I started taking a great Zumba class, but there I was in regular aerobic shoes. I looked around and most of the class had on cute, colorful shoes. It’s pretty hard to see the brand name or model type while people are jumping up and down, but I tried to figure out what model/style/brand was most popular. Then I went on-line and started a six-month journey into the world of shoes appropriate for Zumba. What I found during my personal journey are probably not isolated incidences. I’m sure that others have had similar experiences in trying to find shoes that not only fit properly, but are fit for the specific purpose.
Here are just some of the situations that I got into.
We’re in an on-line world these days, so that’s where I started. I looked up reviews for Zumba shoes and found a few advertised. Then I read, read, read reviews and found no real agreement on which shoes were good or not. Some Zumba instructors loved one brand/style while some users disliked the very same shoes. Well, so much for individual tastes and feet. Then there was the buying experience. Perhaps the one pair was a lemon and just wasn’t made to the size, shape or material conformance that the other pair was held up to and thus the user had a different experience. Maybe it was a different factory that actually made that pair; after all, most of these aerobic shoes are made in China, Thailand, or some other part of Asia. There must be hundreds of factories with varying degrees of quality control.
I finally got to the point of jumping in, no pun intended, and bought a pair of PUMA’s with cell technology. They were very smart looking with a pink/orange wave of color and a rubbery cell bottom. Unfortunately this same bottom stuck to the wood floor and caused my ankles to hurt within the first month. I persevered nonetheless until I was in real pain, and then finally gave up. At this point, the on-line store refused to take them back and referred me to the manufacturer who gave me a store credit. Their store site was more expensive which forced me (sort of) to select a more expensive pair of aerobic shoes in the hopes that if I spent even more money perhaps I would get a better result. The selected pair was even worse. Although touted as being wonderful for dance (Zumba is a kind of latin exercise), there was little to no arch support. Ok, I learned that I needed more support. Back these went and being new I got a full refund. I accepted that the first pair would just have to be worn for exercise other than Zumba.
Still determined to buy a pair of shoes suitable for Zumba, I tried again. I really like my New Balance walking shoes so I went on the NB website and a chat box opened asking me if I wanted help. Once I went down that rabbit hole I eventually called them and got a very nice man who told me about a shoe that NB was making just for Zumba. Really? He seemed very sincere when he told me that the staff was really into Zumba and developed this particular model after experience with taking classes. Ok, I thought, I’ve found the right shoe. Yes, but for me? I tried this one and although there wasn’t enough room at the toe to be called “too big”, as I walked I felt like I was walking on the tip of my toes (I could feel my toes on the ground as I walked). Guess you had to be there. Anyway, after two classes these shoes went back. Didn’t work for me. I felt really bad since I liked the shoe and I liked the salesman.
With each try I’m spending more and more money, going way over my normal limit for aerobic shoes. I was responding not only to advertising to buy the fancier models but also what I saw in my Zumba class – women who were also yielding to the so-called need for a feature rich shoe for a specific kind of exercise. Oh, if I only had stock in these companies that are producing bright pink, neo-green and bright orange-soled shoes for Zumba that cost $60 and up!
Except that these relatively expensive shoes didn’t fit me properly, hurt my feet, hurt my ankles, etc. In most cases I was able to return them after finding out that they didn’t work for me. But, it took a lot of my time. I finally decided that I needed to physically go to a store and try on shoes. Just when I planned to go to the nearby outlet, a friend suggested a low end department store that carried a selection of aerobic shoes for both men and women. There were some on sale, some that were brand names but mostly not what I’d seem at my gym classes. Previously, I was aiming at a cross-trainer based on the reviews. However, I decided to change my approach and use my own judgment. What a concept? I simply looked at the bottom of a shoe with a solid sole, good arch support, and reasonably flat bottom so that it wouldn’t catch on the floor and voila – I found the Fila dynamic action running shoe. It had a bright pink sole (really cool looking), black with pink edges for the laces (fits right in with the Zumba theme) and a smooth bottom. Then I tried them on. I found that I wore ½ size smaller with this brand which gave me a much more solid foundation than the others I had tried. I had satisfied my needs – good fit, ½ price (only $39), good looking and felt good on the floor. Even though they were not a popular brand for Zumba I finally realized that conspicuous consumption didn’t fit into my lifestyle. I felt good about my purpose and could move on to other things. Enough with the exercise shoes!