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Best Sneakers

Best Sneakers for Your Favorite Workouts

Erika Stalder | May 27, 2020

Social distancing mandates have meant a lot of changes around the house: bathrooms turn into spas, dining rooms are reconfigured as offices, and living rooms are now gyms.

As we shift our workouts to those that can be done from home, finding challenging calorie burners that require little more than an internet connection and six feet of floor space has become something of a revelation. Did we really need all that equipment in the gym? But pivoting to a low-to-no equipment home workout routine doesn’t mean we should slack on perhaps the most important exercise gear of all: footwear.

That’s because gym shoes aren’t universal: the same pair worn to clock 30 minutes on the elliptical may not give soles the support they need for a run around the neighborhood. So, if you’re going to tool up on one item for your new home gym (whether it’s in the garage or a corner of your bedroom), it should be what you put on your feet. Ahead, find the best tips for landing on the right exercise shoe for your new at-home workout, from barre to Zumba. 

Best Running Shoes
For the Runner 

Avid runners know the cathartic impact running can have, particularly when it’s one of the only workouts that gets you out of the house during quarantine. They also know the physical impact the practice can have on joints, ankles, and feet — which is why the importance of picking the most supportive running shoe can’t be understated. In addition to finding a lightweight and flexible sneaker (like this version loved by marathoners), it also pays to pick a shoe with a footprint that mirrors one’s own; a padded ankle collar that won’t allow for slippage (and ultimately blisters); and a toe box that allows the wearer enough room to flex and separate toes, but not so roomy that it allows your foot to shift forward in your shoe every time you hit the ground.  

SHOP: Hoka One Rincon Running Shoe, $114, available at Running Warehouse

Best Training Shoes
For the High-Intensity Cross Trainer

Using running shoes for your HIIT workout is like bringing a knife to a gunfight — because an exaggerated toe drop won’t help you when doing deep squats and deadlifts. Instead, look for a shoe with a more stable base and grippy sole, which better assists in keeping feet planted to the floor. Next, find a shoe with less give than a running sneaker, but that’s still flexible enough to comfortably execute jumps and snuggly support the foot for side shuffles, pivots, jumping jacks, and ladder work. This sneaker checks all the boxes, is made in men’s and women’s sizes, and in an array of colorways to keep your workout stylish (even if you are only at home).

SHOP: Nike Metcon 4 XD Training Shoes, $76.97, available at Dick’s Sporting Goods 

Best Dance Shoes
For the Dancer

If your quarantine workout guru is more Ryan Heffington than Chris Hemsworth, a pair of split-sole kicks made for twirling, jumping, and pirouetting may be just the thing to elevate your in-house boogie. Thanks to stepped-up arch support, breathable mesh to counter foot stink, and soles that won’t scuff up your hardwood floors, these shoes will help you party in place even after mandates have been lifted.

SHOP: Bloch S0524L Adult Criss Cross Dance Sneaker, $54.99, available at Danzia

Best Bike Shoes
For the Cycler

We’re not the only ones panic-buying Pelotons: The company recently reported paid digital subscribers has grown 64% in the first three months of 2020 compared to Q1 of last year. Whether you're a seasoned rider or cycling noob, those in the know spring for cleats that don’t pinch feet after you’ve locked in. This shoe gets high marks from riders for its ultra-durable, reinforced fiberglass nylon, more universal fit (thanks to a wider toe box), and its pumped-up heel support. What’s more, it comes with two and three-bolt cleats so they can be configured for Peloton’s in-home and commercial bikes. 

SHOP: Shimano SH-RP2W Bike Shoes, $49.73, available at REI  

Best Cardio Sneakers
For the Cardio Buff

If your equipment-free, at-home workout regimen ranges from Zumba to Tone It Up (both of which can be done free via Youtube), you need a sneaker that can stand up to just about anything — from spin moves to deep squats to the lambada. Look for a shoe with ample arch and heel cushioning to support knees and joints. This classic from Asics uses gel to absorb shock when springing from the toe and landing on the heel, along with nanofibers in the midsole for featherlight cushioning.

SHOP: Asics Gel-Kayano 26, $119,95, available at Asics

Best Hiking Shoes
For the Hiker

For hikers who don’t want to lug big boots on their feet or go up against snakes and puddles while wearing skin-exposing trail sandals, a hiking sneaker is the perfect fit. This Merrell sneaker, made for both men and women, is one of the most popular on Zappos for a reason: It features a tongue designed to keep out pebbles and other debris; concentrated toe and arch support; and a combination of waterproof and sweat-wicking fabrics to keep stream water and sweat away from the foot.

SHOP: Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoes, $119.95, available at Zappos 

Best Boxing Shoes
For the Recreational Boxer

Boxing classes (like the freebies offered on BoxUnion’s Instagram Live) are a great way to burn the kind of aggression that comes with spending too much time with your housemates and the kind of calories that comes with yet another batch of banana bread. But bobbing and weaving your way through at-home workouts doesn’t mean you have to lace up in actual boxing boots. These running shoes, which are made for both men and women, pack just the features we need for a kickboxing workout — lightweight feel, soft cushioning, neutral stability, a snug saddle to hug the mid-foot, and a 7” heel-toe drop that offers the flexibility required for drills.

SHOP: On Running Cloudswift, $149, available at On Running 

Best No-Slip Socks
For the Studio Junkie

Keeping a guest room in the house has never felt more pointless, so why not convert the dead space to an at-home studio where you can follow along with barre, pilates, and yoga classes on Zoom and YouTube? All it takes is some sleuthing for free classes (try ALO Moves or Barre Fitness) and about $20 for a pair of studio socks that will keep you from slipping all over your mat and floors. While more simple styles can be had for less, we like the no-slip grips, cushioned soles, and ballet-inspired straps found in these jazzed-up studio socks.

SHOP: ALO Pivot Barre Sock, $24, available at ALO

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