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14 Shoes to Make You Fitter, Faster, and Slimmer

New Balance 771

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Best for: Mixed sessions

Amped-up padding in the heel and a reinforced upper around the midfoot support your foot during strength training and on cardio machines. In classes, the flexible forefoot and streamlined design make it easy to move around. Nearly every tester raved about this shoe’s fit; as one said, “It feels snug in all the right places and looser in the toes, where you want it to be.” ($75; new

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Photo: New Balance

Reebok Dance UR Tempo Mid

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Best for: Dance classes

For everything from step aerobics to Zumba, this shoe shines. The outsole is stiff through the midfoot, providing lateral support for quick side-to-side steps, and the ankle collar is flexible so it won’t inhibit your moves. Grooved hard rubber under the tip of the outsole allows for an easier push-off when jumping, while a round pivot point lets you spin away. ($85;

Photo: Reebok

Skora Fit

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Best for: Cross-training

The “sock-like” design and thin, curved outsole make this shoe feel “like an extension of your body.” And while it’s definitely minimal, this model still has enough “cloud-like” cushioning in the midsole for hitting the treadmill or elliptical. ($95;

Photo: Skora

Asics Metrowalk

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Best for: Everyday wear

This slip-on was full of surprises: It stays snug and secure, despite having no laces to tie; and while its outsole looks thin, it supports and cushions your foot well, even during a brisk multi-mile trek. A tester who usually hoofs it to work in ballet flats “really noticed the comfort difference” when she wore this instead, and loved that it can be easily stashed. ($65;

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Ryka Radiant Plus

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Best for: Walking workouts

Got your sights set on a marathon or a multiday charity walk? This is your training partner. Two layers of foam in the midsole absorb impact, creating a “bouncy, cushy” shoe that, as one tester said, “really puts a spring in your step.” (The extra padding also helps prevent post-workout joint aches.) And while the white upper didn’t win many style points, its wide mesh allows for plenty of air flow. ($70;

Photo: Ryka

Skechers Flex Appeal Spring Fever

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Best for: Everyday walking

With a “pillowy” memory foam insole that conforms to your foot, and deep grooves in the outsole, this shoe is ideal for casual and fitness walks. The laces pull the upper securely—even around the narrowest foot—making the Flex Appeal stable enough for weight lifting too. ($70;

Photo: Skechers

Saucony Peregrine 4

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Best for: Rugged paths

Toothy lugs on the outsole grab hold of the trail, ensuring an “intense” grip and “solid” traction, while a protective mesh plate beneath the treads stops rocks from jabbing through. The lightweight film strips bonded to the upper provide structure, keeping your foot secure on mountain scrambles. And the wide toe box allows your foot to comfortably flex. ($110;

Photo: Saucony

The North Face UltraTrail

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Best for: Varied terrain

Runners remarked that this featherweight shoe was comfortable “right out of the box.” It feels as flexible as a road model but has a full-length Vibram outsole that grips dirt and gravel—even when you’re barreling downhill. And since there aren’t many large protruding lugs, the UltraTrail remains low profile, allowing for a smoother stride. ($110;

Photo: The North Face

Columbia Conspiracy Vapor

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Best for: Trail running

Tackling loose dirt and wet rocks is a cinch with this standout’s grippy outsole. Wide-footed testers loved the upper, and the “soft-and-stretchy” fabric doesn’t rub—even when cinched down. ($80;

Photo: Colombia

Nike Lunar Eclipse 4

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Best for: Distance

Tack on extra miles, without compromising your form, in this “solid, supportive” shoe. A firm plastic cradle sandwiched between the midsole stops your foot from overpronating (rolling in too much), a common side effect of fatigue. And the soft upper feels “ridiculously comfortable,” thanks to its ample heel padding. ($135;

Photo: Nike

ON Cloudracer

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Best for: Speed

At less than 7 ounces (up to 2 ounces lighter than many other sneakers), this shoe feels like a racing flat. But once you get moving, you’ll notice a big difference: The 18 flexible rubber pods on the outsole soften upon impact and harden when you push off, giving the Cloudracer a “quick feeling” that’s also “responsive.” Plus, the upper “perfectly” envelops every width of foot. ($130;

Photo: ON

Brooks PureConnect 3

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Best for: Indoor/outdoor runners

Like to mix up your training locale? This is your shoe. Testers scored the PureConnect 3 high for road and treadmill alike. This super-flexible shoe has a wrap around the arch that provides reliable support, while the wide mesh upper combats overheating. Capsules on the outsole feel like “pockets hitting trigger points,” dampening the blow of every step. ($100;

Photo: Brooks

Adidas Supernova Glide Boost

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Best for: Cushioning

Pounding the pavement? This shoe’s midsole has thousands of rubber capsules that compress and expand to absorb shock and boost energy return. Testers raved about the “trampolinelike” bounce, and many reported that their legs felt “less tired” than usual postworkout. The arch-hugging upper secures your foot, making runners feel faster and more agile. ($130;

Photo: Adidas

Pearl Izumi EM Road M2

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Best for: Outdoor running

Even when hoofing it off-road, this shoe was “stable and grounded,” and pebbles didn’t get stuck in the treads. The slightly stiff outsole adds stability but doesn’t feel clunky. ($110;

Photo: Pearl Izumi