Ask a Chick: Which Fitness Investments Are Really Worth It?
Erin Sian: I have a so-so success rate with specialized gear (turns out Olympic lifting shoes did not change my life or my lifts). It's fun to buy and makes you feel more committed to whichever sport has caught your fancy lately, but if you're being careful with your fitness budget, you can get the same damn workout without the fancy jump rope or $100 leggings. What I get the most value from is high quality food and supplements. Fish oil helps me recover faster (less hobbling around!), protein powder is a quick way to get that post-workout nutrition and not be late for work, and grassfed meats and organic vegetables are what I want my body running on. It's not cheap. But being well-fueled means I can get the most out of my other big fitness investment: my gym membership.
Bethany: While I shared the same hopes for my lifting shoes as Erin (and the same style shoes), they didn't solve my crappy squat. After going through "squat therapy" during the Crossfit L1 Seminar and trying to work on it myself for a year, I finally gave in and bought 5 sessions with my gym's head coach (also a former PT assistant). He helped me with mobility issues as well as some strength/muscle activation issues AND got me squatting with confidence. Butt back, knees out, tension until you're almost at the bottom then bounce out of it. Money well spent on something I'll hopefully use for a very long time.
Emily: Proper footwear! For spinning, I love my clip-in shoes (will never go back to riding with trainers). The workout is noticably better, because when you're clipped in you can take advantage of the whole pedal stroke (versus placing a heavy emphasis on the downstroke). And for running, I go in every year to get myself fitted for new shoes and arch supports. Forking out the money for proper shoes can be a bit painful, but not nearly as painful as knee surgery in the future.
Jess: Definitely my foam roller. It's recovery magic for when I'm doing training runs. I've also used it to roll out soreness in my calves, glutes, and especially my back. It's my miracle worker.