I Wore 15 Different Pairs of Shoes to Orangetheory for One Year To Find the Best Shoes for the Workout

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In July of last year, I signed up for Orangetheory Fitness (or OTF, for short) to switch up my movement practice. Specifically, I wanted to incorporate more strength training into my workout routine, improve my endurance, and increase my overall cardio—and OFT offers all of the above and then some. As prepared as I was, what I was lacking was a pair of shoes for Orangetheory. Sure, there were my Hoka Bondi 8s, which propelled me through my daily dog walks, but OTF involves a unique—and sweaty—combination of running, rowing, and weightlifting, which requires the right pair of workout shoes that are suited for the interval training program.

Experts In This Article

With so many options available, finding the right sneakers for Orangetheory would involve a process of trial and error. Over the course of a year, I wore many shoes (fifteen pairs, to be exact) in search of a pair that would offer me support, stability, and, as importantly, comfort. Of all the sneakers I wore to OFT, I found four pairs that ticked all my boxes. Below, find my full review of each sneaker.


After updating, we’ve removed older picks—the Adidas Edge Lux, Asics Gel-Nimbus 24 Platinum, and Hoka Kawana—that have since been phased out by their manufacturers. In lieu of the items, we’ve added more shoes that meet expert criteria and recommendations, which you will find listed at the bottom of the article. 

The best shoes for Orangetheory, at a glance

What is Orangetheory Fitness?

OTF is an hour-long interval workout that is split into separate sections—and, typically, a portion of the work is spent on a rowing machine, the next involves a treadmill, biker, or strider, and the last focuses on functional strength and resistance training (the order of which will vary per class.) During the workout, OFT members wear monitors that measure heart rate, and each member’s performance statistics are displayed on monitors around the studio with their names or initials.

Indeed, the workout will bring the inevitable rise in heart rate, and your level of output is color-coded according to five heart rate-training zones: gray, blue, green, orange, and red (with gray being the easiest effort, and red being “all-out”). According to the OFT website, “the goal is to spend 12 minutes or more with your heart rate elevated in the ‘The Orange Zone’ to boost your metabolism, burn fat, and burn more calories,” and achieving the said goal earns you “Splat Points.”


If you want to learn more about the workout program, our beginner’s guide to Orangetheory Fitness is a great place to start.

The classes I’ve taken have involved about 30 minutes of cardio, 10 to 15 minutes of rowing, and 15 minutes of weight training. I usually spend most of the workout jogging, which is why finding supportive running sneakers—and ideally, a pair that I can also lift weights in—was imperative for me.

What to look for in shoes for Orangetheory

According to Scott Brown, vice president of fitness at Orangetheory, the ideal shoes for the workout will provide ample cushion and support. You also want to consider your own unique foot anatomy in order to find shoes for Orangetheory that will be comfortable to wear throughout the class—in other words, “They should fit well and prevent foot rubbing or cramping,” he says.

Additionally, you’ll want sneakers that provide traction underfoot. Shoes that feature a good grip will keep you steady on your feet as you run, row, and lift weights while preventing accidental slips and spills. Breathability is another important factor. To avoid sweaty soles, look for sneakers with mesh uppers, says Brown. Shoes made from knit fabrics, or that have features to optimize airflow, such as perforations, will also keep you cool while you sweat.

Just as it’s important to know what to look for in an ideal pair of shoes for Orangetheory, you’ll also want to know what to avoid. For one, you’ll want to avoid shoes that are heavy, says Brown. Clunky shoes can be cumbersome to wear during the running portion of an OFT workout, and not to mention, are difficult to squeeze into the foot straps of a rowing machine. He adds that you’ll also want to avoid shoes with too much flexibility. Generally speaking, the more flexible the shoe, the less support it provides—and if you can fold a shoe in half or twist it with ease, it’s likely that it’s much too flexible to provide you with the appropriate amount of support. Personally, I would also suggest avoiding shoes with plenty of foam and lift, which can throw you off balance when you’re lifting free weights.

With that said, you needn’t purchase a weightlifting-specific shoe. “While Orangetheory workouts do include a functional strength floor block, you will not be lifting heavy weights,” says Brown. “[Weightlifting] flat-sole shoes often feature plastic or hardwood soles, and lack the arch support needed for the demands of high-impact training, such as running.”

In short, the best sneakers for Orangetheory will neither be too rigid nor too flimsy, and they will offer ample stability and support for your feet—and the shoes I’ve featured on this list have all these qualities.

What are the best types of shoes for Orangetheory?

The best types of shoes for Orangetheory is footwear that is versatile enough for all the program involves, including running, rowing, and some light weight lifting—and the best cross-training shoes fit the bill. Cross-trainers fit the needs of more than one activity, and they often combine comfortable support and the stabilization. While you can opt for specialized footwear, like running or rowing shoes, it’s nice—for both you and your wallet—to have a single pair that you can rely on for all the activities that take place in a typical OFT workout.

Shop the best shoes for Orangetheory

Saucony Freedom 5
Best overall: Saucony Freedom 5 — $150.00

The Saucony Freedom 5s are my absolute favorite sneakers for Orangetheory. The shoes are incredibly lightweight and more flexible than the other options I’ve worn. As lightweight as they are, the pair provides me with the support needed for running, rowing, and weightlifting, but most especially on the treadmill.

As someone who’s long been skeptical about a sneaker’s impact on running performance, you can now consider me a believer; thanks to the PWRRUN PB cushioning that’s unique to Saucony, I stay light—and quick—on my feet. Plus, the pair can fit into the foot straps of a rowing machine, and it offers support in the weight room for squats, lunges, and deadlifts. Also, the shoe fits like a glove, as if it were made just for me. Unfortunately, the Saucony Freedom 5s are being phased out, but it’s still available on select retailers at the time of this writing. (So get to steppin’.)

Sizes: 7-10 (with half sizes)

Heel-to-toe drop: 4 mm

Weight: 7 oz

Colors: 2


  • Lightweight
  • Supportive
  • Fits true to size


  • Not weather-resistant
  • Pricey
Brooks Ghost 15
Best runner-up: Brooks Ghost 15 — $111.00

Originally $140, now $111

There’s a reason why so many people swear by the Brooks Ghost 15s, and I can attest it’s well worth it. This sneaker was perfect, and I loved it as much as the Saucony Freedom 5s. If anything, the Ghost 15 sneakers are heavier than the Saucony Freedom 5s. Otherwise, it promises stability, support, and plenty of shock absorption. It made running on the treadmill much smoother, and in comparison to a sneaker I wore the day prior, I was able to cover more ground, so to speak, in the same amount of time. It also kept me comfortable in the weight room—lunges, sumo squats, and all—and the pair fit snugly into the foot straps of the rowing machine. A bonus: the mesh uppers staved off unpleasant foot sweat.

The true standouts of the show were the fit and cushioning. The fit of the Ghost 15s were neither too loose nor too tight, but just right. Its Goldilocks-like fit is all thanks to the 3D Fit Print unique to Brooks’ shoes. As for the cushioning, you can chalk it up to its proprietary DNA Loft V2 midsole design, which is lighter than its previous iteration, as well as the Segmented Crash Pads underfoot that keep you bouncy with every stride.

Sizes: 5-11 (with half sizes available), in two widths

Heel-to-toe drop: 12 mm

Weight: 16 oz

Colors: 10


  • Provides stability and support
  • Ideal amount of flexibility
  • True to size


  • Weighter than the Saucony Freedom 5s
Ryka Never Quit
Most lightweight: Rykä Never Quit — $100.00

I’ve heard a lot about Rykä, the shoe that’s made specifically to optimize women’s workouts and functional movement activities. Pictured above are the popular—and award-winning—Never Quit sneakers, which I put to work at Orangetheory, and on long walks with my dogs. After months of wear, I can attest the pair lives up to its accolades. Made specifically for cross-training workout, the shoes are lightweight, adequately flexible, and, as importantly, supportive. As lightweight as they are, they feature ample shock absorption and impact protection—key for OFT, since a majority of time is typically spent on the treadmill.

Indeed, running in these shoes was excellent; my steps were springy, and it saved me from soreness and dreaded shin splints. Lifting weight in the pair is great, too; whether I’m performing split squats or jump squats, it offers security and stability. Plus, it’s slim enough for the foot straps of the rowing machine. (Win-win-win.)

Sizes: 5-12 (with half sizes available), in two widths

Heel-to-toe drop: 8 mm

Weight: 8 oz

Colors: 3


  • Lightweight
  • Supportive
  • Ideal amount of cushioning for cross-training


  • It lacks the cushioned support typically featured in walking shoes
Reebok Nano X2
A pair of cross-trainers with a wide toe box: Reebok Nano X2 — $60.00

If you want a pair of cross-trainers with a wide toe box, the Reebok Nano X2 fits the bill. I wear the shoe in the standard width, and I found that it offers plenty of room for me to move my toes, which I appreciate. I’ve worn many too-tight sneakers, which only leave my feet numb by the end of a 30-minute jog. The Nano X2s aren’t just spacious, they are also stretchier compared to the other shoes featured on the list—a plus if your feet are on the wider sider, or you simply prefer more wiggle room.

While a little heavier than the other sneakers, I still found the Nano X2s to be fairly lightweight. Its Floatride Energy Foam is supportive but not overly so, making it ideal for the rowing machine, and it offers ample bounce for long jogs on the treadmill. In the weight room? It kept me stable and secure on my feet. The shoes are made from a Flexweave knit upper, which isn’t as lightweight as the mesh footwear I usually wear, but the material is still breathable. Case in point: I wore the shoes to walk my dogs in 90-degree Los Angeles heat, and my feet weren’t suffocating.

Sizes: 5-12

Heel-to-toe drop:Not specified

Weight: Not specified

Colors: 25


  • Wide toe box
  • Stylish and functional
  • Over 20 color options


  • Light padding
  • According to shoppers, the shoes run large

More shoes for Orangetheory worth shopping

Hoka Kawana 2
1. Hoka, Kawana 2 — $140.00

The Hoka Kawana 2 is a sturdy and durable trainer that provides the ideal amount of support and springiness. I previously recommended the previous model of the sneakers, which was phased out, but this version is similar to the old version with a few welcome updates. According to Hoka, the Kawana 2 has been “fine-tuned” with a sock-like upper made from a single layer of mesh material to optimize airflow and an updated lacing system to keep your foot locked in. Like its predecessor, it features a five-millimeter heel-to-toe drop, which I found offered stability for my run. However, it wasn’t my first choice for use in the weight room: It was more plush than other options I tested, and, if you prefer shoes that are flatter for weightlifting, it might not be for you. Still, it provided ample side-to-side support for movements in all directions.

Sizes: 5-11 (with half sizes available)

Heel-to-toe drop: 5 mm

Weight: 9 oz

Colors: 4


  • Lacing system keeps foot locked into the shoe
  • Offers support for side-to-side movements
  • Springy cushioning


  • Might not be ideal for people who want a flatter shoe for weightlifting
On Cloud X 3
2. On, Cloud X 3 — $150.00

According to Jason Schneider, TriTrain endurance coach and former Schwinn trainer, in a previous interview with Well+Good, the On Cloud X is a fantastic choice for cross-training shoes that allows him to “move easily from the streets to the treadmill, to the strength floor, and right into teaching a studio class without missing a step.” The Cloud X 3, which is one of On’s latest iterations of the style, features a wider surface to provide support and improve balance, as well as integrated “Speedboard” plate, which allows for stable movement in any direction. In combining stability with just the right amount of cushioned support, the Cloud X 3s are ideal for various activities, such as running, rowing, and weightlifting—all of which you are likely to encounter in an Orangetheory Fitness class.

Sizes: 5-11 (with half sizes available)

Heel-to-toe drop: 8 mm

Weight: 7 oz

Colors: 10


  • Ideal for a variety of movement activities
  • Wide surface provides support and stability
  • Available in 10 color options


  • Not ideal for people who want plenty of cushion underfoot
Nike Metcon 5
3. Nike, Metcon 5 — $120.00

Stable, soft, and secure, the Nike Metcon 5s checks most of the boxes for a cross-training shoe. The pair’s foam midsole promises springy cushioning on runs, while the wide sole helps to keep feet steady while lifting weights. Its mesh upper also keeps things cool—no matter how strenuous the workout. A plus? “They have a wide toe box,” Rachel MacPherson, BA, CPT, CSCS, an ACE-certified personal trainer of more than 15 years, told Well+Good. The wide toe box not only provides ample room for those with wide feet, but also reinforces stability. Whether you’re looking to run, row, or lift weights, the Metcon 5s can handle all of the above and keep you comfortable at the same time.

Sizes: 5-12 (with half sizes available)

Heel-to-toe drop: 4 mm

Weight: 10 oz

Colors: 10


  • Suitable for cardio and light weightlifting
  • Features a wide sole for stability
  • Ample cushioning for cardio and high-intensity interval training


  • Some people have reported that the shoes are too wide for narrow feet

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