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It only takes picking the wrong pair of shoes once to learn this essential truth: the sneakers you wear for your workout can mean the difference between kicking in the gym and limping home. pain.

But what qualifies as a “great sneaker” is entirely up to your feet and your training. A pair that suits someone with flat feet can hit all the wrong trouble spots if you have high arches. And shoes that push your steps forward on a run can twist your knee during a cardio dance class or prevent your heels from being able to really drive your motion on a rowing machine.

Shoes are made to make you good at whatever sport you play,” says running coach Amie Dworecki. “Running shoes promote forward motion when you run, which is different from an athletic shoe designed for the lateral side. -lateral movements.

So how do you know what will work best for you?

To get started, ask the experts: We spoke to a handful of coaches, instructors, and trainers to find out what their favorite trainers are for working out. They shared what they personally look for in a shoe and the most important qualities for their chosen activity.

But once you’ve zeroed in on the types of sneakers that might work, you’ll have to do your own trial-and-error experiments to figure out what works for your feet. And what makes you feel better: Even these pros will admit that while form and function are by far the most important factors to consider, there’s no denying that a badass-looking pair can give you that boost. extra confidence to push just a little bit harder.

Coaches’ favorite trainers for training

Karen Maxwell, CPT, Senior Master Instructor for CycleBar

APL TechLoom Breeze

APL TechLoom Breeze — $240.00

“These insoles are really cushioned – it feels like walking on unicorns. I’ll wear them as gym clothes, but I can also do intense cardio or boxing or bootcamp classes. I’m not a big runner, but when I run on the treadmill, they’re super light so my feet don’t feel like they’re hitting the pavement; it’s those little pillow launch pads. [The upper] is stretchy, yet soft; you put it on and you feel like you have a pair of socks. After my first APL five years ago, I became obsessed; now my husband is also obsessed with them.

Shimano IC2 cycling shoes

Shimano SH-IC2 Cycling Shoe — $110.00

“Shimano fits your foot really well. A lot of other indoor cycling shoes don’t have a cushion, but I feel like there’s a little cloud between my foot and the pedal. [They’re good for] Honestly anyone who wants to own a pair of cycling shoes – beginner, intermediate, advanced.

Kari Pearce, personal trainer and former CrossFit Games athlete

NOBULL mesh runner

NOBULL Mesh Runner – $139.00

“No matter what you’re doing (weight training, running, jumping) they’re flexible but supportive, so your ankle doesn’t wobble. I have a bad Achilles tendon so it’s important to have that stability when I jump. I also tend to wear them outside, especially if I walk a lot. NOBULL is constantly releasing new colors, which makes it fun. I wear bright red, I like bright things! It gives me extra energy.

Karla Puno Garcia, dance teacher at Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway

Cole Haan Grand Crosscourt Sneakers

Cole Haan Grand Crosscourt Sneakers — $110.00

“If I’m teaching a dance class, or leading a rehearsal (or if I’m dancing myself), these are flat and smooth. They don’t have a lot of support, but they’re nice to activate. I try to stay away from things that have a lot of friction with thick rubber on the bottom or else my feet stick and it twists my knees.

Feiyu FeLo

Feiyu Fe Lo 1920 — $25.00

“These are martial arts shoes, but so great for dancing. They are really minimal. And you can put on jeans and still wear them for other things. They wear out after a year, but even that’s good, considering their price.

Reebok Freestyle Hi

Women’s Reebok Freestyle Hi Shoes — $75.00

“They look like they’re literally straight out of the 80s or 90s with that double velcro strap, but they’re so comfortable. They have great support. I got them last fall when I helped choreograph the Tony Awards because they are shoes that you can wear all day and do everything with: dance, train, go out.

Michelle Parolini, CPT, Senior Head Coach for Row House

inov-8 f-lite

Inov-8 F-Lite G-230 — $130.00

“These are really great for functional fitness training and for running – the lugs have enough depth to give you plenty of support, yet the shoe still moves freely. They’re super light and breathable, so it’s is almost like a bare foot.I have a wide foot and they allow that width in the balls of my feet.I’ve had them for 10 years and have four pairs.

NOBULL sneakers

NOBULL Sneakers – $139.00

“When I row, I look for something with as flat a sole as possible. On a rowing machine, generating power is all about finding that connection between your feet and the handlebars – you can connect and drive better through the heels in flat shoes. I’m super obsessed with NOBULL sneakers and have about 15 pairs in different colors. But Vans or by Chuck Taylor are also excellent rowing shoes.

Amie Dworecki, running coach

Skechers GOrun Speed ​​Elite Hyper – $185.00

“I don’t hear much about this shoe, but it came onto the performance running scene a number of years ago and is great for any kind of road running. I like that it’s very lightweight and responsive.I’ve never liked minimalist running shoes, but I don’t like a ton of cushions, I want to feel what’s going on under my foot.

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.