5 Trainers’ Favorite Sneakers for Working Out

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It only takes one wrong pair of shoes to learn this basic truth: The sneakers you wear for your workout can mean the difference between kicking ass at the gym or limping home in pain.

But what qualifies as a “great sneaker” depends entirely on your feet—and your training. A pair that feels right for someone with flat feet may hit all the wrong hotspots if you have high arches. And the shoes that propel your strides while running could twist your knee during a dance cardio class or keep your heels from really propelling your movement on a rowing machine.

Shoes are made to help you do well in any sport,” says running coach Amie Dworecki. “Running shoes encourage forward motion as you run, which is different than a sneaker, which is designed for lateral movement – lateral movement.”

So how do you know what works best for you?

First, ask the experts: we spoke to a handful of trainers, instructors, and coaches to find out what their favorite workout sneakers are. They shared what they personally look for in a shoe and which features are most important for their activity of choice.

But once you’ve focused on the kind of sneakers that might work, you’ll have to do your own trial and error to figure out what suits your feet. And What Makes You Feel Best: Even these pros will concede that while form and function are by far the most important factors, there’s no denying that a badass-looking pair can give you that extra boost of confidence to just one little to push a little harder.

Trainers’ favorite sneakers for working out

Karen Maxwell, CPT, Senior Master Instructor for CycleBar

APL TechLoom Breeze

APL TechLoom Breeze – $240.00

“These soles are really soft – it feels like stepping on unicorns. I wear them as athleisure wear but can also do intensive cardio or boxing or boot camp classes. I’m not a big runner, but when I’m running on the treadmill they’re super light so my feet don’t feel like they’re hitting the pavement; they’re these little launchpads of pillows. [The upper] is stretchy but soft; You put it on and it feels like a pair of socks. After my first APLs five years ago, I became obsessed; now my husband is obsessed with it too.”

Cycling shoes Shimano IC2

Shimano SH-IC2 Cycling Shoe – $110.00

“Shimano fits your foot really well. A lot of other indoor cycling shoes don’t have a pad, but I feel like there’s a little cloud between my foot and the pedal. [They’re good for] Honestly anyone who wants to own a pair of cycling shoes – beginner, intermediate, advanced.”

Kari Pearce, personal trainer and former CrossFit Games athlete

NOBULL net runner

NOBULL Mesh Runner – $139.00

“No matter what you’re doing – weight training, running, jumping – they’re flexible but with support so your ankle doesn’t wobble. I have bad Achilles so it’s important to have that stability when I’m jumping. I tend to wear them outside as well, especially if I walk a lot. NOBULL comes out with new colors all the time, it’s fun. I wear the bright red – I love bright things! That gives me extra energy.”

Karla Garcia, dance instructor at Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway

Cole Haan Grand Crosscourt Sneaker

Cole Haan Grand Crosscourt Sneaker – $110.00

“When I’m teaching a dance class or leading a rehearsal (or dancing myself) these are flat and smooth. They don’t have much support, but it’s nice to turn them on. I try to stay away from things that have a lot of friction with heavy rubber on the bottom otherwise my feet get stuck and it twists my knees.”

Feiyue FeLo

Feiyu Fe Lo 1920—$25.00

“These are martial arts shoes, but so great for dancing. They feel really minimalist. And you can put on jeans and wear them for other things. They do wear out after a year, but even that is good considering the price.”

Reebok Freestyle Hello

Reebok Freestyle Hi Women’s Shoes – $75.00

“They look like they’re literally from the 80’s or 90’s with that double velcro closure, but they’re so comfortable. You have nice support. I got them last fall when I was choreographing the Tony Awards because they’re shoes that you can wear all day and do anything in them – dance, work out, go out.”

Michelle Parolini, CPT, Senior Master Coach for Row House

inov-8 f-lite

Inov-8 F-Lite G-230 – $130.00

“These are really great for functional fitness training and running – the lugs have enough depth to give you plenty of grip but the shoe still moves freely. They are super light and breathable – it almost feels like a bare foot. I have wide feet and they allow for that width at the balls of the feet. I’ve had them for 10 years and have four pairs.”

NOBULL trainer

NOBULL Trainer – $139.00

“When I’m rowing, I’m looking for something with as flat a sole as possible. On a rowing machine, power generation is all about finding that connection from your feet to the handles – you can connect better and drive through your heels in flat shoes. I am totally obsessed with NOBULL sneakers and have about 15 pairs of them in different colors. but delivery trucks or Chuck Taylor’s are also great rowing shoes.”

Amie Dworecki, running coach

Skechers GOrun Speed ​​Elite Hyper – $185.00

“I don’t actually hear much about these shoes, but they came onto the performance running scene a few years ago and are great for any type of road running. I like that it feels very light and responsive. I’ve never been into minimalist running shoes, but I don’t like tons of padding – I want to feel what’s happening under my foot.”

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