First off, let’s outline what features you should look for in your exercise shoes by category/type:
Group Classes – Flat, flexible sole with shock absorption and lateral support for sideways movements.
Running – Generally plenty of cushioning to absorb shock, unless minimalist running shoes.
Hiking – Hiking shoes have a thick sole and larger tread which improves stability on uneven, natural terrain.
Strength Training – Hard, stable, non-compressible sole and a lot of support to keep you level and stable when handling heavy weights.
Court Sports – Soles designed for specific court surface; lateral support for quick changes in direction.
Cycling – Cleats on the soles for efficient performance.
Field Sports – Studs or spikes on the soles for traction on grass or turf.
But our favorite exercise shoes here at Capacity Fitness & Nutrition are the…
Cross Training Shoes
Cross training shoes are designed to try and be a “Jack of all trades” (but master of none) that you can use for a variety of activities. They tend to be firmer than running shoes, more shock-absorbing than weightlifting shoes and offer at least some of the lateral support normally associated with court sports shoes. Of course, trying to make a shoe that is the footwear equivalent of the Swiss Army knife means that a cross trainer is not going to work perfectly in all scenarios but will merely be adequate.
An alternative to cross trainers are minimalist exercise shoes, which are light, flexible, and with little cushioning. Ironically, these completely un-engineered shoes are good for a wide range of activities including strength training, running, cycling and group exercise classes. If you like a little of a variety in your activities, cross training shoes or minimalist shoes may very well be suitable for your needs. However, if you want to practice any of these activities at anything other than a very basic level or have any health issues that need to be taken into consideration, you would be better served wearing shoes especially designed for the job. And remember, always match your socks with your chosen shoes because even the best-performing shoe can be super uncomfortable when paired with the wrong type of sock.