“We’re realizing that running is a bigger part of CrossFit — that’s the truth — and as the leaders in CrossFit, we need to evolve with it. We can’t still,” Tal Short, Reebok’s senior senior performance footwear product manager, told FN. “A lot of our competitors have the same shoe they had four years ago, and we can’t do that. We’re the leaders; we need to set the bar.”
After developing the shoe for 20 months, Reebok’s solution to make a shoe better for running (as well as all-day comfort) was to equip the latest Nano with more cushioning in the midsole — but not too much.
“The cushioning is the perfect balance between a CrossFit shoe and a running shoe,” Short said. “Our idea was to get the perfect amount of cushion to where you could still lift and then it can be a really good running shoe, one that will get you through the workout.”
And its sponsored athletes are pleased with the update.
“The biggest change from the Nano 8 is, I can run longer distances. I feel I could run further in these shoes without having to think about it,” two-time CrossFit Games champion Annie Thorisdottir told FN. “I used to see my programming a few days in advance, and if I was running for more than 400 or 600 meters, like half a mile in the middle of a workout, I would think, ‘Would I rather go into a softer workout shoe?’ Then I would think about how my feet are going to feel for the next thing I have to do or a second session or the day after. With these, I don’t have to worry about that as much.”
But making the Nano better for running wasn’t the only thing Reebok focused on. The brand also gave it a wide toe box to keep the wearer planted firmly on the ground, a minimal drop for stability and increased durability.
“A lot of people are very regimented, they program what they’re going to do, but my training is very on the fly. With some of the past shoes it was like, ‘We can’t rope climb today because I don’t want to destroy the shoe,'” four-time CrossFit Games champion Rich Froning told FN. “But now I could rope climb if I want to because it’s not going to mess up the shoe, I can do some heavy lifting because I feel comfortable and stable in it. I don’t have to worry about programming around the shoe. It’s very freeing, and it’s nice to be able to do that.”
To make it tougher to withstand grueling workouts, Reebok built the Nano 9 with a midsole protection wrap and an updated Flexweave upper.
And aesthetically, the shoe boasts a far different look than its predecessors. Rather than have the shoe dominated by Delta branding, which is associated with fitness-focused products, Reebok used the classic Vector logo on the upper. (The Delta still appears on the tongue.)
“We had the Delta on it originally, but with the way the shoe is shaped and the balance of the shoe, we said let’s try the Vector, and we all visually liked it, it made the shoe look slimmer,” Short said.
The Reebok CrossFit Nano 9 arrives June 12 via Reebok.com/Nano and at select retailers globally. The shoe will retail for $130.
Get to know CrossFit athletes Katrín Davíðsdóttir and Brent Fikowski in FN’s video below.