Don’t be that guy who doesn’t wear the right shoes for his workout. If you’re going to give it your all while breaking a sweat, a bad choice of footwear can lead to a less-than-stellar performance, or worse, a gnarly injury that’ll crush all the hard work you’ve put into fighting the “Quarantine 15”. And we don’t mean just at the gym—your at-home workouts are no different.
While the demand for workout clothes increased in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, sneakers sales plummeted. That’s most likely because guys didn’t care to flex the proper kicks when no one was there to see them. But here’s the thing: If you’re like me, you realized the one-two punch of worn-out workout shoes and barefoot WFHing was a knock-out success for messing up your feet. Lucky for me and my aching feet, a sleek pair of training kicks showed up at my door at just the right time.
If you’ve ever tried APLs, then you know their sneakers are really, really good. Ten years after the NBA banned the brand’s game-changing Concept 1 style for it’s performance enhancing Load ’N Launch technology, APL’s cult-like following continues to grow as guys discover its ideal kicks that combine sleek and sophisticated design with innovative materials for support and comfort. And most importantly, the brand listens to what their devotees really want.
When APL’s hardcore fans requested a low-cut training shoe through the brand’s social platforms, co-founders Adam and Ryan Goldston listened—and they gave Men’s Health a chance to give them an exclusive test drive. While the dynamic duo worked out at home during quarantine, they were able to try out the new TechLoom Tracer while HIIT training to make sure it met the standards their customers expect from APL.
“Performance-wise, my favorite feature is the structural 3D non-stretch TechLoom,” says Ryan of the breathable upper. “With us still training at home, we have had to become very creative with our workouts and experiment with new exercises, so knowing that we have the superior structural support for the lateral movements is amazing.”
While unboxing the Tracer for the first time, I was relieved to see the brand didn’t sway from their beloved TechLoom fabric that provides the utmost breathability. While most mesh knit uppers feel incredibly comfortable and great for running styles, they tend to have too much stretch for grueling WODs that would create shifts in foot placement. To ensure your foot stays locked in position, the Tracer combines the non-stretch upper with 3D texturized support where it counts, and a new lacing system that limits any loosening.
For a split second, I wondered how my foot would get into the stiff upper, only to realize the molded lycra collar and tongue provides a surprising amount of stretch and rebound to slide on these bad boys easily, without feeling like your foot could slip out. Once you’re in, you’re in, and when you want to take them off, it feels effortless—that’s what you want in a training sneaker. Not having to adjust the laces as much or worrying about them is an added bonus that’s basically spoiled me from wearing my other kicks.
With HIIT training in mind, the guys decided to adjust the upper for training, but use their genius Propelium midsole for the speed you need, along with an insole Ryan says has “a slightly more robust feel so that you don’t feel as much of the pounding on your feet those days when you are training extra heavy.”
Just the right amount of cushioning and extra traction from strategically placed rubber padding made me feel completely in control of my movements with the support I need, all wrapped up in a snazzy look that made me want to wear the Tracers for my evening outing post-workout. If you’re as picky about the look of your sneakers as I am, you’ll understand how rare it is to find a workout sneaker that goes from gym-to-night. But even if you did carry these sneakers in a gym duffel or your weekender, the lightweight feel makes it easy to chuck them in your bag and go.
In short, the release of the TechLoom Tracer was the reminder I needed that even though we’re spending most of our time at home and missing out on our typical summer social gatherings, the right sneaker— just like a good workout—is something you should never skip.
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