The Best Shoes for Your Workout

With so many options on the shelves, selecting the right shoes can feel like a workout itself. Find your exercise category and foot type, then let our expert-vetted guide simplify your search

By: Jen Ator 

Get Your Kicks

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Number one mistake: Buying kicks based solely on style or what friends are wearing. Picking the right shoe for your foot type and biomechanics should be your top priority. Most specialty running stores can advise you—they have well-trained staff who can assess your arches and evaluate your pronation (the way your foot moves as you walk and jog). Or try this at-home test: Wet your foot, then step on a paper bag. What shape do you see?

High arch: You may underpronate (land on the outside of your feet), which can cause too much shock to travel up your legs. Look for a neutral or cushioned shoe.

Normal arch: You probably have few foot or pronation problems. A neutral shoe is your best bet.

Flat arch: You likely overpronate (your feet turn inward too much). Try neutral or stability shoes.

Pick up this book and work your whole body while spending only 15 minutes on your feet!

Committing to One
Fit into multiple exercise categories but able to spring for only one pair of shoes? Let your most demanding activity dictate your pick. For example, while running shoes can handle the demands of an indoor class or boot-camp session, cross trainers may not translate well out on the roads.

6 Reasons to Start Running

Search: What is my foot type?

Fresh-Air Fanatic

You avoid the gym whenever you can. You're a runner or walker who prefers the changing scenery and terrain of the streets and trails. You usually tally 15 or more miles a week, and you probably have your sights on an upcoming race.

The Best Workout For Your Body Type

Vasque Velocity 2.0 (top)
Now lighter than their predecessor, these provide traction, protection, and a female-specific fit to help you tackle the toughest trails.
Buy: $120, for stores
Arch: Normal, flat

New Balance Minimus Zero Road
These barefoot-inspired kicks keep your feet in their most natural position. Newbies: Transition into them gradually to avoid injury.
Buy: $100,
Arch: High, normal

Search: Should I run barefoot or with minimalist shoes?

K-Swiss Kwicky QT2
A triathlete's dream, thanks to one-step laces, holes for ventilation and water drainage, and very little bulk (a study found that runners in lighter kicks didn't tire as quickly).
Buy: $144,
Arch: High, normal

Asics GT-2170 G-TX
This best-seller is now outfitted with waterproof Gore-Tex--so an unexpected downpour won't drench your feet or shorten your run.
Buy: $130, for stores
Arch: Normal, flat

Saucony ProGrid Guide 5
Take a popular stability shoe, then shave off nearly two ounces of bulk and lower the heel four millimeters—without losing the support that made the original so comfy. Win!
Buy: $100,
Arch: Normal, flat

Gym Rat

Photo Credit: Charles Masters

You mostly work out indoors. Your routine usually consists of strength training, treadmill running (five to 15 miles a week, a mix of high-intensity intervals and single-speed jogs), stationary biking, or elliptical training—or all of the above.

The Best New Exercises for Women

Mizuno Wave Elixir 7 (top)
Support usually translates to added bulk. Not with this pair. Innovative lightweight materials keep your feet steady but not heavy.
Buy: $120,
Arch: Normal, flat

Nike LunarEclipse+2
A gem for runners who cross train, these low-cut running shoes are versatile and less likely to contribute to ankle sprains during lateral moves.
Buy: $135,
Arch: High, normal

Brooks Summon 3
For the 92 percent of people with relatively "normal" feet, this updated model gives you just what you need without the expensive price tag of many of its counterparts.
Buy: $85,
Arch: High, normal, flat

Under Armour Charge RC
The barely-there feel and a touch of cushioning make these babies ideal for short runs or intervals. Plus, moisture-wicking fabric helps keep your feet cool and dry.
Buy: $120,
Arch: High, normal

Adidas Adipure (right)
Other five-toes are popular with runners, but these were designed just for the gym. Wearing them while lifting activates a wide range of muscles and improves balance.
Buy: $90,
Arch: High, normal, flat

Try it! Log your workouts with our Fit Tracker tool and get a better body STAT

Group Fitness Junkie

Photo Credit: Charles Masters

You think solo cardio work is boring and prefer to get your heart rate up with a group, be it in a kettlebell, Zumba, or boot-camp class. Your workouts aren't confined to one space—you'll go from the gym to the park to the court.

Ryka Transpire (top)
These multitasking sneakers will see you through practically everything, from sculpting sessions to dance classes to your post-workout walk home.
Buy: $70,
Arch: High, normal, flat

Asics Gel-Blur33 TR
This lightweight number is intentionally minimal—but the gel wedge in the heel keeps you protected against impact during boot-camp agility drills.
Buy: $85, for stores
Arch: High, normal

Pumagility XT Elite
A slightly wider sole than most cross trainers helps keep you perfectly grounded during high-action classes like kettlebell or kickboxing.
Buy: $90,
Arch: Normal, flat

Reebok RealFlex Transition
Strategically structured nodules on the sole improve flexibility and traction, making this pair a perfect partner for drills with quick changes of direction.
Arch: High, normal

Specialized Trivent Sport
Compatible with most spin bikes, this clip-in is ventilated so your feet stay cool in a warm studio. Bonus: These shoes transition to road bikes as well.
Buy: $100,
Arch: High, normal, flat

Why Group Classes Work So Well

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