The Shoes That Changed My Workout

Like anyone who exercises regularly, or walks or runs a lot, I am in the habit of getting new workout shoes every four to five months. I work out about five or six days a week. Most days I spend time on the treadmill. So, I have learned to keep an eye on how my shoes are wearing.

But six months ago, I started working with a strength coach (he hates being referred to as a “trainer”). Twice a week, I meet him at my gym for an hour of weight lifting and strength conditioning. A few months ago, Yas (that’s his name) mentioned to me that I need to get thinner-soled trainers. In case you didn’t know, in England, they call workout shoes “trainers”; many Americans call them “tennis shoes.” Yas is from England, so in his distinct and sometimes difficult-to-understand British accent, he finally convinced me to get new trainers, based on his recommendation.

Yas had noticed during my exercise sessions that I was a bit unstable on my feet. He told me that the cushiony soles of my Adidas, Nikes and Brooks shoes are all thick and that can make my ankles a bit weak and wobbly. Interestingly, in speaking to friends, they, like me, thought it was good to have these thickly soled shoes. Something about the cushion being good for you. The cushion might feel good, but it raises your center of gravity enough that we compensate by wobbling.

So Yas sent me a link to a shoe brand called Merrell. I believe Merrell is best known for hiking shoes. But Yas recommended the Vapor Glove model for me. These shoes have very little padding. The toe box is broad and they have serious arch support. I actually feel more like I am walking barefoot. My feet are definitely closer to the ground.


Yas also told me to walk barefooted at home as it activate the muscles in my feet and will train them to work harder at stabilizing me.

So, two weeks ago, I wore my new Merrell Vapor Glove shoes to my workout. I could not believe the difference in my stability. He has me do some rather complicated strength-building exercises for my hamstrings and the improvement in the number of reps I was able to do and how much stronger I felt was palpable.

As we get older, we are concerned about building muscle mass and bone strength. The last thing we want to happen is to lose our footing, fall down and hit our knee (which I did twice last year) or break a bone (thank goodness that has not happened to me). I never knew that there were other styles of workout shoes that actually HELPED create more stability when I exercise or walk.

If you have experienced any of the wobbling or instability when you run, walk or exercise, I suggest you try this style of shoe. And don’t forget to walk barefoot every day. Who knew this could help with balance?