The biggest compliment I can give a training shoe is that I forget all about them—they’re unnoticeable and never detract from a workout, but instead provide ample yet imperceptible improvements that boost my efforts. Too often cross-training, CrossFit, and lifting shoes feel like a block of plywood underfoot, providing little in the way of flexibility and a lot in the way of discomfort. But Reebok just released the CrossFit Nano 9, the newest member of the lineup, and it’s undoubtedly the most comfortable update.
Of course a shoe can’t please everyone, but Reebok’s coining this their “Nano for All.” Rather than doing a complete overhaul of the training kick, they (smartly) chose to update key areas in need of improvement, listening to elite athletes and everyday CrossFitters alike to influence the changes.
For example, past iterations were focused so heavily on performance they lacked wearability. Athletes would lace them up for a WOD, but not a minute more. Running was out of the question, and even walking around in some previous models proved to be an onerous task. So the Nano 9 addresses comfort first and foremost. To make the shoe suitable for short, lung-busting sprints and mile-long efforts, they split the rubber outsole. Typically, one-piece rubber bottoms slap the pavement, feeling (and sounding) a lot like a rubber band smack. Reebok introduced MetaSplit, a groove along the outsole to give better flex, traction, and mobility.
There’s also added midsole cushioning to make running—and, hell, just plain standing and walking in the shoe more comfortable. The Flexweave upper’s been updated from the Nano 8 to be even more durable while maintaining breathability (there’s an overlay for added protection against abrasion from rope climbs). To that end, there’s also a midsole protection wrap to extend the lifespan of the shoe.
As always, there’s a wide toe box to provide plenty of room for toe splay when you’re squatting or doing explosive lateral movements, and just a slight drop in the outsole to keep your feet feeling grounded.
I put the shoe through the ultimate first-impression test: a WOD led by CrossFit athletes Rich Froning and Annie Thorisdottir at Solace Gym in NYC. First, they led a group of media through a warmup competition. Groups of two took turns rowing (switching on/off after each 100m increment), trying to get as close to the 100m mark as possible. For every meter over, we did a burpee penalty (for example, if I rowed 104m or 96m, I did 4 burpees). The first team to 2,000m won. After, we all completed “The Chief,” a 3-minute AMRAP for 5 rounds:
- 3 Power Cleans (can use dumbbells)
- 6 Pushups
- 9 Air Squats
*Rest 1 minute*
Of course a shoe isn’t going to make any WOD “easy,” but the Nano 9s kept my feet locked down comfortably and the heel counter didn’t chafe or eat up my Achilles. I want any discomfort I feel to come from pushing my limits, not an uncomfortable pair of kicks. After all, isn’t the whole point of CrossFit to power through (and, yes, suffer through) a WOD with friends?
Nano 9 is available in four intro colorways for $130 at reebok.com/nano and at select footwear retailers worldwide