Looking for the perfect athletic shoe to complement your workout routine? There’s more to it than finding a cute pair that goes with your gym clothes—though that’s important, too.
The right pair of shoes should do it all. They should blend seamlessly into your workout wardrobe and help you be the best gym-goer possible. They should support your feet first and foremost—but of course, they have to be cute.
To help you find that perfect pair of athletic shoes, we’ve created a quick guide. This easy read will help you make the best decision for both your wardrobe, and your precious toes.
Step 1: Get to know your feet
Do you have high arches? Flat feet? A tendency to blister? Do you tend to wear out the heels of your shoes first?
Being aware of these factors will help you pick shoes that support your feet.
If you’re not sure what your arch type is, you can test it out at home. Get your feet wet and place them on a blank piece of paper. If most of your footprint shows up, you likely have flat feet. If your arch isn’t that visible, you probably have a higher arch.
Look at your old athletic shoes as well. When the outer edge of your heel wears out first, this means that your feet roll outward.
Once you know what your feet tend to do, you can make sure to look for athletic shoes that support your joints best.
Note all of these results and keep them in mind when you’re shopping. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can narrow down the near endless variety of shoes.
Step 2: How do you workout?
Before you even think about shopping, you have to really get down to the nitty gritty—what type of workouts do you enjoy most. Finding a workout that you truly enjoy will not only make you want to work out more, but it will help you narrow down which type of shoe you’ll need. Breaking it down this way will help you make the most out of your shoes. We know—those casual athletic shoes are super cute, but if you’re a runner, you’re going to be in serious trouble down the line.
Are you a runner?
Running shoes are made different than other athletic shoes. They are designed to have a little more support in the arch and should feel a little bigger in your size than normal.
A proper pair of running shoes should feel snug in the heel and the middle of the foot, but there should be some wiggle room around the toes.
A classic pair of running shoes like these from New Balance offer a synthetic and mesh upper, which provides the foot with much needed ventilation. This is a great feature to look for in running shoes. Your feet are constantly in motion and they need to breathe. Without proper ventilation, your feet can become extremely hot and sweaty, making your run more challenging than it needs to be.
Do you prefer walking?
Walking as a form of working out is great. It’s low impact and targets many areas of the body that are missed when moving too quickly.
Walking shoes are stiffer that traditional running shoes. Cross-trainers have more shock absorption to support your feet while you’re doing activities like aerobics or boxing. This will help keep your foot secure and safe with every step that you take.
When you’re shopping for walking shoes, keep these points in mind:
- Look for stability – stability is key in walking athletic shoes. They should feel secure, balanced, and should give you more support than normal shoes. They should be stiff, but not too stiff to where you are limited in your range of motion.
- Test the shoe’s flexibility – even though your walking shoes should be stiff, they should still have a bit of flexibility in them. Mostly on the inside. Look for mesh-top shoes that allow your toes to move freely, providing smooth motion all the way around.
- Look for features that support comfort – at the end of the day, walking requires you to be on your feet for extended periods of time—so, they should be comfortable. Look for fits that are snug to your heel and midfoot. When you’re shopping online for athletic shoes, look at the features list. See if there are any features that can add comfort—padded soles, tongues, ankle support, and more.
Just going to the gym?
If you’re more of a weight lifter or casual gym goer, you might not need a specific shoe. But, you should still look for athletic shoes that provide ample comfort. Use your activity level and how your feet feel in your current pair of shoes to determine what’s right for you. There are so many different types of basic athletic shoes that you can really have some fun in this arena. Plus, because there is such a vast amount, you can have more than one pair to give your workout wardrobe a hint of variety.
Step 3: Try, try, try them on
Let us tell you one more time—try on the shoes you like on. That’s how important it is.
We know that you’re probably shopping online, which is totally fine. If you are questioning sizes or fits, order a fee different sizes. You can always return those that don’t fit. Trying on athletic shoes is so important to find the best fit. Even if you know your shoe size, different brands and types of shoes can fit you differently.
When trying on shoes, make sure you wear the gym socks you’d typically wear with them. A comfortable shoe will have a bit of space between your toes and the edge of the shoe and your heel doesn’t slip out of it.
Don’t be afraid to try wide width shoes or to try sizes you don’t typically wear. You never know what might work!
Step 4: Ready, set, go
Stop wondering how to choose athletic shoes and get browsing!