants everyone to do their best.  Occasionally, he pulls one of us back in the boat to demonstrate step-by-step what he wants us to improve on.   Every time someone reaches a personal goal or accomplishes a skill they’re working on, the boat explodes in applause.  Keith will toot the horn to cement the victory.  In my case (I am deaf) the participants have learned to wave their hands in the air and sign “awesome.”

Judy and Joann work on their  back toe holds.  Bill works on his back-to-front.  Gene does some front toe-holds.   I battle the elusive backward deep water start.  All througout the morning sets, Keith tweaks our stance on the water and advises us how to improve each trick.  Shoes go on.  Shoes come off.  The long line goes out.  The short line gets rolled up even shorter.  The Headzone helmet goes on, Keith dons the microphone and gives out step-by-step instructions. Slalom, tumble turns, back deeps, toe holds and turns get churned out in two sets each.   We finally head back to the World Barefoot Center for lunch.  We’ve earned it.

In an afternoon with David Small, there are four of us–Joann, Judy, myself and Jean Marie from France.  David’s dogs, Baloo and Charlie join us in the boat.  Jean Marie goes first–he uncovers the tarp from the jump and runs water over it.  Jean Marie has been a solid jumper for years, but today, he’s determined to conquer the inverted style.   David goes over some tips while Jean Marie cinches the helmet.  His first jumps are tentative, but he slowly builds up confidence and begins to invert– and land them.   Applause goes out each time he lands a jump.  I marvel at Small’z’s driving skills as he navigates the boat alongside the ramp, keeping his eye on Jean Marie at the same time.

Charlie and Baloo hop into my lap and proceed to nap.   I watch as Judy and Joann tear up the water with their footin’ skills.  It’s easy to forget that they’re 62 and 68 years old– they look like 21-year-olds on the water.   Joann skis with a fused ankle, but she doesn’t let it stop her from learning new stuff.   Indeed, these two gals push me along, convincing me each time that I can do what they do.  They remind me to be patient each time frustration builds up and they cheer every time I accomplish something new.   David tells me to count to five after I plant.  The elusive back deep water start finally becomes history as I stand up on the water and ride it out.   The throttle goes back at the end of my run and I sink in the water.  The gang in the boat is signing “awesome” as they idle toward me.  It has taken just seven days of instruction with Keith and David to make it happen.  Not bad for a 45-year-old, I say. 

Jean Marie flies through the air on his second set and we rotate on the water yet again before finally calling it a day.  David powers the boat back to the pier as we peel off the wetsuits.  We’ve been on the water through four sets, and we’re tired, but content.   Keith, however, isn’t ready to call it a day.  He is going to head out and do a few jump sets himself.   I stay in the boat while Ben, Ashleigh and Swampy join in.   Ben heads out to the jump.   This is the first time that Keith has jumped in five months, and the first time that I’ve seen him jump– so I’m fascinated as I watch him close up.   The two-time World Champion still gets his jumps tweaked by Swampy between each jump.   There’s always something to change, something to improve on. 

We finally call it a day and it’s time for dinner.  By the time my head crashes on the pillow a few hours later, I’m sore in a few places, but feeling great.  There’s nothing like skimming on the water on bare feet.  At the World Barefoot Center, they make magic happen on water.  I can’t wait to experience it again.