If you’re like most people, you suddenly get inspired to exercise. So, you reach into your closet and dust off your last pair of sneakers and bam! You’re ready to go! However, there are many problems with this approach. Whether you’ve signed up for an aerobics class at the gym or you plan to engage in a varied workout program throughout the week, good shoes should be your highest priority. For a varied workout routine, you need the best cross training shoes on the market to care for not only your feet but your knees and body in general.

Both experienced athletes and those starting an exercise program for the first time may struggle to pick out the best shoes for their needs. It depends on a lot of factors including what type of exercise you’re doing, your foot type, any abnormalities you have, and more. This can make it difficult to find the best cross training shoes for your needs. We’re here to help! In this article, you’ll learn tips from the experts regarding how to buy the best shoes for cross training that meet your unique needs. In addition, you’ll find highly recommended products that you can feel confident about buying.

What Are Cross Training Shoes?

Close up of cross training shoesCross trainers, trainers, sneakers, or even tennis shoes. These are all names that we say offhandedly when referring to athletic shoes. However, there are many different kinds of shoes designed for exercise and although people may call them all the same names, not all shoes are equal. While some are designed for weightlifting, others are ideal for basketball, while still others are made for playing tennis. What you need will depend on what activities you engage in.

Cross trainers refers to a specific type of sneaker or shoe that’s quite versatile and has been designed to handle a variety of activities. The best cross trainers offer lateral support and some flexibility in the toe. Because court sports, such as basketball and tennis, and aerobics classes involve a lot of side-to-side movement this sort of lateral support is important. You’ll notice this because the shoe will have more leather than mesh along the side of the shoe. The heel should be firm and the shoe should offer some flexibility, but not bend too easily.

Finally, the best cross trainers should also be light-weight. If the shoe is too heavy, it will drag you down.

Pro Tip: The American Podiatric Medical Association recommends that if you participate in a specific sport 2-3 times a week or more, it’s best to buy a sport-specific shoe. So, if you play basketball 3 times a week, purchase special basketball shoes. Don’t use your cross-trainers for this activity (1).

Tips for Buying the Best Shoes for Cross Training

Choosing the best cross training shoesSo, now you know what to look for in a basic pair of cross trainers. Assuming you’re going to participate in general exercise (not just running or another specific type of sport), cross trainers should do the trick. For most people who plan to go to the gym and take a few classes to lose weight or stay fit, this type of shoe is perfect.  However, what else do you have to consider?

You should also make sure that if you have any special needs, they’re met in the shoe. Some people have flat feet, which is a condition in which the foot doesn’t present an arch. People with this condition may experience pain when playing sports or exercising. It’s important to note that flat feet can also develop over time as your tendons wear out or stretch. Shoes with a good arch support or arch support inserts can often help people with flat feet. (2)

Another common and related issue is overpronation. This happens when your arch is flattened due to rolling your foot too far inward when you walk or run. Overpronation can cause injuries. You may notice that you’re overpronated by looking at your sports shoes to see if they’re more worn on the inner edge than the outer edge. You can also, of course, get a formal evaluation by your doctor or podiatrist. Typically, the first step to deal with this issue is purchasing a shoe with sufficient support in the arch area. (3)

When you do find the best training shoes ever for your needs and exercise routine, there are some rules you should follow:

  • Avoid wearing your cross trainers when you’re not working out, says Dr. Tracie Rogers, a consultant for the American Council on Exercise. Save these shoes for exercise only, otherwise, you’ll wear out the shoe. This means the support will wear out for when you really need it, when you’re exercising (1).
  • Replace your shoes at least once a year, Dr. Rogers says. Even if your shoes still look nice, you may have worn out the support that your shoe is meant to provide. (1)
  • Get your shoe size checked every year, foot surgeon Catherine Cheung, recommends. Podiatrist Joy Rowland confirms that feet widen and flatten over time as we age.. This means your shoe size and requirements for support may change over time. Pregnancy can also affect your foot size, as the body releases the hormone relaxin which can cause your feet to spread and widen even more than normal aging.

Cross Training Shoes vs Running Shoes

Running Shoes versus Cross Training Shoes “Aren’t cross training shoes and running shoes basically the same thing?” you may wonder. The answer is no. There are a few major differences between running shoes and cross training shoes that will affect you big time when it comes to working out. What are they?

  • Running is a motion that takes place in a straight line, meaning there’s lots of flexibility in the toe of your running shoe. This is different than trainers which also provide lateral support, which is better for side-to-side movements.
  • Running shoes may be made especially for runners who overpronate, neutral feet and runners who push their weight to the outside of their foot. A proper gait analysis with the help of a shoe expert or podiatrist can help you figure out which running shoe is best for you. (4)
  • Running shoes also typically have more support on the forefoot than others.

Remember, if you plan on mainly running as your form of exercise, get a shoe that’s specifically made for it. Your cross trainers can be used for all other types of exercise. You can even run the occasional mile or two in them or run on the treadmill as part of your workout. However, if you try to put in lots of miles on your cross trainers, you may end up with sore feet. By the same token, playing basketball or soccer on a regular basis in your running shoes isn’t advisable either. These two types of shoes are designed to protect and support your feet for different types of activity. So, make your choice wisely depending on the activity you plan to engage in.  

The Best Training Shoes for Men

It’s no secret that shoes come separately for men and women. The differences are mostly aesthetic or related to the sizing, so it’s really not necessary to buy a gender specific shoe. All you’d have to do is adjust to make sure you request the right size.

That being said, it’s often easier to shop based on your gender as it’s easier to find the correct size. When it comes to the best training shoes for men, there are lots of options out there from plenty of reputable brands. We’ve scoured the internet to see which shoe gets the best reviews and meets the requirements for cross trainers. The best shoes for men are:

New Balance Men’s MX608v4

New Balance Men's MX608v4 cross training shoesNew Balance’s Men’s MX608v4 is a great overall shoe with all of the features to be expected in a cross trainer. Made mainly with leather and rubber soles, this product has achieved the #1 position for men’s athletic shoes. That means this shoe sells big time, and it’s likely for a good reason. Customers praise the shoes as comfortable, and some even report buying them over and over again for years.

  • Leather with rubber sole
  • Pull-tab for an easy to put on shoe
  • Non-marking sole, don’t worry about marking up the gym floor
  • EVA footbed
  • Wide range of colors/styles to choose from
  • Sizing can be chosen based on foot width and length
Who Makes It:

New Balance is a well-known shoe company. They’re known for making shoes that fit and work well rather than fancy designs. The company is American and was founded in Boston in 1906. Over the years, the company has become a big name in sports footwear. The company maintains a unique approach of keeping most manufacturing within the USA and Europe.

Bottom Line:

As far as basic, quality cross trainers go, the New Balance Men’s MX608v4 is a good choice for most people. The shoes are comfortable, offer good support and come highly recommended by most customers.  

The Best Training Shoes for Women

Naturally, next up are the best cross training shoes for women.

New Balance Women’s WX608v4

New Balance Women’s WX608v4 Cross Training ShoesThis is the women’s version of the same shoe recommended for men. Featuring everything you’d expect in a cross trainer, the Women’s WX608v4 provides great lateral support in the form of a leather top. The shoe features rubber soles and is available in a variety of styles and colors. This shoe has reached the #2 position for women’s athletic shoes. However, it meets cross trainer requirements better than the number one shoe. Users report that the shoes are comfortable and perform well. Some even note that their podiatrist recommended this model to them as an option that offers good support.

  • Leather top
  • Rubber sole
  • Pull-tab for an easy to put on shoe
  • A range of colors/styles to choose from
  • Sizing can be chosen based on foot width and length
Who Makes It:

This shoe is also produced by New Balance. It’s no surprise this great shoe company is responsible for some of the best training shoes for women and men.

Bottom Line:

For a quality, basic trainer that is durable and sold at a reasonable price, Women’s WX608v4 is a great choice. These shoes fulfill the basic needs of a trainer, offering plenty of lateral support and strength in the leather top.

The Best Training Shoes for Flat Feet

People with flat feet need plenty of arch support since their foot doesn’t naturally provide it. So, the best cross training shoes for flat feet offer great arch support. How can you figure out if the shoe offers this? According to Jenny Sanders, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, firm midsoles are best for people who overpronate, which creates a flat foot. You can see this if there’s a gray portion of the midsole, which indicates a firmer material. The white material is usually a softer material.

The arch support should also be noticeable when you try a shoe on.

A good option to try is:

Asics Women’s Gel Craze Shoes (also available in men’s)

Asics Women’s Gel Craze ShoesThis shoe offers great support for people with flat feet. The featured gel technology was specially created at Asics for neutral to flat feet. If you have a more severe problem with flat feet, you may prefer to opt for one of Asics’ specially created running shoes for overpronators such as the GEL-foundation model. However, most reviewers found enough arch support in the Gel Craze model. Do note that the shoe is only available in one size (M) for width. It’s also worthwhile noting that this model of Asics has achieved the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association. This means the shoe has been reviewed by podiatrists who evaluate whether or not products and footwear promote foot health (5).

  • Rubber sole
  • Synthetic top, part mesh and part solid for lateral support
  • Asics gel technology in the midsole
  • APMA Seal of Approval
Who Makes It:

Asics is a well-known athletic shoe company from Japan. Started by an entrepreneur who made basketball shoes in his living room, the company is now well-known among athletes and especially runners for its high quality shoes.

Bottom Line:

For individuals with a mild flat foot, these shoes may provide the perfect amount of support. However, those with more severe flat feet may want to investigate choosing Asics running shoes designed for overpronation (remember though, these won’t have as much lateral support) or using an arch support insert. Otherwise, the shoe provides everything you need in a good cross training shoe.

Best Shoes for Cross Training: 2 Excellent Performers

Everyone is different, and a top-selling shoe may not be perfect for everyone. For those looking for another brand to try that’s different than New Balance or Asics, try these out:

Puma Women’s Tazon

Puma Women’s Tazon Cross Trainer ShoesThis shoe is stylish, but also performs. Featuring a rubber sole and a synthetic leather top, this shoe provides stability and support. The shoe is available in both medium and wide sizes to accommodate a range of foot shapes. Reviewers gush over the comfortable and supportive nature of the shoe. Many also report their successful workouts wearing these shoes, which is encouraging.

  • Synthetic leather top
  • Rubber sole
  • A range of colors and designs
Who Makes It:

Puma is a well-known brand that specializes in a range of athletic wear and accessories. The company is from Germany, where it was founded in 1948. The brand is one of the top three sports manufacturers in the world.

The Bottom Line:

Style and comfort are combined in this great cross training shoe that offers a solution for women seeking the best of both worlds.

Sketcher’s Men’s Afterburn Memory-Foam

Sketcher’s Men’s Afterburn Memory-Foam SneakersThese shoes offer a great sneaker for cross training. Featuring a combined mesh and leather top, these shoes are breathable, yet supportive. A memory foam insole helps the shoe mold to your foot’s shape and the rubber sole absorbs shock and provides support. Customers report that even for individuals with wide feet, a good fit is possible.

  • Leather and synthetic top
  • Rubber sole
  • Memory foam insole
  • Various sizes to accommodate foot width
  • Variety of colors and designs
Who Makes It:

Sketchers is an American footwear company that originated in California. A newcomer when compared to other big names, Sketchers was founded in 1992. It quickly grew to become the 3rd largest athletic shoe brand in the USA, attesting to the brand’s popularity and quality.

The Bottom Line:

For a quality cross training shoe at a reasonable price, these shoes fit the bill. Customers rave about the comfort of the memory foam and are also pleased that there’s an extra wide size.

With this information on how to purchase the best cross training shoes, you should now feel fully prepared to make your purchase. Remember, quality, comfortable shoes will results in fewer injuries and aches and pains as you exercise. So, find that perfect fit for the best results!

Do you have a favorite cross training shoe that you love? We’d love to hear about how you pick out your shoes and which have worked best for you. Tell us about your cross training shoe experiences in the comments.