12 Best Gym Shoes for Women of 2022, Tested by a Personal Trainer

Nike’s Metcon 8 won for its stable support and responsive performance

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From the moment you step into the gym, your shoes aren’t just shoes—they’re an important piece of workout equipment designed to support and keep you safely moving toward your goals. “It's super beneficial to have a shoe fit for the gym so that you can get the most out of your workouts,” says Kaitlin Humphreys, CPT, personal trainer based in Los Angeles, California. “Shoes for the gym are going to offer an advantage that standard shoes won't give, such as added support, flatter soles, or even a lift or stable heel.”

Reviewed & Approved

Our top pick, the Nike Metcon, is a great option for anyone wanting a versatile shoe that is stable, comfortable, and supportive. We also love the budget-friendly Adidas Women's Cloudfoam Qt Racer 3 for its feather-light comfort and sleek design.

When looking for a pair of gym shoes, make sure the pair you choose provides the best support and responsive cushioning for whatever activity you do, as well as proper traction to keep you on your feet. It should breathe well, fit comfortably, and be made to last throughout your fitness journey.

To find the best gym shoes for women, our tester spent several weeks performing treadmill, HIIT, CrossFit, and various studio and strength training workouts in each shoe. Each pair was tested with 30-60 minute gym workouts. Then, we evaluated each shoe on a scale of 1 (would not recommend) to 5 (highly recommend) for seven key attributes: cushioning, responsiveness, upper comfort, fit, stability and support, blister protection, and value.

Based on our test, here are the best gym shoes for women on the market.

Best Overall: Nike Metcon 8 Training Shoes

4.9
best gym shoes

Nike

Our Ratings
  • Cushioning
    4.5/5
  • Responsiveness
    5/5
  • Upper Comfort
    5/5
  • Fit
    5/5
  • Value
    4.9/5
Pros
  • Customizable color options

  • Versatile for multiple activities

  • Durable

Cons
  • Midsole slightly stiff (may not be best for lots of running)

This pair of do-it-all gym shoes is our top pick in part because it can be used for most gym-based workouts. It also came highly recommended by the certified personal trainers we consulted. Very similar to its popular predecessor, this hip but functional workhorse has been updated with an even more breathable upper, new graphics, and colorway options. With this version, Nike even created “Metcon By You,” which allows Nike Members to use a site design tool to customize their very own unique pair, from laces to outsole.

Firm yet flexible, thanks to its foam cushioning, the Metcon hugs the foot with excellent support that works for both strength training and studio sessions, earning it a nearly perfect score of 4.5 out of 5 for cushioning. Our tester found them slightly longer than the previous version, but not enough to be a significant flaw, and she found them to be very comfortable to wear for long periods of time. We like that the tongue has a handy lace lock for keeping laces secure, which isn’t seen on most gym shoes. 

During testing, our tester found the pliable inner plate, designed to distribute weight evenly, and slight 4-millimeter drop, a superbly stable heel platform for weight training with lighter to mid-weight loads—but we recommend something firmer for super heavy lifting. 

Often compared to one of our other top picks, Reebok’s Nano X2 Cross Trainer, the two go head-to-head with each iteration—this time with the Metcon winning out in areas of support, stability, responsiveness, and fit, which we rated a 5 out of 5 for this pair. 

The clever shoe also features a unique handstand clip on the heel and rope guard at the arch to provide traction for hustling up during drills, further value perks for CrossFit lovers. 

Price at time of publication: $130

Weight (one shoe): 12.4 ounces | Closure: Lace closure | Materials: Mesh upper, rubber sole | Cushioning Level: Moderate | Sizes: 5-15

What Our Testers Say

This pair is VERY similar to its predecessor, but has been updated with an even more breathable upper, new graphics, and colorway options. Hugs the foot with excellent support at the arch to take workouts from strength training to studio sessions.” Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, certified personal trainer, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best Budget: Adidas Women's Cloudfoam Qt Racer 3

4.4
best gym shoes

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Cushioning
    3.5/5
  • Responsiveness
    4.5/5
  • Upper Comfort
    5/5
  • Fit
    4/5
  • Value
    4.3/5
Pros
  • Great for studio workouts

  • Very comfortable

  • Made with recycled materials

Cons
  • Lacks support for high-intensity workouts

  • Sole wears quicker on pavement

If cost is a concern, we recommend the Cloudfoam QT Racer because of its versatility, feather-light comfort, and wallet-friendly price tag. In testing this QT, we found that it breathed well, provided flexibility and moderate sole grip, and was very streamlined for a sneaker–perfect specs for class sessions requiring shoes that need to slide and move unencumbered, like Zumba.

The sleek shoe is constructed with memory foam and moderate cushioning, which earned it a perfect score of 5 out of 5 for comfort. We like that the mid and forefoot are firm and the shoe itself is streamlined, making it a versatile and safe choice for studio classes. It has a stable heel base for strength training, but we wouldn’t recommend this shoe for super heavy lifting or for use on pavement for a very long time since the heel does have some give. And those requiring lots of cushioning might avoid the Cloudfoam 3 for high-impact exercises. 

Overall, this is a great, balanced sneaker for beginners new to the gym or anyone wanting a well-rounded and budget-friendly option.

Price at time of publication: $70

Weight (one shoe): 7 ounces | Closure: Lace closure | Materials: Textile upper, foam and rubber sole | Cushioning Level: Moderate | Sizes: 5-11

What Our Testers Say

“I wouldn’t recommend this shoe for heavy lifting or high-impact exercises that require firm support; but overall it's a great value for beginners new to the gym or anyone wanting a well-rounded and budget-friendly option.” Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, certified personal trainer, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best Splurge: APL Streamline Running Shoes

4.7
best gym shoes

Nordstrom

Our Ratings
  • Cushioning
    5/5
  • Responsiveness
    5/5
  • Upper Comfort
    4.5/5
  • Fit
    4/5
  • Value
    4.7/5
Pros
  • Breathable upper

  • Great cushion and energy return

  • Locked-in comfort

Cons
  • Difficult to loosen laces

  • Thicker heel hinders some lateral movements

Worn by the likes of celebrities and influencers, this pair of shoes by Athletic Propulsion Labs is a spendy choice that actually performs. While the price tag feels like a high premium for gym shoes, don’t dismiss this chic pair so fast. You don’t have to be a “sneakerhead” to appreciate the attention to innovation with these spendy sneaks. Like its namesake, these trainers are indeed streamlined, thanks to a highly breathable, second-skin-feeling upper and outsole fashioned to efficiently cut through airflow. 

The light and bouncy EVA Foam used in the mid- and outsole are truly impressive, leaving our tester, an avid runner, thrilled at the dynamic responsiveness and cushion and rating it a 5 out of 5 in both areas. Once buckled into these babies, our tester found the pair very locked-down and extremely pleasant to run and jump while wearing. The higher heel stack provides cushion for jumps and the 8-millimeter drop to the forefoot creates a great forward lean for sprints, but is not as ideal for your side-to-side ladder drills. 

While testing, the Streamline’s traction was perfect for treadmills, courts, or pavement, and the minimalist molded heel kept it snug. The one complaint in testing is that it definitely takes a minute to get the hang of the double-eyelet lace system, especially when loosening—but after a few wears, our tester figured out a technique to loosen them fast, which involved a lateral versus vertical lace pull. 

The steep price of this pair is real but worth it in the end, we decided, for such attractive, quality trainers.

Price at time of publication: $320

Weight (one shoe): 9.2 ounces | Closure: Lace closure | Materials: Textile and synthetic upper, synthetic lining, synthetic and rubber sole | Cushioning Level: High | Sizes: 5-11

What Our Testers Say

“I was skeptical at first, but these posh sneakers really are legit. Once they were on my feet, I felt locked in and ready to go. They are fast, springy, and provide great, breathable cushioning without the bulk. I really enjoyed wearing them during every single test.” Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, certified personal trainer, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best for Weightlifting: Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Classic

4.3
converse chuck taylor classic

Converse

Our Ratings
  • Cushioning
    4/5
  • Responsiveness
    4/5
  • Upper Comfort
    4.5/5
  • Fit
    4/5
  • Value
    4.2/5
Pros
  • Support foot placement and grip during lifts

  • Very stable

  • Excellent quality

Cons
  • Not for those with poor flexibility

  • Minimal arch support

  • Mid-rise ankle might bother some

These iconic sneakers are the perfect companions to your strength training regimen. In fact, thanks to their minimal cushioning and excellent lace-up ankle support, these classic court shoes are a renowned favorite for weightlifting. Our tester loved the quality and comfort of this pair, giving them a nearly perfect score of 4.5 out of 5 for comfort. She doesn’t normally prefer high-top shoes but was pleased by the superb ankle support of this pair. 

While these shoes are flat-soled, our tester noted that they still felt slightly pillowy and felt they would form to her feet over time. The grommets at the inner midsole allow the already breathable canvas shoe to vent heat and keep things fresh. Our tester also noted that the gender-neutral sizing runs about a half size large, so she recommends sizing down.

When stacking on heavier loads, form is a serious safety priority from the head to footwear. Classic Chuck Taylors are comfortable but don’t have a ton of sole cushioning, so you’re able to better feel your foot positioning and establish a stable stance. They also have a flatter insole than shoes like the Metcon which can encourage even distribution of weight, body alignment, and engaged grip of toes and feet as you bear the force of the weight—like during squats or hang cleans

Note: if you have poor flexibility, you might be better off choosing a weightlifting shoe with a wedge or lift to better support your balance as you lean deep into your lift. Tara Laferrara, CPT, also says that Converse shoes can run narrow. So if you have wide feet or you usually buy shoes with a wide toe box, she recommends looking for a barefoot shoe instead.

Price at time of publication: $109

Weight (one shoe): 13 ounces | Closure: Lace closure | Materials: Canvas upper, rubber sole | Cushioning Level: Minimal | Sizes: 5-20

What Our Testers Say

These are a great choice for lifting heavy weights, but only if you don't have balance or mobility problems that you might need more support for. The flat insole offers great stability for lifting, the ankle support is excellent, and they just look cute!” Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, certified personal trainer, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best for Running: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39

4.6
best gym shoe

Nordstrom

Our Ratings
  • Cushioning
    5/5
  • Responsiveness
    5/5
  • Upper Comfort
    4.5/5
  • Fit
    5/5
  • Value
    4.6/5
Pros
  • Neutral support for variety of users

  • Light and fast

  • Great for sprints

Cons
  • Not best for lateral movements

This popular pair of Nikes is our top pick for treadmill running thanks to its neutral support, comfort, light and fast design, and reliability when used across various workouts and surfaces. The Pegasus Air Zoom is lighter, slightly more flexible, and bouncier than its predecessor, helping you zip through intervals on the treadmill or during agility sprints. It also has a slightly wider forefoot to accommodate wider feet and activities that require a wider splay of toes, like strength training. 

Our tester loved how the Zoom was comfortable right out of the box. She felt that she could hit the ground running with enough support and cushion for every surface type, even pavement, without the use of her orthotics. This earned the pair a perfect score of 5 out of 5 in comfort, cushioning, and responsiveness. The shoes kept her flying through workouts without faltering or stopping to adjust. 

Lateral movements were a bit trickier in these shoes, due to the pair’s higher stacked heel, but the 10-millimeter drop still makes these shoes quick and nimble. 

A unique and surprisingly functional feature of the shoes are the lace loops that reach and wrap around the inside of the shoe for a customized fit when adjusting–an improvement from the last version’s system.

They feel stable and built to last, making them versatile running shoes that can do more than just move you forward.

Price at time of publication: $130

Weight (one shoe): 9.2 ounces | Closure: Lace closure | Materials: Mesh upper, rubber sole | Cushioning Level: Moderate | Sizes: 5-12

What Our Testers Say

“I’ve been hearing about the Nike Pegasus Air Zoom for years, so I was excited to try this shoe. It lived up to expectations with its lightweight and aerodynamic design, comfortably helping me zoom through my HIIT and interval workouts. They have great support and cushion without the bulk, and I feel like their (roomier-than-most-Nikes) toe box would accommodate most feet.” Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, certified personal trainer, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best for HIIT: Nike Air Zoom SuperRep 3

4.6
best gym shoes

Dick's Sporting Goods

Our Ratings
  • Cushioning
    5/5
  • Responsiveness
    5/5
  • Upper Comfort
    4.5/5
  • Fit
    4/5
  • Value
    4.6/5
Pros
  • Absorbs impact

  • Excellent energy return

  • Great lateral movement, mobility, and traction

Cons
  • Tread recommended for indoor use only

  • Sometimes lacks stability due to high heel

  • Not for wide feet

Another top choice recommended by our trainer experts, the Air Zoom SuperRep is our tester’s latest go-to favorite and our top pick for HIIT workouts. Nike recently updated this powerhouse to be lighter than ever, shedding weight and time off of your circuits training station pace and sprints. At 9 millimeters, the heel drop is less drastic than before and has added stability with a flexible midsole shank, making it safer (the previous version would catch on box jumps) and more versatile for multiplanar movements (forward, backward, and side to side). This also gives it better weight distribution and energy return during explosive jumps and dashes, according to our tester.

  While testing, the Zoom Air cushioning absorbed the pounding of multiple HIIT circuit sessions and helped quickly return firm landing energy to the next move, earning it a perfect score of 5 out of 5 in areas of cushioning, responsiveness, and stability. 

While we wish Nike would have widened this slightly narrow shoe like our Metcon and Pegasus Zoom top picks, it’s still a comfortable shoe right out the gate, as long as you don’t have wide feet. An excellent, specialized class shoe, we wouldn’t take these outdoors since the traction and shank design is clearly meant to navigate the court and gym floors over gravel and grass. 

We also love the design of the SuperReps, which give a “tennis shoes of the future” vibe, but with details that clearly perform beyond aesthetics.

Price at time of publication: $120

Weight (one shoe): 12 ounces| Closure: Lace closure | Materials: Textile upper, rubber sole | Cushioning Level: High | Sizes: 5-15

What Our Testers Say

“With such a unique design, I was really curious about the Nike Air Zoom SuperReps. They proved to be just as fun, and more versatile than I expected, and are ideal for workouts with explosive movements where you want to get some height or bursts of speed.” Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, certified personal trainer, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best for Walking: Hoka Bondi 8 Running Shoe

4.4
best gym shoes

Hoka

Our Ratings
  • Cushioning
    5/5
  • Responsiveness
    4.5/5
  • Upper Comfort
    5/5
  • Fit
    4/5
  • Value
    4.6/5
Pros
  • Made with sustainable materials

  • Excellent cushion

  • Easy on and off

Cons
  • Bulky

  • Not very responsive for explosive movements

  • Runs half size large

If walking for exercise is your jam, we recommend this light yet durable pair because of its comfortable cushion and flexible midsole support that is great for walkers. A nice, neutral shoe, the Bondi is a solid option for most feet to provide support without going overkill on motion control. Great for hard, indoor surfaces or tracks, the midsole is plush with forgiving cushion for those power steps, earning it a 5 out of 5 for cushioning. 

The maxed-out cushioning in the sole might feel bulky, however, if a more streamlined shoe is strictly your taste. And because Hoka shoes run slightly large by design to give a roomy, floaty ride, it’s a good idea to try these puppies on or downsize a half size if you like a more snug fit. It does have a lower heel-to-toe drop compared to other trainers or running shoes, making it more comfortable for a walker’s stride.

Improved with a more padded tongue and better outsole, it has a comfier and slightly faster feel compared to the last version, which our tester attributed to a stiffer forefoot and Hoka’s new, lighter foam. 

The sock liner hugs the foot and gives a locked-in feeling so the shoe doesn’t slip while you stride. Due to its hefty cushioned sole, this isn’t the shoe for fast, multiplanar agility drills, but it is an excellent walking or running shoe to float you through your mileage. 

The shoe is easy to slip on and off using the heel tab, and we also like that it’s vegan-friendly and made with recycled materials.

Price at publication: $165

Weight (one shoe): 8.9 ounces | Closure: Lace closure | Materials: Mesh upper, rubber sole | Cushioning Level: Very high | Sizes: 5-12

What Our Testers Say

This is an excellent walking or running shoe and helps alleviate impact for a smooth stride—it also has a lower drop making it comfortable for walkers.” Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, certified personal trainer, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best for Gym to Outdoors: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 Running Shoes

4.9
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Cushioning
    5/5
  • Responsiveness
    5/5
  • Upper Comfort
    5/5
  • Fit
    4.5/5
  • Value
    5/5
Pros
  • Multi-surface traction

  • Protective cushion

  • Motion control encourages natural stride

Cons
  • Midsole too rigid for supinators

Our top pick for gym to outdoor use, these cushioned shoes by Brooks can take a pounding on a variety of surfaces. The durable mid- and outsole protect thanks to EVA foam and stabilizing heel guide rails that keep your foot secure and limit excessive motion. This top-notch support system, which our tester rated 4.5 out of 5, and grippy traction keep you grounded when your sessions transition from gym to pavement to turf.

With a contoured and supportive midfoot, the Adrenaline is a great option for those with plantar fasciitis and overpronators, but might be a bit too stiff for those who supinate (have excessive outward foot roll). The shoe moved smoothly through every stride during tests, allowing the foot to naturally relax, land supported, and spring toward the next step, scoring it a 5 out of 5 for responsiveness. 

The plush padding and well-distributed cushioning make for a comfortable and confident workout that we highly recommend.

Price at time of publication: $140

Weight (one shoe): 10.2 ounces | Closure: Lace closure | Materials: Mesh upper, rubber sole | Cushioning Level: High | Sizes: 7-15

What Our Testers Say

“I like how durable and supportive these shoes are for transitioning from surface to surface. There was enough protective cushioning when my workout went outdoors to pavement and would work for a variety of foot needs.” Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, certified personal trainer, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best for Plantar Fasciitis: Asics Gel-Jadeite Running Shoe

4.6
best gym shoes

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Cushioning
    4.5/5
  • Responsiveness
    4/5
  • Upper Comfort
    5/5
  • Fit
    4.5/5
  • Value
    4.6/5
Pros
  • No break-in period

  • Supportive heel and arch

  • Balanced cushion throughout

Cons
  • Few color options

If you have plantar fasciitis, you need a shoe with firm support in the heel counter and midsoles, plus adequate cushioning. A pair like this top pick, the Gel-Jadeite, can help alleviate excessive stress to the foot with its protective cushioning and may minimize inflammation and pain throughout the foot. This also makes it an excellent shoe for heavier athletes or those who overpronate, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).   

Stable and smooth, the Gel-Jadeite isn’t excessive or bulky in design, and works for a variety of workouts, keeping you energized in every direction you move. Our tester found it incredibly versatile, with responsive energy return for box jumps to agility drills, but sleek enough for studio sessions. 

The foam in the midsole makes it a lightweight shoe that can truly hustle, and we appreciate the gel cushion for absorbing shock from landing impact. Cooling mesh will keep your feet comfortable, making these great for summer workouts from the gym to the outdoors.

Price at time of publication: $160

Weight (one shoe): 9.2 ounces | Closure: Lace closure | Materials: Mesh upper, rubber sole | Cushioning Level: Moderate | Sizes: 5-13

What Our Testers Say

“This is a great stability shoe that packs a lot of comfort—it’s well-padded, energized, and not bulky.” Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, certified personal trainer, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best for Spin Classes: TIEM Slipstream Indoor Cycling Shoe

4.5
TIEM Slipstream Shoes
Our Ratings
  • Cushioning
    4.5/5
  • Responsiveness
    4/5
  • Upper Comfort
    5/5
  • Fit
    5/5
  • Value
    4.5/5
Pros
  • Variety of earthy color options

  • Easy on and off

  • SPD-compatible

Cons
  • Too stiff for some activities

  • Runs half size large

  • Cleats not included

These innovative cycling shoes are as versatile as they get, making them our top pick for spin classes. Comfortable and convenient, strap into these clever, single velcro shoes and walk to and from your bike without an awkward click-clack limp (you know the one). 

Two-hole SPD-compatible, cycling cleats sit recessed inside a cavity surrounded by a typical sneaker sole. This makes it easy to transition on and off the bike and straight to another class or errand. You’ll have to buy the cleats separately, but the clip-in, walk-out feature is worth the add-on. 

Our tester loved the functionality and comfort of this pair, rating it a 4.5 out of 5 for support and giving it a perfect 5 out of 5 for comfort. She did note that they run about a half-size large. They also look great on and we love that they come in a variety of neutral tones that pretty much go with everything!

Price at time of publication: $135

Weight (one shoe): 10.6 ounces | Closure: Velcro closure | Materials: Mesh upper, rubber sole | Cushioning Level: Moderate | Sizes: 5-12

What Our Testers Say

“I love the Tiem Slipstream for its unique sneaker-sole design that lets you dismount and walk away from your bike without the awkward clicking of hardware. The closure wrapped the foot snug and the sole was firm for great push-off for every rotation. Not only were these comfortable, but they looked great on, too!” Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, certified personal trainer, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best for High Arches: New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 Running Shoe

4.5
best gym shoes

Zappos

Our Ratings
  • Cushioning
    4/5
  • Responsiveness
    5/5
  • Upper Comfort
    5/5
  • Fit
    4.5/5
  • Value
    4.5/5
Pros
  • Flexible midfoot

  • Supportive arch

  • Encourages neutral stride

Cons
  • Not for flat feet

This popular shoe is our top pick for high arches because of its soft and flexible midsole, an important feature recommended by the APMA for those with high arches. In its latest iteration, the shoe maintains the reliably light and durable foam midsole of its predecessor and has neutral support to encourage a healthy stride. During tests, our tester praised these for their flexible push-off, which earned them a 5 out of 5 for responsiveness. She also enjoyed the cushioned heel which made for a soft landing.

The outsole of the 880x12 is super durable and perfect for high mileage days on the treadmill or pavement—but the stack also doesn’t feel like too much for cardio classes. 

We found that, while breathable, the mesh upper did tend to feel warm at times due to the plush tongue and thicker weave. The upside of this is that the interior padding is very comfortable. 

We’re definitely a fan of New Balance colorways, and the 880v12 comes in a slew of sharp options that we’re excited to wear beyond gym doors.

Price at publication: $135

Weight (one shoe): 10.3 ounces | Closure: Lace closure | Materials: Mesh upper, rubber sole | Cushioning Level: Moderate | Sizes: 5-12

What Our Testers Say

“I have high arches and am prone to under pronation (supination), so it’s very important for me to wear a shoe that has ample arch support without being too firm in the midfoot. The Fresh Foam 880x12 has enough flexibility to encourage my feet to naturally roll without  straying outward to the edges. I also love the colorway options, which strike me as slightly vintage-inspired.” Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, certified personal trainer, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best for CrossFit: Reebok Nano X2 Training Shoes

4.4
Reebok Nano X2 Training Shoes

Dick's Sporting Goods

Our Ratings
  • Cushioning
    4/5
  • Responsiveness
    5/5
  • Upper Comfort
    5/5
  • Fit
    4.5/5
  • Value
    4.4/5
Pros
  • Very stable

  • Responsive

  • Comfortable to run in

Cons
  • Runs half size large

  • Lacks rope guard

Often compared to the Metcon, the all-in-one Nano X2 trainer is our top pick for CrossFit since it provides a stable platform for lifting, lightweight responsiveness for sprints, and excellent versatility. The 7-millimeter heel drop enhances stability without sacrificing responsiveness to propel you through as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) during those high-intensity circuits or interval workouts. It even runs better than the previous version, thanks to the addition of the springy foam forefoot, transitioning really well between activities and getting us closer to “beast mode.”

While it’s missing the guard at the arch for rope climbs, it still has a nice, wide toe box to help you splay and grip your toes during lifts. We’re definitely a fan of this revamped second version, from the throwback colorway designs to the way it performed in key areas of stability and support—earning a perfect score of 5 out of 5 for this attribute—traction, and comfort. 

Our tester recommends sizing down, as this trainer runs about a half size large, which is one of the sole reasons for a slightly lower-than-perfect overall rating.

Price at time of publication: $135

Weight (one shoe): 8.3 ounces | Closure: Lace closure | Materials: Mesh upper, rubber sole | Cushioning Level: Moderate | Sizes: 5-12

What Our Testers Say

This is a great shoe for CrossFit—it’s stable, responsive, has an ideal heel-to-toe drop for optimal energy return, and is lightweight enough for sprints and circuits. I love the design and colorway, too!” Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, certified personal trainer, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Compare

Overall Rating Cushioning Responsiveness Upper Comfort Fit Value
best gym shoes
Best Overall:
Nike Metcon 8
4.9
4.5 5 5 5 4.9
best gym shoes
Best Budget:
Adidas Women's Cloudfoam Qt Racer 3
4.4
3.5 4.5 5 4 4.3
best gym shoes
Best Splurge:
APL Streamline Running Shoes
4.7
5 5 4.5 4 4.7
converse chuck taylor classic
Best for Weightlifting:
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Classic
4.3
4 4 4.5 4 4.2
best gym shoe
Best for Running:
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39
4.6
5 5 4.5 5 4.6
best gym shoes
Best for HIIT:
Nike Air Zoom SuperRep 3
4.6
5 5 4.5 4 4.6
best gym shoes
Best for Walking:
Hoka Bondi 8
4.4
5 4.5 5 4 4.6
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22
Best for Gym to Outdoors:
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 Running Shoes
4.9
5 5 5 4.5 5
best gym shoes
Best for Plantar Fasciitis:
Asics Gel-Jadeite Running Shoe
4.6
4.5 4 5 4.5 4.6
TIEM Slipstream Shoes
Best for Spin Classes:
TIEM Slipstream Indoor Cycling Shoe
4.5
4.5 4 5 5 4.5
best gym shoes
Best for High Arches:
New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12
4.5
4 5 5 4.5 4.5
Reebok Nano X2 Training Shoes
Best for CrossFit:
Reebok Nano X2 Training Shoes
4.4
4 5 5 4.5 4.4

How We Selected and Tested the Best Gym Shoes for Women

To make our list of the best gym shoes for women, our expert—a certified personal trainer—spent several weeks researching dozens of women’s gym shoes from the top, trusted brands on the market. She then tested each shoe performing gym workouts of varying training intensities. Depending on what it was designed for, we tested each shoe with treadmill, HIIT, Crossfit, studio, and strength training workouts, all while wearing the same socks for consistency. 

Our tester performed all tests (if applicable) with each shoe to determine how the specific activities affected the comfort, fit, and traction of the shoe. She also recorded each shoe’s performance in key areas of cushioning, lateral stability and support, responsiveness, upper comfort, blister protection, durability, and value.

We also spoke with podiatrist Dr. Jacqueline Prevete, DPM, FACFAS, FACPM, foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Bruce Pinker, DPM, and certified personal trainer Kaitlin Humphreys, CPT, to get their advice on key features to look for in women's gym shoes. To be selected as our top pick in each category, each pair had to perform according to high standards of technical specifications and expert insight for the best gym shoes.

Since some shoes go through updates and new studies are done over time, we will continue to update our recommendations based on new research and expert insights, as well as new shoe models.

What to Look For in Gym Shoes for Women

Breathability

If you want a shoe that’ll keep you cool and comfortable as you tackle lengthy workouts, look for the words “mesh upper.” This phrase simply means the upper part of the shoe (the part that runs along the top of your foot) is crafted from mesh, a lightweight and breathable material.

“Breathability is important to allow for proper air circulation if your feet sweat during exercise,” says New York-based podiatric surgeon and four-time marathoner, Dr. Jacqueline Prevete, DPM, FACFAS, FACPM. “Cotton socks and/or a meshy, breathable material would also help to prevent excessive sweat buildup and therefore will also prevent odor development.”  

In addition, kicks that breathe prevent the risk of toenail fungus, athlete’s foot, blisters, and warts, says Prevete, keeping those tootsies healthy and happy to tread for miles.

If you want a shoe that’ll keep you cool and comfortable as you tackle lengthy workouts, look for the words “mesh upper.” This phrase simply means the upper part of the shoe (the part that runs along the top of your foot) is crafted from mesh, a lightweight and breathable material. 

Durability

A durable shoe lasts longer and provides the support and cushioning you need for continuous play, regardless of the activity. “Shoes that are durable typically have a thicker sole to them and therefore usually provide more support,” says Dr. Prevete. Safe, quality gym shoes will have soles, stitching, and seams that are constructed well and do not come apart or show immediate signs of wear after just a few workouts. Laces and eyelets should be strong to hold securely when tied. The midsole should also maintain its structure for miles and miles of wear before losing support.

If your workout takes you outdoors—especially on textured terrain—find a shoe with a durable outsole that can take a beating. Rubber outsoles can typically handle a little wear and tear, especially if they’re designed with sticky, grippy “lugs” (indentations that run along the outsole). And while minimalist shoes have their training purposes, Prevete says they will need to be replaced that much quicker, especially if exercise is performed on a consistent basis.

Responsive Cushioning

If your workouts are filled with high-impact exercises—think running, jumping, etc.—you may want your gym shoes to be equipped with “responsive cushioning.” This kind of cushioning tends to be shock-absorbing, so it can help you stay comfortable as you tackle your most intense workouts. 

The cushioning level, or stack height, varies between gym shoes and depends on your activity. Levels range from minimal to moderate and also maximum cushioning. A plush cushion will feel soft, while other shoes can provide a more streamlined, targeted cushion in parts of the sole to give responsive energy return, like during jumping, that helps your feet spring up off the ground. 

Choose your cushioning level according to your feet requirements and the experience you need from your workout. “For example,” says Humphreys, “for lifting weights, you want a strong flat sole without much cushion, but something durable that can withstand your body weight plus the weight you're holding and lifting.” For other activities that involve jumping or pounding of feet, you’ll need more cushion to absorb the impact as you land.

Lateral Support and Stability

It’s important that your gym shoes have enough structural support, in addition to absorbing shock. “For example,” says podiatrist Dr. Bruce Pinker of Progressive Footwear in New York, “aerobics classes require front and back and lateral movements that are short and quick, so footwear with proper support is essential to perform these exercises. Zumba classes may involve jumping, so proper cushioning in footwear is helpful for this activity to help prevent injury.” The dynamic duo of support meets responsive cushioning helps prevent injury and promotes better athletic function.

Just like cushioning, the level of support and stability you need from a gym shoe is specific to your feet and workout plans. Prevete says that you should go with gym shoes that offer special support if you’ll be doing high-impact exercises or if your feet have special requirements, like high arches or plantar fasciitis. You might need a more stable shoe with motion control if you have flat feet or feet that overpronate (excessive inward foot rotation).

Traction

If you plan to move around quickly—especially on slick floors or wet grounds—you’ll want a shoe that can offer you some grip (no one wants to slip mid-Zumba class). Injury prevention is top priority here, says Dr. Pinker. “Traction is necessary to prevent slippage. It is very helpful especially for outdoor activity when one runs or walks on uneven terrain.” 

Look for rubber outsoles that are lined with textured patterns. And outsoles aside, make sure the shoes are lightweight enough to comfortably move around in. “Most shoes with a rubber sole will be sufficient,” says Humphreys. “You will just want to make sure they are not too worn down and can support the type of lifting or exercising you're performing.”

Padding

No matter what you’re doing, you want your shoe to feel comfortable. Some people will prefer more padding to their fit than others, so go with what feels good around your ankles and feet as you work out. “You will want to focus on a sturdy flat sole for lifting or a lightweight flexible shoe for plyos,” says Humphreys. Therefore, upper comfort is up to your personal preference.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How should gym shoes fit?

    If the shoe fits, just wear it, right? Not so fast, says Dr. Pinker, who emphasizes the importance of a properly-fitted shoe to avoid injury to your feet and nail beds. For gym shoes, “The length should fit so that the end of the sneaker is 3/8 of an inch from the tip of the longest toe.” That’s either one centimeter or half a thumb’s width of space. The heel and toe box should feel comfortable, as well, with a width that fits snugly, but not tightly, says Dr. Pinker. 

    “When you exercise, your feet can swell anywhere from a half to a full size,” adds Humphreys. “It is helpful to have a little bit of room at the end of your shoe to allow for that foot to swell.” To get a realistic fit, we recommend trying gym shoes on later in the day when shopping for your pair.

  • Can running shoes be used in the gym?

    Running shoes can be used in the gym, but it’s important to note that they usually have a more padded heel and aggressive traction than most gym shoes. While great for treadmills and indoor tracks, these features make them less ideal (and even a safety hazard) for certain activities. “Keep in mind that running shoes are designed to give you cushion and support to move forward through space,” says Humphreys, “so they won't be the best shoe for lower body lifting days or days when you would want a flatter sole—or in cases where you would want more lateral support, like during a class with lots of plyometric exercises.” Cross-trainers will serve you better for most gym workouts because they are less cumbersome during side-to-side movements on a court floor.

    Many other types of gym shoes are sport-specific and complement the type of movement during your workout. From basketball sneakers to weightlifting and spin class shoes, these options are specially designed to enhance comfort and safety during specific movements common to the activity. If you take part in a specific kind of workout or sport, we recommend considering a sport-specific gym shoe. Otherwise, one of our versatile, top-pick cross-trainers will also perform great.

  • How to clean gym shoes

    The occasional cleanup to get workhorse gym shoes gleaming again is a snap with these tips from our experts: 

    Gym Shoe Do’s

    • Remove any insoles, shake out any inner debris, and use a dry brush to remove outer debris
    • If soiled, wipe inner and outer surfaces with a moist cloth
    • Spot clean firmer external parts with a gentle cleaning product or one made for shoes (spot test a small area to ensure it’s safe to use on the material) 
    • Use a laundry stain remover and laundry brush or damp cloth on fabric portions
    • Allow shoes to dry fully when wet from sweat, the elements, or cleaning
    • Always work in a well-ventilated area with protective gloves and a mask when using cleaning products 
    • In between deep cleaning, use shoe wipes for a quick fix
    • Prevent interior shoe build-up of bacteria and mold with a disinfectant spray, like Lysol, and allow to sit overnight

    Gym Shoe Don’ts

    • Resist throwing trainers in the washing machine to preserve the integrity and fit of the shoe
    • Avoid harsh chemicals that could ruin shoe materials or irritate the skin once wearing
  • How to get the smell out of gym shoes

    As with many things, prevention is key, so maintain your shoes by wearing absorbent, breathable socks, drying them properly, and cleaning them regularly to keep things fresh. In the face of hard-to-beat odors, however, our experts recommend effective tools like absorbent foot powder, odor-busting balls or spray, Febreeze, or Lysol in between wears. 

    Try products like deodorizing bags or DIY your own hack with baking soda in repurposed nylons, or natural tea tree essential oil drops. Dr. Prevete suggests that “If you have insoles within the shoes (i.e. orthoses or over-the-counter insoles), you can switch these out easily for a new pair once they develop an odor.” 

    If your shoes get wet (either from rain or sweat), they need time to appropriately dry out in order to avoid odor, says Prevete. “You can actually stuff the inside of the shoe with newspaper so it absorbs the moisture from the fabric,” she says. “Wet shoes smell—so if you do this consistently whenever they are exposed to water, that will prevent odor from developing.”

  • How often should I replace my gym shoes?

    Logging lots of miles on your gym shoes can take a toll on your body’s health and performance. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, athletic activities like running and jumping send an impact three to five times your weight through the ankles, legs, and body. To minimize the shock, it’s important to replace your shoes when they’ve significantly aged or shown wear and tear. “Sometimes you can even feel generalized fatigue while running (usually in your legs) which kind of reminds you that your shoes may need to be replaced,” says Dr. Prevete, an avid runner who suggests replacing shoes every 300-500 miles.

    “For gym-goers, I would use the same rule-of-thumb. Depending on how much you wear them, they will need to be replaced that much sooner.” If you’re not tracking your mileage but working out regularly, Prevet suggests swapping out old trainers every 4 months. The less activity on a pair, the more time you might have with your tennies.

  • How much does a pair of gym shoes cost?

    You can expect to pay between $70-$165 for a quality gym shoe. Pricier options exist, but they're not necessary unless you're a pro athlete or have an orthopedic issue that requires specialized shoes. Budget-friendlier shoes might be tempting, but they likely won't last as long as pricier options, and they may lose points for fit and comfort. The cheapest gym shoe on our list is often available for less than $70, while our top recommendation, the Nike Metcon 8 was $130 when we published this list.

7 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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