I'm wearing the new Adidas Adipure Trainers right now. They're barefoot shoes. My toes are spread apart (which is good), my feet are closer to the ground (which is great) and I feel like an arse (which is normal). Adidas says it'll make me a better athlete.
I was athletic once upon a time, this before I learned the invention of beer of course, but I've always wanted to make my way back there. What do I do? Start running? Not quite. Mark Verstegen, founder of Athletes' Performance and consultant for Adidas, crushes my hopes saying that people "run to get fit" but that's the wrong way of doing things. Instead, "you have to be fit to run". So though the popularity of barefoot running shoes has been well documented, these Adidas barefoot shoes aren't like those. They're the first barefoot models exclusively targeted for the gym. Run later.
When I first tried to put the Adipure Trainers on, my feet got stuck. My piggies just weren't inserting themselves inside the five holes. Verstegen had warned me about this, he says that our feet are so used to being scrunched up (he re-created the image with his fist) by dress shoes and high heels and sports shoes that we've ruined our natural toe alignment. They're supposed to be spread apart. Hearing that in the background, I was worried that these shoes would never fit me, that I was a lost cause, that I'd be out of shape forever. But! My problem was that I was wearing socks and apparently, Adipure Trainers aren't meant to be worn with your feet covered. When I went sock-less (a gross proposition for most that's slightly alleviated by 'an ortholite sock liner) I managed to slip in with relative ease.
So how do they feel? Actually good. The shoe's upper is similar to low profile water shoes (better quality, natch) — elastic, stretchy and hardly noticeable around the top part of your foot. I do, however, feel a bit of restriction around my toes but I'm going to assume that's more of a newness thing. The EVA midsoles are perfect though, EVA stands for ethylene and vinyl acetate and it's made up of a ton of foam cells that contain air, when your foot lands on the EVA, the foam compresses and the air gets pushed out until its sucked back in. So unlike Nike Frees which focus on re-creating a barefoot (read: less shock absorbent) feel, the Adidas Adipures provide a solid cushion so you don't feel every jagged edge of the ground. But it doesn't overcompensate on that cushioning, when you're doing exercises like box jumps you'll feel your toes and feet searching for balance, trying to grab the ground. It's like doing brand new core exercises for your feet—working the important little muscles that mean more than the big swooping ones.
But even with all these athlete-approved, trainer-recommended benefits, they're still unabashedly weird. Beyond all possibilities of weird, really. And to that end I say who cares? It's the gym, form follows function. They fit a specific purpose: it fixes your bad habits from the ground up, improves your posture and alignment so you can get more out of your workouts. You'll find yourself searching for balance and using muscles you never knew existed. One thing: probably not ideal for those who predominantly run.
The Adidas Adipure Trainers will be available on November 1 for $US90. [Adidas]