The 9 Best Gym Shoes Of 2022 To Power You Through Your Next Workout
When it comes to reaching your fitness goals, there are a lot of tricks and tips to help get you started. Along with all its physical benefits, exercise has also been shown to improve our mental health, and finding the best gym shoes that suit your specific foot type can make or break your workout—not to mention prevent injuries and foot, back, knee, and hip pain.
The best gym shoes strike the perfect balance of technology, support, strength, and (let's be honest), style. Wear the wrong shoes and your entire sweat session could suffer. Here's exactly how to be picky with your kicks so you can reach your full potential at the gym.
What to look for in gym shoes.
"The type of shoe being used is important to minimize the likelihood of injury. Now that we have advanced understanding of human biomechanics, we have a great variety of shoes to choose from that address different activities, foot types, and pathology," Holistic podiatrist Robert Kornfeld, DPM, advises. It can be helpful to have a list of criteria when shopping for gym shoes.
Kornfeld adds, "The best gym shoe would address all of the issues that are specific to each [person]. Some require stability, while some require flexibility." So, look for "a logical combination of cushioning and support." If you experience foot pain, plantar fasciitis, or heel pain, he adds that it's always a good idea to see a podiatrist to help identify the underlying cause and make the best recommendations.
How we picked:
We selected sneakers that will help absorb shock from the ground even during high-impact exercises.
Each sneaker we chose is made with durable materials that will last for extended periods of time so you'll get more life out of your investment.
We picked shoes that will give you the most stable base to push off from while providing support from ankles to arches.
Whether you're training indoors or outdoors and performing HIIT or low-impact workouts, we included sneakers that will work for a variety of activities.
Our picks for the best gym shoes:
Best customizable: Nike Metcon 7
- Strong stability
- Custom design
- Narrow toe box
If you're looking for a pair of sneakers that will comfortably take you from weight training to sprints, the Nike Metcon 7 is your ideal all-purpose choice. Its wide, flat heel provides stability to prevent injury while weight lifting, and the Nike React foam puts a spring in your step when you kick it into high gear for cardio. The lightweight mesh overlay will keep your feet cool, without sacrificing durability or style. There's even a tab on each side to secure your laces—so you won't have to worry about them coming undone throughout your workout.
This model is also Nike's lightest metcon yet and boasts an average rating of 4.5 out of 5. One gym-goer says, "these are the best all around CrossFit shoes I have ever had." Another reviewer is obsessed with the structure: "These shoes are very supportive with a hard, flat sole that's great for legs or any other weight lifting activity!"
Previous Nike owners will recognize that this shoe runs a bit narrow, so if you need a wider toe box, you might want to consider ordering a half-size up. Nike members can design their own colorway, with showstopping options like chrome, marble, and metallic gold or silver.
- Sleek design
- Offers enough support for running
- No wide option
- May be too firm for some
Hokas are known as the ultimate running shoe, and now the brand's top-tier footwear technology is available in a trendy cross-trainer. Designed for maximum comfort during all types of workouts, it offers less cushioning and a wider base than most of the brand's trainers. This allows for more stability—key in lateral moves and jumps—yet still offers enough responsiveness for shorter runs.
Along with a super-sleek and stylish design, the shoe offers extra cushioning in the heel and an extended crash pad, reducing the impact of every step. Best for people with a neutral gait, it's also a more eco-friendly pick with a vegan rubber sole and recycled mesh upper. (In fact, Hoka has a strong sustainability mission to use recycled, renewable, regenerative, or natural material in 90% of its footwear.)
While definitely on the pricier side, reviewers say the Kawanas are worth the investment. One enthused fan writes, "This hybrid shoe [is] super cushioned and stable in the gym, and it is smooth and bouncy in the road. I think Hoka is onto something BIG with this new foam." With almost 200 positive reviews on the Hoka website, these have earned a 4.5 out of 5 rating.
Best narrow: APL Women's TechLoom Tracer
- Well cushioned
- Vegan materials
You'll likely see at least one person at the gym rocking this training shoe, and it's not hard to see why. The trainer steals elements of the brand's popular running shoes and makes them optimal for cross training. For example, the breathable knit upper in the TechLoom Tracer has zero stretch, ensuring your foot stays centered on the footbed for maximum stability.
Other components of the low-profile kicks include a sculpted heel that allows for a full range of lateral movement, layers of rubber padding in high traction areas for more durability, and a new lacing system that limits loosening during workouts.
Despite keeping your foot locked down, slipping these sneakers on and off is a breeze thanks to the stretchy lycra collage and tongue. There's also just enough cushioning from the Propelium™ midsole to make these comfortable (and it holds up longer than the conventional EVA plastic that is typically used).
Popular among women with narrow feet, the shoe earns rave remarks from gym-goers. One reviewer says, "These shoes have been my go-to for weightlifting for years. I have a very narrow foot, and the knit material feels as if it morphs to my anatomy—and the sole is sturdy and flat." Another adds, "This is such a stylish shoe that's perfect for multi sport workouts like CrossFit, lifting, and short runs."
However, some shoppers find these shoes undesirable for squatting exercises due to the larger heel-to-toe drop (8 mm). If you try them and they don't work out, APL has a free returns policy.
Best budget: Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
- Less expensive
- Flat sole
- Wide options
- Minimal support
On the hunt for the best budget-friendly gym shoes that simply get the job done? Converse's Chuck Taylor All Star is an oldie but a goodie. They're structured enough for speed work, flat enough for weight lifting, and fairly priced enough to perhaps warrant multiple colors. Because shoes with heavy cushioning and a higher drop can make lifters feel unstable, this no-frills sneaker is also a top option for strength training.
With over 4,000 reviews on the Converse website, these have a 4.8 out of a 5-star rating overall. Most reviews are from cult followers who have been wearing this exact shoe for decades and even getting their grandkids on the bandwagon. Many adore the lightweight canvas material and lightly padded footbed and say that you can't beat this quality for the price. Keep in mind, these shoes do run large—so you'll want to buy at least a half-size down.
Best for wide feet: Altra Solstice XT2
- Wide toe box
- Good grip
- Only two color options
It can be difficult to find gym shoes that give people with wide feet the room needed to feel comfortable and the top tech to perform at their best, but the Solstice XT2 checks both boxes. Not only do gym shoes that elevate the heel above the toes make you unstable during strength training, but research shows that a zero-drop shoe like this can reduce your risk for injury and give you more power by putting your foot in a very level position.
Altra's lightweight, breathable design combines support and stability to turn it into the ultimate cross-training shoe—meaning it can be worn for a number of activities, including trail runs, weight lifting, or walking. The extra-firm caged upper helps protect your toes while you move, and the low cushioned sole puts your heel and toe at an equal distance from the ground, so you'll be set up for form and alignment.
While reviewers love the minimalist design, wider toe box, and stability of this shoe, there's a big desire for more colors. A few people also mention that the shoe does not hold up over time.
Best for plantar fasciitis: KURU QUANTUM
- Some say they do not hold up over time
This gym shoe molds to your foot's unique contours, giving an added stability that makes it a great pick for people with plantar fasciitis. The midsole provides more shock absorption than other trainers, so they'll feel like you're working out clouds. These shoes are made with a more spacious toe box, too, and a lightweight mesh cover that gives them a more breathable feel.
We love that KURU has a strong sustainability mission that spans four pillars of sustainability and social responsibility. In fact, when you register your purchase, the brand's KURU CARES™ initiative gives you the ability to choose which cause to support.
Reviewers with foot pain and plantar fasciitis are obsessed with this gym shoe—and there are over 3,000 5-star reviews to prove it. One shopper writes, "After experiencing crippling plantar fasciitis 6 or so years ago, and finding relief only in this shoe, it's been the only sneaker I've bought since. For healing and prevention, this shoe is the ticket, and I like that the wider toe box allows feet to spread out more naturally rather than being constrained. Worth every penny."
- Maximum cushioning & support
- Uses some recycled materials
- Some reviewers say these run large
A great fit for people with medium to high arches, this shoe has neutral support and cushioning throughout the midsole, an extended heel, and a rocker-style shape that helps evenly distribute your weight as you move. The wide toe box is also especially nice for people with bunions or metatarsal pain.
Hoka also has a mission for sustainability, with 90% of the brand's 2021 footwear utilizing at least one recycled, renewable, regenerative, or natural material.
One shopper says, "They are perfectly balanced between soft, lightweight, springy, and cushion-y under my feet. I'm also so obsessed with the colorway I ordered. It looks even better in person. Huge fan of these and will definitely be ordering another pair if they release more colorways." While more than 80% of Zappos customers say this shoe is true to size, some do note that it runs large.
Best for women: Ryka No Limit Training Shoe
- High shock absorption
- Well cushioned
- Not many reviews
- Only two color options
With a fit that's specifically designed for a woman's foot, these sneakers opt for a narrower heel construction with added support to avoid pain and/or injury during workouts. The ultimate do-it-all shoe, the sneakers have responsive cushioning for lightweight shock absorption and are made with luxe, breathable materials to help feet stay cool. Along with added traction on the outsole to prevent slips, the shoe features linings partially made with recycled bottles.
While there's not much feedback yet for these shoes, what reviewers do say is all positive. One person writes, "Excellent cushion and keeps my feet and ankles happy while I stand and walk all day. The support is wonderful."
It's important to note that these shoes are not unisex like others on our list.
Best for weight lifting: Adidas Power Lift 5
- Made with recycled materials
- Less expensive
- Not multiuse
For people seeking optimal support and stability for weightlifting specifically, these are the perfect shoes. They have a narrow fit and midsole wedge that increases your mobility during deadlifts and squats, plus a grippy, rubber sole to keep you firmly planted. The open mesh upper gives breathability that keeps you comfortable throughout your workout.
As a part of the zero waste movement, Adidas is taking a leap toward ending plastic waste with a series of products made with recycled materials. You can feel good that this weightlifting shoe is made with 50% recycled content.
Because these gym shoes are designed for weightlifting, they are not as versatile as others on this list, but people love them for weightlifting and they have a 4.6 out of 5-star rating overall. One reviewer who swore by the shoe's previous model writes, "[This shoe's] an improvement over Adidas's Powerlift 4 in terms of quality and material. The only complaint I have is that the heel is a bit higher than the previous Powerlift 4 shoes. I recommend sizing up a whole size from your regular shoe size."
Are running shoes OK for the gym?
Put simply, wearing running shoes to the gym won't always give you the stability you need for lateral movements and stationary workouts. "Running shoes are designed to be ultra-lightweight, well-cushioned, and flexible, [so] they may not provide the needed support in stationary types of activity where there's more stance phase stress," Kornfeld says. To help prevent injury, it's important to opt for gym shoes that are appropriate for the style of exercise you are performing.
Which type of shoe is best for the gym?
As Kornfield explained, there's no cut-and-dried answer because every foot is unique. The best gym shoe for you will address your specific issues and compliment the type of exercise you are performing. They should also have a combination of cushion and support.
Remember that not all feet will benefit the same from every pair of shoes. Focus on finding the best gym shoes for the style of exercise you love and that feel best for your feet specifically. For example, if you have high arches, you might want to try these shoe options. And when in doubt, consult a podiatrist.
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Kelsea Samson is a freelance writer and content manager who covers healthy recipes, travel guides, and science-backed well-being tips for the Healthier Together Podcast. A contributor to the Mindfulness Institute, she is also a certified yoga instructor who founded The Mindfulness Program for Kids and Yoga for the Blind in Tampa, Florida