training

Nike Metcon 3 DSX Flyknit Shoes Review

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***Click here for the Nike Metcon 3 Review***

What if we made a shoe that was flexible enough to run and jump in, but stable enough to cut and lift in? That is exactly what the original Metcon 3 is made to do. So what’s the DSX Flyknit for? Running, jumping, cutting, and lifting. Wait, what? Yes, the DSX is made to do the same thing the normal Metcon’s do, just with more of an emphasis on running or jumping, and less on stability. A revolutionary idea, except that it’s not revolutionary at all since Nike’s been making more soft and flexible training shoes all along; not to mention ones in Flyknit.

Personally, I’ve never found any Metcon or functional fitness shoe uncomfortable for the runs we’re doing in any given metcon, including something like “Helen” or even “Murph”. Let’s be real, the max you’re ever going to be running in a WOD is maybe 3 miles (exception: “Dragon”), in which case isn’t even that long of a run. If running that much really bothers you that much, you could wear a running shoe. I’m sure most running shoes are stable enough to do pull-ups, push-ups, and squats in anyways. What makes the Metcon 3’s so good, is that they’re the one stop solution for everything fitness, but most importantly they’re great lifting shoe; so why sacrifice that with the DSX Flyknit?

Looks & Construction:

Metcon’s have always had a distinctive silhouette and the DSX Flyknits though new in material, share the same iconic design. At launch the only color way is the even more iconic original volt/grey/black scheme from the original Metcon 1 and boy did Nike do that shoe justice. The DSX Flyknit is definitely one of the best functional training shoe designs to come out in a long time. They’ve gone and taken the tried and true design of the Metcon and twisted it around in Flyknit flavoring, without going too overboard. All the lines and colors synergize well with each other and while the shoe is somewhat louder than the original, it’s also refined and never too gaudy.

I was skeptical about how the Flyknit material would hold in a Metcon shoe because typically they’ve never fit me spot on, but Nike’s reinforced Flyknit for the DSX fits like a glove. It’s not too loose like the Flyknit Racers were in some spots, but not overly tight like the 3.0 Free’s were (the only Flyknit shoes I had to compare with), and does an excellent job holding your foot in place. I think that’s also partly due to the extended TPU heel counter found at the rear of the shoe, which extends almost halfway to the front of the shoe.

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Like on the standard model Metcon, you still get the TPU heel clip for handstand push-ups, drop-in midsole (6mm drop), sticky rubber outsole and Flywire lacing system. I can’t comment on durability, because it just hasn’t been long enough. I’m sure the shoes will last the rigors of daily life, but I’m not sure I want to see how these shoes look after a few rope climbs though.

Unfortunately the squeaky insole problem returns in the DSX Flyknits. Yes, I know there are a bunch of Mickey Mouse way’s you can go about fixing this, but that’s not the issue. The real issue is how this isn’t already fixed, 3 generations into a shoe.


Fit:

Though the DSX Flyknit shares the same basic platform of the Metcon 3, the upper provides a more fitted feel. Initially they might feel tighter than what you’re used to, but that’s how it should be. Sizing the DSX Flyknit should be the same as it is your normal Metcon’s. Here are some of my sizes for reference:

  • Metcon 3/DSX – 9.5
  • Nano 6.0 – 10
  • Chucks –  9
  • Weightlifting shoes – 9

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Performance:

Besides the Flyknit exterior, the main difference between the Metcon 3 and the DSX is it’s drop-in midsole. Basically what that does is it makes the Metcon’s a more modular system with interchangeable midsole densities, except that you can’t actually go out and shop for new ones by themselves. To me, the midsole in the Metcon 3 was perfect; it was decently flat with a 4mm drop, dense, flexible, decently comfortable, and most importantly stable. The DSX Flyknit has a 6mm drop, greatly increased forefoot flex grooves, and an added articulated cushioning system for comfort for “more miles and reps”.

Initially when you put the shoes on, you’ll feel a little bit taller than if you were to stand in normal Metcon 3’s and the midsole does a pretty good job holding your body weight up. I was surprised to find that the DSX were more stable than I had thought they would be, until you start to lift. If you’re a seasoned Metcon vet, you’ll immediately notice that the platform of the DSX Flyknit’s are inferior for lifting. It doesn’t take a ton of weight to make the new midsole start to compress; I felt like I was pushing, but going no where when squatting a reasonable weight. Olympic lifts start okay, but landings have you jostling with the shoe for the right position. I still consider 6mm generally flat and the outsole is still as grippy as ever, so those couldn’t be where the DSX falter. At the end of the day, I can forgive the DSX Flyknit’s for being a mediocre lifting shoe, because that’s not their intended purpose.

The DSX Flyknits are lighter than the standard models by an ounce, but also more flexible and generally comfortable to walk around in. I spent the whole day walking around the mall with the DSX on and don’t have any complaints as far as breathability or comfort go; they’re great casual shoes. Once you really start get moving in them is when things change. Running in the DSX Flyknits feels just like it does in normal Metcons with the short runs I’ve done; I’m probably not going to go run a 10k with these shoes on, neither will most people, so that’s not something I’m going to test them with. After a workout with 250 double unders and 75 burpees, but my plantar fascia’s felt like they were on freaking fire. I gave the shoes a pass there because that’s going to be hard on your feet in any shoe, but I got that same feeling after a workout with wall balls, snatches and muscle-ups too. I think the idea is great, but the added cushioning does nothing more than make the shoe less responsive, making your feet work overtime trying to find positions; a problem I’ve never had with the more stable Metcon 3’s.

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Value & Conclusion:

Retailing for $160, the DSX Flyknit’s are not a cheap shoe, definitely not one you’re going to want to thrash. So, if the DSX Flyknit’s are uncomfortable and less stable than the normal Metcon 3, but cost $30 more, what’s the point? As a shoe, they’re awesome to look at, well made, generally okay to lift in – globo’ers will love them…but I think most box goers will find that the normal Metcon 3’s are still the way to go.

A Metcon, made for metcons…

Great idea, except when you’re sacrificing what make’s the Nike Metcon’s such an excellent shoe: their stability. Let’s be clear about this, the DSX Flyknits were never meant to be shoes to replace the original Metcon’s. They’re designed for lighter WOD’s that have an emphasis on running and plyometrics, with occasional lifting thrown in the mix. Which they’re generally okay at, but they’re no better than the normal models and aren’t even all that comfortable for anything other than casual use. If you want to do distance runs, go get a real running shoe. I think the DSX Flyknit’s would be better if they kept the Flyknit upper, but had the normal Metcon 3’s midsole. Which you could switch for yourself if you had both shoes, but most people aren’t going to buy both of them (or you could use your Metcon 1/2 midsoles). If I had to recommend one, it would be the standard Metcon 3, which is lighter, more flexible, and more comfortable than its predecessors.

I value stability in a shoe above all else and typically prefer more minimal platforms. If you’re like me, you probably won’t like the DSX Flyknit’s.

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Inov-8 F-Lite 235v2 (Late 2016)

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With all the talk about Nano this, Metcon that, it’s easy for Inov-8 to get overshadowed by the bigger companies. The grand papi of minimalist training shoes, and really the first functional fitness shoe (besides Vibrams), Inov-8 just keeps on chugging along making great trainers that often get overlooked because their marketing budget just isn’t quite as big as the other giants. They’re still producing the widely loved and well regarded 195, which you can find being worn in many boxes to this date. The 195 was a workhorse of a shoe that just did everything right, without any fancy bells or whistles.  Sure, it has it’s share of shortcomings, but if you wanted flexible, comfortable, minimal and lightweight, the 195 is the shoe to get…well…until Inov-8 brought out the 235.

Last year’s model of 235’s took Inov-8’s training shoe know how and upped it 100%. Many issues that plagued their previous training shoes were addressed, and it was one of the finest training shoes I had ever used. The 250 was a spin on the 235’s, and ended up being one of my favorite training shoes of the year. Fresh off the press, the 235v2’s look to up the ante by improving on everything that made the 235’s excellent to make a play for the title of the best functional fitness shoe.

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Looks/Construction/Fit:

Quite possibly the only thing that’s going to prevent the 235v2’s from being a star in the functional fitness world, are it’s hate it or love it looks. Personally, I don’t hate the way the shoes look, but I don’t love them either. I can appreciate them trying to do something different with the styling, which to be honest, is pretty true to Inov-8’s standards. Most people are not going to see it the way that I do and will go for one of the more “safe” choices. The actual silhouette of the shoe isn’t awful, but some of the colorways don’t quite get along with the lines of the shoe. The grey/blue/black scheme that I got is definitely the best of the bunch and I have gotten compliments on it. Though I have heard quite the opposite about some of the others. This can easily be remedied down the line, as Inov-8 usually does this and then adds in more “safe” colorways later on.

The F-Lite 235 is a completely new shoe designed specifically for functional fitness, but it still carries on the creed of the 195, with enhancements for today’s athletes. Sporting the new “Standard” fit, the 235v2’s has a wider base and much denser heel for stability during lifts. A well known issue with the 195’s was the durability; a few rope climbs and you’d see some pretty substantial damage to the shoe. Inov-8 added the Rope-Tec guard a little bit later on in the 195’s life, but honestly it didn’t do a ton to fix the issue as you couldn’t always count on the rope being in that exact spot. The redesigned 360 Rope-Tec system now carries onto the 235v2’s upper and with the inclusion of the much denser outsole, provide excellent tracking and durability against rope climbs.

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On the feet, the 235v2’s feel just as well built as any of the top fitness shoes on the market. You can definitely feel the solidity of of the Powerheel, but also how incredibly flexible the new “AdapterFit” technology upper is. During movement the upper conforms to your foot and provides one of the most natural feeling shoe experiences around. Upon entering the shoe, you’ll notice the midfoot “hug” from the Met-Cradle, which provides a more customized fit in the midfoot. Also new to the 235v2’s is the external heel counter that was present in the 250’s, working hand in hand with the Powerheel to up the shoe’s stability.

The flat laces are more dense but have the tendency to become untied unless you really tighten them up. Another slight annoyance is that the toe area of the shoes have a tendency to attract dirt and marks that take a little more than water to wipe away; nitpicking here, but it drives my clean shoe OCD crazy.

This time around, I went with a size 10 compared to my normal size of 9.5. I’ve been finding myself needing to size up lately as deep into workouts, my feet have the tendency to swell and my toes jam up into the front of them. The front toe guard is kind of a double edge sword here: it’s gives extra protection when doing burpees, but if you’ve got Morton’s toe like me, it’s inability to flex will end up smashing your second toe. Only an issue I had deep into workouts with the 250’s, but isn’t an issue with my size 10 235v2’s. The fit is comfortable and never feels too big, so consider going up half a size ONLY if your second toe is longer than your big toe.


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Performance:

Zero drop.

The 235v2’s are FLAT, just the way I like it. Since the fall of “minimal” shoes happened (Vibram?), there hasn’t been a ton of zero drop shoes on the market. Personally, I like to do everything in flat shoes, and the flatter the better; granted this might not be the same for everyone, especially those with poor mobility. Is this a huge departure from the popular training shoes on the market? Nope, most of them have a 4mm drop, which is pretty darn close to nothing, and it doesn’t take long at all to get acclimated to a zero drop shoe. What is quite different than most of the shoes out there, is the amount of ground feel that you get from the 235v2’s due to its low (10.5mm/3mm insole) stack height. The 235v2’s are as close to “barefoot” shoes as you can get without sacrificing protection. This makes for a very responsive, if not the most responsive feeling training shoe out there.

The outsole brings back some familiar technology in the Meta-Flex split grooves and Dynamic Facia Band (DFB). The latter keeps you in motion while the former makes it so your foot doesn’t feel constrained doing it. The pattern used is designed to maximize the contact area of the shoe’s sticky rubber outsole, giving you a sure step every time.  Traction in any terrain has never been an issue and is maximized if you’re stepping into a gym with rubber flooring. Tread with confidence.

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Power delivery is excellent with anything from Olympic lifts to plyometric movements. This has been my “go-to” shoe, and I haven’t ever looked back towards any of my big named shoes. Not saying they’re not excellent picks either, but the 235v2’s are just as good, if not better at things. Squatting in the 235v2’s couldn’t feel any better due to the zero drop and extremely dense Powerheel. I’ve saved some snatched that had gone awry from the 235v2’s keeping my feel planted into the ground. Did I mention that these are the most flexible trainers I’ve ever used? I did, but just so you know, moving around in the 235v2’s is like a breath of fresh air. Speaking of which, the 235v’2s are also the most breathable shoe I’ve ever used. Probably awesome during the summer, but also could be a bad thing if you live in cold areas. It’s getting California cold (50-60 degrees, lol), and sometimes my feet can get really cold.

If you’re looking for a true, minimal training shoe, this is the one. Zero drop, flexibility of a Yogi, reflexes of an F-1 car and light as a feather at 8.2 oz.

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Value:

The F-Lite 235v2’s run for a standard price of $129.99 per pair. This puts them in direct contention with the major manufacturers. I know you’re thinking you might as well go with the popular options for that price, but if you’re looking for a minimalist fitness experience, the big names just can’t deliver. Don’t get me wrong, they’re excellent shoes and some people might be looking for a little more support, or like the styling better, but give the 235v2’s a shot and I promise you won’t be disappointed.  The purist experience just can’t be replicated by anything other than the Inov-8 F-Lite 235’s.

Now to check out the crazier All-Train 215’s…

Check out Inov-8’s F-Lite 235v2’s product page!

HIIT Bottle Review

Fitness as a whole, has made huge strides within the past 10 years.

So why has it taken so long for shaker bottles to catch up?! I was still using the same old shaker bottles that I’d had for almost 10 years up until earlier this year. Why? Because nothing had really changed. Sure, I had bought some newer ones when I started working out more and needed more to alternate with, but they were pretty much the same as the old ones. They had some funky odors and weren’t exactly see through anymore, but you learned to deal with those shortcomings. Okay, that’s gross and I probably should have replaced them sooner, but that doesn’t change the fact that not much has changed in the way of how you mix your drinks.

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Insulated bottles are all the rage now and HydroFlask’s are leading the way; but they’re still not a suitable replacement for a shaker bottle. The screw top lid isn’t exactly time friendly when you’re in the middle of a WOD and they don’t come with an agitator. You can buy a flip top lid with the tiniest of spouts, but that cap leaks (tried it). Don’t get me wrong, I love my HydroFlask, but only really when I’m filling it up with water.

That’s where the HIIT Bottle comes in. It’s a double walled, vacuum insulated, stainless steel bottle that’s meant to be the replacement to the age old plastic shaker bottle. Since the HIIT Bottle has the food grade stainless steel construction, any kind of odors are less likely to happen. Inside, the edges are rounded at the bottom so clean up is a lot easier; you won’t have to worry about leaving any traces of old protein or bacteria. Gone are the days where cleaning a dirty bottle that you left in your bag, meant opening up a post apocalyptic nuclear war zone. Not to mention the rounded bottom works with the shape of the agitator to efficiently mix up your drink.

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You can’t talk about the HIIT Bottle without mentioning how gorgeous the bottle is in each one of it’s colorways: polished steel, gold-bronze, and matte black. One of the worst “features” of the bottle is that you’ll be sad when you get your first ding or scratch. It’s bound to happen, but overall the bottle is very resilient. My bottle survived a 10-day trip to Japan (carry-on friendly), where it stayed with me throughout every temple hike I went on. Even with nicks to the finish, the HIIT Bottle is definitely a bottle that you’re going to want to show off to the world and I guarantee people will ask about it.

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Like any insulated bottle, the HIIT Bottle plays well with cold and hot fluids, so you really only have to carry one bottle around from early morning to afternoons at the gym. I haven’t tested the actual times, but I’ve left cold fluid in my bottle overnight only to wake up to cold fluid. It’s definitely good enough to last you a few hours in the gym. The insulation is not as effective compared to the HydroFlask, most likely due to the design of the lid not being a screw top but the same thing happens when you put the flip top lid on the HydroFlask. The HIIT Bottle does do a very good job holding everything inside the bottle providing a leak free experience, even without actually locking the top.

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Of course, the HIIT Bottle is not without it’s shortcomings. The lid, though thoughtful in design with it’s locking mechanism, doesn’t seem very sturdy and is quite cumbersome overall. It seems like all it would take is one hard turn the wrong way to snap the top right off. The loop at the top of the lid seems pretty useless, though I guess you could run a lanyard through it, I’d rather it be a little more sleek with the design of the rest of the bottle or have better functionality, like a hook or loop to hold. The bottle is rated to hold 22oz of fluid, which is about the same as a normal shaker bottle, but it only takes one 16.9oz bottle of water to almost completely fill it up. I think 22oz is already too little, so being constrained to 16.9oz means I have to continually refill the bottle making it less convenient to use daily.

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At $35, the HIIT Bottle is definitely a luxury item. You could buy a few shaker bottles at the price, but you’d have to deal with eventually throwing them away, whereas you’ll be able to use one HIIT Bottle forever and for everything. Not to mention it’s actually something you’re going to want to carry to work, to the gym, or just around in your daily life. Personally, I do wish there was a bigger sized bottle, but if you’re not a waterhog like me, you should be fine with the capacity.

Even with it’s shortcomings, the HIIT Bottle seems to always be the shaker I grab when I go to the box. Not having to worry about immediately cleaning the bottle is a HUGE plus for a lazy bachelor like me. Also, in those sweltering summer months (RIGHT NOW), a cold drink is way more refreshing than a warm one when you’re in the middle of a workout. If you’re looking to consolidate your bottle game with something you’re going to want to be seen with, the HIIT Bottle is the way to go.

$35 www.hiitbottle.com

Asics Met-Conviction Review

The amount of impact functional fitness is having in the shoe industry is becoming more and more apparent. What was once just a niche market, is now becoming a staple category, and everyone is trying to get a piece of the action. Training shoes have been around forever, but not everyone was actually listening to what users actually need for an effective shoe. Many times you’d just end up with rehashes of whatever the company’s popular running shoes were.  Running shoes=cushion. Cushion=ineffective for training.

IMG_6054 Asics, one of the most longstanding and popular brands of running shoes heeds the call for effective training shoes with the Met-Conviction. If you can get past the silly name, the shoes are actually very good trainers. What exactly do you need for a great training shoe?

Lightweight, check.

The Met-Convictions come in at 8.8oz, making them lighter than both the Nike Metcons and the Nano 5.0’s.  This is especially apparent when running and doing plyometric movements.

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Durability, check.

The entire vamp on the Met-Cons is part a seamless nylon rip-stop fabric with an synthetic rubber overlay, similar to what you’d see on the Nano 4.0; just without it being so pronounced. The toe-cap area is a little bit thicker and harder than the rest of the upper. Since the overlay is a bit thinner, it doesn’t interfere with the flexibility of the shoe so nothing ever becomes uncomfortable. The outsole uses Asics High Abrasion Rubber Plus, which is 50% more durable than their standard one. I’ve never owned another pair of Asics training shoes so I can’t really comment on this, only time will tell, but it seems to be holding up just fine.

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Minimalistic, check.

Flat shoes without much cushioning are preferred for training purposes because you want to be able to press away from the ground with as little fodder as possible.  In my eyes, anything that is in the way between my foot and the ground is performance hindering, unless it’s TPU or wood. That being said, you need to be somewhat comfortable wearing the shoes so there is some give and take.  The midsole uses Asics SpEVA cushioning to provide some kind of comfort while retaining a solid lifting platform. It’s a little bit more of a forgiving shoe that Nano’s are, but not so much that it would be performance hindering. The best comparison is to the Speed TR’s which are almost identical to the Met-Cons in both fit and performance; though I feel like the Asics are slightly lower to the ground.

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All of these things wouldn’t be worth a damn if the shoe didn’t feel good and perform well, but Asics manages to combine everything in one great training shoe.  Does it do anything astoundingly better than whats already out there, no. What it does do is give you more options for training shoes, and though it’s not technologically more advanced than other shoes, it helps pave the way for more manufacturers to start listening up for when it comes to trainers.

The actual retail is $110, which puts them around the same price as the popular brands, but with a little searching you can get them for a lot less than that. If you were looking for something different but you didn’t want to sacrifice performance, the Asics Met-Convictions are worthy of your time.

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