The 8 Best Gym Shoes For Women in 2020

Here are the kicks you need to kick butt in the gym

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Our Top Picks
"Features a neoprene tongue area to prevent chafing and blisters."
"Built for comfort, with a soft and breezy style."
Best for Treadmill:
Adidas Ultraboost 19 at Amazon
"The sock-like stretchy fabric provides flexibility to keep you cool."
"The sole is sturdy enough to dig in your heels for weight lifting."
"Designed with style and flexibility to do any type of workout."
"Multi-directional traction sole maximizes ground control."
Best for Gym to Outdoors:
Merrell Bare Access Flex 2 at Amazon
"Shock absorption stands up to high-intensity activity."
Best for Rowing Machine:
Nike Free Tr 8 at Amazon
"This barefoot feel shoe exercises and strengthens your foot muscles."

Best Overall: APL: Athletic Propulsion Labs Men's Techloom Phantom Running Sneakers

While APL Techloom Phantom is labeled as a running shoe, it’s an exceptional choice for multiple workouts, whether you’re sprinting on a treadmill or doing speed skaters on a mat. The moderate 8mm heel drop makes the Techloom Phantom a nice neutral shoe (not too much heel lift) and its wide-spreading sole provides ample stability for both squatting and lateral motions (side to side).

The four-way-stretch upper has a neoprene tongue area, allowing them to slide on as one piece, which mitigates chafing and blisters from moving parts. At 7.9 ounces, they’re light but still substantial enough to feel supportive, and they're comfortable too. The combination of features makes this specific APL model perfect not just for the gym, but for mixed-format cross-training classes like Barry’s Bootcamp and Orangetheory Fitness, which incorporate multiple machines and forms of exercise, including treadmill running and weight lifting.

Best Budget: New Balance Women's FuelCore Nergize V1 Sneaker

An ideal everyday shoe that’s as great in the gym as it is out on the town, the New Balance FuelCore NERGIZE are built for comfort. With a soft and breezy style and a responsive lightweight outsole, you’ll feel great from the StairMaster to the studio floor for an aerobics class. Keep in mind, while they’re a great value compared to the pricey gym shoes that dominate the market, they’re primarily a walking shoe. That said, you’ll still find them comfortable for activities like the elliptical and general weight work, as well as many bodyweight workouts.

Best for Treadmill: Adidas Women's Ultraboost 19 Running Shoe

The cushy, springy, bouncy UltraBoost from Adidas is an absolute dream running shoe. It’s one of the most comfortable sneakers on the market, and a fan favorite thanks to its seriously cool silhouette and array of colors each season. The style has evolved over the years, improving over time while maintaining the lightweight but stable sole it’s known for.

When you’re hitting the treadmill, you’ll want a run-specific shoe, and the Adidas UltraBoost fits the bill. The sock-like stretchy upper provides flexibility and breathability to keep you cool, comfy, and ventilated while you’re breaking a serious sweat and clocking miles on your favorite gym machine. The innovative take on a heel cup (the stiff framing on the back area of the shoe in lieu of a closed “cup”) provides Achilles support with a bit more ventilation.

Best for Lifting: NOBULL Women's Training Shoes and Styles

Have you heard of Nobull? If you’re into Crossfit or weightlifting, chances are you’ve spotted these at your local Box. A wide and flat, sturdy, somewhat stiff, and stable sole make Nobull sneakers a go-to for weight lifters, providing a strong platform when you need it most. Read: you’ll want to check out a pair yourself before heading to the Smith machine.

The sole also has a grippy textured pattern, allowing you to dig your heels in and feel secure before you squat a heavy barbell. These training shoes are made from what the brand calls “SuperFabric,” which is equal parts durable and breathable, so they’ll be comfortable and long-lasting. The benefit of choosing the “training shoes” versus the “lifter” style is that they’re a bit more flexible for when you’re doing other exercises or wearing them around town.

Best for Crossfit: Reebok Women's CROSSFIT Grace Tr Cross Trainer

What’s in a name? The Reebok Crossfit Grace really does say it all. This sport-specific shoe has the traits of a cross-training shoe and a lifting shoe, making it perfect for its namesake workout. And you don’t have to sacrifice fashion for function with this one. Crossfitters the world over sing the praises of the Grace, thanks to comfortable construction, equal parts flexible-and-stable sole, grip, breathability, and style.

Here’s why those details about the sole are so important: in Crossfit, you’re doing any number of activities that require different things from a sneaker. When you’re squatting and lifting, you want a wide, stable, immobile platform, and the Grace provides that stability. When you’re doing burpees and AMRAPs, you’ll want a bit of flexibility. The shoe was literally designed with these activities in mind, and it’s executed flawlessly—in a pretty package, to boot.

Best for HIIT: Under Armour Women's UA Project Rock 2 Training Shoes

Thinking about everything you’d want in a shoe for a high-intensity, aggressively fast-paced, borderline-calisthenics style class—aka HIIT—the Under Armour Project Rock 2 women’s training shoe seems to be 3D printed from that dream. With a flat heel for squats, flexible sole for lateral movement, and a responsive springiness for explosive plyometrics, the UA Project Rock 2 was built from the ground up for HIIT.

Under Armour describes the sole’s “multi-directional traction pattern,” which aims to “maximize ground control and flex.” This means you’ll have the ability to move around quickly, but you won’t slip. The upper is one stretchy, soft knit piece that provides compression while drying quickly to ensure you don’t stay sweaty and soggy.

Best for Gym to Outdoors: Merrell Women's Bare Access Flex 2 Sneaker

Not everyone wants to buy a sneaker for every single activity. If you spend half your time in the gym and half your time on the trails hiking, you’ll want this versatile and rugged shoe. The outsole of the Merrell Bare Access Flex 2 is grippy enough for the gym floor or your favorite park for a sun-soaked sweat sesh in the open air.

What’s more, is that Merrell included their “M Select FRESH” technology which uses antimicrobial agents to reduce shoe odor and keep your feet (and kicks) from stinking up. When you’re alternating between the great outdoors and a stinky gym, this is a seriously clutch feature. Merrell also added in extra cushioning to this model, providing a bit more shock absorption to stand up to high-intensity activity, so they’re truly up for anything.

Best for Rowing Machine: Nike Women's Free Tr 8

When it comes to the rowing machine, you want stability, a flat sole, a somewhat barefoot feel, and a bit of flexibility. With those standards, there’s no better fit than the Nike Free. The barefoot technology allows the athlete to truly exercise the muscles of the foot, which strengthens the foot and creates better posture while helping to prevent injuries.

When it comes to the Free for a rowing machine, the TR8 model is perfect. While it’s specifically for training (the original Free was a running shoe, but many models have been made since), the added heel stability and flat sole will provide exactly what you need on the rower. The additional cushioning and arch support will ensure that your feet don’t cramp while you get more reps in.

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