Spring is here, and if you’re thinking of hitting up the HIIT, cycling up the Pelaton or giving the fresh outdoors a new take with a good jog or a healthy brisk walk, the one thing you definitely don’t want to leave to chance are your shoes.
Does it really make a difference what shoes you wear? In a word. Yes. To maximize what you are looking to get out of your fitness routine, and (equally important) reduce the potential of injuries, what you put on your feet matters.
Ready to dive in? We’ve got the read on our readers favorites as well as experts and trainers opinions. Plus we’ve broken each of our lists down into beginner, intermediate and advanced. Because a lot of your needs when starting out are going to be different than when you’re hitting expert level.
Not as bone-jarring as running, sprinting or high-intensity jumping, walking is still a great work out. And you’ve pretty much been doing it for most of your life. That said, you’d be seriously missing out if you didn’t get yourself a pair of good quality walking shoes.
Brooks, Addiction Walker Suede $139.95
For a great all-around, starter walking shoe, you want a nice combination of cushion, support and traction. The Addiction Walker by Brooks gives you all that. The Extended Progressive Diagonal Rollbar (PDRB) support system helps promote proper alignment while the slip-resistant outsole provides maximum traction. Plus there’s plenty of cushioning courtesy of the BioMoGo cushion system.
adidas, UltraBounce $80
As you increase the pace, you need a shoe to give you some pep in your step. Enter the UltraBounce. The secret is the adidas Boost technology which fuses capsules together, creating the ultimate cushioning that “gives back” energy as you push off the ground. It has a soft, sock-like fit with a supportive heel counter to keep you moving.
New Balance, 847v4 $134.95
Premium cushioning meets great stability. The brand’s Rollbar stability feature guides your rearfoot movement while their Trufuse midsole cushioning keeps things bouncy. Together with the added heel insert, this shoe delivers unmatched comfort and stability made just for walking.
The mother-of-all-cardio workouts, running is the most popular and practiced sport in the world. The results range from fat burning to muscle building, stamina to stress release. A good run is a great thing, but not prepping your feet with the right equipment and you’re lost in the land of blisters, strains and sprains.
adidas, Fluidflow 2.0 Shoes $80
When you are new to running, you don’t always know what will become your BFF running shoe. What you need is a great, lightweight, all-around producer that won’t break your bank. The adidas Fluidflow checks all the boxes with a soft and stretchy knit upper to keep your feet breathing and a lightweight bouncy cushioning giving you comfort and flexibility. It’s good on pavement, sidewalks, and dirt trails.
adidas, Solarboost 3 Shoes $160
With the “most responsive adidas cushioning to date” this shoe is built to create a responsive and stable run. The Solarboost 3 comes with the adidas boost midsole (giving you energy with every kick) while the built in Control Rail ensures your strike (aka when your foot hits the ground) stays stable. Why is that important? As you move into longer distances, the potential of fatigue grows. That can throw your rhythm off and increase the likelihood for injury. Consider this shoe your own personal trainer, whispering in your ear to “keep proper form” while you continue to push your limits.
Hoka One One, Carbon X2 $179.95
When you’ve hit the big time and are focusing on the long run, you need a big gun to get you through. The Carbon X2’s secret weapon (or maybe not so secret since it’s actually in the name) is a carbon fiber plate sandwiched between layers of foam above and below. That means that when you’re hitting mile 10, you still feel low-to-the-ground responsiveness but plenty of good cushioning to combat your leg fatigue. Nutshell, this is a blisteringly fast shoe, ready to help you carve chunks off your PR.
It stands for “High Intensity Interval Training” and it has exploded in popularity since the pandemic. It’s extremely flexible in how you approach it – there are HIIT series out there that use traditional weight + hard cardio and others that use your own body weight plus short, intense moves like box jumping. Whatever your preference, these workouts are meant to kick your metabolism into high gear by alternating your moves. And while you could use your trusted running shoe in a pinch, your main go-to for this workout should be a proper training shoe.
adidas, Kaptir Super Shoes $90
While we all love to think that if we’re already running and using weights, starting a HIIT program means we can skip to the intermediate level. After your first session you’re going to learn real quick that HIIT is a whole different beast. Changing gears from intensive cardio to burpees to weights are gonna send your stamina into a free fall. That’s where the Kaptir will save you. The knit TPU upper will give you stability while the Cloudfoam cushioned midsole keeps you bouncy from sprint to dip. It also comes with an Ortholite sock liner which keeps your feet breathing (less sweat means better grip).
New Balance, Minimus TR $119.95
As you advance in your HIIT exercises, you’ll be branching out into newer moves as well as more repetitions. The Minimus TR is made to handle a variety of motions. It’s lightweight but super sturdy frame combines with New Balance’s technology to produce great responsiveness and spring. Wearing these will make those box jumps feel like nothing while keeping your heel supported for slinging dumbells and barbells.
adidas, Crazyflight $70
This is the top favorite HIIT training shoe on just about everyone’s list. Midfoot reinforcement for lateral stability, Top Grip Rubber outsole for traction and grip, and of course the adidas Boost midsole for shock absorbing. How good is this shoe at handling jumping and quick moves? Volleyball players and cheerleaders give it 5 stars…mic drop and we’re done.
If you’re just now answering the call “Tennis, anyone?” you are not alone. Tennis is seeing an incredible rise in popularity over the past two years. And if you’ve spent even a little time on the court, you know why. It’s not just a good cardio workout that engages the whole body. The mental aspect of the game involves tactical thinking, mental alertness and critical decision making. It’s a sport that embraces all age groups and engages us socially, improving our mental health all around. If all that sounds great and you’re ready to hit the court, make sure you have a shoe that can support you through all those quick pivoting movements and keep the bounce in your step.
ASICS, GEL-Resolution 9 $144.95
When you’re still learning your moves on the court, you need a shoe that keeps you extra stable and helps you stick. The GEL-R 9 by ASICS is made to keep your landings stable, thanks to a full-length outsole and separated heel. It also comes with a PGUARD abrasion resistance tech material in the high wear areas to help combat those ‘beginners blisters’ as you move your way through quick transitions.
Nike, Zoom Vapor Pro 2 $120
When you get to the point where your games start heating up, this is the shoe you move into. The Zoom Air unit in the forefoot is designed to keep you springy as you advance across the court, while the full-length foot frame on the lateral side adds stability during quick cuts. Plenty of reinforced mesh to keep you cool, this is a great shoe to keep you going as you move into more intense matches.
K-Swiss, SpeedTrac $134.95
When a shoe is worn by athletes in both the Women’s Tennis Association and the Association of Tennis Professionals, you know you’ve got a serious shoe for serious games. What makes the SpeedTrac your next shoe when you’re ready to really move on the court? Super lightweight with a tall heel tab, you feel secure but not stymied in your movements. The updated 180 PSC design is supportive and gives you great spring in your step over longer game plays. And with it’s super grippy tread design, you can plant and pivot with confidence, knowing you’ll stay put when you want to.
Whether your spinning or hitting the pavement, a good biking shoe is a must. Support of the ankle and and foot is paramount or you risk pedal-slippage, pressure and undue strain. A word of note here, no true biking shoe is complete without proper cleats. There are two main types, and choosing will depend on what your bike requires. SPD is the classic 2-bolt and the most common for all around cycling (including indoor and road). The other is the LOOK Delta cleat and that is what Peloton uses. Cleats are usually sold separately from shoes, but it is important to note that some advanced biking shoes are only compatible with one or the other. The good news? Shimano makes a cleat adapter plate if you find yourself needing to switch often (ie you have a Peloton at home but your spin gym uses SPD). But most professionals will recommend you use the correct cleat for your shoe and bike.
adidas, The Road Cycling Shoe $150
This biking shoe from adidas works just as well outdoors as indoors. It’s seamless but breathable, made from Primeweave (a high-performance recycled material) with a stiff platform to help properly channel energy from foot to pedal. These are 3-bolt cleat compatible (aka SPD-SL) which is the most universal of the two cleat types out there, making them ideal for beginners.
Nike, SuperRep Cycle Shoe $120.00
With adjustable straps to give an individual level of foot fit, this shoe is compatible with Delta cleats (such as used on Peloton bikes). While it feels lightweight on the foot, the SuperRep has added rubber-tipped studs built into the bottom of the sole to help increase your traction and prevent slipping as you walk to and from your spin class.
Venzo, Road Cycling Shoe $98.93
Now that you’re spending more time in the saddle than out, we’re guessing you’re not just limiting yourself to those spin classes. You need a shoe that’s just as home on your Peloton class spinner as it is on your Cannondale. You also want something that’s heat-insulated to reduce friction when you go full gas. And let’s not forget, something that’s odor reducing, because, we all love the thrill of victory, but def not the agony of “de feet”. The Venzo Road Cycling shoe gives you all that, with removable cleats that are compatible with indoor, outdoor, and just about everything on the market.
What is one of THE fastest growing sports in the past year? That would be Pickleball. This paddle sport combines the elements of ping-pong, tennis and badminton, putting them together in a partner pairing set up. A great cardio workout that engages speed and coordination. Plus it’s just so damn fun. Especially when you have a solid shoe that gives you both support and traction as you move around the court.
Wilson, Rush Pro Ace Pickler $99
When you’re just starting out on the court, you want to go for a shoe that prioritizes comfort. The Rush Pro Ace from Wilson has a 4D Support Chassis that limits supination in the heel-toe chassis to keep you stable and help control your pivot movements. It’s a great blend of comfort, stability and aesthetic to get you started in this sport on the right foot.
K-Swiss, Express Light Pickleball $99.95
This is the first Pickleball shoe by K-Swiss, but you’d never know it with all the great design that went into it. Comfortable, light and breathable, the special formula EVA used in this shoe gives max cushioning and durability in the mid-sole (plus a Plantar Support Chassis to keep you grounded. Interlocking fibers in the heel keep your feet in firm grip while the Ortholite sock manages against moisture build up (it’s also anti-microbial). All together this makes for a great shoe to take your game to the next level.
Skechers, Viper Court $89.95
The Viper is the official shoe of the Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) Tour, USA Pickleball and Major League Pickleball (MLP). It combines the big three – a Goodyear rubber outsole for reliable grip, a shock-absorbing Arch Fit insole for support and a breathable synthetic mesh upper to keep your feet cool as you play.
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