Shoes with optimum cushioning, lateral support, and flexibility for daily workouts and studio sessions. See workout shoes
Versatile, low-profile shoes for constantly varied exercises including plyometrics, sprinting, weightlifting, and rope climbing. See CrossFit shoes
Shoes for daily wear that ensure a smooth walking gait cycle. Check out walking shoes
For people with normal pronation. Also provide support for high-arched feet with underpronation (excessive outward rolling of the foot). See neutral training shoes
For people with low-arched or flat feet and moderate overpronation (excessive inward rolling of the foot). See stability training shoes
Shoes feature stabilizing technologies for people with severe overpronation. See motion control training shoes
Good to know
Stability and motion control add-ons are uncommon for workout shoes and are never present in CrossFit or weightlifting footwear. They are mostly found in walking shoes where the gait is easier to correct.
Training footwear typically weighs between 200g and 300g per shoe to accommodate agile workouts. Minimalist trainers go as low as 150g, while weightlifting shoes can go as high as 500g.
WidthMen: Extra wide, Standard, WideWomen: Standard
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90 / 100 based on 1 expert reviews
New Balance 517: A great trainer for anyone
Are you interested in starting a fitness routine involving a variety of activities from walking to weightlifting?
Or, are you a more experienced gym rat looking for a solid and durable training shoe that won’t break the bank? Either way, the New Balance 517 is a great option to consider.
I’m a fitness enthusiast in my mid-40s and was looking for a general trainer that I could wear in the gym. Recently, I’ve been guilty of wearing my running shoes for weightlifting because, really, who wants to have to change shoes after a warmup treadmill jog?
It’s well known, however, that running shoes do not make the best footwear for weight training. For one thing, running shoes don’t generally possess much lateral support (that means support for side-to-side foot movement) since they are designed only to promote forward motion.
Running shoes also tend to be very built up in the rearfoot area. This design is great for cushioning the heel during a run but can destabilize you during lifting, which may compromise your form or even lead to injury. I decided to buy a new pair of cross-trainers so that I could enter the gym prepared for any activity.
For a decade or more, I wore shoes like the below for my weight training sessions.
I wanted a trainer with a similar level of support and structure to the above, just with a more updated look and greater breathability. I found this in the 517.
The New Balance 517 is a traditional New Balance trainer with some updated features. Instead of the leather material which is found on some of the legacy trainer models made by New Balance (such as the popular 608), the 517 is mostly constructed from a synthetic mesh which is perforated and very breathable.
The color contrast between the upper and the sole gives the shoe a bit of a more modern look than classic leather trainers. The shoe also has a slightly sleeker profile than some of its boxier New Balance brethren.
Although the 517 is certainly not designed with a younger consumer in mind. It also doesn’t exactly scream “dad shoe.”
Although I am solidly within the “dad shoe” demographic (mid-40s father of two here) and have no problem wearing a gym shoe that doesn’t look contemporary, it is sometimes nice to have something that appears a little more current.
Instead of buying a wide-width shoe in one of those other brands, I opted for the New Balance 517 because it runs somewhat wide in medium width. The shoes are roomy enough to be comfortable without being loose.
The wide toe box allows for toe splay, which is useful during training activities. I really like the lacing system, which provides ankle support by providing an extra lace hole at the collar area of the shoe.
The length of this trainer is perfect in my typical athletic shoe size, which is a 9.5. Note that I take a size 9 in casual and dress shoes, but go a half-size up for gym, running and hiking shoes to ensure sufficient toe room.
The upper is made from a perforated, highly breathable synthetic material. The midfoot area is built around a support cage which holds the midfoot in place. This gives the shoe a snug feel and provides a decent amount of lateral support.
The heel counter is semi-rigid and prevents unwanted side-to-side motion of the rearfoot during fitness activities. The lacing system and padded collar provide solid ankle support, as described previously.
The midsole is constructed from a foam material called ABZORB, which has been a staple of many New Balance models for years. The ABZORB foam provides cushioning but is also very firm, which is perfect for supporting the feet during weight training.
There is a bit of heel-to-toe drop here (looks like about 10mm), which may not work for people who prefer a truly minimalist experience during fitness activities.
However, this bit of heel lift makes the shoe comfortable for cardio activities, especially anything which might involve jumping or quick movements (like a cardio class). This makes the shoe versatile and a good choice for those of us who like to vary our workouts.
Since I was curious to learn more, I found this little video describing the ABZORB technology on the New Balance website.
The shoe comes with a memory foam stock insole that is easily removable. The stock insole is soft and provides a cushion. It is, however, not at all contoured. I replaced the stock insole with my doctor-prescribed orthotics (Superfeet brand) with no issue.
The shoe’s outsole is designed to provide much-needed traction on the weight room floor. The hard rubber includes textured areas on the heel and forefoot that prevent slipping.
The flex grooves in the forefoot allow the shoe to bend nicely around the toe area. The bottom of the shoe is flat and wider than the upper, which gives the shoe a very stable feel.
Given the shoe’s design, I imagine that it could even be used for some court sports.
The New Balance 517 trainer is designed with some excellent qualities:
- A supportive yet breathable upper with the ability to lace the shoe tight around the ankle area
- A firm yet cushioned midsole that provides solid and dependable underfoot support for a variety of activities from walking to weight training
- An insole that can be easily removed to accommodate an orthotic
- A durable hard rubber outsole that provides a solid, flat platform for weight lifting
- An excellent fit in a medium width
- A modern aesthetic when compared with classic white leather New Balance trainers
- Sold at a great value price point
- An overall design that works for a variety of activities, from weightlifting to cardio activities, even some court sports
The shoe does have a few drawbacks depending upon your intended use:
- The 517 feels heavy, especially when compared with some of the other trainers on the market
- The heel-to-toe drop of these shoes is a bit higher than I would prefer for squats and deadlifts, for which I generally like to wear a flat shoe like the Converse All-Star
- This shoe does not work for jogging; on days when I want to run on the treadmill before I lift weights, I still need to bring two pairs of shoes to the gym
Overall, these drawbacks are minor considering how much use I get from these shoes. However, if you are considering buying the New Balance 517, keep in mind that it is a training shoe and not a running shoe.
It is designed to provide support for a gym workout and maybe some walking or a casual game of racquetball. If you plan to go running, I suggest that you buy a different pair of shoes for that activity.
The New Balance 517 is a supportive gym trainer at an excellent price point, which will work for beginners as well as more advanced gym rats. These shoes are well-suited for weight training and walking, as well as other gym staples like elliptical machines or fitness classes on a hard floor.
The overall feel of the shoe is sturdy and supportive, with the right combination of materials to keep you focused on your workout rather than on your feet.
I very highly recommend the New Balance 517 to anyone with even a very casual interest in fitness, since it is one of the most versatile workout shoes I have ever used.
This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.
Updates to New Balance 517
- This athletic trainer was designed for men who stay active throughout the day. It is ready to support them in both daily walks and gym sessions.
- The mesh upper helps the interiors stay fresh and free of sweat. At the same time, the padded collar and tongue brace the foot in a cozy foothold.
- The EVA foam ensures underfoot comfort by absorbing shock and providing cushioning with each step. The foam is protected against wear-and-tear by the rubber outsole at the bottom.
New Balance 517 size and fit
The New Balance 517 comes in men’s sizes only. It is reported to run true to size and fit as expected. The available range of sizes for this model goes from US 7 to 15, with half sizes in between.
Most training shoes from New Balance are offered in multiple width variations to accommodate different foot shapes. This trainer is no exception as it is offered in a standard D - Medium profile as well as in a 4E - Extra Wide one.
The shoe is designed with a round toe box to offer ample space for the toes to move and spread. The generously padded tongue and collar hug the ankle area for support. A traditional lace-up closure can be used to regulate the tightness of the foothold.
The Ndurance rubber compound lines the bottom of the shoe to protect it against abrasion. This rubber material is also described as non-marking. It means that it does not leave scuff marks on polished floors.
The outsole sports an indoor tread which implies that it is most effective on indoor surfaces. Its rubber lugs are meant to bite smooth gym floors to provide traction. But if you are in search of a workout shoe that is also ready for the outdoors, be sure to take a look at New Balance 624.
The rubber extends up at the shoe’s forefoot to cover up the toe area. It forms a bumper and additional protection for this high-abrasion area.
Several multi-directional flex grooves are placed in each part of the platform. They help the sole unit become more flexible and move more seamlessly with the foot.
A lightweight EVA foam unit serves as the primary cushioning component of the New Balance 517. Its responsive nature allows it to squeeze upon impact and quickly restore its shape once the pressure is taken off. This characteristic creates a safe underfoot buffer for high-impact exercises.
Extra padding is offered by a Memory Sole insert. It is a soft polyurethane unit which easily molds to the shape of the wearer’s foot. Since it is removable, it can be taken out for a firmer experience or replaced with custom orthotics, if necessary.
Breathable mesh fabric is used as the main upper material. It is responsible for keeping the foot chamber ventilated by allowing fresh air inside the shoe.
Synthetic leather overlays are added for support and protection. They cover the heel, the eyestay, and the toe box as these areas are the most prone to abrasion. Additionally, these overlays give the upper its structure.
On the inner side, this part of the shoe is lined with breathable textile. It contributes to a comfortable in-shoe experience and prevents undesirable skin chafing.
The trainer sports a low-cut silhouette meaning that the collar lies below the ankle bones. This design is typical for most workout shoes as it doesn’t hinder the freedom of movement in the ankle joint.
Other notable workout shoes from New Balance
If you don’t mind the “dad shoe” vibe in your trainers, then we recommend checking out the 624 model or the 608 v5 trainer. Both shoes have received high marks from the buyers, primarily for their comfort, support, durability, and versatility. Their synthetic leather uppers and monochromatic color options create a classic sporty look which is easy to combine with various casual and athletic outfits. Both models are available in a range of width options, from Narrow to Extra Wide. Performance-wise, these trainers are equipped with the brand’s proprietary ABZORB cushioning unit in the heel section. It helps to dissipate the shock from high-impact activities more effectively than the regular EVA foam.