A Great Pair of Shoes Can Make All the Difference!

I love shoes. I love tank tops too but we’ll save that for another post. For now .. shoes!

I don’t actually mean heels and fancy shoes .. I’m a laid back female. I am usually found in flip flops year round (yes, year round) and then in shoes at the gym.

Recently I went through the Les Mills CXWORX training and in the training a coworker suggested that I find a pair of shoes that were a bit more flexible because they would help with the resistance band work in class. So, I ventured out.

To be honest the shoes I’ve been teaching in at the gym I had been wearing them for FOREVER. They probably needed to be replaced anyway. I looked at a few places and could not find shoes that looked like me. Finally I walked into one more store and found them.

ASICS Women's GEL-Unifire TR Training Shoe
ASICS Women’s GEL-Unifire TR Training Shoe and knee high socks by Reebok

The pair I had before were leather and so adjusting to something that was of different material kinda made me nervous at first.

Long story short .. I was hit by a car last year and I’m still a bit tip-toe’ish around my one ankle since coming out of the aircast.

My last pair were leather, wide, and heavy. These are light, breathable, and flexible. They feel amazing on! At the same time I teach a pretty intense bootcamp class that has it’s share of lateral movements. Not one in class have I been worried about ankle stability.

Plus, they are cute 🙂 I actually like the black with the pops of pink.

ASICS Women's GEL-Unifire TR Training Shoe
ASICS Women’s GEL-Unifire TR Training Shoe and knee high socks by Reebok

Granted they don’t match what I’m wearing most of the time but I am going to have to live with that (It’s not like I match most of the time anyway!).

Buying these, and wearing these, has been a bit of an eye opener for me. It has let me know that the cross trainer shoe technology has changed, and changed for the better. I think the old style was about stiffness, weight, and wide bases to protect you while moving. It seems that they have since figured out how to give you the same support in a more foot friendly package.

So, if you have not replaced your shoes in a while it may be worth considering a new pair. I am very happy that I was given that nudge to try something new!

PS – the knee high socks are made by Reebok. I am currently also in LOVE with knee high socks! I need to buy more of them 🙂

Thanks for reading!

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Spinning / Indoor Cycling without dedicated shoes

So .. I’ve been teaching or taking spinning / indoor cycling classes for, I don’t know, 8 or 9 years ..maybe longer. About 2 years in I went out and bought myself a pair of cycling shoes solely for the purpose of these classes, which have held up fantastically by the way.

The other day I was apparently having an off day. I left the house to head to the gym to teach, drove down the road, and realized I had left my trusty spin shoes at home, in the basement.


I look at the clock and realize that there is no way I can make the trip back home but thank goodness I have the shoes in my bag from when I taught the night before. So, I had to make a mad dash into a store by the gym, by a pair of socks, and go with it.

Now … let’s skip to the lessons in this because you all don’t care about the minor details, right? I will say that I learned that night how much the shoes have helped me on the bike and so now I am an even bigger advocate on people buying indoor cycling shoes than I was before!

I have gone through the certifications with Mad Dogg and know all the benefits to wearing these shoes however I will say that ‘feeling’ the difference really brings to light some of the positives that I will discuss below!

Just a few benefits of indoor cycling shoes:

I would list out everything I discovered but it may be a *long* post .. instead I believe that these are some of the big ones that are worth sharing…

The help to correct any sort of alignment issues in the lower half of your body.

I apparently turn my left ankle inward. I occasionally suspected it but that night confirmed it. During a 55 minute class I hit my left ankle on the crank arm 34 times … Granted I would just graze it and not slam into it but I did not realize that the shoes were helping that much with that side. It was both entertaining and enlightening.

Any sort of fast-paced movement are much more efficient in spin shoes.

When you are clipped in you are all but ‘one’ with the pedal (see below). This gives you much more of a push / pull efficiency as opposed to just pushing the pedal. The end result is a smoother ride, more focused energy, and apparently a better ride.

Honestly this may apply to all the movements (and not just fast-paced ones), because even while standing I just did not have ‘trust’ in the pedals … because of what I will discuss next ..

Indoor Cycling Shoes .. clipping in to the pedals and yes, everything gets better :)
Indoor Cycling Shoes .. clipping in to the pedals and yes, everything gets better 🙂

When you are clipped in the shoes are solid enough that you almost ‘extend’ the pedal, giving you a longer platform to pedal on. 

This one is going to be hard to explain … you may have read that and said .. what??? Let me break it down like this:

When I was pedaling in cross trainers I felt like I was ‘tip-toeing’ the entire class .. I could not push downward through my ankle because there was no solid / trusted surface to push onto.

When you are in cycling shoes they are stiff and barely bendable. After you clip in that entire surface all but means now have the entire length of your foot as a firm pedal to push on. When I ride in cycling shoes my entire foot, toes to ankles, is pushing into that pedal because the shoes are their to support it. That makes a big difference in your pedaling efficiency.

With indoor cycling shoes you get more of a 360 push / pull on your pedals.

I actually mention this quite often but yes, I did feel this the other day. While I was strapped in to the pedals the straps still kept coming loose so I was not able to take advantage of the push / pull movements that you get from being clipped in. Indoor cycling shoes allow you to pull up on the back side while pushing forward on the front side .. the end result being that you are able to work more muscles in your legs and ultimately, again, get a more efficient pedal stroke.

Indoor Cycling Shoes ... yes, they will change your class completely!
Indoor Cycling Shoes … yes, they will change your class completely! I have been using this same pair for years now so they are worth the investment!

Buy a pair of indoor cycling shoes and they will last a *really* long time. 

This is not a lesson but a statement of encouragement. I have owned these shoes probably 6-8 years. A little wear on the inside of them but otherwise they are great. I paid $100 for mine but you can get them cheaper if you look around. 6-8 years … 2 – 3 classes a week … $100 … you can do the math on how cheap they are.

The physical benefits of the shoes .. well I was definitely reminded of that in this class!

My recommendation?

Is it obvious? If you taking indoor cycling classes with any sort of routine then consider buying a pair. You can pick them up at your local bike shop, including the clips. Just tell them you are looking for indoor cycling shoes and they will get you set up.

I remember people telling me to buy them but I resisted for a while. They kept jokingly saying ‘you will kick yourself after the fact when you feel the difference’ and yes, they were right. They are a cheap investment considering how much they will change and improve your workout!

If you have questions, let me know! Thanks for reading!

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Some of My Favorite Things – Gym Clothes

I love gym clothes! I do!

Granted, most of the time they don’t all quite match but I love them! People jokingly say that I should earn royalties for all the people I’ve sent out buying clothing that I have bought and tested out myself.

As a group fitness instructor people ask me all the time for clothing recommendations, what works and what does not. While I have figured most of it out I still have a few ‘gaps’ that I’m trying to fill. Yes, after years of working out I cannot find the perfect clothing for everything 😦

Just in case this can help anyone, this is currently what I wear.

Shoes: I wear different shoes for the different classes / purposes, but I typically stick with these:

  • Spinning / Indoor cycling: I have been wearing a pair of Shimano brand spinning shoes for year (like 9!) and I’m only replacing them because I want a new pair and not because they are worn out. I’m actually taking my current pair to work so I can use them when I teach spin at times that wrap around my work day.
  • Group fitness classes: For anything in the group fitness room I’m currently wearing Asics Womens Gel Unifire TR Training Shoe. When I went through the CXWORX training recently it was suggested that I buy shoes more flexible and better at helping to hold the resistance tube in place. These were cute and on sale at Dicks (bonus!) and … little did I know that I would fall IN LOVE with these shoes!
  • Running: Brooks Adrenalines. LOVE. For years .. maybe 10 years now. *BUT* if you are going to run then I highly recommend you go to your local running shop and get sized for shoes that work with your foot type. IT makes the difference between pain and no pain, enjoying it and hating it.

Socks: My latest love are the knee high socks .. I LOVE them! In the bright colors and wacky patterns they add a bit of fun to you, instantly! Plus, in the colder months they keep your legs warm while you are waiting on class to start 😉 Right now I’ve been wearing Reebok socks but I need more so I’ll be shopping around looking for more soon.

Shorts: This is where the gaps come in to play …

  • Spinning / Indoor cycling: I have yet, after all of these years, been able to find a good pair of shorts for cycling. It’s SO frustrating! I want a pair that sits mid-thigh and has rubber on the inside (leg grips) and actually stay in place instead of turning into underwear in the middle of class. It is SO embarrassing to constantly pull your shorts down.I do not want the chamois because I’m used to the seat.I have strong (read big) thighs and so far in all my searching I have yet to find ones that work for me. For now I honestly wear either capris or yes, long pants, and roll them all the way up into shorts. But even then they don’t work great .. 😦
  • Group Fitness classes: I love some of the shorts by Fila and Tek Gear (it’s a brand sold at Kohl’s). They are running style shorts, have a wider waist band, and sit lower waisted. My favorite pair is from Fila and I wish I had bought more of them. Tek Gear makes great running style shorts that work great in the classroom as well (A pair of them are in the photo below!).
  • Running: Pretty much those same shorts I wear in the group fitness room I run in.

Sportsbra: I’m not picky other than I like seriously compression so that nothing moves when I am teaching! I am all over the place when I am teaching and that is the last thing I want to worry about!

Tank tops: I LOVE tank tops! I have so many that I have to force myself to stopChampion C9 tank top buying them! My current favorites are Champion brands (as shown in the photo –>), although I don’t think they make them anymore. I personally like loose fitting tops with the built in bra and gaps on the sides of the tank tops. The built in bra keeps the tank top in place and the gap is nice for letting a little air flow through. But I buy and try tank tops all the time .. and am always on the look out for new great styles!

Headband: I have to wear a headband when I teach otherwise the microphone head piece ends up pushing into my temple and giving me a headache. I love the cute headbands that are being made and sold but none of them are thick enough to buffer the metal headpiece so I honestly wear $1 bandanas, rolled into a headband. They are cheap and work perfectly. They get nasty by the end of class but they keep the microphone in place and my head pain free. The one in the photo is a cute headband but guess what? There is a bandana underneath it .. LOL!

Have a great week! Thanks for reading!

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