This week, we take a moment to review a pair of New Balance’s Minimus 10 shoes.
When I first started CrossFit, I was wearing the average “gym” shoe – a cross-trainer built for just about any athletic activity. The one-size-fits-all of sportswear, if you will. But as you already well know (and what I learned in those beginning fundamental classes), functional fitness is not a one-size fits all sport. It was time for a new shoe.
Before I went out to try on anything, I started my research with what comes naturally: vanity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not someone who gets all dolled up before I head to the box (much to my peers’ dismay). But I have a rather, er, large issue with which to contend—my feet. For my 5’7” female size, which is not terribly tall or short for a girl, I have Sasquatch-sized 11 feet. While larger sizes are more available today, growing up I remember my father being very excited when he found a shoe store in downtown Chicago that sold up to size 15 shoes for women. Too bad it turned out to be a store for cross-dressers. But I digress.
With feet this big, Vibram Five Fingers were immediately out. I don’t care how much people love their pairs or if the shoes would’ve shaved minutes off my mile time. There was no way I was going to put that kind of spotlight on my personal freak show. This in mind, my search was immediately narrowed to a more traditional-looking shoe. It eventually came down to the Inov-8 or New Balance Minimus. And the Minimus MultiSport WO10 won.
Construction: New Balance Minimus 10 is a minimalist shoe designed with a Vibram sole and a fitted synthetic mesh upper. The drop is 4mm from heel to toe, although from the outside of the shoe, you would think it’s much higher. New Balance says that the purpose of this construction is to help promote proper running form. I’ve never been a stellar runner, so I can’t say whether or not my stride has changed all that much. However, I will say that cross-trainers and they’re typical high arches have always bothered my flat feet (yet another strike against my foundation). Within minutes of running, the bottom of my feet would cramp up and ache terribly. With the Minimus, I have none of that—and I couldn’t be more grateful!
Weight: Minimus are super light (161 grams or 6 oz), which make them perfect for functional fitness activities where you don’t want cinder blocks strapped to your feet—think, box jumps, burpees, toes-to-bars, and rope climbs. And speaking of rope climbs, the shoe soles grip well going up and seem to show less wear than Inov-8s going down the rope (or so has been the case at my box, anyway).
Toe Base: I wouldn’t consider Minimus to be a shoe meant for a wide foot specifically, but the toe base does offer more room than that of most athletic shoes. Since my little toe seems to go numb in most cross-trainers, being able to feel my littlest pig was a welcome change. The extra toe space is also a nice benefit when lifting. A common correction for keeping your weight in the heels is to wiggle your toes. In Minimus, that’s no problem.
Colors: Minimus 10 offers a lot of different color combinations. While I went for the understated gray-and-yellow scheme for obvious reasons, orange, turquoise, beige, black, blue and red are just a few of the choices available.
Odor: While I don’t have the research to back it up, I’m pretty sure most people don’t like smelly feet. But when you’re working out in shoes that don’t require socks, odor seems like something that would go hand-in-hand. The New Balance site claims Minimus are odor-resistant. At first I found that statement hard to believe. However, I’m months into wearing these shoes and still no stink. (And yes, I’ve actually sniffed to check—not my proudest moment.)
Insole: Overall, the inside of the shoe is really comfortable. In fact, when I first began wearing my Minimus I didn’t notice any issues with the insole. But now months later, I’m starting to notice that the insole area beneath my toe feels slightly wrinkled or bunched. It could be an isolated event related solely to my freak feet, but it also might be a product of bare feet friction on fabric over time.
Rubbing: I was nervous that switching from a lifetime of wearing heavy cushioned, thick-soled athletic shoes was going to make for a tough transition to a minimal shoe, so I decided to break them in slowly. As it turns out, the lack of rise of the sole wasn’t an issue, but where the shoe hit on my Achilles’ tendon was. There was a little bit of rubbing that would’ve resulted in a blister had I not walked around the house in them a few days and wore socks the first few times I worked out. It was a quick process, but one that I’m glad I did.
Honestly, the goods far outweigh the bads. The New Balance Minimus 10 is a comfortable, lightweight shoe that is perfect for a majority of CrossFit activities. At just over $100, the price is pretty comparable to other minimal shoes on the market. But you might be getting more for your money with New Balance as they seem to show less wear over time. You will need to break them in a bit, but that’s true of most shoes. And best of all, Minimus won’t make a spectacle of your feet—but now I’m just projecting.
8.5 out of 10