Now I know these shoes weren’t meant for me, being a male and all, but I couldn’t help not getting my hands on a pair on the Reebok CrossFit Grace’s to check out what makes them special. With that said, you can take pretty much all I have to say with a grain of salt. I almost didn’t even go through with the review, for the last thing women need is a guy commenting on a shoe designed specifically for them; but since I have them in hand, I might as well at least go over a few things about them after my time with them. Hopefully my female (or male) readers won’t mind too much.
I’m honestly glad that Reebok designed a shoe specifically for the females in the community. Guys usually get all the cool stuff, so it’s nice to see the gals get something for once. Women supposedly have more narrow heels and the balls of their feet are wider from a males foot of the same size. Typically Reebok shoes fit very close to unisex, though the female variants might be a teeeeeeeeeeny bit more narrow in the midfoot. Overall, the Nano shape is pretty accommodating to most people’s feet – wide and flat, which is great for weightlifting movements, but they’ve never been the greatest of running shoes. The Speed Tr to me was never a running shoe and more of a narrow Nano, but the Grace’s seem to be an even bigger step towards making a competent training shoe that’s okay for running.
Asides from a few colorways, you’d never even think just by looking at the Grace’s that they’re female specific shoes. In the black/white colorway, they almost look like the new Nano 7’s that Rich Froning has been training in. While the upper looks like it’s a knit material, it’s actually far from it. It’s a jacquard built from 3DFuseFrame, polyester and mesh that feels more like plastic you’d find on an old school folder than fabric. For the most part it’s flexible, but it does create a bunch of weird creases when it flexes, and feels kind of like having your foot inside a water bottle. Though for some reason, on the smaller model I ordered for my gf, the upper flexed much better and was less “crunchy” than on the women’s 11 I ordered for myself.
At the foot insertion point, there’s a rear bootie system that only extends about midway to the front of the shoe and is covered by the jacquard upper. While the bootie fits well around your ankle, the jacquard flexes oddly outwards here if you put pressure down into your heel, making you wonder why the two weren’t just connected in the first place. It doesn’t do anything adverse functionally, but it just doesn’t look good.
A lot of the shoe resembles the Speed TR, because it’s actually built on the same “FastFrame” that the Speed’s are on. The midsole is probably the same type of compression molded EVA found in most of Reebok’s CrossFit shoes. It doesn’t compress a ton, about the same as the Speed TR’s and slightly more than Nanos; I find it fairly comfortable nowadays and prefer it this way. The outsole uses the same type of rubber, shape and for the most part, tread pattern. The Grace’s have a much larger patch of the RopePro in the middle of the shoe, an area the Speed’s lacked in, but are missing the midfoot shank from the Speed TR’s. At the heel, the Grace’s are 10mm down to 6mm at the toe, giving them a 4mm drop.
Since the shape, and presumably last is built the same as the Speed TR’s, size them the same as you would those shoes. For those that haven’t tried the Speed TR’s on, they run slightly longer, so you’ll need to go down half a size from your standard training shoe. If any guy’s are looking to buy a pair of Grace’s, the normal standard for sizing is 1.5 up from your men’s size, but in the case of the Grace, just go a size up.
2017 is the year of the CrossFit “running” shoe and the Grace’s are Reebok’s first hit at it this year, as we’re still likely to see the Speed TR 2 sometime. The shape of the Grace’s are even more geared towards a running shoe than any other Reebok training shoe before because of how aggressively the toe slopes upwards. You’ll immediately notice the shoe almost pushing you forward even just walking around. The shoe feels great and the forefoot is flexible for movements like running, box jumps or burpees. The multidirectional tread pattern also give the Grace’s excellent grip.
What make the Grace’s good for metcons, also make them suffer a bit for lifting movements, mainly Olympic weightlifting where you might find yourself landing on your toes more often than not. You can’t have it all, so if you wanted a better lifting shoe you might want to stick with the Speed TRs or Nanos.
Since the only thing holding your foot in the shoe is the bootie and the thin jacquard, the shoe lacks a little bit of structure at the heel; there is no counter that seems to be the current trend in training shoes. I never noticed any issues of the midsole compressing while squatting, but you don’t quite get that locked in feel that you do with Nano’s or even the Speeds. This is probably an issue limited to me and probably any other guy looking to buy the Grace’s, but insides of the shoe don’t quite match up to my feet either, with the “arch” being too far forward on my foot and not actually meeting my arch. The shoe otherwise is still pretty flat, but it just feels like there’s a weird bump right under the balls of my feet.
The weight of the Grace’s also lend themselves towards more of a running/metcon shoe. They only weigh in at 9.5 oz per a size 11!
The Grace’s retail for the same amount as the Speed TR’s at $100 and so only if you really wanted a shoe that’s a little bit more geared towards running, would I say go for the Grace’s over the Speed’s. Alternatively, these shoes would probably make for a great HIIT or boot camp shoe. If you’re a guy looking into the Grace’s, I wouldn’t do it, the shape of the shoe just won’t match up with your foot as it’s not a unisex shoe, stick to Nano’s, Speed’s or wait for whatever Reebok has in store for the guys.
Like I said, you can take whatever I said with a grain of salt, these shoes didn’t work out for me at the end of the day, but it could very well be because I’m a guy and these shoes weren’t even made for me. It wasn’t just that they didn’t fit me well, because that’s to be expected, but the weird plastic-y jacquard upper was just not pleasing to have your foot inside of. A female might think otherwise, like I said, the smaller sizes were more flexible.