Gym Shoe Recommendations Please
February 18, 2012 4:53 PM   Subscribe

My familiarity with exercise footwear is limited to my running shoes. What should I be looking for in a gym shoe?

I've started an interval workout class and I'm excited to restart a weightlifting program. Thanks, Health Month! However, I'm realizing that my Saucony Grid Omnis, so perfectly suited to me for running, are pretty awful as a general gym shoe.

1. Do I need two more pairs of shoes? It is totally okay if the answer here is yes, but I would like to know why.

2. Where should I go to try such shoes on and possibly get some advice from a knowledgeable salesperson? The Running Room appears to only sell running shoes.

3. Specific brand and model recommendations to try?

Relevant details: female, 5'3" and 150-155 lbs, located in suburban Vancouver.
posted by sillymama to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Weightlifting shoes are probably mostly relevant if you're doing barbell lifts (you can sit on machines in whatever you want!) They should be very low and have a non-compressable sole, ideally with a wee bit of a heel. (Although I lift heavy in vibrams (essentially barefoot) and it works fine.) What you want to avoid is a squishy-soled shoe that will compress, maybe unevenly, and be unstable. So running shoes are generally Right Out, but something like Converse All-Stars would be totally fine.

Some sort of cross-training shoe would be what you're looking for otherwise, and that will depend more on what kind of "interval exercise" you're talking about - how much lateral movement is there? What kinds of impact? If you're in hefty running shoes they probably won't work in any case where you have to move laterally, but otherwise you probably can pick something that will work fine and also be ok to squat and deadlift in.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:00 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you are lifting you are I luck. You just want solid rubber soled sneakers like converse. Idealy you could lift barefoot but shoes like these are the next best thing.

If you are doing Olympic lifts that is a different story.
posted by munchingzombie at 5:01 PM on February 18, 2012

Dropped in to say (or echo) low-top Converse Chuck Taylor All-stars for all the reasons restless_nomad listed: no heel lift, a fairly incompressible sole, and because they are relatively inexpensive. I've been wearing these for about four years at the gym. If your program involves running: anything at 800m or longer, I'll bring running shoes, but the Chuck Taylors work fine for shorter intervals (assuming you are not heel-striking when you run/sprint).
posted by kovacs at 5:16 PM on February 18, 2012

I like to work out in super minimal running shoes, something like an Inov-8 Bare-X 200 or F-Lite 195. I do just basic gym machines and weights, but I have heard they're really popular with the crossfit crowd.
posted by letitrain at 6:38 PM on February 18, 2012

Sounds to me like you're looking for a cross-trainer, which should work for interval training as well as lifting. (Whereas Chuck Taylors might not work so well for interval.) Cross-trainers are made to be versatile, which means they're not optimized for any one activity, but they're typically good for anyone switching it up a lot, or anyone who's not so serious about one sport.

I don't know if Saucony makes any, but it's worth looking into if you like their running shoes, since they're likely to use a consistent foot shape across different lines. By that I mean the ratio of space between the toebox, arch, and heel; made for narrow vs wide feet, etc.

Good luck.
posted by nadise at 7:09 PM on February 18, 2012

Not knowing what you're doing, and seeing as how it's probably likely that you don't know with any certainty what you'll be doing very far into the future as far as your workout goes, I'm going to say Chuck Taylors are your best bet. As mentioned above, Chuck Taylors are fine for short runs if you aren't heel striking. For longer runs, stick with your running shoe of choice.

Lifting weights barefoot is not "ideal". Don't lift barefoot.
posted by telegraph at 7:11 PM on February 18, 2012

Response by poster: Adding that my lifting is strictly free weights: deadlifts, bench press and lots of dumbbell work. The interval workout class is a circuit, so 1 minute at each of 7 or 8 stations, a 5-7 minute cardio session that is either on the bike or up and down the stairwell, then another round of the circuit.
posted by sillymama at 9:52 PM on February 18, 2012

Best answer: I use a pair of wrestling shoes for my lifting and (boxing) circuit work. Flat soles, good grips, some ankle support. Ideally it is something you are comfortable in, and will allow you to engage your muscles fully and in good positions.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:13 PM on February 18, 2012

Chucks are okay short term, but they really can't compare to a good weightlifting shoe, especially for squats. I lift with a bunch of folks who wear chucks, and though their form on squats is good, you can see their feet shift around as they do them. With my Do-Wins, it is like I am bolted to the floor. The raised heel really helps me get to depth, as well, but YMMV.

An added bonus is that weightlifting shoes have tarsal straps, so you get to velcro up like a kid from the 80's. Pretty sweet.
posted by Theodore Sign at 9:43 AM on February 19, 2012

Response by poster: I tried on a few different shoes, and have started out on the Nike Free TR Fit. After wearing only stability running shoes for the past several years, this shoe feels very light and almost as if I'm going barefoot. It's got great flexibility and allows for decent movement during my interval workout, and also feels quite firm and allows for a decent plant when lifting. I haven't tried Nikes in a long time because they have always felt quite tight on my wide-ish foot, but these ones feel great.

Thanks, everyone, for helping me to identify what I needed in a gym shoe.
posted by sillymama at 9:05 AM on February 23, 2012

Nice! I have switched entirely to Vibrams - except for my last remaining pair of Nike Frees, which I'm terribly attached to. Should be a good call for you.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:30 AM on February 23, 2012

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