Cross training footwear is so hot right now.
Functional fitness has grown to be more than a quick-burning trend, constituting at least a portion of most fitness users overall exercise plan. Sports athletes are doing functional drills, as are hikers, outdoorists and dreadmill devotees. With the diversification of training came the need for a shoe that suits the drills.
A big draw of cross training footwear is stability and versatility. Beefed weightlifters get just as much stability as a thin runner, and these shoes can double up as a 5k footwear option for those mixing cardio with strength.
Last month, Under Armour shifted its cross training category into high gear when it announced a co-branded line of footwear and apparel with suspension training brand TRX. Up until then, Reebok had a pretty firm hold on the category with its lucrative ties to the CrossFit name and empire. Walk down the aisle at a DSW and you’ll see Nike doing a big cross training footwear push, as well.
A new hybrid contender entered the ring today as iconic health club Gold’s Gym inked a two-year collaboration with Vibram, creator of the FiveFinger shoe.
“The training category is continuously growing because it’s truly a broad term for a market segment that’s inclusive to everyone,” Chris Melton, director of sales and distribution, Vibram Finished Goods, told SGB. “Whether you’re in an adult coed soccer league one night a week, a scratch golfer, a bodybuilder, or a professional baseball player, ‘training’ sums up how you prepare to perform at your best. Because it’s so broad, everyone needs training gear. Our partnership with Gold’s Gym allows us to tell our training story with the added credibility and association of one of the most recognizable gym brands in the world.“
For many of us in the industry, the announcement provoked a double take.
Gold’s Gym is firmly set in the fitness world, while many see Vibram as an outdoor brand, frequently providing rubber outsoles to names like The North Face, Chacos and Merrell. Vibram does pair up with running companies New Balance and La Sportiva, but these shoes are made for the mountain and not the weight floor.
But somehow, Vibram’s reach into cross training and Gold’s expansion into footwear presents itself as highly exciting. There’s merit in the expertise of both brands, and although it’s an unexpected union, you can’t deny it makes sense.
Gold’s Gym CMO Michael Cobb said of the partnership, “Vibram’s footwear expertise is invaluable and we look forward to developing a shoe that maximizes function and form.”
The final product, to be released throughout North America, will look like a FiveFinger shoe but have cross training design input from Gold’s Gym Fitness Experts.
“Vibram will be solely responsible for the wholesaling and D2C sales of the FiveFingers/Gold’s Gym product line,” added Melton with Vibram. “We are working on regional exclusivity agreements with a couple of larger sporting goods dealers. To help us seed the collaboration, the shoes will also be made available at a discount to Gold’s Gyms’ training staff all over the world.”
“The Vibram FiveFingers 2017 collection and the Gold’s Gym partnership renews Vibram’s dedication to (natural) fitness, indoors or outside,” said Peter von Conta, VP of product design of Vibram. “For 10 years, Vibram FiveFingers has provided a natural platform for fitness that is lightweight, comfortable and places the user closer to the best of Vibram sole technology.”
Brand Sense Partners (BSP), the exclusive licensing agency for Gold’s Gym, negotiated and executed the footwear partnership.
Photo courtesy Vibram