Nope, my current sneaker addiction revolves around minimalist designed sneakers. I think there are multiple reasons; 1) I really believe in the benefits they provide 2) I work 6 days a week and need to rotate my sneakers 3) I wear them to work out, to school, to walk the dog, to bars 4) Most of them look pretty slick.
At the moment, I have 7 pairs of "minimalist" shoes.
2 pairs of Nike Free Run+
1 pair of Nike Free Everday+
1 pair of Nike Free TR
1 pair low top Chucks
1 pair Saucony Kinvara
1 pair Vibram Five Finger KSO
Seeing it laid out like this definitely makes me feel pretty bad! The only good thing about this list, is that I got the Vibrams for free from a buddy who works for the company! Sweet deal, right? I justify all these shoes to myself because I wear them SO often, but I really don't think it is necessary. However, I am finding it pretty tough to not buy more shoes, because all of the sneaker companies are jumping on this band wagon now. Brooks, one of the big names in stability shoes, even has a pretty nice little running flat called the Green Silence, which is also an eco-friendly sneaker.
I haven't tried them on, but I have held them and they feel pretty sweet. They are really light, super flexible, just the right amount of heel cushioning that most people could pick these up and start running in them with very little practice. The same could be said for the Saucony Kinvara. They are very user-friendly sneakers.
The latest player in the game is New Balance, with the Minimus line of shoes. They have a road shoe, a trail shoe and a "recovery" shoe, which is more of a walking or comfort sneaker.
I went and checked the out yesterday, and I must admit I was very impressed. I tried them on, and then I was even more impressed! They were super light, and the forefoot/midfoot was super flexible. I didn't get to bounce around in them too much, but I had to really fight myself to not buy them immediately (I'll probably go back and get them today!) I wasn't thrilled with the colorway they had available, which helped hold me back. I didn't yet try on the trail shoe, but it looks really promising; just not something I physically see myself wearing around the facility. The Nike Free is still my gold standard for minimalist sneakers, but I think these could give them a run for their money!
The final pair of sneakers that I am interested in has been popularized big time by the Crossfit crowd; the Inov-8 F-lite 230.
I have only seen these once, because I don't frequent the local Crossfit gyms, and have never handled them. A friend has given me very good reviews on them, but she still Crossfits in her Free 5.0's. I am interested in them, but most likely wouldn't purchase a pair without handling them first.
There are dozens of other small companies that produce specialized minimalist sneakers for running, rock climbing, being a ninja, trails, etc. All in all, I really hope more companies produce shoes that function like these all do. Unfortunately for this movement towards "barefoot", Vibram is getting the most press; because it is at such a wild end of the spectrum. Since they are the most well known, they are the ones that are also taking the brunt of the blame for people getting hurt while trying these shoes out. Stupid is as stupid does, and if you are stupid enough to put gloves on your feet and try running 5 miles on day 1, then you have a whole other set of problems to worry about.
All in all, these shoes are a great way to get your body back to the way it is supposed to be; if you spend hours in the gym working on your flexibility, mobility, conditioning and strength; then why not provide your feet with the same attention the rest of your body gets?