When I was packing for FitBloggin’ I made sure to look over the activities list to see what exercise classes I would be taking. I saw Zumba, HIIT, running, and biking on the schedule so I packed four pairs of workout shoes for the weekend. A lot of people asked me why I was packing so many shoes. I guess because I had done a lot of research on the subject, I assumed everyone else knew you’re supposed to use different workout shoes for different workouts too. Talking with my friends about it, a lot of them said they don’t know what kind of shoe you should wear for different activities, or why you need multiple pairs.
I am no fitness expert, and if you ever have any questions about your health and wellness you should talk to your doctor. That being said, I’ve been lucky to learn a lot about workout shoes over the years and feel like I have some great recommendations for people that are looking to find the right type of workout shoe for their workout.
Different workouts have different workout shoes for a reason. Running shoes move your feet in a forward and back motion, while dance shoes are made for side to side action and usually have a pivot point for quick turns. Running shoes shift your weight to either the middle or back of your foot, while dance shoes encourage you to be on your toes. Using workout shoes for activities they’re not intended for can wear your shoes out quicker, cause them to not perform like they should, and potentially cause an injury. The first time I tried Zumba it was in running shoes and it was one of the most painful workout classes of my life. This sounds ridiculous, but I like to think of workout shoes being like golf clubs. You can play golf with any of them, but it’s much easier if you’re using the correct club for each swing.
I thought I’d give some shoe recommendations for the workouts I’m doing. My workouts are currently a mix of running, Zumba, barre, cross training, and cycling. These are all shoe recommendations that work for my feet, but it doesn’t mean they’ll work for yours. Just think of these as a jumping off point for future research as you find the right shoe for you.
Picking the right running shoe is such a personal decision. There are a million options out there and everyone needs to go with what’s right for their foot. When I first started running I went to a running store for a run test and was found to over-pronate. That means my feet roll in as I run. To secure my foot and minimize the movement, I bought stability shoes. These shoes have lots of extra padding and cushioning on the inside of the arch to keep my foot flat as I run. I had great success with the Saucony Guides and Nike Lunar Glides as I worked towards running my first 5k.
As I began running more and working up to longer distances I felt like a neutral shoe would be a better fit for me. These shoes still have padding to make the run comfortable on your feet, but they don’t force your foot to go in any one direction. They let your feet do their own thing. I did a lot of research that said if you over-pronation you can run in either stability or neutral shoes with no ill affects. I have been running in neutral Mizuno shoes and couldn’t be happier. I’ve had no running pains and like that I’m not forcing my foot to do something it doesn’t naturally do.
Since I do over-pronate, stability shoes still work for me, but I like how neutral shoes feel better. If your foot stays neutral on its own when you run, you don’t want to run in stability shoes, though. And if you under-pronate (your foot rolls outward when you run), like Josh, you need a neutral shoe as well. He has been loving his Brooks Ghost shoes.
If you’re looking to start running, I would really talk to a professional to find the right shoe for you to avoid injury and increase the chances running will feel good for you so you’ll want to keep doing it. Running shoes are not a one size fits all kind of shoe. Also, and this is just my personal opinion, good running shoes are going to cost you more than $100. This is a shoe purchase that I don’t skimp on to make sure I’m getting a good quality shoe that is not going to fall apart and damage my foot.
I have been loving Zumba. I go twice a week and love to get in a workout while shaking it out. I am amazed at how many people I see dancing in running shoes at Zumba class. That is literally the worst shoe you can wear for dancing. Running shoes are made to go forwards and backwards, not side to side. I don’t know about you, but I have not seen a lot of dancers just running back and forth to the music when they dance. I wear Reebok high tops and love that these have a pivot point for quick turns and good flexibility so I can twist and hop and shake my groove thing without restriction.
My instructors wear Capezios and rave about them. I’ve never used them but they’re professional dance shoes that have a great reputation. I stick with my Reeboks because I already have them, they work great, and I love how every time I get dressed for Zumba I feel like I’m getting ready to star in a 1980’s music video.
When I started taking barre classes I thought I would prefer to do it barefoot, like I’ve always done Pilates and yoga. I quickly found out this was not ideal as I started sweating up a storm and sliding all around the floor. For barre you really just need a shoe that allows your foot to breathe while providing you with traction on the sole of your foot. I use barre socks right now because they were the cheapest and easiest thing for me to get. I picked up a pair at Whole Foods for like $6. My instructor uses the Nike studio wraps and loves them. The girls at my gym who are always rocking the cute matching Lulu outfits wear Blake Brody slippers. They all do virtually the same thing, it’s just a matter of preference (and budget!).
I am very, very new to cross training/HIIT/strength training/ resistance training. When deciding on a shoe for my workouts I was looking for a shoe that would help me feel rooted to the ground when I wanted to be (hello, kettle bell swings!) but also not weigh me down when I wanted to get moving. (High knees, jumping jacks, etc.)
I was actually looking at buying the Reebok Crossfit Nanos based on good reviews when I decided to give my Reebok Z Quicks a try. These are technically running shoes, but they don’t feel like any of my other running shoes. I can run in them, but I also love how they feel when I’m not running in them. I’ve been using these for all my training sessions with Jess and am very happy with them. Once I made the decision to cross train, in them they were officially retired from running. I felt vindicated for my weird shoe choice when I showed up to a HIIT workout at FitBloggin’ and the instructor (Ashley Borden!) was wearing the exact same shoes!
I never thought I would like cycling, until my friend Alec convinced me to try a Soul Cycle class with her. I was immediately hooked. (And am desperately hoping Soul Cycle will open a studio in Omaha someday!) People who are really into cycling tend to get cycling shoes that actually clip into the bike pedals. This provides the most stability while riding and lets you get the most out of your workout. I’ve heard great things about Shimano shoes.
Because I have yet to experience another studio that gives me the same feeling as a Soul Cycle class, I go to cycling classes at my gym but it’s not my end-all-be-all workout. Cycling is not enough of my routine for me to justify the expensive shoes, so I currently use a Puma cross trainer shoe. When deciding on a cycling shoe it was important for me to find one that was light, relatively flat, and had a strong sole so the shoe wouldn’t bend as I ride. The Puma Formlites fit the bill and I’ve been very happy with them.
I hope these workout shoe suggestions were helpful! I really wish I had a post like this that broke down all the different options when I was just getting started. Before I started learning more about fitness I picked my sneakers solely based on color and cuteness factor. Walking into a shoe store felt incredibly overwhelming. Hopefully that won’t be the case for you!
Questions of the Day: Do you agree with my shoe suggestions? Do you use different workout shoes for different workouts? What is a workout you’ve been wanting to try lately? (I really want to give yoga another chance.)