What It Is: A minimalist cross training shoe for women (Minimus 20v3 Cross Trainer), designed for a variety of activities, such as lifting stuff in the weight room or middle-distance road running. Described on the New Balance website as an “all-purpose shoe for the serious fitness fan.”
This season’s colours: black with pink (bad-ass with a girly edge); grey with blue (subtle and tasteful); yellow with purple (hello, bright!).
What You Might Not Know: These minimalist fitness shoes have a special Vibram® sole, which looks like a honey-comb pattern. The benefit? According to New Balance, the Vibram® soles provide “maximum surface contact” and “multi-directional traction.” I think that means they’re nice and sturdy while protecting you from slipping.
Feelin’ the Love: I’m a sucker for a good minimalist shoe; I think I’ve owned about 5 or 6 pairs so far. There are no in-soles or cushioning in these Minimus models, so if your current shoes have pillowy in-soles, you might feel a little too, er, barefooted at first. (You might acclimatize quickly but New Balance recommends a slow transition to cut down the risk of injury; that’s because they say minimalist footwear could change your running technique and foot strike.) If you’re already used to close-to-barefoot workouts, you should feel right at home in these minimalist fitness kicks.
There’s a four millimetre drop from heel to toe designed to mimic the natural shape of the foot, which I noticed and appreciated. Comfy. The shoes are quite narrow in the heel and much wider in the toe box – a good match for my foot type. Shoes often feel roomy enough around my toes but slide off at the heels, or they’re just right in the heel but crowding my toes. Not so with these shoes. More love: Super lightweight and tons of ventilation.
If I Could Change One Thing: I’m not sure how true to size these are. I’m usually a size 7-8 in various brands of women’s shoes. I got Size 8B (“B” is New Balance’s standard medium width), which appears to be at least a full size too long and perhaps a wee bit too wide at the front. My toes actually have too much room, causing my forefeet to slide around inside the shoes during exercises with lots of lateral and back-and-forth movement (i.e., most HIIT drills I tried).
Also, the toe box looks a bit bulbous. With my over-sized yellow pair, I couldn’t help feeling like I was wearing lightbulbs on my feet.
Should You Buy These? With the Minimus 20v3 Cross Trainer, New Balance has captured the appeal of a minimalist, lightweight shoe with an overall cute design worthy of a test run. To get the right size, though, try them on if possible before buying in-store or online; $119.