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What shoes should you wear in the gym? Here's some insight - Motus timberland gymnasium wentzville

What shoes should you wear in the gym? Here’s some insight

Posted on Posted in Education

What shoes should you wear in the gym? It’s a simple enough question, right? Next time you’re in the gym I want you to look around at what type of shoes people are wearing. You’re going to see a lot of running shoes, some minimalist shoes, maybe an old school bodybuilder is sporting some Timberland boots, and maybe even some of the now infamous FiveFingers.

Regardless of what you find, I think that it’s safe to assume the shoes are highly skewed towards the running shoe.

Footwear in the USA is a $54 billion market1. That’s huge. With so many shoes available, what shoes should you wear in the gym?

Does it even matter?

Let’s take a look at each of the major categories.

Running shoes

Now before you start drafting an email to me combating my analysis of running shoes, know this: This isn’t a blog post about running shoes.

I’ve read McDougell’s book Born to Run, ran half marathons in FiveFingers because of it and now I don’t even run at all. But I know enough about running to know that the shod-free running debate has been hammered pretty good at this point. I won’t belabor the topic any more.

But let’s talk a little bit about running shoes in general terms.

When I was growing up I used to refer to all lace up athletic shoes as ‘tennis shoes.’ For whatever reason the name just stuck. And maybe I’m overgeneralizing yet again by referring to any sort of athletic shoe as a running shoe. But I think it’s a fair assumption because with running being the most prolific form of recreation today, everyone has some sort of running shoe in their closet. These are the shoes most people are going to lace up when they hit they gym.

Here in the Boulder area, the birthplace of Newton running shoes, you’ll find disciples of Newton all over town. I also see them in the gym. So, is this a bad thing?

First, we need to understand in broad terms what makes a running shoe a running shoe.

In a word – squishy.

The heel is squishy. The mid-sole is squishy. The sides are often vented and flex all over the place. All because these shoes are meant to absorb impact and help you to press off for your next stride. But you know this already.

So, what shoes should you wear in the gym?

Well, when we are in the weight room we want stability. When we squat we want to feel grounded and steady. We don’t want our heels to feel like they are squishing through our soles. We don’t want excessive pronating or supinating. Same thing with deadlifting or overhead pressing.

Stability is king.

Let’s look at a few scenarios.

Firstly, let’s say that you are into the group exercise scene. You’re not lifting really heavy weights and instead you’re probably doing a fair amount of calisthenics and jumping, hopping, crawling, all that good stuff. Wearing a running shoe probably isn’t going to make all that big of a difference because you aren’t necessarily trying to control large body weight percentage weights.

Secondly, what if you primarily weight lift when you go to the gym? Well, if you are lifting barbells and dumbbells for the purposes of growing bigger muscle or a shaping a sexy butt, I think you can benefit from a more minimalist inspired shoe. One that is going to maintain rigidity and not encourage a lot of movement at the ankle when you’re trying to manipulate weights. A running shoe that is designed to be springy may cause you problems when you’re trying to lift something heavy.

Thirdly, let’s say that you spend time on the machines and that you aren’t necessary working with barbells and dumbbells? In this case, I don’t think it matters one way or another what you’re wearing on your feet because much of the machines in the iron jungle are encouraging you to sit while you workout! I’m guessing that you spend more than enough time sitting at the office already!

Lifting shoes

Lifting shoes are most predominant among the Olympic weightlifting community. They have a stiff sole and a heel lift to facilitate stability in the big power lifts like the snatch and clean and jerk. But that heel lift has another purpose: It helps a lifter to achieve a lower squat.

what shoes should you wear in the gym for your fitness

A lower squat is of importance to O-lifters because as the weight gets heavier and heavier, the second pull isn’t going to get that bar very high for a lifter to quickly get under it. So what’s the next best thing? It’s getting your body lower such that you can sneak under.

And a heel lift facilitates this by giving you a little help with your range of motion. Specifically, it eliminates the need for a large bend at the ankle (ankle mobility). Alternatively, if you have tight ankles, you will most likely compensate farther up in the kinetic chain.

So if you’re lifting the O-lifts regularly and working towards competing, then you definitely need to take a closer look at lifting shoes and determine if they are right for you.

Not spending (3) days a week training the big power lifts? Read on…

Minimalist shoes

This category is really a catch-all for any lightweight, minimal structure and highly flexible shoe. From a weightlifting perspective, minimalist shoes are pretty great. There’s little to no arch support, they aren’t clunky and there isn’t normally a big squishy heel that’s going to crush under the weight of a heavy barbell and throw you off balance. They usually have a big toe box too. Keep those little piggies free!

Say what you want about Chris McDougall’s Born to Run, but you can’t deny that it was the catalyst for an unprecedented development cycle in the shoe business. Suddenly, every one of the major brands was racing around to strip their shoes of excess mass and stiffness. Who would have thought?!

Now that the dust has settled, we’ve landed somewhere in the middle. Popular shoes today are certainly minimalist when compared to the leading shoes 10 years ago, but still a far cry from simulating a true barefoot experience.

However, do you know what competing powerlifters are usually lifting in?


Take a look at the deadlift. You drive through the heel and power through with your hips. And so ideally, you don’t have anything between your heel and the floor. This is why some of the real big lifters will be seen wearing socks, slippers or nothing at all, on their feet that is :/.


A Chuck Taylor was more or less one of the first minimalist shoes. Indeed, they may be a wee bit heavy, but there’s no arch support and the whole sole is relatively flat and thin. Because of these attributes, I’ll always have a soft spot for the good old Converse Chuck Taylors.

The old and beat up Converse shoes you see at the top of this blog post are mine. And it’s the wear and tear that make them so great. I deadlift in them and sometimes squat. I’ve done this for years now and don’t think I’ll change anytime soon.

Some of the new minimalist shoes are awesome looking, I admit. But really, what do we need to lift something heavy?


Have you ever seen some of the old images of Muscle Beach or Arnold lifting at Gold’s Gym? There are a lot of big dudes walking around barefoot and lifting heavy things. Now it isn’t wise to extrapolate a group of genetically blessed men to the general population, but it should serve as a wake up call that as humans, all that we really need for physical fitness is our body.

We don’t need fancy gimmicks with brand names on the sides.

However, good luck finding a gym that will let you walk around barefoot. And you may want to have a disinfection plan ready to go too.

Of course the elephant in the room is that you need to be very careful not to drop anything on your feet! But then again, unless you’re wearing steel tipped work boots, anything you drop on your feet is going to hurt! An 80-lb dumbbell will do some damage, my friend.

Wrap up – what shoes should you wear in the gym?

So, what shoes should you wear in the gym? If you have healthy feet and your body’s biomechanics are pretty solid, I would encourage you to start looking at training in minimalist shoes when you’re in the weightroom. Check with a healthcare professional and see if you’re a good candidate to begin strengthening your feet with the minimalist approach.

My bias is this: I feel that aspiring to train in a ‘barefoot’ manner – whether it’s truly barefoot or in minimalist shoes – is a goal is worth pursuing. You can strengthen all the cool little muscles in your feet and encourage good cooperation with the muscles and joints further up your kinetic chain.

My aim with this blog post was to get you thinking about the shoes you wear to the gym and why. Maybe there’s a better option than what you’re wearing right now.

Or maybe you have a clinical issue that demands an orthotic. That’s perfectly fine, you may have already found your ideal shoe.

The research on whether people can build up an arch by wearing minimalist shoes, thereby negating the need for a shoe with support, is still a bit divided. So it’s important for you to do your own research and make an informed decision on what type of shoe you wear to the gym.

See ya out there.

By Ryan Wagner


(1) Athletics Footwear Industry – No Hurdles In Sight

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Holt Makes It A Clean Sweep Over Timberland At Wentzville-Area Pink Night High School Hoops Celebration

Indians win a nail-biter in early girls game, then celebrate a big win by the boys in the nightcap.

By Cedric Williams (Patch Poster) - Updated

On a night when it seemed the entire community came out to celebrate breast cancer awareness and the steady progress of the local high school hoops programs, the host Indians enjoyed the most fun of all Thursday night, by nabbing wins for both its boys and girls varsity basketball teams over archrival , in front of a packed to the rafters crowd at the Holt High School Gymnasium.  

The celebration was dubbed “Pink Night” at Holt High, with nearly everyone wearing the color pink to recognize breast cancer awareness, and students and volunteers from both high schools selling T-shirts, baked goods, and raffle tickets in order to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation – an organization that’s raised nearly $2 billion in its history for cancer research.

But on Thursday, “Pink Night” also became sweep night, as the Lady Indians won a last-minute nail-biter 42-37 over the visiting Wolves, then watched as the Holt boys blew right by Timberland’s boys for a one-sided 71-42 win in the nightcap.

“It is a great night for everyone at Holt,” Indians girls basketball coach Rich Binning said, after taking an emotional moment to think of his father, who passed away earlier this year. “The girls just played great, and I’m just so proud of every last one of them.

“We wanted to surpass last year’s win total of five, and we did that tonight. We got our sixth win tonight, and that’s special to me.”

And incredibly, the Indians have done it with six straight wins in the month of December, including thrilling home wins over and , and a pair of rugged road victories at Ritenour and at .

“It’s all credit to the girls,” Binning said. “The girls are starting to believe in themselves, and they’re sticking together as a team. Bree Rigg and Julie Buckles have been hanging tough inside, and our shooters came out and hit some big shots. I’m just thrilled.”

Holt senior Brianne Rigg led all scorers on Thursday with 20 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

Rigg scored 13 of her points in a first half, when Holt only managed 17 points total. But she also made the biggest play of the night, when she powered in a short jumper and drew a foul with just over a minute left in the game, for a three-point play that gave the Indians some breathing room late in the game.

“Our assistant coach Cortney Knaust, she really did a wonderful job with our forwards this week,” Binning said. “I know they’re both six-foot, but sometimes height is a luxury, not a necessity, but they’re figuring out what to do with that tool that they have.”

Lost in the excitement of Holt’s thrilling victory was just how close Timberland came to stealing it away.

The Wolves lost the lead in the second quarter, and never led again, but pulled to within two points five times in the fourth quarter, and had the ball with the chance to tie or take the lead three times.

Unfortunately for Timberland though, it just never could get that basket to tie the score.

“We all knew that going into this game that Holt was not the same team we played two games into the season (which Timberland won 57-50),” Wolves basketball coach Hayley Leake said. “They have gotten better as a group, and probably more than any other team I have ever seen at this time of the year.”

Senior Taleisha Hart had 12 points to lead the Wolves in scoring, but she also had a critical turnover with 15.4 seconds left that effectively ended any shot at a Timberland comeback, as it gave the ball back to Holt, who then ran out the clock for the win.

“It’s a hard loss to take,” Leake said, “because I really felt like players stepped up when they needed to. Sometimes it worked for us, sometimes it didn’t. But overall, I really do believe my girls worked hard. They just made a few more plays than we did tonight.”

Both teams are off until after Christmas, but will play a rubber match in the first round of the St. Dominic Tournament, on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at in O’Fallon, with the opening tip-off set for noon.

“It should be a great game and a great tournament,” Binning said. “We’re looking forward to it.”

The boys basketball nightcap between the two schools began almost exactly opposite to the girls game, as Timberland had a great start, and jumped out to a nice early lead.

But that advantage was short-lived, as Holt roared back from an early eight-point deficit to outscore the Wolves 18-6 in second quarter to grab a 30-22 edge by halftime.

In the third quarter though, is when Holt really took control of the ballgame, using its full-court press defense to near-perfection to outscore Timberland 23-7, and take a 53-29 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

From that point on, the Indians cruised to its second-most lopsided win of the year (on Dec. 1, Holt beat Jennings 75-37), and improved to 4-3 on the season.

Timberland fell to 3-5, and will go into the holiday break having lost four of its last five.

Once the holiday passes, both teams will be in action at the St. Dominic Tournament, with first round games on Tuesday, Dec. 27.

Timberland will open up tournament play at 3 p.m. that afternoon, against undefeated , which is ranked No. 10 in the area among large school boys basketball teams, while Holt will begin with a matchup at 6 p.m. that evening, against Ft. Zumwalt West.

The winners of those contests will advance to the tournament semifinals on Wednesday, Dec. 28, with the third-place and championship games set for next Friday, Dec. 30.

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Originally published Dec 23, 2011.
This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this post are the author's. Registered users are welcome to post on Patch.

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Shoe analysis


Inferior or incorrect shoes can be directly linked to many problems beyond immediate foot and exercise discomforts: the lower legs, knees, hips, the lower back and even further up the spine have been shown to be adversely affected.
The last decade has seen many improvements both in the characteristics and quality of the athletics shoe. The walking shoe has also been developed.
Exercisers and athletes have much to gain from getting the best possible shoes on their feet. There are now many examples of how both leg pain and the inability to run longer distances have been cured by using basic shoe information. A good athlete can become even better with the correct choice of shoes.
Over recent years, ambitious analyses of exercise shoes have been carried out, providing those of us who work with problem-feet a better basis for our diagnoses, and a method of treatment for both shoe customers and patients.
For those plagued by chronic foot or jogging-related problems, this has meant a vast improvement in their chances for seeing an end to their discomfort.
From our daily contact with customers and patients over the last years, we have marked an obvious need for better information regarding both exercise and walking shoes.

In the following chapter, we will present in a concise manner our rationale when analyzing feet and shoes, as well as the advice we share with those we meet in our daily work.
It is our hope that this information will lead to both increased consideration and open discussion in shoe stores, schools, and in healthcare, as well as providing the consumer with a better understanding upon which to base a choice when confronted with the vast selection of shoes available today.
This chapter on shoe analysis was written in cooperation with Lars H

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