The importance of cycling shoes in spinning


This is a much belated article and a follow-up to a couple of posts from 2012 when I experimented with two different types of regular trainers.  Since then I have invested in some proper cycling shoes and have never looked back.  I am much less susceptible to injury and I am able to exert myself a lot more effectively and get more bang for my buck in every class.

The purpose behind these is to be able to strike the pedal with something firm and solid.  I always use the analogy of hitting a nail with a hammer rather than a cushion.  Your foot is soft and malleable so striking a pedal with it causes an overwhelming amount of stress on your calf muscles in proportion to the rest of your leg muscles.  If you are sitting now just push the ball of one foot into the ground as hard as possible and feel how the outside of your calf is contracted.  The rigid sole of the cycling shoe will limit this force so that you have a better distribution of load around the lower body.  So even if you are not so fussed about performance, from an injury prevention point of view cycling shoes are an essential investment.

There then remains two reasons why people don’t go for cycling shoes in a spin class:

1. ‘I don’t want to be the odd one out.’  I have taught classes in both commercial gyms and corporate gyms.  My experience is that in the corporate gyms a greater proportion of people are wearing cycling shoes so it is almost the norm.  The key thing is to not worry about it and do what you know is right.  People in London seem very unwilling to try something different…ramble over.

2. ‘I’m scared I won’t know how to use them’.  Simple solution is to find your favourite instructor and ask them to help you.  I’m sure they will be more than willing to help out.  Of course, you will have to take the bold step of talking to them (something else that is hard for Londoners…OK I’ll stop).

Glad I got this post out the way as I will tomorrow attend the official two-day spinning course after freestyling it for two years.  So 14 hours of study including at least four classes are ahead of me, let’s hope I come out alive so I can share my thoughts.



Choosing the wrong footwear for spin

Time to eat some humble pie and admit that I was totally wrong in my selection of footwear.  However, the experiment helped me realise that nothing beats investing in cycling shoes so time for me to pull my money out.

With the shoes featured in my previous post the thin sole put me in too much contact with the pedal requiring more force in every stroke.  I was teaching on a Keiser bike and realised that I could not hit 400 watts plus so easily.

The flimsy nature of the footwear meant too much flexion at the toes and I felt the traction at the back of my knee and slightly in my lower back.  Hence, a rigid shoe is better.

A thin shoe will not fit into the pedal cage adequately so the foot is not stable.  Hence, regular sneakers/asics that you use for running are probably better as it is more likely to fit into the cage well.

In any case, normal footwear will not allow you to maximise the use of the ball of your foot as with the pedal clips you have to apply pressure  in the middle of the foot.  With cycling shoes you can apply pressure more at the ball of your foot and this may improve performance greatly.

At least I am happy with the way my new trainers look but after I return from Italy I will look to invest in some cycling shoes and see the difference they make.

Many thanks to Tom Joka and Andrew Frimpong for assisting me with their knowledge on this subject.