Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Which shoes to wear for a Zumba fitness class... some options, and my personal favorite!

One of the questions I am asked most frequently by first-time Zumba students as well as regulars is: "What kind of shoes should I wear for Zumba?"

There are basically three categories of shoes you can choose from when deciding which shoes to wear or purchase for your Zumba classes: athletic shoes, dance sneakers, and hybrids. As an instructor, I have worn them all. My personal experience is that there are trade-offs in every case, so it is really up to the individual to decide what is most comfortable for them.

Let's talk about the options.

Option 1: Athletic shoes

Athletic shoes that are made for running or walking, such as these New Balance, are what most people already have in their closet. They offer a lot of shock absorption, so they do a great job at diminishing the impact on your legs and joints as a result of jumping movements. They also tend to offer superior arch support, when compared to a split-sole dance sneaker, and they often offer some additional stabilization for over or under pronation, and ankle support. The one major disadvantage to this kind of shoe can be that they have rubber soles that offer a lot of traction. Twisting or turning actions will require more force, since the shoe is resisting, and this kind of resistance can result in knee pain over time.

For this reason, this is my least favorite option. I don't advocate using these kinds of shoes long term, but if you're just starting out, not ready to invest in a dedicated pair of Zumba shoes, or maybe only go to one class a week, then these will definitely do the job.

Option 2: Dance sneakers

Split-sole dance sneakers, such as the Bloch Boost DRT Mesh Dance Sneaker, tend to have soles made of a less sticky plastic, with little-to-no tread, and a pivot point on the ball of the foot, all designed to facilitate turning and twisting motions so that dancers can pirouette across the floor unimpeded. This makes them much easier on the knees. However, they are designed with a split sole to allow dancers to point their toes, so they do not have the same arch support that an athletic shoe provides. They can also sometimes be quite slippery on hardwood surfaces.


Only a couple of years ago, you basically only had athletic or dance shoes to choose from. These days, dance-based fitness classes have gotten so popular that shoe manufacturers have gotten wise and started making a wide selection of what I call "hybrids." These are dance sneakers, such as these Ryka Tenacity, that are styled like athletic lifestyle shoes but with the sole of a dance shoe AND the superior support of an athletic shoe. It sounds like the best of all possible worlds, and it can be, you just have to find the pair that's just right for you.

These Zumba shoes have the green spin spot on the ball of the foot, to allow for easier twisting and turning.
Zumba Fitness also now offers their own line of Zumba-branded hybrid dance sneakers, which can be purchased from the shop, at other major online retailers, such as, and also at select Lady Footlocker stores. They come in fun colors and styles, and have the spin spot on the sole along with the sneaker styling. I have found them to be good quality, and the price is not too bad either, especially if you manage to score them on sale!

My favorite pair of shoes ever (so far) are the Zumba® Energy Push High high-top sneakers. I'm already on my second pair I love them so much, and I'm considering buying a third to have a backup. They are lightweight and breathable, and come with two colors of shoelaces, so you can coordinate with your outfit that day!

They are a high top, which provides good ankle support – a must for me as I tend to roll and twist my ankles. They also have the right amount of "twistiness" on the floor without being too slippery, thanks to the spin spot on the sole. I did purchase an additional shock absorption insole, which I use instead of the factory insole, because I require more cushioning. The insoles that they come with the shoes are too light-weight for me, I have high arches. I have a student who just got the same style, and she loves them just as they are.

Remember, we are all different, and what works for one person may not work for another. The most important thing is to find the shoes that feel comfortable to you, so that you can enjoy your Zumba fitness workout to the maximum!


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