The term "fitness shoes" may refer to any types of shoes that are used for physical activities such as sports, or it may refer specifically to shoes designed for general fitness activities rather than shoes tailored to a specific sport or group of sports. Before beginning a search for a good pair of fitness shoes, it is important for the user to decide what types of fitness activities he or she will be participating in. This helps narrow down the search for fitness shoes and allows the purchaser to make an informed decision based on his or her specific needs.
Most people consider running shoes to be the best and most commonly chosen fitness shoes, and while they are almost certainly the most purchased athletic shoes, they are rarely the right choice for a person participating in fitness activities other than running. These fitness shoes are designed specifically for forward motion, so the shape of the shoe will support the foot throughout the forward movement. Lateral movements, however, will be fairly unsupported, and a user will find that running shoes are too light and flimsy for other activities such as racket sports or cross training.
Those people who need a shoe that will support the foot through forward and lateral movements should consider a cross training shoe. These fitness shoes look similar to running shoes, but they tend to have a bulkier, stiffer sole that is wider than a running shoe. This wider, stiffer sole keeps the ankle from rolling during lateral movements, making it a good choice for a variety of sports. The uppers of cross training shoes are usually a bit thicker than running shoes, though some cross training shoes do feature lightweight, breathable, and thin uppers for comfort and breathability.
More modern versions of fitness shoes are specially designed to strengthen and tone the leg muscles during normal walking activities. These shoes often feature a negative heel — in which the heel of the foot is positioned lower than the toes — or a rounded sole that creates a "rocker" motion when walking. These types of shoes tend to be quite expensive and claim to tone and firm leg muscles as well as the buttocks by essentially making the muscles work harder during normal walking. Many people claim positive results from such shoes, while others claim the shoes put too much excess strain on the legs and can cause pain.