Finding a good pair of shoes isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, especially when it comes to nailing your fitness goals. To ensure you put your best foot forward, Stephanie Ayre has found the best kicks to suit every occasion. You got this!
In the gym
If you like to run, lift, stretch and do everything in between, you want a good pair of specifically designed cross-training shoes. They’re built for multi-directional workouts and should feature medial and lateral forefoot support, including an average heel-to-toe drop to help prevent ankle twists. A cloud-like midsole is essential if you want to fire out of every step.
If the weight racks are your go-to area of the gym, you’ll want a shoe that has a reasonably flat sole (0-4mm) to help you drive through your feet when performing exercises like deadlifts and lunges. If the sole is too soft it’s not going to provide much ankle stability and will only absorb the force that should be directed towards working your muscles effectively. And if you’re looking to maximise efforts, look for a shoe with a tri-star outsole pattern. This feature has the ability to expand and contract in every direction, dispersing pressure evenly.
Shoe: Nike Free TR 6
Buy it: womens $170
Ask any yogi and they’ll most likely say barefoot is best for your yoga practice, but if you’re a slippery little sucker then a shoe like Nike’s Studio Wrap is the next best thing. The ballet-like slipper allows you to have toe-to-mat contact with a barely-there feel, while still providing good grip to prevent slippage on a sweaty mat. Namaste.
Shoe: Nike Studio Wrap 4
Buy it: womens $80
To get the most out of your explosive HIIT workout, you really need the right shoes. Look for sneakers that are light and flexible and will allow you to have uninhibited movement during agility exercises and will help nail those side-to-side movements (hello, ladder drills!). For this you need strong side or lateral support, and basic running shoes won’t be able to handle the force. You also need a stable, wide base with a low heel lift to ensure you’re never off balance.
Outside the gym
When it comes to running, there’s always been a divide between those who choose comfort and those who choose speed. We get it — it’s a personal thing. But no matter what your style of running, one thing’s for certain: a shoe must provide good cushioning and adequate vertical ankle support. Memory foam is one of the key technologies said to practically eliminate joint-damage from long, strenuous runs, so keep an eye out for shoes with it in the soles. Running shoes should also be light and responsive, giving you a smooth transition from heel to toe and should never inhibit your natural foot motion. A heavy shoe will only weigh you down and cause you to exert more energy and tire faster.
No matter what type of activity or frequency, if you want a neutral shoe that has it all then you still need something that is lightweight and comfortably snug. Shoes with a good amount of stability, flexibility and cushioning will help you power-out any workout, while a resilient foam or EVA midsole will allow quick cadence and more efficient movement — in or outside the gym.
Heading off-road? No worries. Find a shoe that easily adapts to changing terrain (think steep, rocky or muddy trails) and opt for widespread, deep lugs with an aggressive tread that bites back for stability and sensitivity. Stiffer soles, toe protectors and protective plates will help shield feet against bruising and injuries. Depending on the weather, you’ll also want to consider waterproof liners such as Gore-Tex or eVent, and sweat-wicking fabrics to help keep you cool on the hottest runs. Most importantly, the shoe needs to be comfortable and run a little larger than usual to accommodate for foot swelling after long distances.
Whether you walk for fitness or work, a good walking shoe will be able to handle the repetitive heel-to-toe rolling motion. You’ll want flexibility through the ball of the foot to allow a greater range of motion, and choose one that also has good arch support to protect your delicate plantar fascia. Know this: a good shoe will help improve your posture and the way you walk by preventing muscle strain and supporting the joints.