How to Choose the Right Shoe for the Gym

Shoes are not always a priority when we’re getting dressed for the gym. That old pair of sneakers in the bottom of the closet that you’ve been walking the dog in for the last three years? They’ll do. Your running shoes? You can use them for all exercise, right? You don’t give it much thought—that is, until you wind up with aches and pains, or worse, full-on injuries.

If you are working out several times per week, it’s not a good idea to choose your shoes at random or just based on the way they look. The wrong size or type of shoe can cause painful blisters, arch or Achilles pain, or shin splints. The wrong shoes could even wind up doing long-term damage to your feet, causing painful conditions such as bunions or plantar fasciitis.

The right shoe for the right activity will maximize your comfort and, along with proper stretching and good form, will help prevent injury.

Treadmill Running

Treadmills are an ever-popular way to workout at the gym, but are you wearing the right shoes to get the maximum benefit out of your run? Your running shoes may be a logical choice since, of course, you will be running.

However, most running shoes are designed to absorb the impact of running on asphalt; the moving surface of the treadmill is already highly cushioned, providing plenty of give. The ideal shoe to wear on a treadmill is actually a thin, light, flexible shoe that doesn’t put any more material between your foot and the treadmill than necessary, allowing you to better stabilize each time your foot makes contact with the moving surface.


A good program of weightlifting gives you results fast, so it’s an easy workout to get hooked on. If you’re serious about lifting weights, you may want to consider a footwear option that can really enhance your stability and accelerate results even faster.

As with running on the treadmill, you should avoid shoes that provide extra bounce or cushion when lifting weights. The more stable the contact is between your heel and the ground, the stronger your base will be, allowing you to get a better workout along your leg into your hamstrings and glutes. Wearing cushioned shoes for a challenging weightlifting session could cause you to loose grounding and twist an ankle.

Specialty weightlifting shoes may or may not feel good to you, but they do exist and you may want to give them a try. Weightlifting shoes provide a small lift in the heel, allowing your ankle increased range of motion and encouraging you to keep your frame more upright. They are also quite stiff, so while they may aid your anaerobic workout, they’re unlikely to be useful for your other gym activities. If you’re not ready to invest in workout shoes, any other flat-soled shoe will do the job.


With all of the weightlifting, rope climbing, running, and jumping that is done in CrossFit, you need a versatile shoe that can see you through all of these activities and more. A minimalist shoe is a good bet if you don’t want to change shoes between activities. A minimalist shoe is lightweight, very flexible, has a thin sole at the heel, a slight to no drop from toe to heel, and a lack of motion control and stability devices. Essentially, a minimalist shoe interferes as little as possible with the natural functioning and movement of the foot. In addition, look for a shoe with grippy rubber soles, which will be useful for many of the exercises you’ll be doing.

What About Cross Trainers?

If you’re a gym newbie who is trying to find a workout that really motivates you, or if you simply enjoy a variety of activities at the gym, cross trainers could be a good bet. A good cross trainer should have a stable heel, good support, and be fairly lightweight. You could run a couple of miles in them on the treadmill, but you certainly wouldn’t want to run a marathon in them. If you build up to doing a certain sport more than twice a week, choose a shoe that provides specific benefits for that activity.

Shopping for Gym Shoes

It’s very important to have your gym shoes professionally fitted in an athletic store. The knowledgeable staff will watch you walk and run in them and will be able to recommend the right pair of shoes for you and for the workouts you’ll be doing.

When you get to the store, make sure you know your own sneaker preferences and shoe preferences in general. Do you have narrow feet? Fallen arches? Do you like extra cushioning or feel better when you can sense the floor? Make sure you communicate any such information to the salesperson who’s helping you.

Wear the socks that you intend to wear when trying on shoes. If you like soft, fluffy athletic socks, don’t go into the store expecting to choose the right pair of shoes using the disposable nylon socks provided by the store. If you’ve forgotten your socks, buy a new pair. It will be worth it.

The shoes that you purchase should be comfortable right away; don’t expect to have to break them in (unless you are playing a sport that specifically requires that). And when your shoes wear out and it’s time to buy a new pair, always have your feet re-measured. Your foot size will actually change over the course of your lifetime, and it may well undergo periodic changes if you are engaging in vigorous exercise.

Stop In to Wayne Sporting Goods for the Perfect Fit!

Buying your shoes online could be a big mistake. Saving a few bucks in the short term could cost you big in terms of pain and injuries when your shoes don’t fit or are unsuitable for your workout. Our fit experts will ask you about your current and future workout plans, recommend a choice of suitable footwear, and then watch you walk, run, and jump around the store until you find the most comfortable pair for you. Pay us a visit and shop our vast selection of workout shoes for the maximum comfort and style—your feet will thank you!

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