10 Best Aerobic Shoes Reviewed for Performance
Since the explosion of the aerobic workout craze in the ‘80s, people have been crazy for the high-intensity form of fitness. It combines elements of many different types of exercise, such as dance, gymnastics, and even circuit training. Often times you use your own body weight against yourself to tone and sculpt long, lean physiques that aren’t achievable through any one exercise alone!
Though everyone has an idea of what an aerobic workout looks like, they don’t always have an idea of what an aerobic shoe looks like – and that’s ok because the shoe brands don’t either. Aerobic shoes just need to have certain features of athletic shoes like mesh for breathability, padding to cushion the impact of certain moves and be lightweight enough to be as flexible as certain exercises need. They also need to have good traction for the sudden changes in motion so common to aerobics, and to have a pivot point under the forefoot that allows for a different series of moves.
- New Balance WX608V4
- IMEVA midsole
- Ryka Influence
- Ryka Hydro Sport
- Removable Insole
Now that aerobic workouts have combined elements of the latest exercise routines like Zumba and Crossfit, the shoes needed for them have to accommodate high-impact interval training. In the list below, you’ll find great examples of cross trainers, trainers, and athletic shoes that make for great aerobic shoes.
10 Best Aerobic Shoes
1. New Balance WX608V4
The New Balance WX608V4’s have a thick rubber outsole and sole, which means you feel the ground beneath your feet less, but are also more stable. Because the materials of the shoe consist of leather and synthetics, it has a firmer feel around your feet, which can feel comfortable for those doing intense aerobic workouts. They also have an internal shank that provides additional support, which can even be of great value for moments when you’re standing still for isometrics.
With its extra padded collar and tongue, there’s enough cushion to prevent irritation, and the collar extends past the ankle bone to prevent chafing. It’s shock absorbing Abzorb technology minimizes the brunt of the impact from aerobics and diffuses it along the IMEVA midsole. Since aerobic activities involve a lot of high impact interval training, this is welcome feature.
Cost and Value:
New Balance is a brand known for making fine athletic footwear with quality materials. They pay attention to what their customers want and then spend time researching and developing the best way to implement their needs into the designs of their shoes. For a cross trainer that provides the sort of support and comfort needed for vigorous aerobic exercise, this shoe is a great bargain. It also fits wide feet!
- IMEVA midsole
- Shank along footbed for support
- Fits wide feet
- Abzorb shock absorption
- May be too firm for some wearers
2. Ryka Influence
For fitness enthusiasts wanting a lightweight, springboard-like feel to their aerobic shoes, the flex-foil and direct-fuse layers of the RYKA Influence provide support for your lateral movements while cushioning direct pressure points. The narrowed heel and roomy forefoot are perfect for athletes with specific wearing requirements. The increased instep volume and more secure footbed give a fit that is stable and flexible enough to match the pace of any aerobic workout.
These shoes have arch support where it counts due to the medial post, a key component of their comfortable feel. With a dual foam midsole you’ll have lots of cushion, and the ergonomically designed sole, including a pivot point, lets you enjoy natural movements through your fitness activity. The great traction provided by the outsole (in the shape of a foot no less) keeps you stable and upright.
Cost and Value:
RYKA is a brand renowned for its innovation and versatility. Its attention to detail and customized features help it stay fresh and current in a market saturated with athletic shoes. It knows that certain shoe designs are appropriate for certain activities, and it’s made the Influence to be one of the best aerobic shoes out there. Its lightweight feel, direct-fuse layers, and ergonomic cushion ensure you’ll get the most out of your training and workout sessions.
- Flex-foil and direct-fuse layers for comfort and flexibility
- Ergonomic for comfort
- Roomy forefoot
- Can run small
3. Ryka Hydro Sport
The functionality of the RYKA Hydro Sport shoes is reflected in their removable, perforated nitracel footbeds, as well as the drainage ports in their soles, ensuring that they dry out more quickly than normal. They have thick rubber soles made of a “sticky” rubber that is tacky enough to maximize traction on wet surfaces. They also have a simple and easy slip on and off design.
These shoes are made from a synthetic and mesh fabric upper that is quick drying and water resistant. The material is also chlorine resistant, and forms a comfortable spongy wall around your foot. The webbing along the midfoot cage provides excellent medial and lateral support. These are perfect for high-intensity water aerobics, but would also do quite well in any aerobics class that has you perspiring like crazy.
Cost and Value:
The RYKA Hydro Sport, cross trainers that are specifically designed for water aerobics and sports, have features that will enhance your aerobic experience and leave you feeling fresh and accomplished when you’re done. Their water resistant and chlorine resistant construction ensure that you won’t have to spend your entire workout in soaking wet shoes, especially thanks to their unique drainage system. For the price, there’s no better quick drying shoes whether or not you wear them to the pool, on wet trails, or in a high-intensity aerobics class.
- Perforated footbed and drainage system
- Water resistant
- Fast drying
- Run a half size small
4. K-Swiss ST329 CMF
The K-Swiss ST329 CMF’s are made from high quality leather on the upper, with a thick rubber sole that has maximum shock absorption. They also boast a deep multi-dimensional tread - this being partly due to their origins as a shoe for tennis players, but perfect for aerobics where quick footwork and rapidly changing movements require non-slip designs that won’t have you getting injured. The area around the heel cup is reinforced with dual foam to ensure the most energy return. Their sleek, streamlined look also helps them go from the gym to the street without a second thought.
These shoes have been specifically designed for comfort, and though your aerobic exercise may only last an hour, these shoes could be worn for many more. Orthotic inserts aren’t needed when these shoes have custom made memory foam footbeds, allowing you ease of movement, freedom from joint pain, and the feeling of walking on air. However, after long time wear, the memory foam may wear down.
Cost and Value:
K-Swiss may have had their origins in tennis, but these elite sneakers can be used for a variety of athletic purposes. These durable sneakers are built to last, and can be used beyond their category thanks to great multi-directional traction on the bottom of the sole, extra bounce and energy return in the heel, and a memory foam footbed that cushions your feet and protects them from foot fatigue, especially if you’ll still be wearing these shoes well after your workout is over.
- All leather sophisticated design
- Memory foam footbed for all day comfort
- Great multi-directional tread for traction
- Can fit wide feet
Slightly more expensive
5. Asics Gel-190 TR
The comfort breakdown for the GEL-190 TR’s begins with the specially engineered DuoMax Support System that ASICS has developed. It consists of a dual density midsole system that is directly positioned to enhance arch support and stability. Next the Rearfoot GEL Cushioning System attends to the shock your feet and joints experience during the impact phase of aerobics and lets you easily and smoothly transition between movements. Finally, the spEVA Midsole Material improves the bounce back experienced throughout your workout and limits the midsole breakdown.
The point of having specific shoes for specific activities is that they’re designed to have features geared towards them, and if you run as well as do aerobics classes, you don’t want to have to wear your running shoes all the time. These shoes are lightweight, have good tread, and because they have no mesh, they can even be used outdoors in cooler weather.
Cost and Value:
ASICS has taken a lot of time and care into designing these cross trainers specifically so that they could be used for a variety of athletic activities. They’re perfect for your Zumba class, step aerobics, or any high impact interval training you might be doing due to their uniquely engineered comfort technology. Having the GEL system throughout the GEL-190 means all day, lasting comfort that relieves foot fatigue, is gentle on your joints, and lets you focus on your workout.
- GEL technology for ultimate comfort
- All leather, no mesh
- spEVA midsole for high energy return
- Lots of arch support
- Can be narrow
6. Nike Free 5.0
The Nike Free 5.0’s are a shoe that is streamlined and uncluttered. Due to that construction, they are made from mesh materials that have a great deal of perforations which are ideal for maximizing airflow and air circulation. This ensures your feet are kept nice and cool and dry throughout your workout. The Nike Free flex grooves also allow for plenty of flexibility.
There is a cushioned midsole to these training shoes, but the soles aren’t thick and there is little in the way of shock absorption. If you’re looking for lots of arch support, that is low considering how flat the shoe is. These shoes are, however, extremely lightweight and mold easily around the shape of your foot. The comfort these shoes provide is in the forefoot and at the back near the heel. Aerobic movements that feature rapid side to side movements, pronated toes, or resting back on the heel will pose no problems.
Cost and Value:
Nike, like ASICS and RYKA, is a brand that explores innovative ways to provide their customers with the shoe most beneficial to their athletic needs, at a price that they think is fair. While arch support was lacking in these shoes, their lightweight fit, perforated profile, and comfortable padding at the forefoot and heel make them ideal for any aerobics class or impact training you might engage in. Just keep in mind the soles are not thick and these shoes have a low profile.
- Perforated mesh for airflow
- Nike Free flex grooves for flexibility
- Padding at forefoot and heel
- Less arch support
7. Ryka Vida Rzx
Comfort is the name of the game for any aerobics shoe, but different brands conceive of it differently. The mesh underlays of the Vida RZX allow for airflow and ventilation, keeping you feet dry and cool. The synthetic overlays give you support and wrap your foot snugly. The padded tongue and collar prevents against chafing and irritation. The anatomically precision-focused footbed provides a great deal of bounce back at the midsole.
RYKA has built these shoes around their RZX technology, designed to provide both flexibility, range of motion, and energy return without sacrificing comfort. The rubber outsole has a single pivot point feature, a unique element to his shoe that allows you to transition between movements with each, even as they get faster or more complex. By having this point, these shoes are useful for a wider range of high impact activities, though they’re obviously great for aerobics with all their different workout configurations. The soles have deep flex grooves to deliver excellent traction and tread.
Cost and Value:
RYKA once again delivers a cross trainer that’s perfect for aerobic workouts. They’re lightweight, comfortable, yet have the support to keep you stable through vigorous exercise. The pivot point at the bottom of the shoe is essential for preventing injury to your knees, and the anatomical footbed provides great relief for your joints. This sneaker is highly recommended for anyone that needs a lot of arch support.
- Arch support
- Pivot point at bottom of sole
- Anatomical midsole for joint pain relief
- Can run narrow
8. Merrell Pace Glove 3
Their patented M Select Fresh technology is full of antimicrobial agents that disrupt the production of the microbes that cause odor buildup in your shoes. They also prevent sweat and moisture from keeping your shoes fresh. The highly breathable mesh of their design also allows for proper air circulation, keeping your feet cool and dry. The lug pattern on the bottom of the sole give you stability no matter what sort if terrain you find yourself on. Whether you happen to be doing aerobics where it’s wet or dry, the traction offered by these shoes will give you stability without the loss of flexibility.
The Pace Glove 3 has the “glove like” fit and feel that Merrell has perfect in their Pace Glove line of shoes. This shoe has a lot of flexibility throughout its design, letting your feet flow through their natural movements. The eyelets are sewn to the tongue midway down the vamp, ensuring that the tongue will lay flat and not slide around during a vigorous workout. They also boast a padded collar for comfort around the ankle, 4 mm of cushioning, and their patented TrailProtect pad for underfoot protection.
Cost and Value:
Though they may be trail running shoes, all the benefits of their design heighten and improve any aerobic experience. The low profile, lightweight, and mesh design are perfect for high intensity workouts, and the lugs they have to tackle uneven terrain mean no matter the move, your stability is ensured. The antibacterial technology they boast makes sure your feet are fresh and dry after every class, and the extra padding makes for a cushioned “glove like” feel you’re sure to love. Plus, all the materials are vegan friendly, so you can feel good about making the investment.
- 4mm cushion for comfort
- 3mm lugs for traction and grip
- Omni-fit lacing system
- Antibacterial lining
- Run a half size small
9. Ryka Tenacity
This is the only high top shoe featured on this list, and because of its 4” shaft measurements, it goes well beyond the ankle bone and wraps around the ankle to provide lots of support and stability. The adjustable hook and loop strap lets you customize the fit for your own preference. It is made of a combination of mesh and synthetic materials, giving you lots of breathability but also flexibility.
The Tenacity can be worn for your aerobic workout, your gym session, or even just out and about. RYKA has put some time into the design of this shoe, making it both fashionable and utilitarian. It also features an N-gage eva foam pad under the forefoot so that any workouts involving calf exercises will be a breeze at the gym, and any dance workouts involving leg extension or pronation will not be uncomfortable. Their design also allows for easy pivoting, essential in aerobics classes. They require almost no break in time so you can get right to your workout without any problems!
Cost and Value:
RYKA has put a lot of thought and care into the design of the RYKA Tenacity, culminating in the perfect shoe for both aerobics, dance, and a gym session. Their high top design supports the ankle, while the N-gage eva foam pad supports the forefoot. The highly breathable mesh design keeps your feet cool and dry, and the synthetic components bring the support and the style. The addition of a hook and loop lacing system means you can easily adjust the fit of the shoe throughout your workout. For the price they’re definitely one of the best aerobic shoes on the market, particularly if you dig a retro style.
- Eva foam pad at forefoot
- Hook and loop lace system for easy fit
- High top style for stability
- Good for aerobics, dance, and gym sessions
- Sole doesn’t have a lot of give
10. Under Armour Charged Ultimate
Under Armour is famous for its long lasting, durable products, made to be put to the test through vigorous workouts. These shoes have molded toe caps for support and durability, plus an external heel counter that comes all the way up the back of the heel, allowing you to flow through your full range of motion. The tread on the bottom of the shoe is deeply grooved mostly under the forefoot, which makes pivoting easier. The lacing system gives you a uniquely snuck fit and keeps the tongue down and flat.
Specifically tailored to this shoe, the UA ClutchFit technology wraps your foot like a second skin, giving you powerful support and a smooth, glove like feel. The full-length Charged Cushioning technology sockliner gives you comfort and is also moisture-wicking, ensuring your feet stay fresh. This is a fairly flat shoe, so those looking for arch support may need some sort of insert. But for those that have flat feet and a high arch has been uncomfortable in the past, these shoes are your new best friend.
Cost and Value:
Under Armour is a leading brand in athletic footwear and athletic fitness wear. With the UA Charged Ultimate’s they have made a training shoe that is perfect for the gym or any high impact aerobics class. The simplistic design is unassuming, but don’t let this sneaker fool you; it is packed with all the right technology and features to enhance your performance and make your workout next level, from the glove like feel, to the toe and heel caps that give you a full range of flexible motion. They’re durable enough to be put through any workout - and they should!
Glove like fit
Toe and heel cap for full range of motion
Great for flat arches
- Not a lot of arch support
As you can see, aerobic shoes come in all shapes and sizes! There’s no particular shoe that exemplifies exactly what an aerobic shoe is, but many have the features that are key components to making your workout successful. When selecting your aerobic shoe, it’s important to understand that a running shoe, cross trainer, and regular training shoe can all work as an aerobic shoe, provided they have the necessary qualifications.
Since aerobics have always been about high intensity, the shoes need to be flexible, allow for full ranges of motion, and be lightweight. Because aerobics have recently incorporated high impact portions to their workouts, the shoes need to be well cushioned, provide arch support, and give you the stability you need to not have your coordination suffer. Form and focus is important during aerobics, and the last thing you should have to focus on is whether or not your shoes are giving you the functionality you need to complete your workout.
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Aerobic Shoes
Since aerobics incorporate so many movements that are considered high impact, and often dictate you do these movements at a fast pace, a shoe with great breathability is essential. Many shoes that are great for aerobics are almost completely made out of mesh, allowing for the most air to get in and out of the shoe. This keeps your feet dry, cool, and can also prevent against bacteria buildup. Ventilation and air circulation are important when you’re sweating up a storm, and most workout sessions and aerobic classes make you drenched by the end. You don’t want to get overheated before the workout is over, and you don’t want to suffer through soaked feet. Proper ventilation, in the form of perforated holes or even air vents along the side will also ensure that your shoes dry quicker after you take them off, preventing musty odors.
Aerobic shoes should have lots of padding because you’re going to need it! Not only are aerobic activities characterized by high intensity, they’ve also become much more high impact with the invention of a lot of new classes and exercise videos on the market. Cushioning in the heel and forefoot is important because many of the moves you’ll be doing operate from those points, especially if the classes incorporate dance routines or pronation. Also, if you have a wide foot, narrow foot, high arch, or low arch, you’ll need to select a shoe that feels good for your trouble areas. Cross trainers tend to have higher arches and a more molded sole, but simple training shoes are more flat all along the sole and footbed because they coincide with certain stationary movements. Brands like K-Swiss incorporate memory foam into their footbeds, whereas ASICS developed a gel pad specifically for their cross trainers.
Aerobic shoes shouldn’t fit too snugly, as you don’t want to cut off circulation, especially during high intensity workouts. Ideally, your aerobics shoe will have some way to customize the fit as you go, such as a hook and loop system, so that you can adjust your fit as you go. Velcro straps are a handy example of this. While many aerobic shoes have a low profile, there are a few high top options, which some wearers prefer because they give more security and stability to the ankle. Given the variety of moves in an aerobic session, you also don’t want to have your heel continuously slipping out of the back of the heel. You also don’t want aerobic shoes that are too stiff, since this will not only decrease your flexibility, but also hinder your coordination. Most aerobic workouts highlight and focus on a series of precise movements. Ultimately you want to focus on your form and control, not your shoes!
Pivoting has become a more important aspect of aerobics as the type of workout has evolved. While it used to focus primarily on high intensity but low impact, many aerobic workouts today have increased the level of impact. This means that aerobic shoes now need tread on the soles to create better traction. Where that traction lies becomes important, because having traction the entire extent of the shoe isn’t as necessary as it would be on a running shoe. By placing the majority of the tread beneath the forefoot, it allows for a greater range of motion when pivoting, which has become a move that is more and more frequent in aerobic workouts.
Aerobics involves a lot of elongated moves, compact moves, and contraction moves all at a fast pace. It can involve jumping, running, and any combination of the two, as well as supporting your own body weight. All these types of moves require a shoe that’s flexible and can bend with your body movements. Look for athletic shoes made out of pliable materials, that are more mesh than rubber and, if they have rubber components, that they are grooved in such a way that makes them fold in on each other. The stiffer the shoe and materials, the less flexible it will be, and if you’re doing aerobics with stiff shoes you can suffer injuries and discomfort. You wouldn’t want to miss a workout because your shoes were holding you back!
The great thing about aerobic shoes is their versatility. They have the features of athletic shoes and running shoes, and can therefore be used to do any athletic activity, and are sometimes even better suited for things like yoga and dance. They also are increasingly more fashion prone than typical athletic shoes, making them easily able to transition from the dance studio or gym class to the street. Having the option to wear different looks for different personalities and styles of expression makes you look forward to your workout.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: WHAT ARE THE BEST SHOES FOR AEROBICS?
Brands don’t necessarily denominate aerobic shoes into a specific category. As a result, a lot of different types of athletic shoes can be used for aerobics. What you want to look for are the specific features of the shoes that will be the most beneficial for an aerobic workout. While this list gives you plenty of shoes to choose from by different brands, all the shoes have key features in common; mesh for breathability, a lightweight construction for freedom of movement, extra cushioning for high impact workouts, and tread that specializes in traction during pivoting movements, which are often found to be a frequent component of aerobic exercises.
Q: CAN CROSS TRAINING SHOES BE USED FOR AEROBICS?
Cross training shoes are actually one of the best shoes for aerobics, because they’re designed to be used for a variety of different athletic activities. They’re great for basketball, for running, for the gym, and for high impact interval training. They often have great arch support, mesh for breathability and airflow, thick rubber for shock absorption, and provide a lot of stability without sacrificing flexibility. They range from very lightweight to slightly heftier, depending on the fit and feel that athletes want. They are great for energy return, and eliminating foot fatigue.
Q: HOW SHOULD AEROBIC SHOES FIT?
Aerobic shoes should feel lightweight, almost like a second skin. Since many aerobics classes and sessions involve movements related to gymnastics, dance, and cross fit, it’s essential that the shoes you choose are flexible and allow for a full range of motion. Stiff shoes that fit too tightly will be more irritating and cause you to struggle through your workouts. They should also have a fair amount of padding, since you will be experiencing a lot of impact depending on the classes you take and your fitness level.
Q: CAN AEROBIC SHOES BE USED FOR OTHER ACTIVITIES?
Since aerobic shoes are often cross training shoes, they can absolutely be used for other activities. However, if you find yourself sticking to a routine at the gym or at the track, you won’t want to use the same shoes, as they’ll just wear out faster. It’s best to have one pair of shoes for your aerobic classes and one for your gym or running routine, to make sure that you get the most out of your shoes over time.
- Body Break Staff, Aerobic Guide – Choosing the Proper Exercise Shoes, Body Break
- Lisa Jhung, The Best Sneakers to Crush your Workout Routines, Shape
- Michele Dolan, How to Select the Right Footwear for Step Aerobics, wikiHow
- Health and Style Staff, How To Choose The Perfect Shoe For Every Workout, Health and Style
- Live Strong Staff, The Best Aerobic Shoes For Women, Live Strong