Like many of you, the pandemic wasn’t kind to my body. Who knew trying not to get sick could adversely affect my health? I ate awful food, drank too much beer, and barely moved a muscle except when I was throwing my PlayStation controller across the room.
As the world started to calm down—as much as it could, anyway—I finally decided to get serious about my health. I found a gym here in town that didn’t give a damn about mask mandates, bit the bullet on the weekly membership cost, and got to work. As a circuit-training gym, it was exactly what I needed. I needed a class to show me how it was done. A timer to hold me accountable at each station and during every rep. I needed to focus on my form so I didn’t injure myself doing something improperly.
And I needed the right shoes. I learned this after my first class, when after the 45-minute class, my feet were in agony. My shoes (from a brand I will not disclose here) felt too tight on my feet, and my heels were throbbing from the impacts I’d subjected them to.
I was grateful to receive the Circuit II Cross-Training Shoes from HYLETE. These shoes have made me a believer in the importance of quality footwear during any athletic endeavor. You can’t throw on just any pair of shoes and expect to be comfortable and effective during your training. You need a pair of shoes literally designed for those kinds of activities.
The first thing I noticed about the Circuit II shoes were the inclusion of two extra insoles in the box. There was a zero-lift insole with a 0mm drop, a mid-range 4mm drop insole, and a high-impact 6mm drop insole.
Why the three insoles?
The Circuit II shoes encourage you to select your insole depending on what kind of training you will be doing.
- If you’re running, choose the insole with the highest drop, the high-impact 6mm one. Athletes know that you need plenty of cushioning and rebound on runs, especially runs in urban environments on hard asphalt and sidewalk.
- If you’re weightlifting, get as close to the ground as possible by choosing the 0mm drop insole. The flat, low profile insole gives that “barefoot” feel that lets you grip every corner of the ground during squats, deadlifts, and more.
- And if you’re cross-training, say a HIIT session that’s a mixture of cardio and strength, go with the 4mm drop training insole, which delivers a versatile combination of rebound and stability.
I gotta tell you: This isn’t a sales gimmick. Choosing the right insole for the task really does make a difference with these HYLETE shoes. I often struggle with my weight-lifting form, especially on cleans, but having my heel as flat on the ground as possible helps me connect with the movement in a way that I’m not quite able to if I was wearing a shoe with more cushion.
Same goes with cardio. The last thing you want during a high-impact workout is a low-impact shoe. Yes, everyone hates life during cardio days, but if you’re wearing the wrong shoe (or in this case, the wrong insole) you’ll fatigue faster, risk injury, and just hate life more than usual. I always make sure to slide in the 6mm drop insole before cardio days, and it makes life a little less crappy in the moment.
The Vibram outsole also really assists in this. You’ll find Vibram outsoles on only the best footwear. I’m most familiar with it on hiking shoes, so I was grateful for the same amount of stability and traction here.
Fit, feel, and function.
I am a big fan of the way the Circuit II fits, especially at the heel. HYLETE designed this shoe with stability and confident positioning in mind.
Have you ever worn a shoe that you feel like you’re going to step out of? It’s not necessarily a question of the wrong shoe size. You could be wearing exactly your size but still feel like the shoe’s gonna fall off your feet on every step. HYLETE set out to terminate this concern once and for all. There’s so much cushion on my heel, wearing these shoes feels naturally secure. It’s a snug fit without feeling constricted.
And even with all that padding, the shoes still breathe very comfortably. HYLETE is renowned for listening to the feedback of its customers (especially the ones who look like the kind of people whose fitness opinions you should probably listen to). After the first generation of the shoe came out, the community wanted more ventilation and flexibility in the second version. So HYLETE added full mesh fabric in the upper for a more seamless fit that breathes better than the first version ever did. It was a job well done, because even on the toughest workouts, my feet aren’t sore or constricted the way they felt after my first few attempts at this kind of training.
I don’t want to work out in any other pair of shoes. Mostly because with the HYLETE Circuit II shoes, I essentially have three shoes in one. I’ve got the ideal pair of weightlifting shoes, a shock-absorbing cardio shoe, and a mixed-training in-between shoe for doing it all.
HYLETE also hooked me up with a pair of the Circuit II Echo shoes, another entry in the brand’s footwear arsenal. The Echoes come with two interchangeable insoles: The same 4mm cross-training insole found in the shoes I talked about above, and an even higher running insole with an 8mm drop. If you spend more time on the road over the gym, consider finding a pair of Echoes in your size.