Whether you're trying to get from starting line to finish line, working through agility drills, or moving a barbell from lockout to lockout, efficiency is a cornerstone of a good fitness routine.
The same applies to your gear. Get more use out of your workout hoodie or go-to gym shirt around town or on the couch? Great.
But unlike your favorite pullover or pair of athletic socks there's one thing that definitely shouldn't pull double duty: your shoes.
You can wear your gym shoes as your daily sneakers. There's no law aginst it. You can also wear your down jacket in the summer. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.
Here's why training sneakers should be saved for what they're best at.
Gym shoes are designed for stability and performance, not comfort or style.
Being on your feet all day is difficult enough, but standing in shoes that feature little cushioning can only add to the problem. Unlike the underfoot foam you’d find in most running shoes or other silhouettes, gym shoes prioritize stability and balance over coziness. This is showcased in the firmer midsole construction you’re likely to find in most performance-ready training footwear.
It’s not that gym shoes are uncomfortable per se, but their purpose is more based on creating a proper stance rather than giving your feet a plush sense of relief with each step. When you set yourself up for a lift like a barbell squat or deadlift, you want to ground your positioning and build a strong base through your feet. This can better allow you to control and move the weight more efficiently, rather than pushing through mountains of foam to try and find that ideal foot placement.
Additionally, gym shoes often feature a lower heel-to-toe drop that positions your foot flatter against the floor. While some may be okay with this setting in their shoes — looking at you, barefoot enthusiasts — others may find this pitch more uncomfortable as the day wears on.
Shoes wear out.
Gym shoes are well-built footwear without question. Thanks to strong mesh uppers and resilient outsole constructions, these kicks are plenty capable of taking abuse in the throws of a hard-nosed training session. But they're designed with a specific environment in mind, i.e., indoor, climate-controlled training centers. Sure, there are some silhouettes that take their brawn up a notch for outdoor-oriented workouts, but more often than not, gym shoes are designed to withstand rope climbs and plyometrics, not rough sidewalks and puddles.
Exposing your gym shoes to in-gym and out-of-gym stressors could cause some premature wear, leaving you less equipped to get into your daily training. Plus, all that abuse adds up and suddenly you're buying specialized gym shoes more often than you need to be. Sure, wearing your gym shoes daily could save you time when it comes to choosing your outfits or getting ready for a session, but is that time worth the added cost of inevitable replacement pairs in the near future?
It's better to leave the outdoor muck outside.
One of the best reasons to keep your gym shoes for being in the gym is common decency. The world is filled with plenty of dirt, grime, mud and muck out there, and your go-to training center is probably not a fan of adding to its current cleaning schedule. After all, these facilities often pride themselves on providing athletes with clean, sanitized areas for training, so why track in a bunch of debris through the bottom of your kicks?
It's especially important in winter, when you might be trudging through snow, sleet and salt Having one pair of do-it-all sneakers could be fine for your sake, but think of your gym as your own home — would you want someone leaving muck and dirt everywhere they step?
These notes can go a long way in helping preserve both the lifespan of your workout sneakers and the peace between you and your training center's staff. If you must wear your gym shoes as daily garb, these are the silhouettes we recommend. But the best course is to have separate pairs for in the gym and the rest of the world.