Friday, June 3, 2011

A Sneak Peek: Reebok's CrossFit Shoes

Reebok's CrossFit-specific shoes were on display at the NorCal Regionals today.

They were behind glass, so we couldn't hold them, try them on, or caress them lovingly, but they appear to be pretty legit nonetheless.

The soles of these shoes look more substantial than those of most barefoot shoes, so if you're a fan of working out in Vibram FiveFingers, Reebok's offerings may not be your cup of tea. If you want your feet closer to the ground, go with New Balance Minimus kicks instead

But relatively speaking, the heels on the Reeboks don't appear to be unstable or super-cushioned. My eyeball-estimate is that the drop from heel to toe is relatively minimal -- not unlike Inov-8s. POSE running shouldn't be a problem in these babies.

Even more important (especially for those of us with wide feet): The Reebok CrossFit shoes have a visibly wider toebox than most shoes I've seen (outside of the Minimus or Merrell Trail Gloves).

Plus, these shoes don't feature the smushy-looking rubbery nubs on the bottom of Reebok's recently-released ReeFlex shoes. Instead, the tread on the bottom of the shoes look to be just enough to grip the surface of a plyo box or lifting platform without causing one's feet to slip 'n slide.

Close up, the fabric of the uppers look breathable and light. In fact, they look very much like a hybrid of Inov-8s and Minimus shoes. You know: Shoes that CrossFitters love.

Of the ones that Reebok had on display, my favorite were the red-and-black ones -- mostly because they remind me of an old pair of skate shoes I had in seventh grade.

I remain a little concerned, though, that Reebok will continue to rely on unnecessary gimmicks to market their shoes. (See, e.g., Reebok's Pumps, Zigs, EasyTones, ReelFlex, etc.) To appeal to the CrossFit community, there's really no need for Reebok to hype "features" that are more marketing-driven than useful. We're not that stupid, you know. (Well, maybe I am, but you're not.)

Case in point: Reebok's CrossFit shoes  feature "U-Form" technology -- which means you can bake your new shoes in your oven, then take 'em out and put 'em on. The insides will magically mold to the unique contours of your feet.

But do you know of a single CrossFitter who's been clamoring for this feature? This feels like a marketing ploy tacked-on to an otherwise solid shoe, and one that potentially detracts from its authenticity and attractiveness to those of us in the CrossFit community.

Incidentally, there are already companies that sell orthotic shoe inserts that utilize this easy-bake technology. Unfortunately, these inserts unnaturally prop up arches and get in the way of ground-feel. They ultimately weaken people's feet. Why would CrossFitters -- especially those who've read Born to Run and swear by barefoot running -- care one whit about such a feature?

Besides, I don't EVEN want to know what'll happen if you work out in scorching weather in these shoes. (Kidding.)

Still, you know me: I'm a total shoe whore, and I'll definitely be picking up a pair when they're released later this year.

On the other hand, I don't think I'm going to shell out for Reebok's Olympic weightlifting shoes until the company can convince me why they're better than other shoe companies with much greater expertise in constructing Oly shoes. But I have to admit, they look pretty sweet.

[UPDATED 7/31/11: Okay, I saw the Oly shoes at the CrossFit Games this weekend, and they are awesome. They're light, with a super-flexible forefoot, which allows athletes to use 'em in WODs that combine lifting with box jumps, double-unders, and other movements that have typically discouraged the wearing of clunky lifting shoes. I can't wait to get a pair.]

More on the Regionals tomorrow. 

Must. Sleep. Now.