Cross-training shoes, otherwise known as “cross-trainers,” or “fitness shoes” are hybrid shoes. Cross trainers are a shoe with the cushion of a running shoe, the lateral stability motion of a tennis or basketball shoe and the cushioned forefront of a volleyball shoe all rolled into one comfortable sneaker. These are made to be versatile on an athlete’s foot and are great for someone who participates in a lot of different activities without specializing in anyone.
What, Exactly, Is Cross-Training?
Cross-training is not any specific activity. If you regularly run, you are likely to run in a running-specific shoe. If you regularly play tennis, you will wear a tennis-specific shoe. If your weight lifts one day, play pick-up basketball the next, go to Zumba! on the third day and take a cycling class the next, a cross trainer is probably perfect for you.
Cross-training promotes full-body fitness and helps athletes stay focused and healthy.
Benefits of Varying Your Workout
By varying your workouts, you can target multiple muscle groups in one workout session. Running, for example, only targets certain muscle areas. A cardio kickboxing class, on the other hand, will usually hit all the major muscle groups. In addition, it is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) class that is also excellent for burning fat and calories, as well as increasing heart health.
Cross-training is good for injury prevention, also. Mixing up workouts helps an athlete to avoid overuse injuries. Also, it can encourage the development of muscles that might not be used in singular focus exercises and activities.
Recovery is an additional benefit of cross-training. Engaging in a singular activity can cause body and muscle fatigue, and can also get boring. Personally, I enjoy a weekly cycling session to work out the kinks in my muscles and get my heart rate elevated in a non-impact activity.
Build of Cross Trainers
Cross-training shoes have a very unique build. They tend to be sturdier than many other shoes. In addition, they offer more lateral support. This is for the side to side, cutting motion often done in cross-training activities.
As mentioned before, cross trainers are built with the expectation of taking a beating. They have a cushion in the toes for repeated pushing off and landing in the forefoot area.
The material that the shoe is comprised of is also different in a cross-training shoe. Because they are designed to handle a variety of motions and exercises, they are made strong to handle that beating. The upside of durability is they last a long time. The downside is cross trainers can be heavier than some shoes, like running shoes.
How Long Does a Cross-Training Shoe Last?
A good rule of thumb is that a cross-trainer should be replaced about every 100 hours of true cross-training exercise. This may sound very frequent; however, think of it another way.
If I take cardio kickboxing once a week for an hour, that’s almost 2 years of wear. If I add another activity, such as spin class, the shoe is unlikely to need replacing because that is a non-impact activity. Adding to those activities such as weight lifting and once a year is probably a reasonable amount of time to expect a cross-trainer to last your average athlete.
Cross Trainer Fit
A cross trainer is typically true to size based on brand. Fit should be comfortable through the upper and midsole. The midsole should also be flexible for movement.
If the shoes put pressure on any particular part of your foot, you should consider a different brand or style shoe. Remember, an athletic shoe typically will not get more comfortable. True, some shoes need to be “broken in” a bit, but if it hurts your feet right off the bat, choose a different shoe.
When trying on cross trainers, it’s good to simulate movement like you will be experiencing during workouts. I jump up and down, do deep squats and go up on my toes when trying on shoes. This ensures I won’t have any surprises when I hit my workout room.
It is also recommended that you try shoes on later in the day when your feet would be most swollen. In addition, experts recommend wearing the same socks you would wear for working out when trying on shoes. This ensures the best fit. My new personal favorites are Rockay running socks!
How They Feel on Your Feet
Cross trainers are heavier than running shoes due to the support and durability factors. This will be a new feeling for people not acclimated to wearing them. My first pair of cross-trainers, newly referred to as fitness shoes, took some getting used to.
Every brand does have a slightly different feel so if one brand is uncomfortable, try a different one!
Danger of Injury
Experts agree that having the proper shoes is just as important as the workout you are about to complete. Why do you ask? Because wearing improper footwear can lead to injury.
- Running shoe for lateral movement activities like Zumba can result in a sprained ankle
- Lifting weights in a cushioned shoe can result in loss of balance and potential injury
- Running shoe for plyometrics can be a problem if the cushioning keeps you from landing properly
- Cross trainer for running – not enough cushion can result in a stress fracture
- Running in a training shoe puts you at a higher risk for plantar fasciitis
- Too small of a shoe of any kind can result in blisters, chafing and bruising
To Buy or Not to Buy, That is the Question
Once you have answered the question, “What are cross-training shoes?” the next question is, “Do I need them?” Unless you only participate in a single focus sport (think basketball, tennis or running), you need them. Buy the cross trainers; your feet will thank you!