We get it; as guys, the gym is less of an afterthought and more of “natural habitat.” It’s where we belong, helping us to maintain our genetic righteousness, filter out anxieties, stressors, and emotional inadequacies, and build a foundation for a better, healthier tomorrow. But if you’re someone who’s spent any amount of time within the church of iron, you’ll also know that, amidst the continuous mirror selfies and side glances, there’s something else that matters to its denizens: style.
Now don’t get us wrong, we know that the gym is a holy place; a location where we’re all baptized by fire, proving our worth through the committal pushing and pulling of large, cumbersome objects. And while that’s all fine and good, the newest generation of lifters has decided that aesthetic progression is also important. These days, colorful garments, patterns, and getups can help you to stand apart from your less-fashionable counterparts. The most important part of your fitness-focused wardrobe, however, is your footwear. As is the case in the world outside of the gym, your shoes are a primary component in your overall aesthetic, helping to define the rest of your outfit, and push you into the upper echelon of self-improvement. Here, we’ve decided to curate a list of the best gym shoes to enhance your appearance as you pursue the ultimate in fitness fanaticism. So pull on your shorts and don the most domineering hoodie you can find — we’re about to begin.
Impossible is Nothing
Adidas Ultraboost DNA
Since 2015, Adidas’ Ultraboost line has provided cutting-edge athletic qualities to those looking for more from their general-use sneaker. As such, various models have been introduced under the Ultraboost umbrella, including more contemporary examples like the ‘DNA.’ This ultra-modern shoe boasts a comfortable Primeknit upper, an adaptive, energy-savvy silhouette, and a Continental Rubber-clad Stretchweb outsole for the ultimate marriage of comfort and capability. Pair that with the brand’s lauded BOOST midsole, which returns energy to its wearer and adapts to various different foot types, and you’ve got a great-looking recipe for success.
Adidas Ultraboost 20
If you’re looking for a shoe that will provide all of the top-tier athletic qualities that have become associated with Adidas’ Ultraboost line, but you don’t place an emphasis on style and aesthetic, then the Ultraboost 20 are an interesting proposition. Despite their minimalistic appearance, these subdued sneakers boast a suite of high-performance recycled materials, Parley Ocean Plastics, and the brand’s performance-focused Primeknit upper. Inside, they’ve been thoroughly reinforced, complementing their responsive cushioning and BOOST midsole. There’s even a stabilizing torsion system, allowing you to take on your favorite lifts, pulls — and even the cardio machine — without having to worry about any abnormalities.
Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2
Everyone wants a piece of Kanye West, whether it be through his music, his clothing and apparel lines, or his footwear. If you’re headed to the gym and you’re looking for some additional style points, the Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 is a commendable option, thanks to its re-engineered Primeknit upper, a monofilament side stripe, and, you guessed it, the brand’s innovative BOOST technology. Plus, the sleek, futuristic silhouette falls well under the purview of Yeezy, himself, making it all the more notable within sneaker-savvy circles that socialize outside of the fitness center.
Jordan Air Zoom 85
Michael Jordan’s transcendental shoe company might have been acquired by one of the world’s largest footwear brands, but that doesn’t mean that it’s lost its identity. The Jordan Air Zoom 85, for example, is a running-focused model that takes cues from its courtside counterparts, introducing ultralight materials, a thin, dialed-back outsole, and a Zoom Air forefoot cushioning system to ensure that every stride is well-met. On its exterior, it boasts synthetic leather detailing and additional textile work, complementing its futuristic persona, and paying homage to some of the brand’s very first footwear examples.
Where the Air Zoom 85 is all about lightness, minimalism, and performance-focused materials, Jordan’s Delta sneaker takes on a more plush appearance. It’s chunkier, more expressive, and features a modernized mix of attributes — like Nike’s React foam, a mesh, diamond grid textile, and suede overlays — giving it an aura of unadulterated luxury. But that doesn’t mean it can’t hold its own in the gym setting. It features a flexible silhouette that places stability and grip at its forefront, a padded collar to protect your ankles and Achilles tendon, and a suite of webbing pull tabs for easy donning and doffing.
Just Do It
Nike Air Max 90
Nike’s Air Max 90 might be one of the style world’s most recognizable sneakers, but when it comes to gym use, many can’t help but question its chops. While the timeless shoe doesn’t inspire the most confidence when it comes to running and cardio work, its chunky silhouette is suitable for virtually every other in-gym activity, thanks to its low-top design, padded collar, stitched overlays, and a Max Air midsole unit, which provides additional cushioning in prominent stress areas. If you’re a fan of heritage style and want to rock a sneaker that’ll remind you of the 90s, the Air Max 90 is your cup of tea.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37
When people think of Nike, they often think of high-performance footwear. While the vast majority of the brand’s offerings are focused on cutting-edge technologies, materials, and designs, the Air Zoom Pegasus 37 sets itself apart. Not only does it introduce an all-new forefoot cushioning system for enhanced comfort and responsiveness during everyday endeavors, but it also adapts and evolves depending on the size and shape of your foot, courtesy of its security-focused midfoot band. Mesh components and lightweight foams abound, this unique model is a running silhouette that can take on everything that you’ll be able to throw at it, including a tough leg day at the gym.
Nike React Element 87
The Nike React Element 87 isn’t for everybody, but for those who find that eye-catching design and a unique utilitarian silhouette are non-negotiable, it’s the perfect in-gym variant. It draws inspiration from a number of Nike’s most prolific heritage models, including (but not limited to) the Internationalist, and elaborates on their most prominent qualities. As a result, the shoe’s transparent textile overlay provides both sleek aesthetics, and purposeful weight savings, complementing its moisture-wicking sock liner. To round things out, it’s also been equipped with Nike’s shock-absorbing React technology, responsive rubber nodules, and enhanced taping to promote a more deconstructed look.
Nike Joyride Dual Run
Nike’s Joyride Dual Run is one of its more recent releases, and as such, it boasts a handful of the brand’s contemporary technologies. Cutting-edge implementations like compartmentalized foam bead cushioning, adaptable foams, and reinforced “high-wear” areas, are only a small selection of attributes that make the Dual Run so notable. But, if you’re here for the aesthetic side of things, that’s where the shoe truly shines. Its subtle design, flowing iconography, and near-seamless exterior give it a leg up on the competition through sheer visual attrition.
Nike Air Max 270
The Nike Air Max 270 is all about visibility, and thanks to its enormous midsole, Max Air Unit, and color options, it’s one of the brand’s most captivating models. But its aesthetic presence doesn’t come at the expense of its performance-focused qualities. It still features an ultra-comfortable inner sleeve, a structured and stable heel counter, and a healthy helping of aerated mesh to keep ventilation at the forefront. At its rear, an exceedingly large Air unit offers a window into the brand’s most innovative technology, giving the shoe a unique look that’s unmatched by any of its siblings.
Nike Air Max 2090
Nike’s Air Max 2090 is an interesting specimen. Not only does it regulate and retain characteristics from some of the brand’s earliest models, but it’s also decidedly modern, incorporating just enough contemporary qualities to help it straddle that line. Aside from its obvious connection the Air Max 90, it blends unparalleled comfort a highly-performative suite of implementations, including a translucent rubber frame, an internal boot, padded heel, and a speedy quick-lace front, helping you to get into the action as soon as possible. If you’re in the market for retro nostalgia, but don’t want to commit to one of your favorite brand’s older models, the Air Max 2090 might be the perfect offering to satiate your vintage thirst.
Nike React Metcon
When compared to other Nike models, the React Metcon stands apart; not because of its unique silhouette or its cutting-edge traits, but because of its focus. Instead of hybridizing the worlds of athleticism and contemporary style, the React Metcon places an emphasis on training, throwing everything else to the wayside in pursuit of tailor-made accessibility. Built to accompany you during your most trying workouts, this pared-down model boasts high-impact React foam cushioning, an ultra-light forged Flyknit upper for increased comfort, security, and speed, and a zonally-reinforced silhouette for those days when your footwear might be an afterthought. If you’re focused on your own performance and don’t mind wearing a more stealthy shoe, the React Metcon is certainly your bag.
Nike Air Max 97
Nike has always excelled in its ability to capture (and visualize) inspiration from anywhere. For the brand’s Air Max 97, it turned to the original ripple design — something that’s often associated with Japanese bullet trains — to create a sleek, speed-savvy silhouette. Like its siblings, it adopts a full-length Nike Air unit for increased responsiveness and cushioning, as well as a suite of mesh and synthetic materials to give it an air of nostalgia. While the shoe was initially conceptualized for running purposes, it still performs surprisingly well in other aspects of life, including causal, everyday encounters, lighter training sessions, and afternoons at the gym.
Be More Human
Reebok Zig Kinetica
Nike isn’t the only transcendental sneaker brand that’s pushing the boundaries when it comes to high-performance footwear offerings. Reebok has also made it its mission to create formidable models with cutting-edge technologies. The Zig Kinetica, for example, brings a stability-sustaining Zig Energy Shell, Floatride cushioning, and expandable rubber Energy Bands to the forefront for fitness-focused wearers, providing a breathable mesh design that’s been inspired by the stars. To round things out, a comfortable neoprene collar, abrasion-reducing design, and an energized cushioning experience help the shoe to stand its ground against the likes of Adidas and Nike.
Reebok Nano X
Like Nike, Reebok has its very own silhouette devoted to hardcore training. The Nano X brings an elevated Flexweave upper, minimal drop outsole, and proprietary collar construction to the forefront for those who are serious about their gains. As a result, wearers will be able to partake in increased stability, targeted support, and long-lasting cushioning, helping them to push through barriers that they might not have been able to achieve with other footwear. The Nano X’s upper is even formulated with a stretchable, but resilient material, complementing the model’s lightweight EVA foam.
The Only Way Is Through
Under Armour UA HOVR™ Machina
No athletically-inclined guide would be complete without the inclusion of Under Armour. While the brand boasts an expansive catalog of apparel and footwear options, the UA HOVR Machina is the one that stands out the most, thanks to its unique Pebax propulsion plate and modern tech integration. Not only does the shoe provide improved responsiveness and energy return as you take on various exercises, but it’s also able to track your cardio-focused metrics, coaching you to a better understanding of your specific goals. Aside from their lightweight, zero-gravity feel, enhanced compression mesh, and spike-inspired speed plate, they’re also true to Under Armour’s technical aesthetic, boasting a solid rubber outsole, carbon rubber pods, and reinforcement in high-impact strike zones.
All The Rest
York Athletics ‘The Henry’
When it comes to slick, unassuming aesthetics, nobody does it better than York Athletics. The brand’s Henry silhouette is a perfect example, thanks to its well-informed design, training-inspired inclusions, and lightweight midsole. But don’t take our word for it. The shoe’s minimal, adaptive-fit upper, optimized EVA foam sole, and customize heel sidewall support were all implemented with one thing in mind: unquestionable performance. So if you’ve been searching for an affordable blend of quality and looks, your journey is about to come to an end.
HOKA ONE ONE Mens Hupana
HOKA ONE ONE is revered for its outdoor-oriented footwear, and the Hupana runner is yet another model that promotes its long-running lineage within the world of fitness. Each example boasts an energy-conscious RMAT midsole, a knitted, ultra-breathable upper, and a responsive outsole that’s both lightweight and performance-focused. Taking its name from the Maori word for “spring back,” the Hupana certainly boasts one of the more laid-back silhouettes on this list; but if you’re one for unassuming design choices paired with top-of-the-line athletic inclusions, you won’t go wrong if you decide to add these to your collection.
Athletic Propulsion Labs Men’s Techloom Pro
Nothing’s as classic as an all-white training shoe, and when it comes to subtle, but sporty silhouettes, Athletic Propulsion Labs has you covered. Not only is the brand’s name a testament to its versatility within the world of fitness and training, but its Techloom Pro is a tried-and-true example that’s been around for almost as long as the company, itself. This classic running shoe boasts a patented one-piece woven upper, a proprietary Propelium midsole and outsole, and a luxurious, textured design that rivals the likes of Nike and Adidas’ more aesthetically-pleasing models. While APL might not be the most recognizable name on the market, its reverence within the world of fitness-focused footwear is undeniable, making this high-performance model a well-kept secret of gymgoers everywhere.
on Running Men’s Cloud Mesh
We’re rounding out our list with On Running’s Cloud Mesh — a synthetic sneaker that’s helped to solidify the brand’s name into the annals of athletic history. As its name suggests, the Cloud Mesh takes on a lightweight, yet substantial mesh upper, On’s unique energy-converting Speedboard technology, and a reinforced design that’s been likened to a sock, promoting personalized comfort and unparalleled tactile feel. For those who are interested in getting right into the action at their local gym, the Cloud Mesh also features a quick-lace system, allowing them to slip into the shoe and secure it to their foot in a seamless, intuitive fashion.
The 10 Best Workout Shirts For Men
Now that you’ve found the perfect foundation for your in-gym look, head over to our guide on the best workout shirts for men, where we outline the qualities you should be looking for in your next athletically-inclined torso piece.