Stepping Up: Unveiling the Top Types of Gym Shoes for Optimal Performance

Best Shoes for Fitness 

It can be difficult to choose which shoes are best for gym or fitness activities as there are so many choices in the market. However, correctly selected and correctly fitted shoes will decrease your likelihood for injuries such as ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, shin splints and more. In addition, the correctly chosen shoe for your activity has the potential to increase your performance. 

This is not a sponsored blog post. The purpose of this article is to discuss the variety of different footwear solutions available for your preferred activity. 

Athletic shoes are worn for a variety of fitness pursuits. This includes jogging or running, weightlifting or powerlifting as well as regular strength training or HIIT based workouts. 

Different workouts will require different footwear. There are some brands of shoes on the market that claim to do it all – but if you are in a position where you can invest in different types of shoes we recommend going this direction. 

Key Considerations for Gym Shoes

We will not discuss obvious characteristics such as price or colour but will instead focus on the following variables: 

  • Comfort and fit 
  • Support and stability 
  • Cushioning and impact absorption 

Comfort and Fit

The comfort level of shoes is often subjective. What is comfortable for one person might not be comfortable for the next. If ordering shoes online, we recommend trying them on in a shop first if possible. If this is not possible ensure you are aware of the return policy. 

While standard shoe size charts exist some shoe brands seem to have slightly different sizes. For example, Nike shoes are known to run small whereas Adidas shoes typically feel a little bigger. 

Support and Stability

The level of support and stability required for shoes should be determined by two principle variables; your injury history and the demands or requirements for your sport or activity. 

There is typically a trade-off between support, stability and gross weight for shoes. Lighter shoes will generally have less support and stability than heavier shoes. 

Cushioning & Impact Absorption 

High cushion and highly absorbent shoes are ideal for running based activities. The science behind some of these shoes is truly astonishing. Most shoe brands have proprietary formulations- take for instance Nike Vaporfly which contains Nike ZoomX foam and VaporWeave material. 

Shoe cushioning and impact absorption is an important consideration for shoes. This is especially true if you plan to engage in repeated bouts of high intensity activities such as jumping or running. 

Best Types of Shoes for Gym Workouts

Running shoes: We recommend choosing running shoes from brands such as Asics, Brooks, or Salomon. These are tried and tested shoes and are typically the first choices from cross-country or long distance runners. If you want to know which shoes are best – it makes sense to see what the experts are choosing.  

Cross-Training/HIIT Specific shoes: I referred to local Legacy crossfit coach Shane Elliott for advice on the best type of footwear for Crossfit. His take – the most popular shoe is Nike Metcon shoe along with Nano by Reebok. If you do not have a high budget but still want effective and comfortable shoes a relative newcomer to the functional fitness space is Tyr.

Weightlifting shoes: weightlifting shoes have a solid or hardened heel which provides improved stability for barbell based lifts such as deadlift or squats. A few years ago I was suffering with plantar fasciitis and switched from regular running shoes to weightlifting shoes. These made a huge difference in the recovery process. 

If you want to feel stronger, more stable and ultimately more confident in key powerlifting and Olympic lifting movements I highly recommend using weightlifting shoes. The weightlifting shoe I personally wear is the Adidas Powerlift 5 weightlifting shoe

Arch Support & Individual Screening

The Asics website has a quiz which helps you decide the right running shoe for you in just six questions. Most pharmacies and chemists will stock various types of arch supports. If you want to take your level of support a step further you can consult with Foot Solutions Waterford as they can help design custom orthotics based on your specific needs. 


If you are new to the fitness space or are a seasoned veteran the one thing I recommend you splurge on is a good pair of shoes. If you suffer with painful, sore or injured toes, feet or ankles you know that this is a worthwhile investment. Take care of your feet first and everything else will follow.