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A podiatrist weighs in on why you need a cross-training sneaker for everything from CrossFit to Zumba.

By Sarah Klein
November 02, 2018

I consider myself a runner, but it might be more accurate to say I’m an exerciser. I run–but I also play soccer, love a good spin class, and do Tabata workouts in my teeny-tiny living room. Not to mention, I love making a fool of myself at sexy, sweaty 305 Fitness cardio dance classes, and I’ll try just about any other New York City fitness trend at least once.

To get the most out of (and stay safe and injury-free during) all those different types of workouts, it helps to have a shoe as versatile as my routine is. Just like you might not wear your high-impact sports bra for a less intense workout, you don’t need to (or maybe even shouldn’t) wear your running sneakers for strength training.

So what should you wear? A cross-training sneaker. “A good cross-training sneaker is designed for multi-directional activities that involve lateral side-to-side movements on hard surfaces,” explains New York City podiatrist Miguel Cunha, DPM, founder of Gotham Footcare. Whether your particular form of cross-training is CrossFit, weight-training, kickboxing, basketball, or Zumba, he says, “your weight is more concentrated on your heels and they need to be able to absorb two to three times your total body weight. These shoes need to have a comfortable upper and flexible midsole for multi-directional movement.”

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It helps, he adds, if the sole of a cross-training sneaker is “flatter, heavier, and wider, often expanding beyond the width of the upper portion of the shoe,” for durability and added control through the vast range of movements you might be doing in a HIIT class at the gym or at your favorite outdoor bootcamp. You’ll also want some grip on those soles. “The tread on cross-training shoes should be designed to increase traction necessary for sharp, sudden, lateral movements,” Dr. Cunha says. (The tread on your runner sneakers is often smoother because you’re usually only moving forward, he adds.)

In the market for a cross-trainer? Check out a few of the picks below. And remember, Dr. Cunha says, to try on new shoes at the end of the day. “A lot of times people buy their sneakers at the beginning of the day when their feet are at the smallest state compared to the end of the day when gravity has pulled all the fluid down and feet are most swollen. If the sneaker fits well at the end of the day, it is most likely to feel comfortable throughout the day.” The more you know!

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