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Step Ten

Step Four: Get the right gear


Before you get started with exercise videos, you must have a pair of supportive aerobic shoes to protect you from injury. Most people will find that shoes designed for aerobics will offer far better support and cushioning than cross-trainers. These are often labeled "fitness" shoes or "studio" shoes. Running shoes or tennis shoes *will not* offer enough protective cushioning in the right areas for the aerobic choreography found in most videos. Note that men and women with wider feet may have trouble finding shoes designed for aerobics. If this is the case, try on a variety of cross trainers, and try to buy from a store with a liberal return policy in case you find them unsuitable for the type of workouts you do.

Remember that athletic shoes often lose much of their cushioning ability before the shoes show signs of wear, especially if they are used exclusively indoors. Many video veterans who work out 5-6 times per week replace their shoes every 4-6 months or so, especially if they do a lot of power step or high impact choreography. You may get a longer life from your shoes if you alternate two different pairs of aerobic shoes, as many runners do with their running shoes. If you experience an unexplained decrease in performance, or if you begin to experience unusual pain in the shins, knees, or behind the knees, you may need to replace your shoes. Another warning sign of shoe wear is wrinkling in the midsole area of the shoe (where the upper meets the sole).

Some VF readers retire their aerobic shoes to strength training use when they begin to notice a decrease in cushioning during high impact workouts. The old shoes may have enough support left in them for low or non-impact activities like strength workouts.

Try on athletic shoes in the late afternoon, which is typically when feet are the most swollen. Most people find they wear a larger size in athletic shoes than in dress shoes, sometimes a full size or size and a half larger. Sizing varies a lot from brand to brand and even model to model within the same brand. Good shoes will probably cost at least $60 (US) retail, but there are often sales on older models, since shoe manufacturers rarely keep a shoe in circulation longer than a year or two. Athletic shoes should feel great from the first time you try them on. If they don't, keep looking.

Next: Step Benches