I Always Felt Knee Pain During HIIT Classes Until I Found These Supportive Cross-Training Shoes

They’re perfect for bootcamp, Zumba, and strength training.

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Shape Certified Reebok Nano X3
Courtesy of Reebok.

My knees and I have come a long way in the past few years — literally. Last year, I finished a triathlon and two half-marathons, something I never thought would be possible after developing intense, chronic knee pain in 2021. Physical therapy, stretching, and strength training have been incredibly helpful in helping me run without discomfort. However, until a few months ago, one exercise obstacle still remained: high-intensity workout classes.

Don’t get me wrong, workouts from Barry’s Bootcamp, Orangetheory, and any others that combine intense cardio with strength are so much fun, but hopping from treadmill to mat with no recovery in between really caused the pain in my joints to flare. However, my perspective totally changed after trying a HIIT class with Reebok where I ditched my usual running shoes for a pair of the just-launched Nano X3 Training Shoes.

Reebok Nano X3 Key Features:

  • How I tested: In addition to wearing these for weightlifting workouts at the gym, I use them for weekly boot camp and HIIT classes that involve treadmill, jumping, and squatting exercises.

  • Perfect for: Anyone who takes exercise classes on a weekly basis or does a combination of strength and cardio exercises at the gym. 

  • What you’ll love: Despite feeling lightweight, each shoe contains a cushion-lined sole that’s both responsive and shock-absorbing.

  • Keep in mind: Although these sneakers can take on sprinting for short distances, they are not designed for long-distance runs (I recommend this pair to any runner with knee pain.) 
Shape Certified Reebok Nano X3
Courtesy of Reebok.

Buy It: $140, zappos.com

Reebok Nano X3 Review:

I consider myself a gear minimalist, and honestly believed that my running shoes would get me through any type of workout. However, there are a few notable differences between road running sneakers and cross-training sneakers that make the latter much more effective at protecting your legs during workout classes. “Cross-trainers are a good option for hybrid-style training: If you're rowing and squatting moderate weight, doing burpees and kettlebell swings, and deadlifting moderate weight," Grayson Wickham, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., founder of Movement Vault, previously told Shape.

Unlike my Hoka Rocket X running shoes (which are fabulous for jogging), the Reebok Nano X3s feature no heel, which gives your foot and leg muscles a larger range of motion. However, unlike straight-up lifting shoes, these dynamic lace-ups still include enough cushioning to protect my knees from shock during HIIT staples like mountain climbers and squat jumps. I immediately noticed a difference in squats and lunges — two moves that always give me joint pain anxiety. Holding correct form was much easier, as I felt more grounded and in control. Sure, these shoes don’t make me any less breathless after a third round of burpees, but they help me stay more balanced and stable throughout every part of class, which ultimately leaves my knees feeling less achy in the days after. 

HIIT, Barry’s Bootcamp, and Zumba are fun and effective ways to get a sweat in, but even a little pain can cause them to quickly lose their magic. Sneakers like the Reebok Nano X3 helped me avoid pain and take more control of my exercise schedule, and might be the right choice for you if you have knee discomfort. Check them out at Zappos for $140.

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