Best-rated athletic shoes


We asked hundreds of SELF reader-testers to put 421 pairs of women's sneakers through their paces. Four weeks, 6,035 miles, 253 workout DVDs, 418 classes and 766 hours of strength training later, we present our first annual sneaker awards! Pinpoint your perfect pair to step up to your fitness goals.

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Cross-Training: For the Gym

You need a stable, sturdy shoe for dumbbell workouts.

Winner: Blade-Max Endure, $100; Yahoo! Shopping.

Athlete-engineered sliced soles provide traction. And who needs Louboutins? One tester loved the style as much as the function: "They're sexy as hell."

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Cross-Training: Group Classes

Sidestep seamlessly in cross-trainers that help you move in any direction.


Winner: Puma Pumagility, starting at $70; Yahoo! Shopping.

Flex-grooved bottoms welcome lateral moves. Foam compresses and widens to keep feet stable. Testers liked them for "quick changes in direction." That means you, Zumba.

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Cross-Training: Minimalist Trainers

Deconstructed sneaks force otherwise dormant foot muscles into action. Make sure your feet are ready for minimalist kicks with this 4-week strengthening plan.

Winner: Merrell Lithe Glove, starting at $63; Yahoo! Shopping.

Minor cushioning but major flexibility make these the ultimate minimalist multitaskers. Testers wore them to Zumba, on the elliptical and for a run, saying their feet "could really grab the ground."

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Supportive Long-Distance Sneakers

A more substantial shoe takes the pounding out of your feet and onto the pavement.

Winner: Mizuno Wave Creation 13; starting at $140; Yahoo! Shopping.

They have a double-decker plastic midsole separated by shock absorbers, which act like a springboard. "I barely felt the road," one high-miler said. Fit tip: Go up a half size.

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Minimalist Running Shoes

Light-as-a-feather minimalist shoes encourage a more natural forefoot strike, which lessens the load on your joints.

Winner: Asics GEL-Neo33, starting at $100; Yahoo! Shopping.

Designed to allow all 33 joints in your foot to move freely, these are minimalist without being too minimal, with a thicker sole. "I felt energized. My feet weren't constricted," a tester said.

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Cushioned Sneakers

Neutral runners go farther and faster in pillowlike picks that ease the impact.

Winner: Reebok ZigNano Fly 2, starting at $73; Yahoo! Shopping.

The signature zigzag sole puts bounce in your step, literally. "The bottoms are like springs, easing you off the ground," a tester claimed.

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Superlight Running Shoes

Superlight sneakers with a firm midsole can help you run faster.

Winner: Nike LunarEclipse+ 2, starting at $110; Yahoo! Shopping.

A sock liner with two densities of foam cradles your midfoot. Have high arches? These will fit like a glove. And even with all of the bells and whistles, testers found the shoes surprisingly "airy and flexible."

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Walking Shoes

Walkers strike heel first, rolling heel to toe, so a supportive heel, flexible sole and bend in the toe box are key.

Winner: Ryka Devotion, starting at $70; Yahoo! Shopping.

Eight squishy triangles create a platform along the bottom of the shoe. One tester said, "It was like walking on marshmallows."


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It's one-of-a-kind because it brings music and fashion together in mainstream media. I especially love when they take you backstage and you see the making of the Victoria's Secret angel wings - so much art goes into that. Do you feel excluded by the show? I feel that, generally speaking, there's a lack of diversity everywhere. Thankfully, we have agencies like IMG who want to change the game and slowly introduce designers and casting directors to including more diversity in the fashion industry. Looking at all of the models that were on the runway this year for VS, there was so much more diversity than I believe I've ever seen before because of the array of different skin tones and ethnicities shown. Of course, we should never stop working on diversity in the runway show and It's something that's going to take time and hard work, but slowly but surely we are getting there. What would it mean to see a disabled model on the Victoria's Secret runway? It would be fantastic! I would absolutely love for [the brand] to one day include someone who has a disability in the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, which is seen by millions of people across the nation. Would you want to do the show yourself? Of course! I would be lying if I said that it didn't cross my mind.  Her message to VS: I think it's wonderful that we have a fashion show that is seen on the cable network showing models from various parts of the world! Yes, we do need to work as an industry to include more diversity of - not only skin tones - but sizes, disabilities and gender. I do, although, have a great feeling that soon enough this won't be an issue.  Justine LeGault A photo posted by Justine LeGault (@justinelegaultofficial) on Aug 24, 2016 at 4:48am PDT Justine LeGault is a curve model represented by Muse Models in NYC. She studied filmmaking and screenplay writing, but after life kept bringing her in front of the camera, LeGault decided to pursue modeling. She has been featured in Lane Bryant's #ImNoAngel campaign, covered magazines like Clin d'Oeil , and was featured in H&M's Spring 2016 campaign. She describes herself as a "self-acceptance warrior," and focuses her work on self-esteem, authenticity and self-acceptance. What are your thoughts on the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show? I do like a good show! I love the energy on the runway, and I'm quite the music lover so I do like watching it since they always mix both. I also like that you get to know the girls and their different personalities — it brings a fun approach to fashion. Do you feel excluded by the show? I don’t feel  excluded , I just don't feel like the brand is talking to me. It’s like if I'd watch a men's fashion show, I'd appreciate it but know that what they sell isn’t necessarily for me. So I don't look into it. And that’s too bad because I'm sure a lot of curvy women would love to  be invited to the party  and be able to buy/ fit their products. What would it mean to see a curve model on the Victoria's Secret runway? I personally love curves; I think it would make the show even more beautiful!! To see different shapes, and as much (if not more!) confidence and sass. It would only make the show better if you ask me. Would you want to do the show yourself? To be honest, I don’t know. Because if the VS show is a celebration of femininity and a woman’s body and curves, then every type of women and bodies should be represented. I just wish VS would take this opportunity to celebrate every women’s types of beauty. Her message to the public: What makes you sexy is your confidence. It’s knowing your essence and stand tall in it. It was never about fitting a certain size. These interviews have been condensed and edited for clarity. BONUS: 100 years of kitten beauty in 60 seconds

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