Wise men say only fools rush in, but I can’t help falling in love with my new shoes. See, I think footwear is very underrated when it comes to training and exericse, and more care should be taken to get people into the best shoe possible. Baring orthopedic issues, this usually means more ‘minimalist’ style shoes, which allow the structure of the foot to transmit forces naturally. Unfortunately, there isn’t lots of money to be made in minimalist style footwear, because shoe companies love to research the best cushioning matterials and the most stabile soles. That’s great for their business and bottom line, but it’s probably not the best for your body.
Strap on a pair of Nike Shox, and you can prepare for some knee pain. Lace up those chunky motion-control shoes, and you’re bound to have some tight ankles. Put on the latest ‘toning’ shoes, and you’re probably not going to see any difference; they don’t work! Plus, they just look silly!
I’ll admit, I’ve worn some funny lookin’ kicks in my day: In elementary school I had a pair of Airwalk sneakers with flames on the side. Man, I had style. While my shoes have certainly gotten better, the colors are relatively the same; I like bright shoes! I have a pair of baby blue and yellow Vibram FiveFingers, and various pairs of Nike Frees. Both shoes are super flexible and thin; perfect for training in. I’ve always told people to get into a pair of those shoes if they can, as they’ll find it more comfortable to train their lower body, and they’ll likely find they feel their posture has improved as well. Unfortunately, most people are turned off by the ‘toes’ on the Vibrams, and refuse to put on footwear that looks like gloves. It’s too bad, but the Free’s are almost as good. What if that almost ‘gap’ was even smaller? I think it is.
You’re looking at a pair of the New Balance Minimus Trail shoe, which I bought last weekend. Let me just tell you; it was love the first time we touched! I first heard about the Minimus last spring, and was immediately interested; another minimalist training shoe? Let me try them out! Unfortunately, it was impossible for me to find any in Long Island’s local stores, and I was even more frustrated when I saw plenty of people wearing them at Perform Better’s Summit in Rhode Island. This past weekend my girlfriend and I finally found them. New Balance develeoped the shoe with a Vibram sole, and to me that’s the selling point of the shoe. The sole is super thin, with a 4mm drop from the heel to the toe. What’s that mean? It’s pretty damn close to flat, meaning it makes training with good technique easier. In addition, the toe box is pretty wide, allowing your forefoot to relax and ‘spread out’ in the shoe, doing it’s job as a natural shock absorber/force transmitter. If you’re used to stuffing your feet in tight dress shoes, these are going to be your best friend!
In the past week, I’ve trained exclusively in the Minimus to see how they handled the weight room. The pair that I got is the trail running version, and while New Balance also designed a training version, I think the model I got is more practical to use inside and outside of the gym. This past week involved plenty of squats, deadlifts, lunges, Prowler pushes, kettlebell swings, and sprints. The shoes felt great through it all! I even kept them on during sets of military presses, which I usually do in my socks unless I’m wearing Vibrams. The Minimus felt great through it all.
While I think the pair I got looks pretty damn cool, I think the Vibram sole makes the shoe. It’s extremely flexible, but it’s also relatively firm. This allows it to transfer energy better than an over cushioned shoe, and I think the newest models in the Nike Free arsenal have become too soft in an attempt to sell a more comfortable shoe. The sole on the Minimus makes it easier to ‘feel’ the ground when you set up to squat, deadlift, lunge, and sprint, and they felt awesome. The Nike Free 3.0’s are just as flexible but much softer, making wide stance exercises feel awkward. The Free 5.0’s and Trainers are just as firm, but the heel lift is too big, which changes technique for the worse. The Minimus seems to get it right, and you can still roll them up in a ball in addition to having great ground feel.
On the days that I trained in the Minimus, I also wore the shoe before and after my workout, and it was comfortable through out the day. Some shoes, like the FiveFingers, are a workhorse in the weight room, but you’re not going to wear them to your family barbeque because they look a little silly. Without the gloved-foot look, the Minimus won’t be relegated to the gym back like the Vibrams tend to be. As comfortable as I found them for daily activities, you may not like them if you’re used to super cushy shoes. If that’s the case, you’ll probably find them too firm underfoot to let you work on your feet all day. Stick with your regular shoes and use Minimus as a training shoe, or just transition into them for daily use. I think your whole kinetic chain will be happy.
As you can tell, I’m sold on the Minimus as a great do-it-all training shoe. When I bought them, I thought that I’d need to apologize to Nike for finding a shoe I like more, because I’ve spent years telling people to get into the Frees as their training shoe. Don’t worry, I still love the Frees as a training shoe, but to me the Minimus feels just a touch better. Plus, they’re incredibly comfortable, and come in awesome colors.
You wouldn’t show up at the gym in a dress suit or skirt and expect to have a great workout; you can tell that you just wouldn’t be able to move well. You’d throw on your favorite loose-fitting, sweat wicking gear to let your body move free and be comfortable. Why not do the same thing for you feet? The New Balance Minimus is super light (7.1 oz), flexible, and firm under foot. This allows them to be comfortable both inside and outside the gym, from walking lunges to walking to work. If you’re looking for a great training shoe, I’d check out the New Balance Minimus. If a few pictures and my podiatric praise isn’t enough for you, check out this video from BirthdayShoes.com. I hope you like it: