Forget convenience. These experts will convince you never to rent a pair of sweaty, used spin shoes ever again.
Photo: P_Wei/MirageC/Getty Images
The music's blasting, sweat's dripping down your back, and the endorphins are pumping. There's a beautiful thing that happens inside a spin class that enables you to shove the outside world to the side, if only for 45 minutes. But are you making this one major mistake once you get to the studio?
Take a look down. Your choice of shoes could be wrecking your experience (and your body), whether you realize it or not. Ask yourself this: Would you want to wear someone else's sneakers? Sneakers that aren't really the best design for your particular feet? Now would you want to wear those borrowed, ill-fitting sneakers for a 45-minute run?
So, why is it that you'd be so selective when it comes to your striding sneakers, but shove that idea to the side once you're ready to clip into a stationary bike?
"A lot of the time, riders aren't paying attention to their cycling shoes the way they're paying attention to their running or CrossFit or HIIT sneakers, but they should be," says Aaron Post, global retail education manager for Specialized Bicycles. "Think about it: There are differences in arch type, the strength or stability of that arch, and strength and stability in ankles that varies from rider to rider."
Not only are there dozens of indoor cycling shoes on the market for different preferences, but there are also custom inserts (such as these footbeds from Specialized) that you can get to take comfort and personalization to the next level. Here, experts share exactly what kind of impact investing in your own pair of cycling shoes could have on your workout
#1. You'll improve your mood and performance.
When you show up to a workout wearing the right clothes, you feel better about what's about to go down. Don't believe it? Science says so. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology showed that the right clothes can help you focus and perform better. Plus, fresh kicks never hurt anyone's Instagram game. (Related: The Best Cross-Training Shoes to Get You Through Any Workout Class)
#2. Cleanliness, #FTW.
Any up-to-par studio will take the time to clean shoes between each wear—that's why you throw used shoes in a bin before you leave. But do you really want to slip into the same shoes that someone else poured a Niagara Falls-amount of sweat into just an hour ago? Yeh, exactly. (P.S. This is the best way to clean your headphones.)
#3. You'll be more comfortable (and more efficient).
If you've ever had your gait analyzed, you've probably reaped the benefits afterward of a more comfortable stride courtesy of your new kicks and expert tips. Just like your favorite marathon sneakers, you can customize your cycling shoes to your preferences and foot needs in the same way. Maybe that's repositioning the cleat (the way the shoe clips onto the pedal), opting for a different cleat design (if your bike allows for that), or using a shoe insert.
"Customization is key," says Post. "By matching your natural needs to your Spin shoe, you'll be more comfortable and more efficient." That all translates to better form, more potential calories burned, and, if you're after it, a higher score on the leaderboard. "You made the time to show up to the class, so why would you want to waste energy while you're there?" he says.
#4. You'll be more committed to your workouts.
Think about the first thing you ever bought with your own money when you were younger. You were probably super amped about the purchase and enjoyed it more because you earned that new toy/CD/whatever tickled your fancy. Putting the money down for your own proper cycling shoes is an investment in your body and your workouts.
"You realize that you've done something for yourself, that you really want to be at the studio, and are ready to put in the work," says Todd Cook, an instructor at Swerve Fitness in New York City. "Getting your own shoes could be the difference between a hobby and your go-to way to sweat."
#5. You're less likely to get injured.
When professional cyclist and team CLIF BAR athlete Jacob Gerhardt started using inserts in his shoes, he noticed that his performance got an added edge. "When I'm taking a step back to focus on bike fit, I adjust the inserts and cleats to eliminate hot spots," he says. "I have a sensitive knee on one side from a previous injury, and if I'm not careful it'll flare back up again. The inserts definitely help with that."
Unlike fresh kicks, not everyone needs inserts. That's why it's super important to get fit for your own pair and chat with the shoe specialists about how they could help you maximize the power transfer between you, the rider, and the bike. When you accomplish that? Well, you'll never look at your indoor cycling class (or people putting on used shoes) the same way ever again.