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Best gym trainers for women: stylish sneakers to enhance your workouts

Take your running, HIIT, and weightlifting workouts to the next level with these stylish and supportive gym trainers for women, as recommended by Mumsnetters. 

By Alice Cruickshank | Last updated May 1, 2022

Best gym trainers

If you’ve been attending gym classes, taking part in HIIT sessions or weightlifting in old running trainers, then it’s time to invest in some quality training shoes. Proper gym trainers differ from running shoes in that they are designed for unilateral movement, rather than just moving forward. This means they can help prevent injuries and properly support your feet and joints while you’re working out.

So what should you look for? For running, you want trainers with a lifted and padded heel, arch support, and plenty of cushioning and rebound in the sole. If weightlifting is your thing then you should prioritise trainers with a firm, flat sole and ideally a slightly elevated heel, and if you’re into HIIT or other explosive exercise sessions, then you’re after gym shoes that offer moderate cushioning and unilateral support.

However you choose to keep fit, here’s the best gym trainers to buy in 2022. 

1. Best overall gym trainers: New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v3

New-Balance Arishi gym trainers

Price: £50 | Buy now from Amazon

"New Balance for me. They are oh so comfortable on my bunion-riddled clown feet. I've been wearing the current pair for almost a year and they are still almost as good as new" - recommended by Mumsnet user, Ironfloor269

If your workout routine includes a mixture of classes, weights, and cardio, then these neutral and supportive trainers from New Balance are an excellent choice. The Fresh Foam Arishi shoes live up to its name in terms of cushioning, without being too padded for gym workouts. The mesh upper will keep your feet cool while working out, while the moulded footbed provides added support. These trainers are not the best choice for heavy weightlifting (when a firmer shoe is best), but otherwise they are ideal as a versatile running and gym shoe. Fresh Foam Arishi trainers come in both standard and wide fit.

2. Best budget gym trainers: Decathlon Domyos Women’s Fitness Shoes

Decathlon Domyos gym trainers

Price: £30 | Buy now from Decathlon

Despite coming in at under £30, these gym trainers from Decathlon pack a punch. They're designed specifically for gym workouts, with a focus on supporting you through movements like twists, repeated jumps, squats and lunges. You’ll find moderate cushioning and lateral reinforcements to support dynamic movements. The heel drop is designed to be close to bare feet, which makes these suitable for weightlifting too. The Domyos Fitness Shoe comes in black, cream, and pink to compliment any workout outfit. 

3. Best gym trainers for versatility: Nike Legend Essential 2

NIke Legend gym trainers

Price: £55 | Buy now from Nike

"I love my current trainers from Nike. Top tip: if you sign up to Nike you get 20% off on your birthday and free delivery. So sign up now and pretend your birthday is next week" - recommended by Mumsnet user, errnerrcallnernnernnern

Nike may be best known for running shoes, but the Legend Essential 2 is designed specifically as a training shoe to support you through a variety of gym workouts. These trainers are equally suited to weightlifting as they are HIIT workouts or gym glasses with a flat, stable heel, flexibility under the toes and side-to-side support. The black and white design is both sleek and stylish. Reviewers recommend ordering a half size bigger for a comfortable fit. 

4. Best gym trainers for HIIT: NIKE Women's Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Track & Field Shoes

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus gym trainers

Price: £110 | Buy now from Nike

"I use an old pair of neutral running shoes - Nike Pegasus Zoom- for HIIT classes as they've got enough cushioning to help with landings in jumpy exercise" - recommended by Mumsnet user, Badgerlady

"I was going to recommend the Nike Pegasus as a good all-round, neutral shoe" - tried and tested by Mumsnet user, LaLaLanded 

Although these are marketed as road running shoes, Mumsnetters recommend these trainers for comfortable HIIT workouts. While the spongy sole isn’t suitable for weightlifting, this cushioning will add some bounce to your favourite gym class. In fact, they are so comfortable you’ll want to wear them for walking about every day. The mesh upper will help keep your feet cool, while the midfoot webbing gives a snug and supportive fit. 

5. Best gym trainers for weights: Core Weightlifting Shoes

Core weightlifting shoes

Price: £70 | Buy now from Amazon

Resistance training is important for maintaining muscle mass and general health, and if you’ve got into weightlifting in a big way then you’ll definitely want to invest in some proper lifting trainers. Okay, the Core Weightlifting Shoes might not be the prettiest choice, but they are designed for technique over style. These gym trainers are made to support you during big lifts like squats and deadlifts, with their stable sole and heel lift. If you’ve struggled with ankle mobility for deep squats then these weightlifting shoes could be the missing link in enhancing your lifts. 

6. Best gym trainers for running: Brooks Womens Adrenaline GTS 19 Road Running Shoes

Brooks Adrenaline gym trainers

Price: £69 | Buy now from Amazon

"Brooks running shoes. Nice wide toe area and hugely supportive/cushioning (make sure you get the cushioned ones). They have revolutionised my running and I can't wear another brand now!" - recommended by Mumsnet user, AnonymousLetter 

"I’ve got Brooks ones. They’re great" - tried and tested by Mumsnet user, PurpleDaisies

"Another vote for Brooks" - rated by Mumsnet user, Iamthewombat

Brooks is a brand that consistently comes out on top of best running shoes lists. The Adrenaline GTS 19 trainers are a brilliant mid-range choice for Couch-2-5Kers and marathon runners alike. Brooks shoes feature ‘Guiderail’ technology, designed to keep knees in the correct position for running. You’ll also find a cushioned sole with great rebound, and a cooling mesh upper. These running trainers also come in a wide fit option.

7. Best gym trainers for Crossfit: Reebok Women's Nano X1 Grit Shoes

Reebok Nano X1 crossfit gym trainers

Price: £110 | Buy now from Reebok

“I do Crossfit and swear by my Reebok Nano” - recommended by Mumsnet user, Rollerbird

Crossfit is a unique form of exercise that brings together both strength and dynamic exercises, and for that reason the right shoes are an essential. Reebok’s Nano collection is designed specifically for this type of exercise, with the right combination of support and cushioning. The ‘Flexweave’ upper is designed to hold strong however many twists and turns you put these shoes through. Some reviewers state these gym trainers are hard to break in at the heels, so you might need to invest in blister plasters for your first few workouts. 

8. Best gym trainers for comfort: ASICS Women's Gel-Kayano 28 Running Shoes

ASICS Gel Kayano gym trainers

Price: £102 | Buy now from Amazon

"Have always worn Asics as for me nothing else compares" - recommended by Mumsnet user, PrincessScarlet 

"My last ones were Asics and my newest ones are Nike. I much prefer the Asics" - rated by Mumsnet user, OhMyGodTheyKilledKenny

"Asics, definitely" - tried and tested by Mumsnet user, Sisotowbellane

Asics’ range is well known for its supreme comfort, and these shoes frequently top best-buy lists. The Gel-Kayano trainers are specifically designed for over-pronation, with great arch support. Although these shoes are designed for running, the shock absorption and supportive design is well-suited to a variety of exercises. If you have problems with your feet, or are looking for a decent all-rounder for walking, running, and gym classes, then Asics trainers are a solid choice. 

9. Best wide fit gym trainers: Brooks Addiction Walker

Brooks Addiction Walker

Price: £65 | Buy now from Amazon

"Love my Brooks, they're as much like slippers as trainers can be. I have v wide feet" - recommended by Mumsnet user, OxanaVorontsova

"I'm in my 50s, started running about 10 years ago and am on my 3rd pair of ASICS. I have wide feet and find they are comfortable, consistently well made and supportive" - tried and tested by Mumsnet user, Mintjulia

If finding comfortable trainers for your wide feet is putting you off getting started with an exercise regime, then Brooks offers a solution. The Addiction Walker range is one of the wider options on the market, complete with the technical innovations that feature in all Brooks trainers. These shoes have adaptable cushioning and arch support to protect your knees and ankles when running or walking. If you’re after shoes for heavy lifting or high impact moves then the Addiction Walker is not the best choice, but for moderate workouts and long walks these trainers are a brilliant all-rounder. 

10. Best eco-friendly gym trainers: Veja Condor 2 Alveomesh and faux leather sneakers

Veja Condor 2 gym trainers

Price: £130 | Buy now from Net-A-Porter

"I have 4 pairs of Veja and they were all comfortable immediately" - Sooverthemill

Veja has exploded in popularity over the past few years and the brand recently released a sports shoe version of their popular fashion trainers. The Condor 2 features a cushioned sole and mesh upper that makes them well-suited to running in particular. The large heel drop is not well suited to weightlifting, however, Veja is a B-Corp, which means these trainers have really earned their eco credentials. The Condor 2 trainers are crafted from bio and recycled materials. 

What makes a good pair of gym trainers?

What makes the best gym trainers will vary depending on what type of exercise you do, what sort of support your feet and knees require, and of course your personal preference. However, as a general rule, trainers for gym-based workouts exist to provide a different function to running trainers. A good pair of gym trainers should have moderate to no cushioning (depending on if you’re going to be performing explosive movements or lifting weights), decent ankle support, a breathable construction, and a sturdy sole. 

What’s the difference between running trainers and gym trainers?

Many people wear their running trainers to workout in the gym, but switching to training shoes instead could enhance your performance (and help prevent injuries!). 

Running shoes are designed for forward movement, with cushioning and bounceback to protect your joints when pounding the pavements. Most running shoes also feature arch support, and usually have a high heel drop for shock absorption.

Gym trainers on the other hand are designed for unilateral movements like squats, lunges, jumps, and quick changes in direction. Don’t feel put off by less cushioning - little to moderate padding is what you’re after, depending on the type of exercise. Training shoes are also usually much flatter than running shoes. 

What are the best gym trainers to buy? 

We evaluated offerings from the biggest training shoe brands on the market, and decided New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v3 are the best overall gym trainers to buy. These trainers are suitable for a variety of exercises, making them good value if you like to switch up your workout routine. 

How we chose our recommendations

Because we know nothing beats a recommendation from a real parent, we started by scanning the Mumsnet threads to see what gym trainers Mumsnetters swear by. Next up, we consulted best-buy lists across the internet, and carefully weighed up reviews from customers. We then evaluated which gym trainers were best for specific needs. 

Why you should trust us 

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.