Minimalist Shoes for General Workouts


In a previous post, we talked about what to look for in footwear. We made the assumption that you don’t have any extreme foot issues, and that you’re going to be doing basic general workouts, no long distance running.

Here are a few shoes that I recommend to my clients, as well as where to pick up a pair.

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Known as “Chuck Taylors” by the cool kids, this is really the first, and most basic, “minimalist” shoe. These are actually the go-to shoes for many, many powerlifters. The sole is completely flat, with no rise from the toe to the heel. Also, the sole is a nice hard rubber material, giving you a little cushion, but still allowing for really good feedback from the ground. If you’re looking for your foot to do the work, and not your shoe, this would be a great choice. Also, they dry quickly, so if you go out for a morning run, and find a puddle or two, they should be dry the next day.

My only beef with these shoes is that they are a little narrow for my feet. I always end up busting out the outside of the shoe by my pinky toe. If you’ve got narrow feet, and they fit well, they’re well worth the price. You can usually find them in most stores for around $40, and if you’re not picky about the color, even better deals can be found online.

Reebok Nanos

It’s no secret that Reebok and CrossFit have a working relationship. Reebok is also the first company to make a shoe specifically for CrossFit, and as a result, a shoe that really is ready for anything. The Nanos have been through a few evolutions so far, with the latest release being the Nano 5.0. The Nanos all have very little rise in the heel. While the early models had a mix of hard foam and rubber in the sole, the newer 4.0 & 5.0 have a hard rubber sole, with minimal foam, most for comfort. These are very sturdy shoes that are great for just about anything. This shoe fits my foot the best of anything that I’ve worn, though I found with the newer model, I had to go up a half size, as the forefoot case was a little more firm.

My beef with these shoes is cost. If you can find an outlet or a sale online, you can find them for around $60, otherwise you can get fancy and order custom for as much as $120.

Nike Metcons

It didn’t take too long for Nike to make a minimalist shoe as well. The Nike Metcon is a choice that has a wider forefoot and is shaped more like an actual foot is shaped. It also has lightweight construction and has a wee bit of arch support built in. Though I have yet to try these shoes myself, everyone that I know personally that has bought them has been very, very happy.

The only possible downside I can see is price, and getting your hands on some. It seems they are usually out of stock of one color or another! They are listed on the Nike website at $120 a pair. Once again, searching for a sale or two might make for a great purchase!

New Balance Minimus

New balance, known for their wide shoes already, made a natural transition to minimalist shoes. I’ve had several clients who sport these, and they stick with New Balance, since they fit so well. There are actually quite a few options in the Minimus series with differences in toe to heel rise (from 4mm all the way down to completely flat 0mm), and design, tread, and price ranges. For many, this is a great shoe to make a transition from a traditional workout shoe into something more minimalist.

Be careful with all of the choices New Balance provides, it can be easy to just go to their website and shop by price. Check the shape of your bare foot before you buy. You don’t want to be taking 10,000 steps a day in shoe that’s too narrow, just because you wanted to find a deal!


Inov-8, out of Great Britain, is based around the idea of natural running. Their philosophy of shoes includes getting you to have as much feed back and contact with the ground as possible. Their shoes are designed to have you relying on your foot to perform, as opposed to the shoe. Though a little on the pricey side, those who are passionate about their Inov-8’s won’t wear anything else!

If you’re new to the minimalist world, this shoe’s harder sole may have your feet a bit sore in the beginning. As your strength improves, I have a feeling you will like these shoes more and more.


The ultimate in Paleo footwear, Vibrams are sported by not only the uber-natural fitness gurus, but also people who want something as close to barefoot as possible. These Paleo favorites are literally made to mold to your foot, and give you the best feeling and contact with the ground possible. They have a surprisingly large selection of shoes, all with the 5 toe split design.

The only caution with Vibrams, is that they must fit your feet just right. If you’re one of those people whose second toe is longer than their big toe, be careful! On the other hand, for those feet they do fit, you’ll feel a degree of freedom in your feet that used to be reserved only for summer days at the beach!

So there you go. If it’s time to get yourself a little summer gift, you’ve now got some options. Let us know if you have a favorite, or if you own any of these and have a little review! We’d love to hear from you in the comments!