Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How to choose the right fitness shoes--PART II

More SHOES--holla!

Now for the second installment in this shoe series. The second, and probably the most important, thing to consider when buying fitness shoes is...

Are you using the shoes for running, general fitness, weight training, cross training, or walking? I learned this "different shoes for different activities" the hard way. From years of wearing ill-fitting running shoes for step and hi/lo, I've developed a hideous bunion on one foot--TMI I know, but wearing the right fitting shoes for the right activities can protect your feet from genetic deformities like bunions (hallux valgus).

Even Posh Spice/Mrs. Beckham has bunions--the result of all of those gorgeous, ill-fitting heels and a genetic disposition? Yup.

Wearing the right shoes for your activity can also protect your joints. For example, shuffling side to side is very hard on the knees and ankles. Wearing shoes built for lateral movement with a flatter sole and ease the pressure put on those joints and the "rolling" of the joints experienced as a result of poor support. There are different shoes for different activities. The key is in the SOLE:

Boof examines my soles regularly :)

RUNNING: Running shoes are designed for forward/backward motion, so the sole grips to the road surface. They are also more flexible in the toe area than other types of shoes, which allows for better mobility for heel-to-toe movement. Running shoes are meant for running, mostly, but I wear them for bootcamp and kickboxing classes because they have a thick forefront, which preforms well for boxer shuffles, jogging and jumping.

Can you tell I'm biased to Shox yet? :) Check these running shoes:

CROSS TRAINING: Cross trainers, on the other hand, are stiffer and provide better lateral support in all kinds of activities (e.g. side-to-side floor movements, lunging, shuffling, etc.). The sole is flatter and the shoes usually contain other elements that can adapt to a variety of activities. I highly recommend cross trainers for the average gym-goer or rabid group fitness attendee. Cross trainers are also excellent for tennis (again, that side to side motion) and weight training (for stability).

Ryka makes awesome cross trainers like these:

WALKING: Walking shoes have really come a long way. They used to all look like orthopedic shoes, and now with launch of Reebok's EasyTone sneakers, among other brands, walking shoes have become schwanky! You don't necessarily need walking shoes to "exer-walk," and you can definitely use running shoes for walking. The difference is that walking shoes are just designed with a more beveled, cushioned heel to propel the hardcore walker all the way through that forward, heel to toe motion. Walking shoes also tend to me more cushioned overall.

These Nikes are not your average old-lady-walkers! lol

TONING SHOES: And now word on the EasyTone and other "toning" shoes (also see Sketchers' Shape-Ups and MBTs), which are all the rage. They are designed to create an uneven walking surface, which is supposed to force the legs to adapt and "work harder." They certainly look sharp, but usually come with a more than $100 price tag. These toning shoes promise to tone your leg muscles while walking, which is always a plus. The technology varies per shoes so I recommend doing some research and trying them on to see what works best for you.

I tried on both the EasyTone and Shape-ups, and found a preference for the EasyTone--mostly because the "balance balls" on the bottom were just so freaking fun to walk on! :)

Reebok has had so much success with the EasyTone, that they have released the ZigPulse, a RUNNING shoe with "zigs" that are supposed to increase running efficiency and toning. Looks crazy--I'd rock em'!

As shoe technology progresses, so too do all the special features that come on sneakers--who knows what the future holds for fitness shoes!?!? Personally, I own two pairs of sneakers that I alternate for different activities, but you really only need one pair for the activity that you do THE MOST. Remember that it's all in the sole, baby...

Stay tuned tomorrow for the 3rd "Sole Mates" installment!

(All of the above shoes and images were taken from Zappos.com)


  1. what shoes would you reccomend for me (reasonably priced) bc im thinking of joining a gym??? and remember, i have super flat feet?!?!?!?

  2. For flat feet, you need extra support in the middle of the foot, so I would go with a cross-trainer. Asics makes great shoes for flat feet, but they can be pricey. My second recommendation would be New Balance. Their shoes are pretty affordable and are good for "overpronators" like yourself :)


    These are pretty sweet:

    and so are these:

  3. The Easy Tones are great! Am a walking fool and they are sooooo comfortable!