It appeared on Nike’s website seemingly out of nowhere, modestly-priced and fashion-oriented. The Varsity Trainer didn’t really have information available and its use was unclear beyond “training.” We were able to grab a pair and take a closer look.
The good news is that these sort of feel like discount Metcons. They feel low to the ground, with a firm heel, though not as firm as a Metcon. The outsole has good, multi-directional grip, but isn’t great for quick cutting movements, for reasons we’ll get into in a moment. It’s also lacking any protection for fancier movements, like rope climbing or handstand push-ups, or whatever the gym 1% do. The forefoot is flexible though. The upper is where the shoe kind of falls apart.
The upper is wide, so fairly forgiving for a variety of foot shapes. However, the straps that comprise the lace loops don’t provide adequate lockdown, so that’s why cutting and some explosive movements are out. Squats, lunges, box jumps, those are all OK in this shoe, essentially forward movements. Cleans aren’t very fun, though, nor is running on anything not a treadmill or field.
Not everyone needs an expensive gym shoe, and some people might want something that looks a little more muted than the bright colors of high-performance models. At practically half the price with half the versatility, the Nike Varsity Compete Trainer is a worthy purchase for the casual gym-goer.