January 2017

The Anatomy of a Great Cardio Dance Shoe

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The Anatomy of a Great Cardio Dance Shoe

Cardio and dance fitness classes keep your feet moving, pivoting, lifting and chaussée-ing… fast. What you need is a shoe that keeps up and helps you avoid athletic injury. Is it so much to ask that it look good, too?

Here’s our guide to finding find the right shoe for your unique needs. Because the only thing we want you to think about in Jazzercise class is having fun and getting fit.

Understanding your foot

When selecting the right shoe, you’ve got to know your foot type; specifically, what kind of arch you have. To find out what kind of arch you have, use the Paper Towel Trick. Yes, this is a thing.

Place a paper towel on the floor then dampen your foot and place it on the towel. Pick your foot up and inspect the towel. If the majority of the towel is wet, including mid-foot around the arch, then you have a flatter foot. If the middle area of your foot is dry, then you have a mid- to high-arch.

Understanding your foot type is important in getting the right support you need from a dance shoe.

The flat foot:

A flatter foot simply means that your arch helps absorb some of the shock and pressure when you’re in motion. Since you’re rolling inwards during impact, you’ll need more support to avoid knee and ankle injury.

Look for a shoe that offers inner-arch support. It’s slightly elevated near your arch and creates a cushion so your foot rolls less during impact.

The high-arched foot:

A foot with a high arch doesn’t roll inward during impact, so it can’t absorb much shock: your knees and hips do.

You need a shoe with cushion evenly spread throughout the sole so the shoe absorbs impact, not your ankle and knee joints.

The neutral-arched foot:

If your wet footprint showed a defined arch (the area in between your toes and heels was thick but not fully pressed onto the towel) your arch is neutral. This means you require both support and cushion.

Your shoe needs to offer stability on the outside to protect your foot from rolling, and cushion to absorb shock to protect your joints.

Your Perfect Shoe Checklist

The size rule:

Go half a size up from your usual shoe. During high-impact training and dancing, your foot will inch forward. Sizing up gives your toes a little wiggle room while maintaining a snug fit for your heel.

Be flexible:

The reason not all workout shoes are appropriate for aerobic-dance workouts is, in part, because of flexibility. Most shoes offer a solid outer sole to provide stability along the entire foot during exercise. In Jazzercise classes, we turn one way then another, twist and jump, so we require flexibility between the heel and ball of the foot, which allows an easy pivot. The trick is shoes that offer that support and flexibility.

Lighter is better:

Because dance fitness means springing and pivoting, the last thing we need is something dragging us down! A lightweight, breathable dance shoe offers support and stability without restricting mobility. Go light and be free…

Finding the right shoe for you

We’ve tried a lot of shoes. A. Lot. Of. Shoes.

These are a few that our instructors, students and researchers recommend. Remember, every foot, and dancer is unique, so try the most appropriate for your foot.

Ryka’s Vida RZX Training Shoe

Ryka is one of the most popular brands for dance shoes. (That’s why we partner with them!) Why we love this one:

  • It laces up to provide extra support and security
  • It’s extremely flexible
  • It uses RZX technology in the heel to offer extra cushion for impact
  • It features pivot points for ease of movement (flexibility, remember?)

Our rating: Pivoting has never been more seamless.


Adidas’ A.T 360.2 Prima Training Shoe

Why we love this one:

  • Has a stable, controlled outsole that offers all-over support
  • Flexible, rubber exterior with deep flex grooves for smooth movements
  • Breathable, lightweight, stretchable mesh for ultra comfort—because have you ever tried dancing when your feet hurt? It’s not pretty.

Our rating: This shoe offers all-over support, from the ankle to sole.

Adidas 360

Ryka's Influence 2.5 Media/Wide Training Shoe

Why we love this one:

  • The round toe provides extra room for wider feet (wiggle room)
  • Extra cushioning and a foam midsole cushion key pressure points of the heel and forefoot
  • This shoe features additional arch support so it’s great for flatter feet
  • The same flexible outsole for easy pivoting

Our rating: The extra arch support is essential for a flatter foot.

Ryka Influence

Nike's Air Zoom Strong

Why we love this one:

  • It’s lightweight to keep movements quick
  • It has a lock-down fit that secures the foot and offers ankle stability
  • Responsible cushioning absorbs impact and is responsive and springy during pivots
  • The rubber outsole offers traction will providing extra flexibility

Our rating: Air Zoom offers a lot of support around the ankle, and is super sleek.

Nike Air Zoom

Puma’s Cell Riaze Cross-Training Shoe

Why we love this one:

  • Features a two-part pivot point, a must-have for seamless movement
  • The cushioned midsole and heel absorb shock
  • The lace-up exterior offers extra support and stability

Our rating: This shoe is both movement and support.

Puma Cell Riaze

Tell us your favorite dance cardio shoe in the comments!

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