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What Shoes Should I Buy?


In my last 12 years of gym ownership, and last 21 years of coaching health and fitness, I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked this question. I’ve written about this several times in the past (https://crossfitfo1old.wpenginepowered.com/shoes-shoes-shoes/ – I apologize for the lack of photos, they got lost when our website was rebuilt a few years ago), but I’m going to start a ‘Shoe Review’ spot on YouTube and thought this would be a good jumping off point. No pun intended. 

This also gives me good reason to buy more shoes, but I digress…

Spoiler Alert – The answer to the question posed in this blog’s title is ‘It depends.’ On what, you may ask? Well, lots of factors, some of which are:

  1. What shoes have you historically worn?
  2. What are you planning to do in your shoes?
  3. Are you dealing with any foot/ankle issues?

What I’ve done is created a scoring system that I will run different pairs of shoes through. Each of the ten categories will be scored on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being a perfect/preferred score. At the end of each review, the pair of shoes will have their own score, with breakdowns for what they do well and not so well.  Yes, this is what my brain thinks about all time, please pray for Mandy and the kiddos!

My hope is that this helps you make better decisions. Put another way, I don’t want to tell you what shoe to wear, I want to teach you how to think through that on your own. 

So without further ado, here is my scoring criteria:

  1. Flexibility – right out of the box, how flexible are they? Can they be folded in half? Side to side twisting? What about after they get “broken in?”
  2. Heel toe drop – this is the measured difference in heel height vs toe height. 
  3. Wide toe box – can my toes splay and help my foot do what it is designed to do?
  4. Style – do they look stylish/cool or plain vanilla and boring?
  5. Affordability/Value – most mass manufactured shoes these days fall into the $80-200/pair price range, so that will be the ends of the 1-10 scale unless otherwise noted.
  6. Durability – how do the shoes hold up to the daily rigors of life? Everything from exercise, walking, playing with kids, etc will be included. 
  7. Promote ideal foot function – does the shoe allow the foot to do what it was designed to do? Meaning, does it allow the foot to be a stable base of support for activities of daily life? 
  8. Stability – this one will be counterintuitive, as all “motion control” or “stability” shoes will be scored a 1 because they are not allowing for the foot to provide its own stability. 
  9. Movement – does the shoe support the various types of movement humans undertake on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis? Not just linear (straight line), but also lateral, jumping, running, etc. 
  10. Comfort – would I wear these all day, every day?

Bonus Categories (Unscored)

  1. Sizing – how are they sized relative to other brands and other models within a brand? Every shoe brand says ‘runs true to size,’ but we all know that’s not the case.
  2. Driving impressions – as silly as this one sounds, you manual transmission driving people will get it! The question I’m answering is ‘do these impact the “clutch pedal feel” as I shift gears?’ I just had this happen quite noticeably with a new pair of shoes I got as my pedal feel was off, almost as if my seat had been moved way forward. I thought I was going crazy until I had another pair of shoes on the next day and all was back to normal. 

As you can see, some of these are quite subjective in nature, so those will be strictly my opinion. For instance, what I think is a wide toe box may not be what someone else considers wide. And from what my wife tells me, what I think of as stylish is certainly not in line with what any other rational human thinks is stylish – HA!

Here is a non-exhaustive list of what I’ll be reviewing. Many of these are popular models that I’m asked about and see quite often while others are a bit more fringe and obscure but have interested me for quite some time:

  • Nike Air Max 270
  • Hoka Solimar
  • Altra Superior 5
  • Vivo Barefoot
  • Flux Adapt Trainer
  • Strike Mvmt Haze Trainer
  • Puma Fuse 2.0
  • OnCloud X-3 Shift
  • New Balance Grass Cutters
  • Under Armor UA TriBase Reign 5
  • NoBull Trainer
  • Inov8 F-Lite Series
  • GoRuck Ballistic Trainers
  • RAD One
  • TYR CXT-1 Trainer
  • Reebok Nano (various)
  • Nike Metcon (various)
  • New Balance Minimus TR
  • FeelGrounds Original Mesh
  • Merrell Trail Glove 6
  • Xero 360’s
  • Adidas Trainer V

If you don’t see something that you’d like me to review, you’ve got two options: shoot me a message and I’ll add it to my list or I’m a 10-1/2 🙂 

Yes, the featured image above is from my closet and yes those are all mine.

No, those are not all of my shoes.

people working out in a group fitness class


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