Best Aerobic Shoes Reviewed for Performance
Having become popular in the 80s, aerobics is a high-intensity type of exercise that his highly customizable, and is available for anyone, anywhere. It began as a simple rhythmic callisthenic and evolved to cover and draw from dance, stepping, the use of free weights, kickboxing, and forms of martial arts. Being rhythmical, an excellent way to get the heart rate up, and a varied form of exercise, it is completely understandable why it has such a huge following, decades after it was first practiced.
Another reason this form of exercise is so popular is the fact that it is very inexpensive. All you need is some music, a few optional accessories such as free weights or a stepper, some comfortable clothing and a good pair of shoes, and you’re ready to get started. You can weigh down a couple of water bottles with stones for weights and use a homemade, sturdy little stepper to get a good workout.
- Under Armour Micro G Assert 7
- Micro G Foam Cushioning
- Non-Marking Outsole
- Adidas CrazyTrain Elite
- BOOST Cushioning
- Flexible Forefoot
- Ryka Hydro Sport
- Water Resistant
However, the item on which you should not make any sacrifices are the shoes you use for this exercise. Including a lot of high-impact movement, aerobics can take its toll on the body, which is why you want something that will take care of your feet. To prevent your muscles and joints from experiencing too much fatigue, discomfort or even pain, a high quality pair of shoes is crucial.
The right shoe for aerobics is a balance of stability so you move confidently, cushion to help you through those higher-impact moves, breathability to take care of sweat, and sturdy construction so they last. They don’t have to be expensive but they should be well built. We’ve gathered a list of the best shoes for aerobics for you to choose from below. Wearing any of these will let you focus on your moves without having to stop to think about your shoes. Happy Workout!
10 Best Aerobic Shoes
1. Under Armour Micro G Assert 7
The EVA sock liner in this shoe will give you a custom, comfortable fit along with providing your feet with some security and stability. A good athletic shoe hugs the foot and this will do that in spades.
There is leather on the upper for midfoot stability, however, the Under Armour Micro G Assert 7 is mainly with mesh that is both extremely adaptable and great for allowing plentiful airflow. This will ensure that your foot is comfortable and cool, and with the lower amount of moisture inside the shoe, you are less likely to develop any blisters or hot spots.
Cost and Value
These shoes are mid-range in terms of price but for that cost, you are getting a high quality, meant for exercise, lightweight shoe that will leave your feet feeling great even after a high-impact workout. The Assert 7 comes in a variety of color options, so you can even purchase a pair that matches your favorite workout outfits.
EVA Sock Liner
Micro G Foam Cushioning
No Wide Sizes
2. Adidas CrazyTrain Elite
Running and sport-specific footwear by adidas, at least those models which are made to give the best possible performance, all feature Boost cushioning - sole made with exceptional shock absorbing properties and with unparalleled energy return. An added bonus is the stabilizing TPU bar that allow for better stability without sacrificing flexibility.
The upper on the CrazyTrain Elite is made with mesh, which is a breathable material that weighs next to nothing and allows for excellent range of motion. However, in order to provide better stability, a more secure fit and a better locked in feel, it is reinforced in the midfoot area, giving a better level of lateral stability.
Cost and Value
Like all footwear made by adidas, especially that which includes their best cushioning technologies, the CrazyTrain Elite is quite expensive. Nonetheless, if your budget allows it, then splurging on this pair of footwear is more than worth it, seeing that you’ll be getting a versatile pair of footwear that will check all the boxes when it comes to the perfect pair of shoes for aerobics exercise.
Breathable Mesh Upper
Multi-directional Traction Outsole
Stabilizing TPU Bar
3. Ryka Hydro Sport
The functionality of the RYKA Hydro Sport shoes is reflected in its removable, perforated nitracel footbed, as well as the drainage ports in the soles, ensuring that these sneakers dry out quicker than normal. They have a thick outsole made of a “sticky” rubber that maximizes traction on wet surfaces, and it’s made even easier for use thanks to the 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 an 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 ensures 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 are no better quick drying shoes whether or not you wear them to the pool, on wet trails, or in a high-intensity aerobics class.
Requires Breaking In
4. ASICS Conviction X 2
If you’re looking at participating in any difficult training, you can expect your feet to sweat quite a bit. The Conviction X 2 features a perforated sockliner that was developed with the sole purpose of offering the best of two worlds - a soft, comforting feel to the foot and a good level of moisture management that will prevent blisters, odors and infections.
Superior Lacing System
The closure system on your shoes is often forgotten about until it becomes problematic. The ASICS Conviction X 2 completely eliminates such problems by including a pair of sturdy laces in these shoes. The Lace Garage Technology is a hidden pocket in the tongue that allows you to tuck the laces in, preventing you from stepping on them, tripping, or from them getting untied while you work out.
Cost and Value
The price point for the ASICS Conviction X 2 is quite high compared to the other items on this list, but that’s to be expected from a brand such as ASICS. Also important to note is the fact that it’s a seamless pair of sneakers, as well as that it offers a firm and stable platform, which may even make it a good choice for weightlifting in addition to aerobics.
Lace Garage Technology
Unsuitable for Outside Use
5. New Balance 608v4
The New Balance 608v4 has a thick rubber outsole that is more stable than some other models on this list. Because the materials in the upper are leather and synthetic, it has a firmer feel around your feet - comfortable for those doing intense aerobic workouts. It also makes use of an internal shank that provides additional support, especially in the midfoot area.
With its extra padded collar and tongue, there’s enough cushion to prevent irritation, and the collar extends past the ankle bone for added stability. Its shock-absorbing Abzorb technology minimizes the impact from aerobics and diffuses it along the IMEVA midsole. Since aerobic activities can involve a lot of high impact interval training, this is a 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!
6. K-Swiss ST329 CMF
The K-Swiss ST329 CMF is made from high-quality leather on the upper anda thick rubber sole that has maximum shock absorption. It also boasts a deep multi-dimensional tread, perfect for tennis but also for aerobics where quick footwork and rapidly changing movements require non-slip designs to prevent injury. 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.
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 the tennis courts 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 fatigue, especially if you’ll still be wearing these shoes well after your workout is over. Best of all? They’re affordable, ranking low on this list when it comes to price.
Memory Foam Footbed
High Grip Outsole
Shock Absorbing Heel
No Wide Sizes Available
7. Nike Metcon 4
Like a large number of Nike’s running shoes, the Metcon is also made from a textured mesh that has an increased durability to traditional mesh materials. But, in order to add a greater level of support, Flywire cables wrap up from the bottom of the shoe, around the midfoot, all the way to the top, enabling you to move in any way possible without having to worry about stability.
Stabilizing Heel Cup
What makes aerobics such an effective form of exercise is the variety of movement types it can incorporate. From jumping, stepping, lateral movement, and even dance inspired moves, it will push you to your limits. The Nike Metcon 4 allows you to do all of this, thanks to the stabilizing heel cup that ensures a good footing with plenty of ankle stability to prevent sprains and injury.
Cost and Value
Nike footwear comes expensive, and the same goes for the Metcon 4. First and foremost, it’s the latest edition of the model, making use of high quality materials which were developed with high performance in mind. Second, it’s a stylish piece of footwear that looks so good you might even be tempted to wear it as a pair of everyday shoes.
Sticky Rubber Outsole
Mesh Ankle and Heel Collar
Laces Too Long
8. Inov-8 F-Lite 235 v2
The best part of the F-Lite 235 v2 is the outsole made with a sticky rubber compound that will grip all indoor gym surfaces, no matter of the way or direction in which you’re moving. 3 mm traction lugs allow for excellent surface grip, and the Meta-flex technology allows your foot to move in an unconstricted way, giving excellent flexibility in all directions.
The best workout footwear will give you a snug fit that’s neither too loose, nor too constricting. Hitting the sweet spot, the F-Lite 235 v2 is made with a breathable upper that allows a good level of moisture management, but wraps the foot with welded overlays for a more secure training session.
Cost and Value
Ranking above average when it comes to price, the Inov-8 F-Lite 235 v2 may be a bit too expensive for some people, but if you’re in need of a versatile pair of sneakers for a variety of training sessions, then it’s definitely worth the investment. You’ll appreciate the fact that these shoes are quite durable, so you’ll be able to use them for more than just a few months.
Sticky Rubber Outsole
Welded Upper Overlays
Secure Lacing System
0 mm Drop
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 to provide lots of support and stability. The adjustable hook and loop strap lets you customize the fit to 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 out and about, with its youthful, futuristic style. RYKA has put some time into the design of this shoe, making it both fashionable and functional. It also features an N-gauge EVA foam pad under the forefoot so that calf exercises will be a breeze, and dance workouts involving leg extension or pronation will be comfortable. 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.
Hook and Loop Closure
High Top Style
10. 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 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 cushions, and the ergonomically designed sole, including a pivot point, lets you enjoy natural movement 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 workout sessions.
Aerobic shoes come in an array of shapes and sizes, suitable for the beginner to the high-performance athlete. Though there is not one particular style of shoe you should exclusively use for this type of exercise, there are key features to look for – stability, traction, flexibility and comfort are important whether you’re hitting the gym or doing a home workout.
Whether you participate in high-impact, high-cardio, sweat until you drop aerobics, or low-impact, improving your health and flexibility aerobics, in the water or out, at home or as a break from your Iron Man training schedule, there is a shoe for you in this list.
Criteria for Evaluating the Best Aerobic Shoes
A good aerobic workout will leave you sweating and breathing hard. Your feet should not have to work as hard to breathe. A breathable shoe is important when you’re exercising to keep your foot comfortable and dry. Good aerobics shoes will allow air to circulate near your feet to regulate their temperature. This is especially important if you have sweaty feet or if you suffer from athlete’s foot or other skin condition.
Breathability in shoes is achieved in a number of ways. Shoe manufacturers can use:
- Portholes – add small holes at the sides that allow air in and that work really well in a leather or synthetic leather upper.
- Mesh or Canvas – which provide great breathability as well, although, canvas does tend to be a little too stiff for aerobics
- Cut Ventilation – added ventilation in the sole that is really great for wet conditions like water aerobics
The best ventilation in an aerobics shoe is provided by mesh uppers. This allows air in all around the foot while still providing for a shoe that hugs the top of your foot, keeping it in a good, stable position.
Poor ventilation can cause your feet to stay uncomfortable, sweaty and hot which will ruin the workout. Retaining sweat inside the shoe will also lead to a build-up of microbes and an unpleasant smell. We recommend that you allow your shoes to air out after use, no matter what type of ventilation it may have. We also recommend wearing a fresh pair of natural fiber socks while in your aerobics class, to keep your feet and your shoes in their very best shape.
Comfort and Fit
Whether you are participating in lower or modified impact aerobics or high-impact, high-energy kickboxing aerobics classes, your feet need to stay comfortable throughout. The amount of cushioning you need and where will depend on the shape of your foot and your preference.
For those with high arches, padding around the tongue and top of the foot will be important. Some people will prefer to have a little thicker padding around the ankle. Most importantly for aerobics though are:
- Cushioned, fitted insole –
The bottoms of your feet take a pounding during aerobics. A passed, fitted insole will help to soften those blows and keep your feet from becoming sore and exhausted.
- EVA or other cushioned midsole –
No one thinks about the midsole until they go home to soak their feet in an Epsom bath. EVA is a material that is firm but cushioned to absorb the impact of your weight as you walk, jump, kick or, yes I am going to say it, do burpees. Gel materials also work well. If the shoes have memory foam, the foam should be thicker rather than thin. The all-over shock absorption and cushion are important for the ongoing comfort of your feet.
- Extra heel cushioning –
Your heels are designed to take some impact. They evolved with a little shock absorption of their own but they can always use a little help, especially while doing aerobics. Extra cushioning in the heel will prevent fatigue.
Other factors will contribute to your comfort as well. A good aerobics shoe will close properly with traditional laces or with velcro straps, to ensure a proper, firm but not tight fit. It will also be constructed of quality materials that won’t cause sore spots or irritation while working out. Overall, look for these extra comfort features when you are considering a shoe for aerobics.
When considering fit, the shoe should not be loose. You want the perfect snug but not tight hug. Your feet should not lose circulation especially while working out. Because feet swell with exercise, they should be adjustable. If you want a little extra support in the ankle, choose a high top that is well fitting and adjustable. If you have high arches, look for a shoe with extra arch support so it fits the bottom of your foot well, or choose to wear a custom insole or orthotic. Make sure there is enough room for your toes, to avoid having them compressed during the workout. The better the fit, the more comfortable you and your feet will be.
Flexibility and Movement
Aerobics exercise requires a lot of flexibility to move safely and smoothly through the various exercises at a pace that benefits your body. Jumping, running, kicking, the dreaded burpee, squatting, and scissor kicks all require that we support our body weight while making the most of the flexibility in our joints. They also require a shoe that can move to keep pace with the rest of our body.
When it comes to flexibility, the perfect aerobics shoe has:
- A pliable sole. Rubber is an excellent choice.
- A flexible, not too stiff upper.
- More support if you have flatter feet; and
- Greater flexibility if you have high arches.
What to avoid:
- Rubber that is too thick. It should be able to fold in on itself or have cut grooves that allow it to fold.
- Soles that are too thin or too flexible, you will not have enough stability (kind of like trying to run a marathon in a pair of flip-flops)
- Rigid soles (like chemically hardened rubbers) that will not flex.
The ability to move in the shoe also means the ability to pivot. Pivoting is an important part of most aerobics routines these days. A good aerobics shoe will have traction in the right places to keep you safe on your feet while pivoting. In an aerobics shoe, traction is most important in the forefoot because you pivot using the ball of the foot and all of the pressure of your body weight and momentum is on the ball at the moment of the pivot. Look for a shoe that has good traction in the forefoot and most especially under the ball of the feet.
Most shoe manufacturers don’t make anything they call an aerobics shoe. This is because they know that aerobics is a varied exercise that may be best suited to a cross-trainer, a running shoe, a trail runner, a water shoe, or a cross-fit type shoe. What you need will be based entirely on the type of aerobics you want to participate in.
- High-impact aerobics –
look for a shoe that has extra shock absorption and excellent traction, like cross-training shoes and trail runners.
- Low-impact aerobics –
For low-impact, modified aerobics, look for good traction and lots of cushion and support in the insole. You also, as much as possible, want to have a shoe that is lightweight.
- Dance aerobics –
For dance aerobics, look for a shoe that has extra flexibility, is lightweight, and shock absorbing.
The bonus of looking for an athletic shoe that will suit the type of aerobics that you want to do is that you will have a shoe that you can also wear to participate in other sports and activities. Take that aerobics class on Monday and go ahead on to cross-fit on Tuesday. Go from the gym to a run on the trail. Whatever your life style, an aerobics shoe will be versatile.
No matter how you get your exercise, there is sure to be a shoe on this list to suit your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the best shoes for aerobics?
A: Aerobics can encompass a lot of different types of activities from dance to calisthenics to yoga to stepping. It may be very high-impact or low or modified impact. 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 your aerobic workout. Whatever your specific needs, you will find a shoe above that suits.
Q. Can cross-trainers be used for aerobics?
A: Cross-training sneakers are 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 HIIT. They often have great arch support, mesh for breathability and airflow, rubber for shock absorption, and provide a lot of stability without sacrificing flexibility. They range from very lightweight to a heavier shoe, depending on the fit and feel that athletes want. They are great for energy return and eliminating foot fatigue.
Q: How should aerobics shoes fit?
A: Aerobic shoes should generally feel lightweight and be snug but not tight on your feet. They should never feel tight or cut off circulation. Remember that your feet will swell after exercise to be sure to accommodate that. Also, see our criteria above for tips on a good fit.
Q: Can aerobic shoes be used for other activity?
A: Since aerobics shoes can be runners, cross-trainers, trail runners or another type of athletic shoe, they certainly can be used for other activities. However, if you regularly participate in aerobics and another form of exercise, like running or cross-fit, it is probably best to purchase a specialized pair for the other activity. Both pairs will last longer and you will not wear then down unevenly. Also, some gyms prohibit the use of shoes that are used outside, a good thing to keep in mind.
Q: Why are non-marking shoes so important?
A: Non-marking soles do not change the performance of the shoe but if you are taking aerobics classes at a gym, community center or other similar location, there are usually rules about non-marking shoes to prevent damage to the floor’s surface.
Q: My feet get hot, can’t I just wear my aerobic shoes without socks?
A: You can but it’s not a good idea if you want the shoe to last. Sweating inside a padded shoe can cause a build-up of microbes that then create an unpleasant odor and can also break down the material in the shoe faster. If you have sweaty feet, try some merino wool socks which are quite absorbent. Using underarm deodorant or specialized foot spray can also help. Wearing athletic shoes without socks can also irritate the skin, causing blisters and sores. Also, try a shoe that has a wider mesh for even more air circulation!
Q: I have athlete’s foot. Won’t padded shoes just make the condition worse?
A: It can. We recommend that you use a fresh pair of clean socks during your aerobics class and change into a clean, dry pair afterward. Also, see our article on athlete’s foot for more care tips. Athlete’s foot is a common condition that shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying your time at the gym!
Q: I do my aerobics on the carpet at home. Can’t I just go barefoot?
A: You could go barefoot but carpet does not provide the traction necessary for safety during aerobics and it won’t replace the shock absorption of a good aerobics shoe. We recommend that you wear a pair of aerobics shoes that are non-marking and have not been used outside, to keep your carpet clean. If you’re worried about wear on the carpet, try covering it with a good rubberized mat for the workout.
Q: I’m just starting out with exercising. Can’t I just buy an all purpose sneaker for my aerobics class?
A: We would recommend a good cross trainer as your aerobics shoe for those just starting out. That way, if you decide that aerobics isn’t for you, you still have a shoe you can use for other activities. It will also provide you enough cushion, support, flexibility and traction to get you going with a beginner’s class without any injury or hurting feet. Once you advance a little and are ready for the really high impact class, you can purchase a shoe that has greater shock absorption and flexibility.
Q: I’ve left my aerobics shoes in my gym bag while I was on vacation. There’s a smell now. Is there anything I can do?
A: That’s unfortunate but hope is not at all lost. There are definitely things you can do to rid your shoes (and your gym bag) of the smell. Check out our article filled with tips! Your feet and your shoes will thank you!
Q: I wear a size 7 dress shoe. What size aerobic shoe should I wear?
A: Great question! Athletic footwear should usually be worn ½ size up. It will normally not be the same as your dress shoe. There should be just a little more room in the toe to prevent compression while you are working out. A good “rule of thumb” is a half a thumb length between your longest toe and the end of the shoe.
Q: The midsole on my sneakers is looking a little wrinkled and they are not as comfortable as they were before. What happened?
A: This is a sure sign that the midsole is wearing out. They aren’t as comfortable as before because the material has become compressed from wear, which is normal. It is also a sign that it’s time to replace your sneakers with a new pair.
- 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