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Inov-8 All-Train 215 Shoe Review

We’ve been at a standstill in training shoes for quite some time now, not a ton of technology has really changed. Not that the formula didn’t work, but we’ve really just had the same shoes with different brands on it. It’s just the beginning of the year but 2017 is looking to change all of that. As the sport of fitness evolves, so does the footwear we require.  Interestingly enough, we’re starting to see a departure from the rigid, flat soled shoes into shoes that are a little more geared towards all around performance, with running included. Not that you couldn’t run in flat shoes of old, but they were a little clunky and athletes nowadays are required to be more agile than ever.

Late last year, I reviewed the Inov-8 F-Lite 235v2, which I loved. It has all the makings of a great training shoe: zero drop, flexibility, lightweight, and dense midsole. I don’t mind running in them, but like all wide and rigid trainers, they can be a little choppy to run in.  Leave it to the masterminds at Inov-8 to shake up the formula with the All-Train 215 by fusing their roots in all-terrain running shoes and training shoes to make one of the best all around trainers of the year.

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Looks/Construction:

Honestly, Inov-8 trainers have never been my favorite shoes to look at since the 195. While the 235 and 250 are great performing shoes, their blocky aesthetic and choice of color combinations are probably the biggest reasons why they haven’t really taken off with the mainstream. I don’t really think they care that much to appeal to everyone, but having attractive shoes isn’t a bad thing. The All-Train 215’s are the best looking shoe silhouette that Inov-8 has come up with, period. They look like the spiritual successor to the ever so popular 195 – not overdone, sleek with a little bit of tactical badassery. Most of the colorways fit the design of the shoe and aren’t really outlandish, but this is still an area I think Inov-8 could work on a little bit. When in doubt, just get black.

Build quality is the typical, excellent quality of Inov-8 shoes though one might initially mistake them for being built cheap because they’re so lightweight weighing in at just 7.5oz/215 grams per shoe. Inov-8 keeps things flexible compared to a lot of the other brands out there with a more normal synthetic and mesh upper. One question might be long term durability, but I don’t think any of us have had these shoes long enough to comment on that. They survived a few rope climbs here and there, but who knows what they’ll look like after a hundred or so.

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Fit:

Inov-8 shoes run small on me, so I went with a size US10. I would always recommend just going with the EU size since I think the sizing is a little more accurate that way, in which case I wear an EU43. Compared to the 235’s, the 215’s feel a little bit more fitted since the shape is more like a running shoe, which I prefer over the more boxy toe. I wouldn’t say the 215’s are narrow shoes, but they’re more so than the 235’s just mainly at the toe. Here are my sizes for reference:

  • 215/235v2 – 10
  • Nano 6/7 -10
  • Metcon – 9.5
  • Ultraboost – 9.5-10
  • Boots – 8.5
  • WL Shoes – 9-9.5

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Performance:

Are they running shoes or are they training shoes? They’re both.

The 215’s aren’t marketed as “cross fitness” shoes (which I’m using them for), but rather as a more general training/HIIT gym shoe. It seems that Inov-8 is trying to attract a broader/different audience with the 215’s, or even new grassroots fitness communities, since ours isn’t so much of one anymore. Either way, the 215’s still work excellent for what we do as “cross fitnessers”.

Before receiving the shoes, I was thinking that they might not be good to lift in because of the way they’re marketed. The biggest difference from the 235 is the midsole construction, in that the 215 use an injection molded Fusion EVA midsole rather than a compressed one. While it’s similar in height and drop to the F-Lite 250 (20mm heel/12mm forefoot/8mm drop), the overall feel is different since the 235 and 250 both use the stiffer CMEVA Powerheel. You’ll notice that steps in the 215 have a little bit more “bounce” and are cushioned more, which favor running and plyometric movements, but that doesn’t exactly make them running shoes, as they’re still very responsive for lifting.

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One thing that takes a little bit of getting used to is the forward bias caused by having the larger drop. On the 250’s, you can anchor down more on the heel of the shoe since it doesn’t compress, where you might notice your feet sliding a little forward more in the 215’s due to the slightly more compressible midsole. Even though the majority of the cushioning is at at the heel of the shoe, it doesn’t give enough to detract from most lifts. I’d still use my 235’s for 1RM deadlifts or backsquats, but I felt comfortable enough to do all of my percentage lifting in the 215’s.

Where the 215’s shine the most is in the name: All-Train. These aren’t shoes designed just for lifting, they’re for everything in the fitness world. If you want to go on a trail run, then hit the gym for some lifting, and maybe even go on a swim – the All Train 215’s are the shoe for you. For me, they’re one of the most complete WOD shoes available. They have just enough cushioning to keep my feet comfortable for runs I’m doing in WODs, but I wouldn’t be afraid to wear them for up to a few miles. Since WOD’s don’t typically have 1RMs in them, they’ve been stable for all the lifting I’m doing in a WOD. They’re probably best suited for workouts with a fair amount of plyometric movements since they’re so flexible and most of all, lightweight. You’ll barely even feel like you have shoes on, except that the outsole lug pattern gives you excellent footing no matter what the surface is, asphalt, gravel, rubber or wood. For most people, you’ll never need another pair of training shoes!

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Value/Conclusion:

The All-Train 215’s retail for $110, but you can usually find them slightly discounted if you shop around. At MSRP they’re a steal, but if you can get them cheaper, it’s a no brainer. The All-Train 215’s are currently one of the best deals in training shoes.

I typically favor shoes that are just rigid, flat and favor weightlifting, but it’s impossible to not like the 215’s. If you were a fan of the 195, or more so the 240/230’s, you will no doubt be a fan of the 215. These shoes return to the greatness (not that they ever left) that were the original Inov-8 cross-training shoes. There are better lifting shoes and there are better running shoes, but there are very few shoes that have combined the two as well into a training shoe like the All-Train 215’s. If you’re a cross-fitnesser looking for a WOD shoe and you do your lifting in Oly shoes, or if you’re just someone looking for a damned good pair of training shoes, this is the one.

Get your Inov-8 All-Train 215’s here!

For additional information check out Inov-8’s product page.

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Under Armour Project Rock Delta Highlight Shoe Review (Longest title ever, if ya smell what The Rock is cookin’.)

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For this review, we’re going to have to step outside the box. Think back to a time before you did functional fitness, back to the days of globo-gym and bro-science; if that’s what you still do, it should be easy. Before I knew anything about minimalist shoes, zero drops, or weightlifting shoes – I, like most people, just wore running shoes to the gym. Granted, leg day wasn’t a big part of my routine and my footwear was more for style than anything else. The crazy thing is that even though the world is a lot more informed now, people still weight train in running shoes. (See: Instagram). Some people just don’t know, or they just don’t care, savages. Either way, people out there still do it and as inefficient as it is, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.

When the Rock announced his shoe from Under Armour, I thought to myself, “Finally, a serious training shoe from Under Armour!” thinking the Rock’s input would lead to something a little bit more competition based than what UA had previously offered. Rather than being a completely new shoe built from the ground up, I was extremely disappointed to find out that THE ROCK’s signature shoe was nothing more than a special edition model of a RUNNING shoe that they had already released, the Delta Highlight. Still, it’s the Rock, one of my childhood heroes – how could I not buy his signature shoe?!

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If it’s good enough for The Rock, it should be good enough for me…right?

Disregarding the fact that The Rock training in the Rock Delta’s in his Instagram is probably just marketing, he is indeed doing some work in them. Granted hes not really doing any compound movements, he is working out in them at least, so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s doing all his training in them. Keep in mind that these shoes are NOT functional fitness shoes and they’re not marketed towards functional fitnessers. As far as I know, the Rock has never done functional fitness and never will do functional fitness. Now that’s out of the way…

Looks/Construction:

The Delta Highlight as it’s own shoe is actually a pretty good looking piece of footwear, assuming you don’t mind high-tops. It’s upper is a knit like material that’s unlike other knit’s because it lacks any kind of real elasticity.  What I’m thinking is exclusive to the Rock Delta’s is a reflective underlay throughout the whole knit area of the shoe, that not only is functional, but also gives the Rock Delta’s an ultra premium look. Other cues that make the Rock Deltas stand out from the normal ones are the exclusive yellow/black colorway, two of laces (grey or yellow piping), and The Rock’s signature Brahma bull at the rear of the shoe. Some people have clowned these shoes for looking like hiking boots, but I think they look mean AF.

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All the Under Armour shoes I’ve come across have never had any issues with build quality. In fact, they’re some of the best built shoes as far as materials I’ve come across and the Rock Delta’s are no exception. There’s no loose glue or stitching anywhere to be found on the shoes and though they’re not terribly expensive, they feel like a shoe that costs more than what they’re asking. Keep in mind that these shoes were not designed to handle the rigors of functional fitness. The upper is lightweight and flexible, but also very thin and the midsole/outsole combination would probably get eaten up in a single rope climb.

The Rock Deltas have a two pieced Charged Cushioning system that consists of a softer piece of foam on top of a more dense compressed EVA foam for comfort, but not too much that it would totally compromise stability. The outsole is pretty solid and has surprisingly good grip, with flex grooves at the forefoot of the shoe and rubber pods at the forefoot and heel. The heel to toe drop is a whopping 10mm, which is a dead giveaway that these shoes are indeed a running shoe. Despite the bulky looks, each shoe only weighs in at 10.8oz.

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Fit:

Sizing is pretty consistent to other Under Armour shoes and for the most part is true to size. Unlike most UA shoes, the Rock Delta’s don’t feel the slightest bit narrow and should be comfortable for most foot shapes. The forgiving knit upper probably has a lot to do with the way the shoes fit and I think these are some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn! My sizes for reference:

  • Under Armour Rock Delta, Charged Legend, Charged Ultimate – 9.5
  • Reebok Nano – 10
  • Nike Metcon – 9.5
  • Adidas Ultraboost/NMD – 9.5/10
  • Chucks – 9
  • Red Wing/Wolverine Boots – 8.5

Performance:

This is where things start to get weird.

Fully knowing that these are running shoes, I still decided to do some real weightlifting in them. Those that are used to minimalist platforms will immediately be turned off by the ultra plush (relatively speaking) ride; I was too. Still, I decided to hit some olympic lifts with the intention of removing the shoes before the warm-up was over…but I didn’t. I kept the Rock Delta’s on throughout my whole snatch, clean & jerk, and front squat session. While they definitely weren’t the best shoes to lift in, I could lift in them and not resort to blaming any fails on my shoes. The two piece Charged Cushioning system makes things a little wobbly, but does have pretty good energy return for dynamic movements. Landings in the snatch and clean & jerk were a little sketchy, but I was still able to balance okay. Squatting in the shoes was surprisingly okay as well, with very good lateral stability due to the molded heel cup. You can feel the cushioning pushing back and it takes a little bit to get your feet set, but once you do, you can put up some decent squats…though I would definitely not try to PR anything in the Rock Deltas.

Trust me, I’ve seen people squat in worse shoes.

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Where the Rock Delta’s shine the most is an area that functional fitness shoes are notoriously bad at: running, duh. The upper moves really well with the foot and the two part midsole cushioning provides a soft and stable ride that’s not only good for running, but plyometrics as well because of how well the Charged cushioning returns energy. I have to say that out of all the actual running shoes that I’ve tried out in recent years, the Rock Deltas might be my favorite because they provide great cushioning without totally diminishing ground feel. I typically have issues with plantar fascitis after a lot of running, but the Rock Delta’s kept my feet comfortable with a WOD that included a 3 mile run, box jumps, and deadlifts. When it comes to a lighter weight metcon, possibly one that is solely plyometrics and running, I couldn’t think of a better shoe to work out in.

Another thing that I was worried about was the high-top cut, but the collar is very flexible and doesn’t cause any kind of chaffing against the ankle, even without long socks. That being said, I think a low-top version of the Rock Delta’s is in order.

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Value/Conclusion:

The Rock Delta’s are currently sold out, but normally retail at $140. If you don’t care for The Rock’s branding, then you can opt for the Delta Highlight’s which you can actually get on clearance right now for $90, but normally retail for $120. So should you pay the extra $20-50 for The Rock’s signature shoe? That just really depends on who you are and if you’re a fan. To me, it’s worth it, The Rock was (is) a hero of mine growing up and is much more respectable compared to some of the other worthless celebrities, people support out there.

While The Rock Delta’s might not be the best functional fitness shoes, that doesn’t keep them from being damned good running shoes that you can use for general training as well, considering you’re not going heavy with the squats. I am definitely disappointed that these aren’t a true training shoe, but I’d happily support Dwayne Johnson and rocking his shoes are one of the better ways to do so. If you’re someone looking for an Under Armour alternative functional fitness shoe, you’re still better off looking at the Charged Legend or Ultimate, though they don’t carry the same swagger the Rock Delta’s do. If you’ve got access to a serious pair of lifting shoes, you’re a globo-gym bro that doesn’t care much about leg day, someone in need of some slick running shoes, or you’re just a fan – the Rock Deltas should be a sound choice.

Strike-Mvmnt Chill Pill Transit & Mid Review (Collection 5)

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Shoe design life must be rough. We saw the release of Reebok’s Nano 7 earlier in the year and it was met with some pretty harsh criticism, but it seemed rushed and paled in comparison to the previous Nano 6. I think the main problem there was that they took such a radical departure from the previous model, which in my opinion is the greatest training shoe of all time. If they had somehow eased in the changes, people would have been a lot more receptive of the new model, but it is what it is and you can only learn from Reebok’s mistake.

Strike-Mvmnt has been releasing the Chill-Pill/Interval combo for some time now, with the biggest update to the shoes being when they added the Cross Platform outsole to the Chill-Pill in 2015. We’re currently in the 5th generation of Strike-Mvmnt shoes and every update since has been more of an evolution than revolution. Collection 5 adds minor updates to the stellar Chill-Pill line-up, further refining the already great shoe, just don’t expect a brand new model.

Looks/Construction:

You’d be lying to yourself if you thought the Chill-Pills were an ugly shoe. The design aesthetic is classic, unoffensive, maybe a little plain, but definitely not ugly. Personally, I think the Chill-Pills are the best looking training shoe out there, mainly because they don’t really look like a training shoe at all. Sure, by now they could use an update other than changing up the materials, but that’s probably because I own pretty much all of them. Also, some new colorways would be nice (*cough*red*cough*) other than the standard black and grey; once again, unoffensive.

There was an (excellent) shoe called the Pace they had out for a short amount of time, but was discontinued. When I asked what happened to it, they said they put production on hold because the inside tag wasn’t staying glued on.  THAT’S IT?! Such a small thing that most manufacturers wouldn’t even bother with, but that just goes to show the level of quality Strike-Mvmnt puts into their products. Strike-Mvmnt is a smaller company and the build quality of their products reflect this. Everything seems to be made with a little more attention and care than what you’d find on some of the bigger brands. There’s no loose seams, glue, or stitching anywhere on all three pairs of Collection 5 shoes that I
received.

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For colorways, I went with the Storm Grey Transit and Grey Melange Mid. The Transits have ballistic nylon around the shoe’s quarter (ankle area) and is topped off with a plush micro-suede material on the toe-box. The Mid’s use a new melange fleece material throughout that is a little rougher to the touch, but is still as flexible as the Transit. Since the mid has a higher cut, there’s also a neoprene pad at the Achilles area of the shoe to prevent chaffing, but I never really noticed it working or not (that probably means it does). Both uppers aren’t resistant to dirt, but you’ll be able to rope climb in both without damaging either upper.

One thing that I wasn’t a huge fan of in the Collection 4 Chill-Pill was that I thought the shoe lacked structure. Collection 5 updates this with high density foam around the collar, new tongue stays and a new insole. The fit is improved greatly with the new collar foam, giving you a more secure in shoe feeling. The new tongue stays make it a little harder to put your laces inside the tongue’s pleasure pocket, but that’s not a big deal considering the tongue now feels a bit more structured. I didn’t mind the paper thin insole from before, but the new one does feel a little nicer on your feet. The weight of the shoe is increased by about half an ounce, but the shoe feels more solid overall.

Fit:

Not much has changed in this department – I wear a size 9.5 in my Chill-Pills and they fit me perfectly. The overall shape resembles the Nike Metcon line-up so I would recommend sizing the same. What I found to work best when sizing shoes is to just go by the EU sizing, it makes the most sense compared to all of the others. Those with wide, flat feet, beware, there is a feeling of “arch support” in the Chill-Pills caused from the semi-curved last. I’ve got pretty normal feet and it doesn’t bother me, but I’ve heard from people with flat feet that it can cause some plantar fascia pain.

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Performance:

“United by Motion” is the mantra of Strike-Mvmnt – whether you’re a Crossfitter, b-boy, or parkour-er; movement is movement and these are probably my favorite shoes to move in. I’ve always said this, but the addition of the Cross Platform outsole was the best thing Strike has ever done to their shoes; I’m just waiting for an Interval with it.

Strike’s uppers were always light and flexible, but the Stable Platform outsole was just a tad too soft when it came to heavier lifting, unlike the medium density midsole and Cross Platform outsole which is almost incompressible. Stability and responsiveness is top notch and rivals the best shoes in the training world, but while those fail in flexibility, the Chill-Pills come out on top. The low midsole stack, 2.5mm drop and incompressible outsole make for some of the most stable lifting shoes for either weightlifting or powerlifting. I haven’t had any issues with the midsole being overly soft, even hitting deadlifts over 500lbs in these shoes.

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There are other shoes with excellent power delivery, but they’re usually pretty bad for anything that requires you to be quick on your feet. The flexibility of the Chill-Pills in combination with their stability make them some of the overall best training shoes around. I did the Open workout 17.5 in my Chill-Pills, which in total was 90 thrusters and 350 double unders – and yes, my feet did hurt, but it was minimal and wasn’t enough for me to take my focus off the workout. I don’t think you could do that workout in any shoe without any kind of foot pain. I couldn’t imagine how much my feet would have been burning up if I were using Nano 7’s.

Another massive benefit of the Cross Platform outsole is just how grippy it is. I have smoother rubber mats in my gym that even some weightlifting shoes have issues gripping and the Chill-Pills have never left me with a loss of footing. Landing box jumps feels sure footed, as is gripping the rope while climbing.

The only real difference between the Transit and Mid just comes down to the cut; Functionality wise, they’re pretty much identical. Personally, if I had to recommend one, it would be the Transits because I think the low cut is just a little more comfortable for training and running. If you wanted more of an all purpose shoe for hiking as well, then I would go with the Mid’s. They work well both ways and I don’t keep my Mid’s laced up all the way anyways.

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Value/Conclusion:

Transit’s will set you back $115 and Mid’s $129, which fall in line with just about everything else out there. Strike-Mvmnt is a small brand with not a ton of brand recognition, but in my experience, they’re a great company. It’s up to you if you want to support the big dogs, or if you want to support a brand that actually has real passion in what they’re doing. The quality and performance of their goods is excellent, so you won’t be disappointed in their product. Brand whores might not acknowledge you, but if you want to swim away from the mainstream, Strike-Mvmnt is one of the best ways to go.

The first day I laced up my Collection 5 Chill-Pills and hit the gym, was one of the best lifting days I had in a long while, especially after hurting my back. I knew that whatever movements I was doing that day, I had the shoes to perform in. Confidence defines your lifting and I’m just sure I can do anything when I have my Chill-Pills on. Doing what I do, I don’t get to spend a lot of time with shoes that I really like, so getting to review the new Chill-Pills was like coming home. 2017 has already been a big year for training shoes, and as of right now, Chill-Pills are my top choice of available training shoes. If you care about movement at all, I’m sure you’ll feel the same.

As always, big shout out to Marc over at Strike-Mvmnt for hooking it up with the shoes. Much appreciated!

https://strike-mvmnt.com/

(You can currently get the still excellent Collection 4 Chill-Pill Camo’s for only $78!!!)