The Ultimate Sneaker Guide for Working Out

Which shoes to wear during different workouts, from running to Zumba to Kangaroo Kung Fu.


man repeller-sneaker collage

So you’re a runner…

According to Sheila Monaghan, executive editor of Q by Equinox, “sneakers are more personal than underwear.” But for the treadmill, “a lightweight trainer will do the trick.” She recommends Asics’ 33-DFA.

Meanwhile, Natalia Petrzela, a wellness guru/intenSati leader, says that cushioning is key for protecting feet and knees. She vets in favor of Asics GT-2000.

If you’re looking to run a half or whole marathon…

Nike suggests their Air Zoom Vomero 10, Puma suggests their Ignite sneaker (although note that Puma’s FAAS — a new, lightweight style —  is not only great for running but is easy on the bunions.) New Balance sings the praises of their Fresh Foam Zante, and Adidas is all about the Ultra Boost or adizero Adios Boost 2.

However, if you’re more of a power-walker / light jogger…

Try Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 (which I have to tell you guys, I would/do LIVE IN), Puma’s Pulse XT, New Balance’s 1745, Adidas’ Supernova Glide Boost  or their Climachill Cosmic Boost.

If your main form of fitness is biking to work

I personally love the New Balance C600 even though urban biking scares the crap out of me.

Lifting weights?

When it comes to weight lifting, Natalie Uhlingelite trainer for Radius (a multi-platform fitness and wellness program) says, “Our feet are the link to our muscles to the ground, so it’s very important to have a shoe that fits. Trying out shoes with maximum grip to the ground can also help with balance and stability.” Since she lives in sneakers, she prefers a cross-trainer, like these by Under Armour. (Hi Coach Taylor!)

But these also work: Puma suggests their PULSE XT, New Balance suggests a pair of 20v4 and Adidas suggests their Powerlift 2.0 for “anchored support.”

If you do Zumba with your mom, or prefer cardio classes in general (kickboxing, anyone?)…

“The key here is to find a good turning sole [that allows] lateral movement,” says Petrzela. “Basically the opposite of a running shoe. “The old-school RYKA Endurance is amazing for comfort and support, and lasts a long time. The New Balance 811 is awesome as well.”

Also great: the Puma PULSE XT and Adidas Adipure 360.2.

Finally, if you’re a hip hop dancing queen

Uhling says to find a shoe that is super light and flexible. “The last thing a dancer wants is to be bolted to the floor with a heavy shoe.” This Under Armour pair would probably look cool with whatever outfit you wear and feel like clouds.

Meanwhile, Nike suggests their Dunk Ultra Modern, Puma endorses their Suede Classic (originally a b-boy shoe in the 1980s), and from Adidas: Vibe Energy Boost (the adjustable ankle strap offers personalized support).

Kangaroo Ku Fu

Barefoot, duh! Now tell us which sneakers make sweet love with your feet.


Sick of the same ol’ workout? Try our version of Kanye’s Workout Plan.

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  • Vicky

    Ahaha ! I also think of Coach Taylor when Under Armour is concerned! Can’t believe someone else does though

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  • kduck

    For running and arch support: the Asics Gel Collection.
    For other exercises and mini skirts: Nike TR 4 cross trainer.
    There’s also this thing…

  • Andrea Raymer

    My friend that is a competitive lifter bought and Instagramed those Adidas Powerlift 2.0s last week.

  • I’m a Mizuno girl till I die. Best running shoes ever.

    • laprairielily

      Totally agree! Plus Wendy Davis wore a pair of Mizunos during her famous filibuster, so we are in EXCELLENT company.

    • Charlotte

      Got my Mizuno’s! Super comfy. But here’s the thing… I nailed the shopping bit, but how do I start from here? I tried running once. Felt like I was jogging my way to hell. I’m usually ridiculously motivated when it comes to well anything. But this seems like I’m running up the highest mountain… I live in Holland haha! Running is my Everest. Tips?

      • Jen

        Try setting a goal of running/walking continuously for 25-30 minutes. Break it into 3 min jog/2min walks. As jogging becomes easier, increase time of the jogging segments/decrease the time of walking segments until you can jog straight thru for 25-30 min. Then you can start going for longer and longer as you desire! good luck!

        • Charlotte

          Thanks for taking the time to explain it so clear Jen! Appreciate it. Seems like a really good way to make it more doable! I was trying a steady jogging pace first. I’m new to this so didn’t even think about other possibilities let alone variations. Happy that the MR readers are always here to help. I did get my shoes measured at a running store, so that’s not an excuse. Now it’s about actually doing it haha, Taking it step by step. Going with your tips tomorrow! Thanks again 🙂

  • What about the ultimate sneaker guide for those of us who definitely don’t plan to work out but like sneakers? :]

    // ▲ ▲

    • Exactly haha.. Where is that guide?

  • jellymo

    Brooks for running shoes!


  • Nike Lunar for most workouts and short distance runs (nothing exceeding a half). But it was my Asics Gel-Nimbus that got me through a marathon in one piece.

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  • This article is so perfectly timed! I watched this video last night on “what the extra shoelace hole is for” and learned the technique of the lace lock.

    Now if only I needed the lace lock and used my sneakers for running instead of driving….

  • Elizabeth Tamkin

    This is a literal research paper. Thank you for writing your thesis on sneakers, now the rest of us don’t have to <3

  • Asics are by far the best for doing just about anything..!

  • Kread

    Sneakers are the new flip-flop. There’s nothing sexy or feminine about them at all. There’s millions of cuter shoes out there. Please stop with the Forrest Gump retro kicks!

  • Catherine Elizabeth

    Also! Go to a running store and talk to people there! They’ll be able to watch your gait and find a shoe that matches your movements as well. I have a really odd gait that can hurt/damage my knees, so finding the right shoe is extra critical. They’ll have you try them on, walk/run around, really get a sense of what it is your body needs. Having the wrong shoe can affect your knees and back in a big way.

    • Jen

      YES YES YES. I owned a few running stores for several years and have been a competitive runner for most of my adult life. The WORST thing you can do is buy a shoe simply bc someone else likes it or that you choose just bc it looks cute. Get to a running store where they understand biomechanics and they will give you several options to try on. Sorry, MR, but giving out a few models or brand faves like this article does is NOT helpful.

      • Catherine Elizabeth

        So much of working out is just staying safe and not-injured so you can keep doing your thing. What’s the point of trying to make your body stronger/healthier if you’re constantly aching and groaning?