In early 2017, when first shots of the second player edition Rich Froning shoe started appearing on his feet, the world went absolutely bonkers over this shoe. I’ve never gotten so many questions about a shoe in my life and actually started an Instagram account just to cover what Rich was spied wearing. The disappointing Nano 7’s were Reebok’s release that year and the world was calling for an answer to that travesty of a shoe – their only glimmer of hope: the RF1’s.
Reebok saved themselves by releasing the Speed TR’s, a Nano 6 re-release and then the amazing Nano 8’s…but still no RF1 anywhere to be found. Time passed, the shoe was continually delayed, and people started to forget…the fabled RF1’s became a thing of legend. Then out of nowhere light a strike of lightning, the RF1’s flashed back up in mid 2018! Could it be? The shoe we all waited two years for was finally coming out! Was it already too late? People of the land clutched their cherished Nano 8’s and heckled the Froning 1’s for their “dated” design. “Dad shoes” they said! The love people had for the shoe had turned to angst in the shoeternity they had to wait.
Even I had some reservations, but I knew that if they were going to do something after the Nano 7 fiasco…it had to be right. The Froning 1’s had to be more than hype, more than just a name on a shoe, more than what they already had out.
The question is: Were they worth the wait?
One of the reasons the RF1’s took so long to release was that Reebok went back to the drawing board and changed the shoe from being on the Nano last to the be on the Speed’s. Why they made this decision is unknown to me; you can see a little bit of the Speed heritage in the shape of the toe-box, but that’s about it. The RF1’s overall construction looks completely different from anything Reebok has ever made in the training shoe department. While there are a lot of haters out there on what the shoe looks like, after getting them in and wearing it around almost daily, I have to say that I’ve come to like the appearance; not to mention I’ve gotten compliments on them as well. At the end of the day, if you don’t like the way they look, don’t buy them – Reebok already knows that they’re not going to be for everyone and they’re okay with that.
Honestly, I think that all it would take for anyone that didn’t like the design, to like it, is to just black out the white lines all over it. That’s really the only polarizing part of the shoe’s look.
In pictures, the RF1’s look a lot more bulky than they actually do in real life. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of shoe here compared to the Speed’s or Nano’s. That extra bit is what makes the shoe special, but I’ll get back to that a little later on. The upper of the RF1’s is constructed from a few different materials: Dyneema – a TPU type fabric, mesh much like the Speed’s, and an actual TPU guard at the medial part of the shoe. One piece or sock-like it most definitely is not, which makes it look like a dated design but the RF1’s were designed when the Nano 8’s were, so it was made this way by choice.
Overall, the RF1’s construction feels robust – almost tank like compared to the Speed’s or Nano 8’s, more closely resembling the Nano 6’s build quality. The only questionable part for durability is where the mesh meets the Dyneema fabric, I feel like because there are some hard creases there, over time they will pull away from each other, much like what happened with the Metcon 1/2. I have not been babying these shoes and they’re still in perfect shape other than being dirty, but only time will tell.
The midsole and outsole combination of the shoe is where the meat of the shoe shines through. Nano’s and Speeds outsole typically have a rounder profile, but the RF1’s have very sharp edges to their wide platform. The midsole rises up and cups your foot while the outsole protrudes all around the shoe, providing a very stable platform. Compared to the Speed’s, the midsole of the RF1’s is also much thicker but doesn’t feel that much taller. The outsole is full length rubber with some cutaways for flex points and sports an almost trail-shoe-like design. Chunky lines of tread adorn the bottom of the shoe mainly in a single direction with a small patch perpendicular on the outside front of your foot. If I had to put an analogy to it, it would be that Reebok basically took the Speed’s and souped them up with a wide body kit.
Despite being on the Speed last, the RF1’s have a 6mm heel to toe drop, which honestly isn’t all that noticeable off the bat, but can be when you’re lifting and coming from something flatter. The foot bed is very similar to the Speeds, but rises just a little bit higher at the arch. Don’t worry, it’s not that much and shouldn’t affect those with wide feet.
Weight is 12.56 oz, which is slightly higher than Nano 8’s and right around where the 7’s were.
Quite possibly my favorite part of the RF1’s is the elastic strap that runs from the lateral to medial sides of the shoe right over the tongue; which is smartly shaped in a way where it won’t move out of place I might add. This makes it so that you can unlace the shoes and wear them slip on style for when you’re not training. It works extremely well and people lazy like me (and Rich) should find as much joy in this little quirky feature as I; hopefully they do this on more shoes in the future. Other little tidbits are random RF references found all over the shoe:
- The initials H-L-T on top of the tongue, under the elastic strap for Hilary, Lakelyn, Trice. (Shoe was made before the adoption of Harper “Violet”)
- 6 stars at the heel of the shoe representing Rich’s 6 championships.
- Galatians 6:14 found at the inner heel of the shoe.
- The R* logo on both the top metatarsal part of the shoe and on the lateral side of the outsole.
That’s all I could find, but let me know if I’m missing anything else!
If you rolled your eyes when you heard that the shoe was built on the Speed last, don’t fret, the Froning 1’s are plenty wide. At least I think so with my fairly average shaped foot, so maybe take that with a grain of salt. I don’t feel like they’re any less wide than Nano’s though. The toebox comes to a point like on the Speeds, which I prefer to the flatter front of the Nano series shoes; another huge plus if you have Morton’s toe like I do.
For sizing, I went with my normal size 10 and they fit in between a 10 Speed and a 10 Nano. Speeds notoriously run slightly large and Nano’s usually fit my foot like a glove, so the RF1’s fit with a little room to breathe. Not so much so that my foot goes sliding around every which way, but I do need to lace up before hitting a serious weightlifting movement or WOD. I think this fit is the perfect blend of comfort without being too generous with space inside the shoe. My recommendation is to just get the same size as you would your Nano; the shoe will initially feel big, but when you start moving around, your foot will swell and fill up the shoe a little more. Remember, a little bit of space is much better for your foot than shoes being too tight.
- Nano – 10 just right
- Speed – 10 with a bit of space
- Metcon 4 – 10 just right
- NoBull – 10 just right
- Chucks – 9.5 just right
Unlike Nano’s or Speed’s, the Froning 1’s have a little bit of a break-in period. The first workout I did with them required me to run and I immediately dismissed them as terrible running shoes betause of the clunky feeling wider platform. However, after wearing them daily for the last couple weeks, I feel like they’ve become quite a bit more forgiving on the feet and lately, running hasn’t been all that bad at all in the shoes. Would I run a 5k in them, probably not, but I know people who have and say they’re not that bad to run in.
They’re not terrible plyometric shoes either and even though they’re bigger than the other Reebok trainers, they still feel fairly agile in comparison. You will definitely notice the more pronounced outsole while doing movements like burpees or box jumps, but it’s nothing that’s going to make you lose time on your WOD. The shoe flexes well at the toe box and doesn’t cause any chaffing, but isn’t as cushioned on top compared to Nano 8’s or 6’s. I actually like this better because I feel like my toes have more room to splay.
Honestly, I feel like the Froning 1’s are supremely comfortable day to day training shoes. I actually want to wear them all the time – training, coaching, living…For the last couple of weeks, pretty much all I’ve worn were my Froning’s. From their easy slip on feature to the extra cushioning throughout the upper of the shoe, especially around the ankle collar, all the niceties add up and make the RF1’s a joy to wear for whatever you’re up to. I hear that’s actually what Rich wanted when designing the shoe, something for more than just training.
Early word out on the street about the Froning 1’s originally had me worried, what I was hearing was that the shoes were too soft an unsuitable for lifting. This had ingrained itself into my brain so when I finally received the shoes, I was pleasantly surprised. While they’re comfortable, they’re definitely also suitable for lifting. So much so that I’d say they’re one of the best shoes Reebok has ever made for hitting weights.
Though the 6mm drop takes a little adjustment, the platform of the RF1’s is insanely stable and responsive. I haven’t felt so confident lifting in a regular shoe in a long time. Even though I regard the Nano 8’s as one of the best overall training shoes, I did think that they were a little on the softer side, that’s where I would have chosen the Nano 6. For me, the Froning 1’s fall right in between the 8’s and the 6’s when it comes to stability.
I’ve never in my life used normal shoes to squat 405lbs, but I’ve done it multiple times in the RF1’s without any second thought. The first time I did it, I wasn’t used to the drop being 6mm so there was a little bit of forward lean, but the second time was smooth as butter. I also set a 3RM backsquat PR of 390lb – all these squats were pretty much right after taking a month off working out so to say I have the utmost confidence lifting in these shoes is an understatement. There’s barely any midsole compression and the extra “bulk” from the outsole really goes a long way in terms of stability for the RF1’s.
When I snatched for the first time, I had some issues catching a little forward, but once again I hadn’t really snatched in a month. With a precision movement like that, a month off can wreak havoc on your form and mobility. The second time snatching to a max after being a little better acclimated to both the drop and the movement, proved to be a much better experience; I hit 210lbs, which isn’t far off from my 225lb 1RM.
Cleaning felt as natural as could be – Without any misses, I cleaned to 285 with some left in the tank. My 1RM there is 300lbs, though I’ve always felt better cleaning in flatter shoes, I hit that weight with Oly lifters on. Landings in the RF1’s feel just as stable due to their increased contact area of the outsole, but also because of the way the midsole rises and cups your heel in place.
Although the drop is 6mm, it’s only 2mm off from Nano’s and 3mm from Speed’s. That’s still relatively flat and some with poor ankle mobility might actually benefit from the difference. I noticed the benefits of having the combination of a higher heel and wide platform the most when performing pistol squats, where the shoes proved very stable.
Another huge benefit you get from the outsole of the RF1’s is that they’re very good for rope climbs, maybe the best shoes for them that I’ve ever come across. The outsole rises ups inside the medial part of the shoe to give you more traction on the rope, like the RopePro found on Nano’s, just way better because the rubber is stickier and tread is thicker. Come to think of it, I haven’t had any issues with traction on any surface in the RF1’s; I don’t do any turf training, but I wouldn’t doubt they would be great for that as well.
“Are they worth the money?” – Is a question that I get asked very, very often about the Froning 1’s. The shoes cost $150, which is FAR less than the Compete 6:14’s costed. Nano’s have an MSRP of $130, that makes the Froning’s only $20 more than they are. For a limited player edition shoe, that’s really not much more to ask. If you’re a fan of Rich, the name on the shoe should make the extra $20 completely worth it. IMO, the price premium is both worth it and warranted.
That’s not even considering the fact that the Froning 1’s are one of the best training shoes Reebok has ever put out and probably my new favorite in their training shoe line-up. Somehow, Reebok managed to blend day to day comfort and rock solid stability in a shoe that I just can’t help myself from wanting to wear every day. There are more comfortable shoes and there are more stable shoes, but the blend of the two in the Froning 1’s is near perfect.
So, why wouldn’t you want to buy the shoes? The only reason I could think of is that you just didn’t like the way the shoes look, which is understandable. BUT – If that’s the case, keep it to yourself, no one is trying to make you like them (I’m not), but you don’t have to go trying to clown people that do like them – it’s not a good look.
The hype is real – I admittedly did not want to like the Froning 1’s for whatever reason, but after living in them for a few weeks, I can’t seem to live without them. While the original Rich Froning PE shoe was all about competition, Reebok and Rich Froning managed to come together and make something that you can train, live, and compete in. That’s what makes the Reebok Froning 1’s, the best training shoe I’ve used this year.