Building up enough motivation to exercise is often almost harder than the exercise itself but, like getting new stationery before the school year, having a fresh pair of kicks is sure to help you on your way.
Depending on what type of activity you enjoy – whether running, weights training, HIIT classes or all-round – trainers now have much more of the individual athlete in mind, tailoring themselves to your workout preferences.
But the chances are that since Covid restrictions ended, you’ve realised your trainers have probably seen better days. And you wouldn’t be alone. Luckily, that’s where we come in.
With trainers made for weightlifting to those that help conquer cardio, whether you’re just starting out on your fitness journey or are a seasoned pro, we’ve compiled a list of the very best trainers on offer, with something for every budget.
Before selecting a new pair, one thing worth bearing in mind is that unlike traditional running trainers – which are great if you just want to focus on that one thing – gym (or cross-fit) shoes are made with a full range of movement in mind.
While running shoes support the heel-to-toe movement, gym trainers are much more versatile and offer support for quick movement in all directions. This means that ideally, a good gym trainer should provide ample cushioning for the mid-foot and heel but also be flatter to support you while lifting weights.
So what’s stopping you? It’s time to get your kicks on.
On Running Cloud X
All-round athletes out there, listen up, as the Cloud X might just be the answer you were looking for.
Crafted with their trademark superfoam CloudTec outsole, these trainers were made to be thrown around (not literally).
Just to prove it, take a look at these features: the moulded, cushioned heel pads help to dampen the impact of rapid movement, while the raised sides enhance agility in all directions, and that’s all topped off with a weave pattern that means the trainers offer lots of breathability but also feel super lightweight.
This is a shoe that perfectly balances both comfort and precision, and ensures your feet are in pole position.
Domyos fitness shoe mid 140
For less than £30, you can get your hands on a pair of sleek shoes that offer a good level of support for any manner of activity in the form of the Domyos fitness trainer.
The high upper gives you much better cover than your average shoe, providing a close fit and therefore minimising the risk of injury. The flat sole also has decent grip, with grooves in the front that allow you to rapidly change direction, which is just the job for something like a HIIT class.
With good all-round coverage and most of the benefits of the more expensive brands out there, the Doymos is a great option for those on a budget.
Nike Air Zoom SuperRep 2
You probably already know of Nike as one of the top sportswear brands out there – but did you know that they have a whole range of gym trainers tailored to the exact way you like to work out?
The Air Zoom SuperRep 2s are made specifically with fast-paced exercise in mind (including HIIT and circuit training). With a chunky heel and toe, the trainers offer layers of support, along with Zoom Air cushioning, allowing you to move quickly in multiple directions through every jump and burpee.
The tight mesh upper keeps your feet firmly in place, whilst the wide heel adds stability, and all this is wrapped up inside a comfortable shoe that will have you fit to bursting for your next rep.
Sundried barefoot shoes 2.0
If you’re not already in the know, barefoot shoes give you the sensation of running, well, barefoot. They have been known to help prevent injuries through running and have the added benefit of strengthening the feet and leg muscles.
One great thing about Sundried’s barefoot shoes is that they are extremely lightweight – it really feels like you haven’t got anything on your feet – as well as being very comfortable to wear.
They have a toggle tightener for ease of use (which is quite frankly revolutionary) and this works together with a narrow opening to ensure the shoe fits snuggly on your foot, while the wide foothole gives toes room to move and breathe.
The solid, reinforced rubber heel helps prevent blisters and is anti-slip, making it the perfect shoe for those who like to move between indoors and out.
For those new to barefoot exercise, Sundried is a great place to start, offering a high-quality product at a reasonable price.
Reebok Nano X1 Adventure shoes
If staying firmly outdoors is more your thing, get hold of a pair of Reebok’s Nano X1 Adventure trainers.
Made to handle tricky terrain, these grippy shoes have raised lugs to offer enhanced traction on a multitude of services, both indoors and out, and will see you through a whole host of moves – including those dreaded box jumps!
The Floatride Energy Foam in the forefront provides ample cushioning for wherever you may find yourself, in a lightweight and flexible design. But the best feature of the Nano X1 is the stretch ripstop upper, which really holds your feet in place, especially when you’re throwing everything at an exercise class.
Allbirds tree dashers
Are these the comfiest trainers on the market? I think so!
Although technically a running shoe, the tree dashers go way beyond your standard design of trainer and are well matched for all-round training.
Here’s why: the flared natural rubber outsole is design to offer better balance and pronation control; the dual-density SweetFoam midsole has been optimised for enhanced stability, cushioning and energy return; meanwhile the upper is knitted from eucalyptus trees to provide a flexible and breathable shoe that are a class above the rest.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you, Allbirds is also a big driver of sustainability and so their shoes are made from renewable materials – including sugarcane and caster bean – so you can step out in sustainable style.
With the added luxury of a velvet-soft merino wool heel, you’ll struggle to take them off.
Adidas Power Perfect 3 Tokyo Weightlifting shoes
For those looking for weightlifting-specific shoes, the Power Perfect 3 are sure to help you up your lifting game.
Some of the best features of these trainers are the combination of laces as well as a mid-foot strap which ensure that your feet are held firmly in place, while the specially engineered high-density, die-cut wedge midsole is there to give you all the stability you need to lift to new levels.
Combined with an airmesh collar for breathability, a durable upper and hardwearing outsole, these shoes will carry you through to reach your personal best time and time again, no matter how much pressure you put them under.
Vivobarefoot Geo Racer Knit
For a slightly more high-end barefoot experience, try Vivobarefoot on for size.
The brand, which is hailed for its eco credentials, offers a tip-top product with its Geo Racer Knit that is suitable for any manner of workout.
The ultra-lightweight shoes are shaped to your feet (unlike standard trainers), meaning that your toes have more room to move whilst still being held firmly in place, the wide base works to aid stability, while the 4mm Active Sole offers a full sensory experience by allowing you to feel every movement but protecting your joints from impact.
As well as reusing post-consumer waste to make the trainers, the newly engineered knitted upper provides maximum breathability so there’s none of that hot, sweaty foot feel.
As far as barefoot trainers go, you can’t go wrong with Vivobarefoot’s Geo Racer Knit. They’re top-notch.
The award for best all-round gym trainer has to go to the Cloud X, which tops the charts all over the place – and for good reason. That being said, for trainers that hone in on specific activities, Adidas’s Power Perfect 3 Tokyo Weightlifting shoes know what they do, and they do it really well. So get your hands on a pair and raise your lifting game.