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These are the sneakers fitness trainers actually wear

Photo: Tamara Pridgett by Tim Gibson for Well+Good

There’s no question that sporty kicks are trending—even Lena Dunham’s designing them now. But open up the door to any legit fitness studio, and you probably won’t find the instructors getting their sweat on while rocking fashion’s latest it-sneaker.

Rather, those who work out for a living are looking for comfort and performance first, which can lead to some pretty unexpected on-the-job footwear choices. For instance, a star instructor at Body By Simone told me all of her dance cardio colleagues love Newton sneakers—a brand that the average fit girl has probably never even heard of.

Intrigued? I was, too. So to find out what sneakers the best instructors actually work out in, I put together a survey and sent it out to 50 of the hardest-working fitness pros around the country. (Think trainers from SoulCycle, Flywheel, Tone House, The DogPound, and more.)

What I got back was their unfiltered, honest opinion (seriously—some stayed anonymous so they could freely share their insight), and it’s safe to say their picks really are the best of the best. After all, these are the shoes they rely on to teach multiple classes a day, dash from studio to studio, and do workouts of their own. Which you can’t say about your Stan Smiths, no matter how good they look paired with your favorite leggings.

Scroll down to discover the best sneakers for every kind of workout, according to top fitness instructors.

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Photo: Asics
Photo: Asics

Asics Gel Kayano, $160

Wear it for: running

Fit fan: Amanda Freeman, SLT

“I love them for running—so comfortable!—but really for any class that requires shoes.”


Photo: Nike

Nike Air Pegasus Zoom, $110

Wear it for: strength training

Fit fan: Tamara Pridgett, Tone House

I love walking around in them, running, sprinting, and lifting—they have the best fit by far and last a really long time.”


Photo: Newton

Newton Motion V, $175

Wear it for: dance cardio

Fit fan: Erica Hood, Body By Simone 

“Newtons are hands-down the best for all of the high-intensity cardio dancing we do at our studio.”


Photo: Nike

Nike LunarGlide, $120

Wear it for: HIIT

Fit fan: Amanda Baker, WRKNYC and Uplift Studios 

“These are by far my favorite shoes because they can transition to multiple workouts. I don’t have to buy a million sneakers for different activities, like running, HIIT, and strength training.”


Photo: APL

APL TechLoom Phantom, $165

Wear it for: Boot camp

Fit fan: Anonymous instructor, Flywheel Sports

“I really love the aesthetic of it, but it’s [also] honestly the most comfortable shoe I’ve tried to date. It’s great for high-intensity workouts like ShadowBox and Barry’s Bootcamp.”


Photo: Reebok

Reebok CrossFit Nano, $129.99

Wear it for: CrossFit

Fit fan: Anonymous instructor, CityRow and CrossFit NYC

“I like Nike Frees for casual wearing and rowing, but love my Reeboks for CrossFit.”



Photo: Nike

Nike Airmax 90, $120

Wear it for: HIIT

Fit fan: Jason Tran, Swerve Fitness and The Fhitting Room 

“These are great for commuting around the city and teaching classes. I typically walk 25,000 steps a day and teach 22 classes a week, so I need something super cushioned.”


Photo: Puma

Puma Ignite XT V2, $90

Wear it for: Weight training

Fit fan: Dyan Tsiumis, Swerve Fitness

“I love the Asics Gel Kayano for running, but I’m a huge fan of Pumas for weight training.”


Photo: Nike

Nike LunarEpic Low Flyknit, $160

Wear it for: Cardio

Fit fan: Lilli VanHall, ModelFit

I prefer these Nikes because they have a substantial boost and support for both cardio and training. Plus, the lightweight feel makes it easy to move around swiftly during classes.”


Photo: Mizuno

Mizuno Wave Riders, $119.99

Wear it for: Dance cardio

Fit fan: : Colette Dong, Bari Studio

I like to feel like I’m wearing nothing, but I still need a lot of support when teaching. These have the perfect balance and don’t make me feel like I’m doing dance cardio in clogs!”


Photo: New Balance

New Balance 811, $74.99

Wear it for: boxing

Fit fan: Shay Kostabi, freelance instructor

The new 811 high-top is so versatile. I can wear them for HIIT training, boxing, and cardio dance class without breaking a sweat—well, at least not out of discomfort.”


Photo: Nike

Nike Flyknit Racer, $150

Wear it for: Boot camp

Fit fan: Bianca Vesco, The DogPound and Brooklyn Bodyburn 

“I love my lightweight Nikes to condition and sprint in. When I’m training clients I stick with my Sock Darts—they’re so comfortable.”


Photo: Nike

Nike Air Max iD, $190

Wear it for: Cardio

Fit fan:  Stacey Griffith, SoulCycle 

I’m a floor teacher who jumps, dances, runs, kicks, and tracks over 30,000 steps per day—on cement floors. I don’t know if my knees would survive this job without these sneakers.”


Photo: Hoka One One

Hoka One One Mafate Speed, $120

Wear it for: Running

Fit fan: Molly Phelps, Erika Bloom Pilates Plus, Gymnastique, and ChaiseFitness

“These have a super thick sole and are meant for running on asphalt, which is what I’m doing as I run from studio to studio all day long.”

Now that you know what sneakers the instructors are rocking, see what they’re really thinking during class. Or pick up some new healthy habits with these trainer-approved tips to take your workout to the next level.