What’s the best gym shoe?

Sep 9, 2022

Hey there Coach Sully here. I hope you had a great holiday weekend and are you getting ready for fall, my favorite time of year.

Today I want to talk about shoes. As you may know I take my shoes very seriously. Currently, I have three pair of running shoes, three pair of gym shoes, one pair of cycling shoes, and then one pair of shoes I wear every day like out on the street.

As a fitness coach I often get asked about shoes, what’s the best kind of shoe for running or what’s the best kind of shoe for bootcamp type workouts. And this is a good question because the right kind of shoe is important for the right activity.

So this little short email/blog posts will focus on the type of shoe I recommend for use in the gym and then the type of shoe I recommend for running if that’s what you wanna do.

First of all, thicker and more cushion is not necessarily better. Why do I say that? Research shows that too much cushion actually causes your foot to work less. Yes, it feels nice and it’s a soft ride but it actually trains your foot to become reliable on the shoe rather than itself. Long-term exposure to shoes that compensate for you will lead to issues with your feet.

Like anything else, if you don’t use it properly it’ll break down. The same thing applies to your feet, or your muscles, or like tires on your car. Let your car sit too long and the tires will go flat, the rubber will rot, things like that.

So what do you want in a shoe? As a member of the Trufit gym we do a lot of BootCamp type of workouts and or weightlifting. So the first and obvious thing is a running shoe is inappropriate. Because the nature of a running shoe, the way it’s designed, it’s thick, it’s cushy, and it provides less stable support, especially in lateral movements—in other words, it rocks back-and-forth, front to back, up and down.

Also, your typical running shoe tends to have a small toebox. It scrunches up your toes. This is bad because your foot needs room to expand. Let me expand on that just a little bit. Our foot is designed so that when it’s planted on the ground, when you take a step, when you jump, when you run, its designed to absorb the impact, it spreads out laterally to the sides and it spreads out front to back. Basically what this is doing is that it’s giving you a little bit more coverage on the ground, more square more square inches to absorb the impact. If your shoe has a small toebox a narrow toebox or it’s right up against your toes at the front then your foot can’t expand and again it’s going to lead to issues.

For use in a gym, bootcamp style workout, aerobics, weightlifting, I recommend a shoe that is flat, meaning there is little to no drop from heel to toe, it’s the same width from heel to toe. I also recommend that it’s not thick. Your shoe does not need an inch of cushion to function properly. In fact, I would argue that too much cushion does more damage to your foot than too little cushion. For me, the less the better.

For example, I have two pairs of running shoes, one for paved trail and one for dirt trails, and they are about a quarter inch in the sole. This is as close as you can get without going barefoot. Both pairs of gym shoes are about a half inch thick, the sole is also the same width heel to toe, and both feature a wide toebox. (My running shoe pictured is Xero)

I understand why many people think that thicker is better. Most of the major brands of shoes have a slick marketing campaign. The same major brands of shoes have no actual research that thicker is better. As I said before, thicker shoes offer a nice ride but they make your feet work less and in the long run that’s bad for your feet, your posture, and your entire kinetic chain.

If you’re serious about your feet and your shoes, I recommend one of the three brands featured in this blog/email post. Give ‘em a try. I recommend a half size larger than your normal size. And from experience I can tell you it will take a while for you to get used to a thinner cushion and a wider toebox. However, once you pursue this better shoe path, I think you’ll fine it’s a better fit.

If you have questions about the Hylete or NoBull shoes, ask any member wearing the Nobull trainers or the Hylete Circuit cross trainer. These two brands of shoes are specifically designed for the gym, bootcamp and HIIT type of workouts. (The Hylete shoes comes with two different thicknesses of insoles for different exercise activities) They provide stability side to side and front to back, they allow your foot to feel their way around, there’s very little to no heel elevation which means your calf muscles are not shortened, and they come in a variety of colors plus they just look good while wearing comfortably. (Pictured: Gina sporting the Hylete Circuit II Cross trainer – Seriously, ask Gina what she thinks of her new shoes)

Check out the photos included and if you’re interested follow the links at the bottom. And full disclosure, I will provide a referral link for the Hylete shoes which will give you a discount. 

Okay that’s it for this one. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please speak up. Thanks for reading and have a great week.

Coach Sully

My referral link to the Hylete shoe. Click on the link, navigate to shoes (men’s or women’s) and receive 20% off your first order. http://rwrd.io/rwnpw47?c

Go Ruck link https://www.roguefitness.com/go-ruck-ballistic-trainers-black-red

NoBull link https://www.nobullproject.com/collections/womens-trainers

P.S. I’ll be giving the Go Ruck shoe a try this fall. I’ll let you know.

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