Help me prevent the Agony of "De Feet"
September 18, 2008 6:22 AM   Subscribe

Help me choose some new gym shoes and, just as importantly, know what I should pay for them.

In April, I began going to the gym regularly, which has been awesome. As far as land-based exercise goes, I have been walking, weight lifting, and using some cardio equipment (elliptical, bike, treadmill, etc). I also am planning on taking some classes like body pump or kickboxing and I need some new sneakers. My old Reeboks are looking and feeling ratty. I'd like some gym shoes that are versatile, comfy, provide good support, and are not too pricey. (Is < $80 possible? Closer to $60 is even better.)

Until recently, I was a dedicated couch potato so what I know about modern athletic shoes (and their fancy features) is virtually nil.
I also have no idea what is a fair price to pay, or even where I should be shopping. I am in a major metro area, so I should have shopping options and my feet are average sized, so that shouldn't be an issue either.

Please help me, MeFites, and advise me on some options and what I should be paying.
posted by pointystick to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You are in Atlanta, apparently. Go to Big Peach Running. They will video you running on a treadmill, ask you how you workout/what you do when you work out, and do a thing where they can tell if you have flat feet, really high arches, etc. And then they will show you shoes until your eyes fall out of your face, but you will get a pair of shoes that will fit and will not hurt your feet. I was being an idiot, wearing thrashed shoes and giving myself shin splints in the process. I got new running shoes from BPR and they are awesome. I will never buy running shoes from anywhere else, ever again. I am deadly serious. These guys are awesome. I probably spent about $100.00 at the end of the day. I probably could have spent less, but I got the first pair they showed me that felt the best - I think I went through three or four pairs of shoes before I got to the pair that I liked.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:55 AM on September 18, 2008

If you want the absolute lowest price:

Consider going around to a few places, trying on shoes, writing down the maker and model name of shoes you like and then going to Ebay. There are some folks who sell new shoes there at tremendous discounts. I have a specific running shoe that I like (New Balance 692 in a hard-to-find 12 EE), and when it's time to replace them I've paid as little as about 40% of what I was seeing in the stores.

You're giving up simplified returns and just having the shoes in your hands in the time it takes to get to the store, but the price basically can't be beat.

As for specific shoes, I'm only concerned with running, but I have been a loyal customer of New Balance for over 10 years. I don't think the cushioning and stability can be beat. They make all sorts of shoes for different purposes. You can look at their website and see what shoes will fit your needs.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:55 AM on September 18, 2008

I've had great luck getting gym shoes at payless for about $20. When I try them on, I embarrass my wife by running around the store, jumping as high as I can, and going side-to-side, to see how good they feel and how well they support my feet.

Any shoes that you buy are going to get worn out, no matter whether they cost $100 or $20.
posted by indigo4963 at 7:23 AM on September 18, 2008

Cross-trainers are nearly an all-purpose sport shoe. They are a good choice for you if you enjoy participating in a variety of sports or varying your workout routine.

Benefits of Cross-Training Shoes

* They are the most versatile athletic shoes available
* Cross-training shoes meet the basic comfort, cushioning, stability, and durability requirements of many popular sports and activities
* They are an economical choice. Cross-trainers allow you to buy a single pair of athletic shoes for a variety of uses.

Drawbacks of Cross-Training Shoes

* Cross-training shoes are not recommended for anyone on a regular running program
* Cross-trainers do not offer enough cushioning and flexibility for runners
* They are heavier than typical running shoes


* The outsoles (bottom) of cross-training shoes are wide and stable to provide lateral (side-to-side) support and stability
* If your foot tends to roll inwards or pronate the wide base of support may help reduce that tendency


* Most cross-trainers have fairly durable outsoles to allow them to go from the gym to the street or tennis court
* Outsoles will typically be made of extremely durable carbon rubber or a combination of carbon rubber and blown rubber, a softer, lighter, more flexible outsole compound

Most sporting goods stores including Dick's, Hibbett, Sports Authority, etc. will have a variety of cross-trainers from Nike, New Balance, Under Armour, Adidas. Prices range from $60-100 and they can generally be expected to last about a year with regular workouts.
posted by netbros at 7:24 AM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Weight lifting is best done in "passive" shoes, or even barefoot. You want the floor to push you up as hard as you push it down. Shock absorbers prevent that.

Kick boxing classes are done barefoot. If your classes are the aerobic kick boxing kind, get shoes made for aerobic classes, with mid-range shock absorbers. Make sure they're comfortable. They're all pretty good.

Unless you're planning to start running, I wouldn't buy running specific shoes or go a running store - running shoes are expensive and an overkill for the gym. If you're into running, Brooks makes awesome running shoes.
posted by ye#ara at 7:41 AM on September 18, 2008

Ack. Yeara beat me too it. And I second the Brooks recommendation, too. Look Ma! No shin splints!
posted by eralclare at 8:04 AM on September 18, 2008

Your knees are worth spending alot of money on shoes if you are running or doing any kind of on-your-feet exercise. For these shoes you should go to Road Runner Sports. Shoes can be expensive if you are shopping for a look... but shoes can also be expensive because cushioning ain't cheap. Replace every three months or 3k miles. Injury is not a trivial matter.
posted by ewkpates at 10:17 AM on September 18, 2008

For weighlifting, I highly recommend Chuck Taylors. They can be found for around $45 or less.
posted by twistedmetal at 10:27 AM on September 18, 2008

Thanks, everyone! This helps a lot!
posted by pointystick at 8:11 AM on September 19, 2008

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