“Is it important to use different types of trainers for different classes?” It might sound very obvious but this is the type of question I get asked regularly by my class participants, and one I had to ask myself when I started to develop a muscle strain in both feet.
As an instructor of both Body Pump and Body Attack I began to develop an injury just using the same trainer, as I wasn’t fully aware there were different types. I decided to do a little research and wanted to share with everyone the difference and the impact using the correct type of foot where can have on your day-to-day training.
Trainers for aerobic classes (Body Attack, Step etc)
With hi-impact aerobic classes people should choose trainers that have good support and cushioning. This type of trainer is called a “Cross-Trainer” because like the title suggests it can be used across different mediums of classes from hi-impact aerobics to the gym floor. A cross-trainer shoe has lateral straps and staggered lacing for support, but it also has forefoot flexibility. It needs the lateral support when engaging in the side-to-side hi-impact movements. This stops the foot from rolling, which would eventually put strain on the muscle. There are many different types of cross trainer shoe. There are some that have half lateral support, half mesh, which allow more movement of the foot. But like any trainer, what’s important is that is feels comfortable but will also provide you with maximum protection to prevent injury.
Dance aerobic classes (Zumba, Latin Dance, Body Jam etc)
This trainer should be similar to your aerobic style trainer. It should provide a lot of support and cushioning. However these types of classes include movements with lots of swiveling, twisting and turning. The sticky soles of a traditional cross trainer shoe provide too much friction. Therefore you need a trainer that has non-stick soles. This will allow you to spin around the dance floor and give you maximum support at the same time. Also, looks can be important with these shoes. You want to look and feel great when on the dance floor but at the same time give maximum support again to prevent injury.
Strength/Body Conditioning classes (Body Pump, Abs Blast etc)
These types of classes don’t involve much movement, therefore you need a trainer that feels comfortable and light, these are called “Frees.” They allow for maximum comfort but are lightweight. A good example of this trainer in use is during the squat track in Body Pump. You need to keep your weight in your heels and really feel as though you have freedom to connect with the floor. These trainers will activate more muscles because the body is trying to work harder to keep you stabilised and grounded. These trainers do provide support but are not ideal for high-impact aerobic classes.
Indoor cycling classes (Spinning, RPM etc)
There are specially designed indoor cycling shoes that come with cleats, which allow you to attach your feet to the pedals. This secures your foot when you stand up on the bike, while enabling you to pull up, as well as push down on the pedals. The pulling up action flexes the leg muscles, thereby working and engaging the hamstrings. If you don’t want to use or don’t have the money to buy shoes that come with cleats then indoor cycling shoes should be lightweight and breathable.
Lots of instructors will change their trainers depending on the type of class they are teaching. Even if the classes fall under the same category. This is probably because it often goes with the outfit that they are wearing; the instructor is after all at the front setting an example to the class participants and therefore wants to look his or her best.
To conclude, we should use a different type of trainer for different types of classes. If however you can only afford one pair of trainers then go with a type that feels most comfortable to you but will provide you with the most support. If, like me you cross over into different categories then a cross-trainer would be the best, as it allows for maximum support and cushioning. The best thing to do is go to a shop and get professionally fitted.
Enjoy your class, look great but most importantly prevent injury.