The Brooklyn Running Company Fitting Experience
By Kara Dudley
You may be wondering what goes down when you come in to get professionally fitted with a pair of shoes. This piece walks you through the fitting process and what to expect when you come into the shop to find your perfect pair.
What is a Fit?
We refer to a “fit” as the process of coming into the store and receiving an assessment on your individual biomechanics, injury history, lifestyle and running goals to get matched with the most appropriate shoes for you as an individual. Contrary to what some may think, having a fitting done can be invaluable for all experience levels of runners, and even individuals looking to get into fitness or support their general wellness. This is especially important being that so many of us live and work in New York City, a place where you’re walking relatively more than many other places. You may walk anywhere between 4-6 miles a day and barely even notice it – that type of mileage is normal for someone living in New York City. We also tend to not give a lot of thought to our footwear from a health perspective, so it’s easy to overlook the different aspects of what makes a shoe right for you. Whether it’s running, walking or cross-training, all these activities are applicable to our fitting process.
The Fitting Experience
(No in-person appointments required!)
Conversation – A good fitting is always rooted in a good conversation, so when you arrive at one of our stores, we’ll be asking you a number of questions to get some background information on you before the actual physical assessment begins. We’ll have questions about what activities you’ll be using the shoes for, if you currently have, or have had any particular injuries, what kind of mileage you’ll be doing, and more general questions to help us identify what kind of shoes are going to be most beneficial for you. There are a number of variables when it comes to shoe fitting, so all of these factors will help us guide you in the right direction.
Barefoot Walking Assessment – A proper fitting must be a dynamic experience, as running is a dynamic activity. To start out, we’ll perform a gait analysis. We’ll watch you walk barefoot (or in socks if you lack toenail confidence) to look at your foot mechanics and observe how you move naturally. We do this analysis barefoot because wearing any kind of footwear can influence the way that you’re moving.
Single-Leg Squat – A single leg squat with a shallow bend in the knee is the next step in our process. We use this tool to be able to see how the knees track in relation to the foot and to assess the mobility of the hip as well. It simulates the loading movement experienced during running, as running is at its core a series of single leg squats. This will further help us to identify aspects of your gait which may be improved while wearing specific shoes.
Shoe Suggestions – Once we’ve got the scoop on you, we’ll suggest a few pairs of shoes to try on based upon your individual needs we’ve identified. We’ll bring out some options for you to try on, at which point you’ll be able to walk around in them, compare them side by side, and of course run in them on our shop’s treadmill.
Treadmill – Now that you’ve got the shoes on your feet, you can take them for a ride on the treadmill. We’ll take a slow-motion video of you running to help illustrate, “This is your foot in motion, here’s how your gait may be affecting you, and here’s what the footwear is doing to help”.
As an example of an assessment, if someone comes in with a high degree of overpronation, adding a degree of support to their footwear can help reduce the strain on their arches, knees, and back. By adjusting the level of support in your footwear, you can drastically reduce strain in these areas to help you run more efficiently and comfortably.
E-Comm vs In-Person Shopping
Did you know the estimated return rate for footwear purchased online is 35%? Carbon footprint much?! It’s less than 6% for footwear purchased in-person at our shops, which is less than the reported industry average. This massive gap speaks to the challenges of buying any shoe online, nevermind specialized footwear like a running shoe. We attempt to mitigate this challenge with our e-comm customers by offering virtual fitting consults (Schedule a Virtual Fit!) and staffing our site’s chat function with fit professionals as opposed to a bot.
The Importance of Getting Fitted
Our biggest strength is our professional staff. Amongst the team, we come to the table with decades of combined experience and broad areas of expertise. All of the folks on the team also have a background in running. While beginners are our stated specialty, we have people on our staff that are recreational beginners, those who took up running later in life, collegiate and post-collegiate athletes and Olympic Trials Qualifiers.. You can talk to people from all levels of the sport when you come into our store and get expert advice and opinions on what’s right for you.
When it comes to buying a running shoe online, you can read all sorts of things, but you’ll never truly know how a shoe performs for you without trying it on. You’ll also never be able to try on shoes from competitors that may fit similarly or have comparable functionalities. One of the biggest advantages of coming into the store is being able to try on shoes from different brands at the same time and comparing them side by side. This way you’ll be able to see what you like about each shoe and what you don’t like. You’ll be able to make an informed decision to walk away with a new pair of shoes and say, “Okay, this is the shoe that suits me best”.