Tried and tested: Training shoes for gym workouts

Because you shouldn't be wearing running shoes to your favourite class.

Because you shouldn't be wearing running shoes to your favourite class

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

You may want to think twice before donning a pair of running shoes to your next bootcamp class. That's because running shoes are, well, made for running; they aren't designed to keep up with the lateral movements and plyometrics (a.k.a. jumps) synonymous with HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts in mind, nor provide the stability needed when focusing on strength exercises. Enter: training shoes. 

There are key differences between running shoes and training shoes, says Peter Charbonneau, a certified pedorthist with the Toronto Athletic Club. Running shoes are intended for straight-ahead motion and often feature thick cushioning in the midsole to help absorb impact. Training shoes, on the other hand, aren't as cushioned and elevated. Instead, they tend to be lower to the ground in order to provide the foot with the support required to perform multi-directional movements, like burpees, side lunges and mountain climbers, safely. In short, training shoes have flatter soles to provide stability to the foot, which helps prevent injury says Charbonneau. "If you start doing side-to-side movements in a running shoe, you can easily twist your ankle or knee."

Showing up to class in the wrong type of shoe is something Toronto-based fitness trainer Matthew Pauderis has definitely witnessed. When considering footwear, he stresses eschewing style for function and getting the right shoe. "People often tend to go by the look and style of a shoe — everyone wants to be fashionable — but you need to get the proper footwear in order to reduce your chance of injury."

Charbonneau says that finding your ideal training shoe is simply about educating yourself. To that end, check out these options, for various workouts, that we tried and tested recently. 


The shoe: Reebok HIIT TR

Great for: HIIT beginners

How it feels: Lightweight and flexible with loads of cushioning

Reebok's latest training model may appear to be quite flat, but it definitely boasts a generous amount of cushioning in its midsole for ample comfort — a must by the time you reach your third set of jump squats. "Most people haven't built up the supporting muscles to absorb the kind of impact associated with plyometrics," explains Pauderis. That said, he suggests looking for a shoe that will provide an adequate amount of shock absorption. The HIIT TR also features a built-in sock, which is great if your feet are prone to slipping out of your shoes mid-burpee, as well as a mixed grip pattern on the treads, which ensures maximum traction on slippery studio floors. 

HIIT Women's Training Shoes, $120, Reebok


The shoe: Nike Air Zoom SuperRep

Great for: Seasoned bootcamp fanatics

How it feels: Elevated and bouncy with a split sole

What sets the SuperRep apart from most training shoes is its split sole, which allows for greater flexibility when performing planks, mountain climbers and burpees, to name a few. Split soles also purposely create a sense of instability in the foot, which challenges your core and glutes, says Charbonneau. "The less stable you are down below, the harder those muscles have to work." Other key features of the SuperRep include the brand's Air Zoom cushioning technology at the shoe's forefront, and pronounced side arcs to ensure your feet stay secure when performing lateral movements. 

Air Zoom SuperRep Women's HIIT Class Shoe, $165, Nike


The shoe: Under Armour TriBase Reign 2

Great for: Functional training and lifting 

How it feels: Sturdy and grounding

Under Armour's TriBase Reign 2 is a great option for those who prefer CrossFit and functional training workouts over HIIT. The shoe hugs the foot like a second-skin and features a solid and sturdy sole, which lends itself well to strength training. "A shoe with a harder surface provides a stable platform, which is especially important when you're performing heavy deadlifts and squats," explains Pauderis. And for that extra-grounded feel, the TriBase Reign 2 features a wider toe box compared to its predecessor, giving you more room to spread your toes before hitting AMRAP. 

TriBase Reign 2 Women's Training Shoes, $140, Under Armour


The shoe: Puma LQD Cell Shatter Mid

Great for: Floor and gym workouts

How it feels: Grounding and cushiony

If your fitness routine consists of slipping into your local gym after work to make use of the machines, or squeezing in a few minutes of floor exercises in your basement before heading out the door in the morning, then Puma's LQD Cell Shatter Mid is a great option for you. It boasts a supportive sole and a great amount of cushioning, making it a versatile shoe for any workout. It also features a no-lace design; you simply slip them on and off. No excuses.  

LQD Cell Shatter Mid Women's Training Shoes, $120, Puma

D'Loraine Miranda is a Toronto-based editor and writer. Follow her on Instagram @dlorainem.


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