Inov-8 has a long standing history of being a “functional fitness” shoe, without actually saying anything about being a functional fitness shoe. When I first started fitnessing, there weren’t very many options; Reebok, Inov-8 or Vibram. I owned a few pairs of Vibrams but I was on the tail end of my “barefoot” phase. Reebok was, well, just Reebok. Inov-8 was completely new to me, and the 195’s were on sale, so I went that route. The feeling I first got when I put them on was unlike any I ever had when I first got a shoe; they felt exceptional. Minimal, but not barefoot, fitted but flexible, and oh so lightweight. Not to mention the grey and red colorway was beautiful. It had all the makings of a functional fitness shoe, features that would be mainstays for all the fitness shoes for years to come. Until they didn’t…
Inov-8 training shoes are distinguished by their “F-Lite” monicker. Now you’ve got two different styles of fit, with their precision (narrow) and standard (wider) fits. That old 195 has gotten a few improvements over the years, but still remains true to its heritage; bare bones, lightweight and functional. A year ago or so, the 235 came on to the scene, providing something a little more similar to what the “big brands” were doing, with a slightly wider platform, increased rope protection, and a thicker, but more dense outsole. With the addition of the F-Lite 250, we see most of those same traits, with something radically different: a raised heel.
Typically, with Oly shoes, you’ll find anything from a .75″ heel (Romaleo/Adipower), all the way to 1.25″ (Anta/Position). With both Inov-8 oly shoes and the 250’s, you’ll find a 17mm/.65″ heel, only a tenth of an inch shorter than two of the most popular lifting shoes in the world. Why not a full 3/4 inch, probably because these shoes are mainly marketed towards functional fitnessers, whereas the Romaleos and Adipower are weightlifting shoes that have been adapted to fitness. An elevated heel, helps out with correcting mistakes and improving mobility, but having too high of a heel can be bothersome when you’re doing things like running and box jumps. Due to the nature of Oly shoes, they also have an incompressible heel and a rigid outsole, making them unsuitable for most metcons.
Since the 250’s were made for fitness as a whole, the heel is slightly more forgiving for things like running, but is still far more dense than a typical outsole, even more so than the forefoot of this shoe; which is still very flexible as it’s made for agility tasks. Metaflex grooves enhance toe splay for running and their facia band helps provide energy through the midfoot while running. The forefoot stands at 7mm from the ground, making the heel to toe drop 8mm, which is much steeper than normal training shoes, but never feels uncomfortable or even out of the ordinary. If you’re one of those people that are constantly switching between lifting shoes and trainers, you will love the F-Lite 250. Even with the raised heel, I managed to pull 535 for a deadlift PR; albeit with a tad bit of forward lean at the top. That just goes to show you how dense the outsole is on the 250.
Another thing that is inherent with Oly shoes is the weight of them. That 250 in the name, refers to how many grams the shoes weigh, in ounces just under 9 oz.! They’re not even the lightest shoe you can get from Inov-8 and they still weigh less than most of the competition. Both weight and the outsole density translate into overall response time, basically meaning how fast the shoes react to your movements. Heavier shoe and squishier, cushioned outsole = slower movements and bad power delivery. I hope things are starting to come together yet about the F-Lite 250.
When sizing the 250’s, you should go with whatever you’d normally wear in Reebok’s or Nike’s. Half a size up from Chuck Taylors or Inov-8 195’s. I consider this shoe “true to size”. For reference, I wear size 9.5 in Reebok, Nike, F-Lite 250 and size 9 in Chucks and 195’s.
This shoe is EXCELLENT for all things functional fitness, it truly is well rounded, like the athletes it caters to. Imagine doing a workout like “Amanda” (ring muscle-ups/snatches), where you would want to be able to have nothing weighing you down, but would benefit from a raised heel. By adding the Powerheel and retaining the legendary lightweight/flexible qualities that Inov-8 shoes are known for, they took a step outside of the box and totally nailed it with the 250. The main issue that I have with the shoe is that there just aren’t any interesting colorways yet. Another thing I fear is that many will overlook this shoe just because it’s not one of the “big brands” and they haven’t sponsored any of the “popular” athletes. If you’re contemplating this shoe, don’t, just buy it and enjoy it. My only regret is not picking this one up earlier! While Inov-8 (a huge thank you to them!) provided this shoe to me for review, that does not affect my elation for the 250. You owe it to yourself to try this shoe out, they’re just that good.
That feeling you get when you realize you just ripped.
A mixture of anger, discouragement, and worst of all, pain.
No one likes ripping, but in the world of fitness, it’s just a part of life. You can take care of your hands as best as you can by shaving down calluses and moisturizing, but it still happens. After you get a rip, what really matters is how you take care of the wound. Thanks to W.O.D. Welder’s line-up of hand care, it’s never been easier to prevent and bounce back from rips. While they offer anything from soap to pumice stones, I’ll be focusing on their Solid Salve, which is used to remedy rips.
Essentially, WOD Welder looks like an oversized tube of chapstick, kind of feels like it too! It applies easy enough, just unscrew the cap and apply like you would chapstick to the wound area (make sure you sanitize the area first!). You don’t really have to use all that much either so I can see this tube going the distance. Almost instantly you’ll get a cooling (peppermint) sensation over the area applied to. The mixture of all natural ingredients immediately goes to work and you’re on your way to rip salvation! Just from my experience, I’ve gone from full blown tear to ready to WOD in about 2 nights, I don’t get those crazy bloody rips though. The weather in SoCal has been kind of crazy lately, causing my hands to dry up and develop cracks, which I also use WW for. Those painful little cracks disappear in one night of use!
Everyone should have a tube of W.O.D. Welder in their bag; it’s cheap, effective, and even if you don’t rip that often, you probably will at some point. What’s $10 bucks to you if your livelihood is the gym (weightlifters, powerlifters, gymnasts)? I highly recommend just getting the hand care kit that includes a pumice stone and their hand cream too. The pumice stone is naturally occurring volcanic pumice thats much more effective than the artificial kinds. If you’ve got dry hands the hand cream is a godsend, I don’t like lotion because I hate the greasy feeling when it’s on, but this hand cream just leaves your hands smooth as silk without feeling like you couldn’t hold onto your car’s steering wheel.
If you’re a serial ripper, WOD Welder should be an essential item in your gym bag!
The release of the Nike MetCon 1’s shook the CrossFit shoe scene. You had to know that Reebok was going to answer back with something, and they did a hell of a good job keeping it a secret! Unlike Nike’s viral marketing campaign for the MetCons, where everyone knew about them, the Compete’s seemed to be completely unknown to the world. The only glimpse I got of it beforehand was from a vague Instagram picture, and I had absolutely no clue what I was looking at. Reebok and Rich Froning debuted the Compete 6:14 the same day that the Nike MetCon’s came out and honestly, I think that was a little too late. They picked a time frame where the whole entire world wanted the Nike’s and hardly anyone cared about Reebok shoes anymore. The price? $195, a whopping $75 bucks over a shoe that the market is going crazy for and almost $100 (I say this because most have the 25% discount, or know someone that can get it for them) over a shoe we’ve come to know as the “standard” in CrossFit shoes. Anyways, I’m not here to discuss the marketing tactics of Reebok.
Looks and Construction 3/4/15
The initial response from people on social media about these shoes was, lackluster. I have yet to find someone that thinks these are good looking shoes. Kevlar is awesome, but these shoes are definitely not winning any beauty contests. Despite the looks only-a-mother-could-love, the shoes do feel confidence inspiring; like they were just built to do work in. Honestly, I could go climb a rope right now in my brand new shoes and not think twice about doing it; a big thing that I don’t like doing with new shoes. I’m pretty sure that’s what Froning was going for when he helped design these shoes: a no frills, no BS, functional fitness shoe. Reebok completely stripped away the insole, half of the sockliner, the Duracage, and anything weighing the Nano 4.0 down. The shoes tip the scale at a featherweight 8.8 oz, lighter than any Nano before it. Attention to detail must have been paramount when designing the Compete’s, they’re very well constructed using excellent materials. The Compete’s actually kind of feel like Nano 4.0’s crossed with New Balance Minimus’. You could probably just go barefoot in them if that’s your thing, it almost feels like they were made to do that. With the omission of the Duracage, comes a ton of flexibility, giving the shoe a sock-like feel. The outsole has very sharp treading and the Rope-Pro area is pretty much just spikes; that should grab the rope for climbing well.
After spending a little more quality time with the shoes, I’ve got a few more things to point out. The yellow, heavier duty shoelaces it comes with are impossible to keep tied with one knot. It wasn’t until probably the 4th time they came loose in a single 400m run that I decided it was time to double knot them. I’m probably going to switch them to the black laces, which are the same found in the Nano 4.0’s. I think the addition of kevlar could have been used better if the outer was actually kevlar and not just an reinforcing overlay on top of the fabric. Effectively, it probably offers a bit of abrasion resistance but mainly it seems to be for decoration. Going back to the insole, removing the insole from my Nano 4.0’s gives the same low profile feel that the Compete 6:14’s do, except the bit of glue that holds the insole there. One might even dare to say that it’s the same thing.
Workout 1 3/4/15
First workout in the books was more of a plyometrics based metcon. Five rounds of 10 pull-ups, 20 push-ups, 30 sit-ups, 40 air squats and a 400m run. The shoes performed well for the air squats, providing a solid base and power delivery. These shoes were definitely made to squat in, the lack of an insole gives them a very low profile and direct ground feel. Surprisingly, they didn’t make my feet ache at all from the run, probably due to how flexible the shoe is in addition to the 3mm drop. My step felt natural and overall it reminded me of running in Inov-8’s and New Balance Minimus’, but since your foot sits lower in the shoe, I find my ankles rubbing on the sides of the insertion point; slightly uncomfortable.
These are not casual shoes, these are not coaching shoes, these are competition shoes. They’re not comfortable, at all. (Unless you like the barefoot shoe thing.)
I got these shoes in a 9.5 and they run a tad bit smaller than my Nano 4.0’s. My toes rub up against the front a bit, but if I sized up the toe box would just be too big. It wouldn’t be such a bad idea to use these shoes without socks, since they’re so reminiscent of Inov-8’s or Minimus, but I don’t think going half a size down is necessary on these shoes. The toe box is similar in size to Nano 4.0’s, nice and wide. The heel and midfoot areas seem to be a little bit more narrow, but not as bad as the Sprint’s. SIze these shoes the same as you would your all of your Nano’s, but size up if your current fit is snug.
- Compete 6:14 – 9.5 (Possibly a 10, due to them running on the small side)
- Nano – 9.5
- MetCon – 9.5
- Chucks – 9
- Lite TR- 9
Workout 2 and 15.2 3/9/15
Last year I did 14.2 in oly shoes, then re-did it in my Nano 3.0’s and got a higher score. I think that was the point for me where I realized that I’d rather do most of my workouts in “normal” shoes. Today, I did 15.2 in my Compete’s and aside from the workout just being crappy, I struggled. My ankle, hip and shoulder mobility isn’t the absolute best, nor is it the worst in the world. The struggle was real, keeping my balance (I have a slightly wider OHS stance); I was constantly rocking back and forth fighting to find that “pocket” during the overhead squats. It’s probably just me, but I did overhead squats in my MetCon’s last week and about a month ago and don’t recall being so unsteady; I might also be used to the MetCon’s since they’ve been my shoe of choice for the last couple of months. I should be used be able to jump right back into a Nano platform, but that wasn’t the case with the Compete’s. Seemingly, I do better with shoes that have some support.
Immediately after 15.2 I jumped into the class in session which the skill was box squats and the WOD consisted of double unders and burpee box jump overs. Nano 3/4.0 have never been my powerlifting shoe of choice as my feet tend to roll inwards for things that require sumo stances; since the Compete’s share the same essential platform, they were no different. I never found this issue to be such a big deal because I would always just wear on my Lite TR’s for box squats or sumo deadlifts, until I tried the MetCon’s. Having a straight edge versus rounded edges on the soles of your shoes makes a huge difference when it comes to lateral stability; I guess thats why many still prefer Chucks to powerlift in.
Again, one thing that really shines through about the Compete’s is their flexibility. Double unders, burpees and box jumps felt natural and my plantars never got uncomfortable at all during the workout. Landing from box jump overs was not pleasant though; Reebok states the Compete’s have an “Ultra-soft, shock-absorbing foam midsole that helps reduce impacts”, but unfortunately this is far from the truth. It’s your foot, versus whatever you’re landing on, without hardly any impact softening material at all. Traction is a subject I rarely go over because I feel like it’s not of utmost importance, it’s excellent on the 6:14’s, better than Nano 4.0’s and on par with MetCons. Most gyms have rubber flooring anyways, you’d be hard pressed to find a shoe that’s not going to track well. Even on loose gravel, the Compete’s provide some of the very best traction I’ve found in a shoe.
Workout 3/Regionals 2012 Workout Event 2 3/10/15
Going back on the topic of traction, today’s warmup involved shuttle runs on asphalt in which the Compete’s tracked almost too good on. Gaining momentum is as easy as coming to a stop without much fuss. Heavy power cleans were the skill today and I built up to a heavy double for myself was without a miss. Power anything are not my favorite movements, as I’m a little on the slow side but I got up to right about where I wanted to be. Jumping and moving my feet were not an issue in these shoes; the absence of weight really comes through on power movements.
Event 2 from Regionals 2012 was: 2000m Row, 50 alternating pistols, 30 hang cleans; and it sucked. Pistols are actually one of my better movements, usually I can rebound from side to side, but today I was finding myself at a lack of lateral stability. I think having the little bit of support actually helps cup your feet into the shoe, because I don’t remember this happening with my Nano’s (haven’t pistoled in the MetCon’s). Hang cleans were as easy as they could be; I missed a couple forward and one took me back, but being semi-constant enough on hitting my positions was fine in the Compete’s. If you’re making the switch from something with a heel to “flat shoes” you might need to adjust, but otherwise the Compete’s handle Oly just as well as the competition, but they’re not going to put 30lbs on your clean and jerk.
Workout 4 3/11/15 –
Fran variant consisting of toes 2 bar instead of pull-ups and a 100m run between rounds.
Unless you’re coming from something akin to barefoot shoes or zero drop, you’re probably going to spend some time adjusting to the lower profile of the Compete’s. 3mm vs 4mm’s drop isn’t going to make a big difference, but the ground feel is. Thrusters in this workout felt great, shoes were nice and light for toes 2 bar, and probably the best feature of the shoe shined through for the 100m runs: the traction. I was able to launch into a sprint to pass some people on the finish. Picking up speed is really easy to do in these shoes.
Normal stance squatting is great in these shoes since they have such direct ground feel. It only seems that when you come out to a wider stance is when issues with lateral stability come into effect. With mobility like Rich Froning, you should be great, but deficiencies in hip, IT band or ankle mobility might cause your feet to “roll” around side to side.
My curiosity led me to try out putting the insoles from my Nano’s into the Compete’s. They fit perfectly into the shoe (go figure), but since the Compete’s run a bit smaller than 4.0’s do, they made my foot cramped in the shoe. Which then leads me to believe, they just took the insole out and upped the shoe size by half a size. This is going to sound ridiculous, but if you’re going to put an insole in these shoes, size up a half size. Putting an insole into these shoes defeats the purpose of them, but at least makes them more wearable, while still retaining the flexibility and the look if that’s your thing. Then again, why not just wear your Nano’s?
“If the shoe fits, wear it.”
When you put a shoe on, you almost immediately know if the shoe is going to work for you. There’s just something not right to me about the Compete 6:14’s and it might be that since they cost $200, I’m being harder on them. I really wanted these shoes to blow my mind to justify the absurd price tag, but they don’t have any compelling benefits that would make them my first choice to workout in, even solely for competition purposes. Don’t get me wrong, they’re fine shoes that can handle just about any workout, just not anything revolutionary.
Rich Froning deserves his own shoe, no doubt about it; he is the champ after all. This might be the shoe developed according to a champion’s specification, but don’t think that his specifications will exactly fall in line with yours. Most people will probably get caught up in the name branding and go crazy over these shoes. In reality, you’re getting a Nano that has the insole taken out, a kevlar overlay, that’s more flexible, grippier, comes with a heavy duty pair of shoelaces, and has Rich Froning’s name on it, for (almost) double the money. You’ll get 90% of the same experience in Nano 4.0’s, and if you want a really low to ground feel, just take the insoles out.
As a long time supporter of Reebok (just check the order history), this time I just can’t get behind what they’re doing here. Religion aside, the Compete 6:14’s are an easy way to cash in on the champ’s name. If you’ve got money to burn, try them out because they’re not awful, just not a game changer. Otherwise, save your money for the Nano 5.0’s.