An integral part of working out is having the right gear, including shoes. And while it is easy to head to your favorite brick and mortar, finding the right pair of sneakers can be a tad trickier online, as there are so many choices from so many different brands. “Whether you’re walking, running, or performing a studio workout, choosing the correct pair of sneakers is essential for each activity,” says Ben Walker, personal training specialist, and owner of Anywhere Fitness.
This is when the knowledge of a good personal trainer or exercise guru can be helpful. We know that they may not understand all of your unique needs, but they do spend an exorbitant amount of time in workout gear, so at the very least, they know which ones can offer flex, comfort and durability. “Regardless of the type of workout, efficient shoes should be able to cushion the foot from heavy landings, manage quick changes of direction and handle any kind of unexpected blunt force,” says Walker.
For example, when a basketball player challenges for the ball and lands awkwardly, they want shoes that can provide support and stability. Studio shoes are designed differently from the best running shoes to handle unique situations to that activity. “The cushion and soles are flatter, freeing up the foot for more movement and they are designed to allow for more movement patterns — lateral, zig-zag, and twisting motions,” says Walker.
Here are the best workout shoes for running, walking, biking and cross-training.
Best Workout Shoes for Running
1. Asics Gel-Kayano 27 Running Shoes
When choosing the best workout shoes for running, there are certain factors to consider other than getting the correct size. “Running shoes should be fitted specifically to suit your biomechanics and running gait,” says Walker. You want sneakers that will provide arch support and midsole foot cushioning. “This is essential for injury prevention and improved athletic performance,” he says. Plus, it would be best to consider the different types of terrain such as gravel, muddy and inclined or declined surfaces. “If your ambitions lie solely in taking your running game to the next level, then I recommend the “flyte” foam line from Asics.”
2. Newton Distance S9
A lesser-known brand that is also great for running is Newton Distance S9, says Beth Nicely, certified personal trainer and founder of The Limit, who has worn the brand for nine years. “Newton’s are the only sneakers that I have found with enough cushioning to absorb shock but are still lightweight and supportive,” she says. So even though this brand isn’t a household name it is one of the best workout shoes for running.
3. New Balance Minimus Trail 10v1
For those who love to run in rugged terrain, you must make sure that your shoes have enough tread. “Ideally you want the tread to have ‘cushion’ and are close together so smaller stones/rocks do not get caught in the bottom of the tread,” says Samantha Parker, Kinesiophobia, yoga and movement specialist. “I prefer a lighter weight shoe like the New Balance Minimus Trail 10v1 which I have worn for eight years, so if I do hit a puddle the water easily runs out of it,” she says. Give these a try if you like running in races that involve obstacle courses in the woods, canoe, paddleboard or go tubing where rocks will be present.
Best Workout Shoes for Walking
4. Asics Gel-DS Trainer 25
If you are someone that loves to go on long walks, you want to make sure that your shoe provides shock absorption for the comfort of your joints; try to find sneakers with gel technology. “My favorite workout shoes are ASICS because I find them easy to use for almost every leisure sport,” says Julie Rammal, holistic trainer and founder of Holistic Movement. “They offer your feet just the right amount of space, comfort, and support to get you through your favorite ways to get fit,” she says. The cushion in the rear of the Asics Gel-DS Trainer 25 running shoes helps to absorb and reduce shock on impact, which is essential if you run outdoors.
5. Skechers Afterburn
A good alternative the Asics Gel- D5 trainer, is a brand that has been catering to arches and walking since 1992 is Skechers. The brand’s Afterburn memory-foam lace-up sneaker is great for when you want to put your head down and turn on the afterburners for a brisk power walk.
Best Workout Shoes for Cross Training / Circuit Workouts
6. New Balance 608 V5
HIIT, cross-training, and circuit workouts require versatile sneakers. “New Balance makes the best shoes for most athletic activities such as running, tennis, basketball, and strength training,” says Jason Kozma, Mr. America, celeb trainer and owner of High-Performance Personal Training. “Plus, unlike popular brands like Nike or Adidas that all run narrow, which is probably the most common type of foot, New Balance comes in varying widths,” he says. Try the New Balance 608 V5 which is specifically created for cross-training.
Read more: The Best White Sneakers for Men
7. Les Mills x Reebok Nano X1
Les Mills, a leading fitness company, recently launched a co-branded Reebok Nano X1 shoe leading to a series of on-demand workouts. The sneaker which is dubbed as The “Official Shoe of Fitness” is super light, comfortable and is ideal for those who love cross-trainers.
Best Workout Shoes for Biking
8. Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
Before the pandemic, spin classes were all the rage; once quarantines kicked in, many of us started using stationary bikes at home and heading out for rides. And according to Parker, if you don’t want to buy special cycling shoes, you don’t have to. “I typically wear my original zero-drop Converse when I bike and cycle. I find that they also are great shoes for weightlifting as the soles are not very flexible, providing you with stable surface needed for heavier weight.”
9. AKK Casual Sneakers
Another lightweight pair of sneakers you can function as multi-use, including for biking, are AKK sneakers. Its synthetic mesh material makes them a suitable choice as they are flexible, plus they have a bouncy instep for all-day comfort.
10. R Roydear Bike and Spinning Shoes
If you are a dedicated bike rider and cycling is a passion, it may be a good idea to invest in shoes specific to that. R Roydear is made with breathable mesh and adjustable buckle and hook and loop straps designed for easy on and off. The soles hug your feet, and the neckline is made to help prevent chafing. Though these aren’t the best workout shoes for general exercise, if you’re the type to hyper-focus, these are some of the best spinning shoes you can buy.