Do You Really Need Cycling Shoes?

The one question I get asked almost every day is, “Do I really need cycling shoes to participate in any of your indoor cycling classes at the Village?” My answer is always the same: “No, but…”

The bikes at the Village Health Clubs and Spas are equipped with pedals that have a “cleat” on one side for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics (SDP) clips, and a stirrup adjustment on the other side for non-clip shoes. So, while, no, you don’t have to have special shoes to participate in our indoor cycling classes.  But, if you truly want to maximize your cycling workout and results, cycling shoes are a must.

The proper shoes are an integral piece of equipment for any cycling class. Think of it this way: you could play baseball without a glove or run a marathon in flip flops, but the experience and the results would just not measure up and the risk of injury is increased without the proper equipment. The same is true for indoor cycling.

When you “clip” into the pedals via cycling shoes, you become “attached” to the bike in both a physical as well as a mental way — you are now part of the machine. You are literally connected to your workout on a deeper level. Cycling shoes allow you to access three very important elements of cycling: power, alignment, and muscle recruitment.

Cycling shoes have stiff soles that help absorb the power produced from your stroke, rather than your foot and joints taking all of the pressure. When you consider that you can ride up to 40 miles in each class, you want to decrease as much wear and tear on your body as possible. Cycling shoes create a smoother, more powerful stroke. You are able to create power throughout the full range of motion and not just push the pedal forward and/or down, which actually causes you to lose the back half of your stroke-power to wheel momentum. This is especially important when adding resistance for “hill climbs” or creating control and speed for the “sprint drills.”

Alignment is also an important consideration. Even though you are on a stationary bike, there is a significant amount of movement involved in an indoor cycling class. Because your foot is held in place at the ball of the foot, you can avoid any unwanted movement that could occur. The clip ensures that your foot is not only in the correct position, but also provides stability for the ankles, knees, hips, and even the upper body. Larger feet or very small feet might not be able to position their foot in the correct place without the proper cycling shoes, leaving the rider vulnerable for foot or joint pain.

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