There's no side-stepping it: your shoes play a pivotal role in your fitness journey. But when you're just getting started in training, you might be less inclined to invest in top-tier footwear. After all, some of the best-performing gym shoes can get expensive.
Enter Puma's Fuse Training Shoe, a cross-training model that's heavy on performance but light on cost. As our perennial best budget gym shoe, the Puma Fuse delivers a number of positive features to any workout. But how does it compare to other training essentials like the Reebok Nano x2 or other top performers?
To dive deeper into this cost-effective trainer, we laced up the Puma Fuse and tackled our normal workout routine for a handful of weeks. Would the test run change our perspective on this wallet-friendly silhouette? Would the Puma Fuse replace our normal gym footwear?
Here's what we found.
What's Good About the Puma Fuse Training Shoe?
The Puma Fuse provides exceptional stability for heavy lifts
A good cross-trainer should keep you grounded, allowing for the toes to splay and giving that secure underfoot feel when getting under a load. The Puma Fuse was fantastic for creating a stable base, especially during squats and deadlifts. We never felt our foot placement was compromised, and the extra medial and lateral support was nice for agility training.
Another feature boosting the Puma Fuse's stability is the very tacky PUMAGRIP rubber. We were impressed with how easily it was to gain solid footing, even when tackling fast side-to-side movements on multiple surfaces. From box jumps to ladder drills, we were able to confidently stride through a number of disciplines without hesitation.
The Puma Fuse boasts a sturdy construction, despite its lower price point
While you might be prone to believe that "cheaper" means "cheaply made," the Puma Fuse throw that notion out the window. Throughout grueling workouts that tested the durability of the shoes, we found no Achilles heels in the profile. The high-tensile mesh upper defended well against everything we threw at it, and we appreciated the added synthetic coating across the toe box.
Even once broken in, these shoes maintained a sense of rigidity that looks to be up for many more workouts. The construction of the Puma Fuse would be a highlight at any price point...but coming in at less than $100 just serves as a fantastic bargain.
What's Not Ideal About the Puma Fuse Training Shoes?
A narrow midfoot takes some getting used to
One of the main points to consider is the Puma Fuse's sizing, which we immediately noticed on our first wear. Despite the wide-enough toe box, the midfoot is narrow, which makes for a tighter fit.
To combat this, Puma recommends going up one half size from your normal footwear, of which we did. Despite the sizing up, however, we still felt a snug fit when wearing these cross-trainers. The fit slowly became better after wearing the shoes for a few weeks, but it does take some time.
The 4mm heel-to-toe drop isn't ideal for running
4 millimeters of drop is pretty common, especially among gym shoes; this provides enough support for lifting disciplines and some forgiveness on short-distance runs. With that said, running in the Puma Fuse isn't as comfortable as other cross-trainers.
The stable base, while high-performing in the gym, left something to be desired on short jogs. We'd recommend saving these kicks for other disciplines, or the occasional sprint. Plus, there's plenty of run-specific footwear options that can be easily thrown in a gym bag.
Puma Fuse Trainers: The Verdict
While the midfoot does take some getting used to, the Puma Fuse Training Shoes still stand tall as some of our favorite gym-ready sneakers. The performance is ripe with potential, and at less than $100, you simply cannot beat the price for this well-rounded cross trainer.
If you're looking for a good entry-level sneaker to tackle your summertime fitness goals, the Fuse Trainers remain one of our top recommendations.