The Free is a staple of both Nike’s repertoire and gym floors the world over. Initially receiving hate from coaches and “real runners”, the Free helped to usher in minimalist shoes and the “athleisure” trend. Not long after, the Free line expanded into the training category and here we are now.
On the plus side, the Trainer v7 has kept all the great things about the Free. It’s super light and flexible, very comfortable, and hey, it looks pretty good, for an athletic shoe. The minimalist design actually stems from function here, as opposed to merely fashion. The upper is coated with thin welded overlays to provide some structure and grip around the top of the foot.
There’s the question of “What exactly is this shoe is supposed to do?”, though. The upper doesn’t hold the foot well enough for cutting. Meanwhile, the midsole isn’t firm enough for heavy lifting or protective enough for running. The one ideal situation is jumping and plyometric work. Great flexibility and shock absorption makes leaps and landings feel easy, but it’s not something I’d want to be doing on a concrete or wood floor for a long time. Light weightlifting wouldn’t be out of the question, either, but nothing serious.
I know that the standard Free Trainer is oriented as a light, less expensive option in Nike’s Training line, but just a few tweaks could have really made a difference. A firmer foam in the heel for lifts, for example, or more TPU rubber on the forefoot outsole to add responsiveness come to mind. These would be small changes that wouldn’t even alter the look of the shoe. As it stands, I can only recommend the Free Trainer v7 for bodyweight workouts.
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