bottom soles of several running shoes

HEY SAM:  I am thinking about buying cross-training shoes to use in the gym. Is there anything specific I should look for in cross-training shoes?

~Bob, Los Angeles

As with men, it’s important to know that not every shoe is equipped to handle every need. Knowing the differences between these types shoes will help you get what you need, but moreover — prevent unnecessary injury! In terms of exercise, there are three kinds of shoes to be concerned about: running, walking, and cross-training shoes. So what makes a cross-trainer a GOOD cross-trainer?

Good cross-training shoes should not only make you look good, but also confident, capable, and fully supported.


MESH — The shoe needs to have some mesh fabric. Mesh in a cross-training shoe helps the shoe handle variations in temperature, as well as to be moisture-wicking, (pulling moisture away from your skin). Breathability determines whether your foot drowns in a pool of sweat or glides along comfortably.

FLEXIBILITY— One surefire way to developing unsightly corns is an inflexible shoe (especially in the toes). A good cross-training shoe should feel flexible. Does it bend in different directions easily? Does it allow your foot to move easily for movements like burpees and pushups? If in doubt, do a few in the shoes and see. 

SHOCK ABSORPTION — The heavier you are, the more important this is. Shock absorption protects your heels from crashing down too hard and hurting your ankles or knees (or both). Place your fingers on the underside toe area and see if there is a little bit of give in the sole and do the same for the heels— a good cross-training shoe should have both.

LATERAL MOTION — Good cross-training shoes have support not only for forward and backward movement, but also side to side motion. Also, the ankle area should have a bit of give. Do some jumping jacks in the shoes and ask if the shoe is giving you enough support. You should always have the ability to move your ankle without interference, otherwise you will have unnecessary soreness.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS — If you have high arches, consider yourself genetically gifted. Very few shoe companies manufacture shoes with high arch support, because they are catering to the “average” consumer. If you need more arch support, find a good brand and stick to that brand like glue. Not supporting your arches affects how you walk, which can make your body develop asymmetrically.

THE HAPPY FACTOR — Buy shoes that you like looking at. Choose a cool color—maybe a bright neon—that makes you smile, or makes you excited to work out. Good cross-training shoes should not only make you look good, but also confident, capable, and fully supported.

RESEARCH — Finally, remember to go online and read some of the reviews on technical aspects of the shoes, how long they are expected to last, and how much use you can get out them BEFORE you buy.

Do you have a favorite cross-training shoe?

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About The Author

Sam Page's picture

Named one of the “Top 5 Trainers in Los Angeles" by, Sam Page is the owner of Sam Page Fitness ( and the force behind He can quickly identify problem behaviors through motivational interviewing, and uses science, exercise physiology, and 10 years experience as a coach to produce red carpet results. 

A technology fanatic since his time at Apple, Sam was one of the first trainers to offer remote online guided training to people around the world using his app, PocketSAM. He continues to educate and inspire others with regular speaking engagements at wellness conferences across the country, and is a regular contributor to, Passport, DNA, HIV Plus, and The Advocate. Sam is certified in Executive Protection, CPR/AED, and First Aid, and is active in the Buddhist, LGBT, and SMART Recovery communities in LA. In his free time, Sam enjoys documentaries, playing flag football, and hanging with his Yorkie, Max. He is founder of Athletes for Humanity.

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