Having the right pair of sneakers can make all the difference in your workout, and you don’t have to spend crazy amounts of money on them. Sneakers can get very expensive, but you should look at it as an investment in your health. Buying one or two solid pairs is worth it. You want to match your sneaker purchase to the type of activity you plan on doing. You don’t have to own a different pair of sneakers for every single activity you do. I personally own two pairs, one pair that is dedicated just to running, and one pair for cross-training (see more on this below). I’m going to give you some tips for what to look for in a sneaker based on different types of exercise. Just remember, everyone’s feet are slightly different, so you may have to do some trial and error before you find the perfect shoe for you.
If you walk frequently for exercise, then you want to look for a sneaker that is slightly cushioned and flexible, but supportive and secure to keep your feet in place. I personally don’t own a pair of sneakers just meant for walking, so I can’t recommend any brands here. If you haven’t had your feet professionally measured in a while, then I suggest you start there to make sure you are selecting the proper size. Once you find the right size, and a sneaker you like, it’s all about trying them out. If you’re not sure, make sure you don’t wear them outside or you may not be able to return them. Try them out indoors on a treadmill or do some mall walking before you commit. This is really all about your comfort.
If you are a regular runner, I highly recommend you own a pair of sneakers that are just meant for running. As always, your foot needs will vary depending on the type of foot you have, but you really want a running sneaker to be both breathable and stable. The jarring motion of your feet hitting the ground may require some extra cushioning too. I prefer a little more cushioning in the bottom of my running sneakers, but more stability up top to keep my feet from rolling out or in too much. Running injuries due to bad sneakers are unfortunate, but frequent. I can tell you there was one time I started out on my run with my cross-trainers on. I didn’t notice right away because I always warm up by walking. As soon as I started running, I looked down and groaned. I could feel the difference immediately and had to go back for my runners. I am a big fan of Mizuno sneakers for running. They are comfy, affordable, and cute. They give me just the right balance of cushioning and stability. It took me a long time to find the brand that was perfect for me, so don’t give up if you don’t find yours right away.
Cross-training refers to every other type of activity you might do besides running. It means you can wear these sneakers while strength-training and then get right on the elliptical for some cardio. They are also great for group exercise classes at the gym, where you might be doing a combination of different types of moves. When purchasing cross-trainers, you definitely want to think about stability and control more than cushioning. With all of the different directions your feet may be moving in, you want to protect them from injury with a stable shoe. For cross-training, I love New Balance sneakers. I find them to be perfect for the fitness classes I teach, and they are usually very affordable. Again, you have to try out sneakers until you find what feels best for you.
Many people ask me if they have to buy the special sneakers to take a Spinning class. No, you don’t have to. You can spin in regular sneakers just by slipping your feet onto the pedals and strapping them on. However, if you plan on spinning frequently and regularly, then I do suggest you invest in a pair of cycling shoes that clip onto the bike pedals. Once I got my spin shoes, I never went back to spinning in sneakers. It’s so much more comfortable, and easier and safer to go through the different positions on a spin bike if you are clipped on. These special shoes can be expensive though, so like I said, only look into buying them if you are going to really use them a lot.
Lastly, I want to address how often you should buy new sneakers. Hopefully you are working out enough to really give those sneakers the mileage they deserve. Even though a pair of sneakers may look like they are still in great shape, they do start to lose their oomph after a while. Whenever I buy a new pair, I always feel the difference immediately. The cushioning is more intact, they feel more stable, and my workouts feel light and airy again. So, it is going to depend, of course, on how much use your sneakers get. I’ll just give you an idea of what I do. I wear my cross-trainers 4-5 times a week and my runners 1-2 times a week. I buy one new pair of sneakers every year, alternating the runners and cross-trainers. One year I buy new cross-trainers, one year I buy new runners, so each pair is getting replaced every other year, but I am only shelling out for one new pair each year. Some people will tell you to replace your sneakers more often, some will tell you less often. Again, it is up to you, your needs, and your budget.