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Got Shoes??? How to know which shoe is right for you.

We often get asked about what kind of shoe is best for training at Iron Root Fitness.

With so many different styles of shoes out there, it can be overwhelming and confusing to know what to choose! With so many advances in design and technology, there seems to be a shoe made for every different kind of exercise you can do.

Here is a short list of just how many different kinds of athletic shoes there are:

  • Walking

  • Running

  • Hiking

  • Lifters

  • Cross trainers

  • Court shoes

  • Field shoes

You can narrow down your gym shoes to just a few of the categories above, but that still leaves a lot of options because there are major differences between shoes that are in the same category.

So how do I know what’s best for me?

The answer.. It depends!

It depends on what activity you're doing. (At Iron Root, most of our classes would be considered Cross-Training workouts.)

While we do recommend using Cross Trainers for your Iron Root workouts, we’ll break down the basics of some of the more popular gym shoes so you are more informed the next time you decide to buy new shoes.

Many people opt for running shoes as their all around training shoes because they are comfortable and some running shoes are even marketed as an "all purpose" training shoe. Which is fine, but technically that pair of running shoes will wear out faster and there could be a better option for you and your training needs.

Here is why Running shoes are great for running, but not so great for cross-training (aka your Iron Root workouts):

#1: Running shoes have a higher heel drop, giving them added cushioning and support in the heel and midfoot because running is a repetitive movement of heel to toe.

#2: Running is a high impact activity—you are hitting the ground with three times your bodyweight—running shoes have a lot more "cushion" and are built to be shock absorbent.

The downside of this:

When you use your running shoe for any movement besides heel to toe in a forward fashion, you are compromising the design of the shoe and therefore putting you at increased risk of injury even if it’s something as simple as foot alignment problems which leads to:

  • ankle instability

  • hips out of alignment

  • knee problemas (no Bueno)

  • low back pain

#3: Running shoes tend to be very light, even cloud-like, because nobody wants to be lifting extra weight, even if it’s just an ounce, over and over again for long durations while running. Those extra ounces quickly add up to extra pounds, and over the course of a run, where you might take thousands or more steps, extra weight translates to fatigue.

#4: Running shoes also have a smoother tread because traction really isn’t an issue for runners; they are almost always moving straight ahead on a flat surface. Traction becomes more important when you are trail running or doing any exercise that moves you in a lateral way. Think cardio kickboxing or many of the dynamic moves done in Bootcamp and Burn.

As you can see, you have a wide range of choices for different running styles and needs. They vary in the amount of cushioning, from minimalist designs for racing, to more cushioning for longer distance running.

Running shoes are also categorized by their stability elements and whether they are motion control shoes constructed to help correct for overpronation.

Walking shoes, by contrast, have lagged in technology and have been designed more for comfort and "all day wear" than for performance.

Cross training shoes are not usually as comfortable as “everyday” or running shoes because they have less cushioning compared with running shoes. Stating cross trainers are not as comfortable doesn’t seem like a good way of convincing you to give them a try next time you need to buy new shoes.

BUT, here are some reasons why you should give them a try anyways to help you increase performance and keep you safe so you can get the MOST out of your workouts:


  • Compared to running shoes, the soles of cross trainers are wider and tend to expand beyond the width of the upper part of the shoe. This extra support is needed for increased lateral movement such as the sharp cuts that you’d make in cardio kickboxing or HIIT movements in Burn & Boot Camp Class.

  • Stability is also needed when performing the basic movements, such as a squat, hinge, or row - basically ANY time you are doing a weighted exercise, when it's imperative to be grounded to the floor. It's hard to be grounded while standing on clouds.

  • Cross Trainers are made of different material that is stronger than that used for running shoes, which makes cross training shoes more able to withstand the tough impact weight training or moving in a lateral direction can cause.

This is the question we get asked most often:


Theoretically, yes, you can use running shoes for cross training. But as we've pointed out above, it might be at a risk to yourself.

For example, your running shoes will compress when you lift weights, which makes you unstable. Obviously, you don’t want to find yourself in that position during a weighted exercise, or even doing bodyweight stuff. Also, if you have only used a running shoe as your training shoe, you won’t even know the difference a cross trainer could have on your overall performance and stability until you tried them.

Finally, if you use your running shoes for cross training, they will wear out faster, and you won’t get the full use of “500 miles of running”.

You may come across a shoe that is marketed as an athletic shoe, but it doesn’t say for what activity. These are usually meant for everyday use such as walking, running errands, or just a “fashion” sneaker.

Again, it’s not that you can’t use this type of shoe for your workouts but there could just be a better (and safer) option.

You might be asking yourself, "but do I really need more than one pair of workout shoes??"

Here are a few more reasons it's a good idea to have an extra pair:

Most gyms (like Iron Root) understandably ask you not to wear outdoor shoes even if they’ve only been worn from the house, driveway, and parking lot. Just that short outdoor distance can make a mess and lead to the wear down of your shoes and the gym's equipment. So having a pair of shoes that are strictly for indoor use is recommended and will not only help your shoes last longer, but help the gym stay clean. It also makes it a little easier to wear that pair of cross trainers strictly for your workout and change into a pair of more comfortable “run around” shoes when you are done. That's why we let members keep their "gym" shoes in the cubbies so you don't have to worry about lugging that extra pair around.

So that's our basic breakdown of why we do recommend Cross Trainers (as opposed to running shoes) at Iron Root or for your cross-training style of workouts. Our hope is that this has taken out some of the confusion of the “what kind of shoe is best for me” and why there are so many different options.

Stay tuned because up next on the blog we will dive in a little deeper with our favorite brands and explore other sport-specific shoes, like outdoor trail shoes and lifters for Power/Olympic Lifting. We'll also share some videos and give examples of basic exercises performed with a "running" shoe as opposed to a cross trainer so you can really see the different the right shoe can make!

Your Trainers,

Jessa Christian & Jenna Bodle


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