This week, we take a moment to review Reebok’s CrossFit Oly Shoes.
Item: Reebok’s CrossFit Oly Shoes
Price: $149 USD
When CrossFit released Open workout 12.4 I hated it instantly. Karen followed by 90 double-unders then 30 muscle-ups?? I knew it was going to hurt – a lot. I take my hat off to HQ for their programming of this WOD in the 2012 Open. The beautiful thing about how this WOD is constructed is that it focuses on a major muscle group while subtly fatiguing the following exercise.
I broke up the wall balls at 30’s and 20’s to start out with due to the sheer quantity. I finished with reps of five only to conserve what energy I had left after punching out 150 wall balls (with a few ‘no reps’ added in for good measure). Next was the double unders which I managed 50/25/15 due to fatigue, then sucked in 20 seconds of air before I attempted muscle up number one.
I finished with a score of 250. Not bad, but could have been better if I had been honing my muscles up skills (see Fringe Gymnastic Ring review). Shoe choice for this WOD was something I had talked to a few guys in the box about. Some immediately went for their weightlifting shoes as the majority of the WOD was wall balls.The solid heel and heel rise was something they viewed as advantageous.
Some stuck with their regular WOD sneakers while others went barefoot. I on the other hand wore my Reebok CrossFit Oly Shoes which, in my opinion, were built for this WOD. That’s where writing this review becomes interesting, as there’s no Olympic lifting in 12.4. Defining this shoe as an Olympic lifting shoe is a misnomer. It isn’t a complete Olympic lifting shoe, yet it isn’t a sneaker.
Size: The shoe doesn’t take on the same platform as the Reebok CrossFit Nano. For those of you with narrow feet this is a good thing. However, for those individuals with wide feet you’re back to a snug to tight fitting shoe. The length of the toe box fit me differently than my Nano’s. I have a full thumbnail to the end of the shoe which creates an almost ill fit and feel. That’s not to say that the shoe is too big; it is the correct size for my foot but the toe box is built slightly long. If I had a shoe that was a half size down it may not have that problem, but I can’t stroll over to Foot Locker and just try on a pair to compare.
Feel: If you are familiar with Olympic lifting shoes these will feel very different due to the flexible forefoot – maybe too flexible for purists. However this is where the confusion or perhaps genius of this shoe lies. Activating the U-Form technology didn’t change the feel of the forefoot enough for it to be a noticeable change, and it didn’t add additional stability. So if you’re planning on doing Olympic lifting and only Olympic lifting in these shoes you should consider alternatives which will provide a solid base from heel to toe.
Shipping: There is also the ongoing issue of international shipping fees on single item purchases. Reebok haven’t come any closer to resolving a $50 freight fee which for some could be a deal breaker.
Flex: The flexible forefoot is genius. This shoe was so well suited to 12.4 that you could suggest that it was designed with these shoes in mind. But there’s no Oly lifting in 12.4! Double unders are a breeze in these shoes. In fact anything that requires plantar flexion is comfortable rather than clunky in standard Oly shoes.
Weight: Another thing I love about these shoes is that they’re very lightweight. At only 13.4 ounces (380 grams) they have to be one of the lightest weightlifting shoes on the market. However my trawling through the internet couldn’t produce a shoe weight to compare it to. The best reference I could find for the Nike Romaleos 2 was the generic statement which everyone selling these shoes has: “We have reduced the weight of the shoe by over 50g compared to the Romaleos 1.” So what is the weight of Romaleos 1? I couldn’t find any reference to shoe weight for the Adidas AdiPOWER Weightlifting Shoe either.
Strap: For those who are changing from Do-Win’s the length of the strap is a welcome feature. There isn’t too much strap, or too little, and although it has Reebok branding embroidered across the front of it, it is done in a tasteful fashion; it would almost look odd if it wasn’t there. Additionally, the Velcro isn’t the industrial grade Velcro which will pick up every piece of refuse including the Statue of David’s belly button fluff. The PVC grip finish is a nice touch as well as it eliminates the curling of the end of the strap in addition to being a point of grip for fastening the strap.
Tongue: In comparison to the Reebok CrossFit Nano which I recently reviewed, a lot of thought has been put into designing and securing the tongue. The strap integrates with the tongue of the shoe, as well as the tongue being secured laterally within the shoe. This creates a more structured fit across the instep. The tongue also has presence, primarily emphasised by an internal frame and/or structure possibly made from PVC, as well as the thick material adding some body and comfort. Please forgive me for not taking the box cutter to my shoes.
Style: The look of these shoes does not disappoint either. Sure, I’m guilty of shoe purchases that were fuelled by looks rather than function, however these offer both. Reebok have remained consistent with their offer of an extra set of colour laces which is a nice touch.
We need to reflect on what this shoe is: a CrossFit Oly Lifter. It is a functional fitness shoe which is designed for Olympic lifting yet also facilitates constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity. It’s also a shoe with an identity crisis. It gets lost between wanting to be an Olympic lifting shoe and a sneaker which ironically, works perfectly for CrossFit workouts. So, anytime I choose to make a bet with the loser to do 12.4 I’ll make sure I have my Reebok CrossFit Oly Lifters handy, even though there’s no Olympic lifting in the WOD.
How do you rate a hybrid shoe when there’s nothing that is equivalent to compare it to? As a functional fitness shoe it’s awesome (9 out of 10). As an Olympic lifting shoe it’s average (5 out of 10). The result is a middle of the road: