The Metcon

Picking up where my last post left off, Nike is in a feud with Reebok over Crossfit’s fanbase.

The feud is wonderful for fans, of course.  All it means for fans is (besides the entertainment of multi-billion dollar companies openly hating one another) better shoes, apparel and events.  It even has added drama to the Crossfit Games, and not just with the semi-truck advertisement I spoke about before.

The feud between Reebok and Nike played itself out even on the floor of the Crossfit Games arena, with Nike sponsored athlete Mat Fraser going toe-to-toe with Reebok sponsored athlete Ben Smith. And when Mat Fraser lost due to a score recount conspiracy theorists were up in arms all over the place.  As it turns out Ben Smith won fair-and-square, but the drama persists.

So, what about the battle that really matters, that of quality of product?  It isn’t hard to accept the fact that Nike dominates the world of athletic shoes.  Perhaps they’re more evenly matched in the world of apparel given the much wider amount of variance consumers have before them when choosing a pair of shorts or a shirt.  And that’s been part of the beauty of Crossfit’s growth- the rise of local apparel lines that really do produce exceptional quality that competes with the biggest brands in the world.

But as for shoes?  Nike is still king.  Hence the enormous anticipation for them to enter the world of Crossfit.  And they did so with the Nike Metcon.

The interesting thing about the Crossfit shoe market is that for any shoe to compete it must stand up to a litany of tests.  The shoe must be light enough for running, jump rope, and gymnastics whilst being sturdy enough for very heavy lifting.  The shoe must be breathable to keep feet cool during high intensity workouts yet tough enough to stand up to the vicious thrashing brought upon them by rope climbs.

Needless to say the Nike Metcon was met with high expectations. Nike, with its dominance in the basketball show market, track, football, running, had just entered Crossfit.  And the Metcon didn’t disappoint.

First of all, the Metcon looks good.  It’s a more subtle, soft spoken aesthetic than the Nanos had been (although some crazy colors would eventually become available with time) and the consumers loved it.  Here is a picture of the color scheme I chose:

Compare those to my previous workout shoe, the Nanos in the color scheme I had:

Which shoe do you think looks better for casual wear?  To me, at least, the Metcons are the obvious choice.  I still appreciate the Nanons but the color schemes and design are a little louder than I prefer.

But what about functionality?  Both shoes are awesome, by the way. They’re both very tough yet breathable, light yet sturdy.  They share the same wider-than-average toe box, which some people like and others don’t.  Those who prefer a more narrow toe box tend to purchase INOV8’s which are all more standard in their width.

There are two things I actually preferred in the Nano compared to the Metcon.  First- and I’m not sure if this is just my pair of Metcons or if all Metcons are this way- my Metcons are squeaky.  The sound of the rubber sole bending when I walk is quite loud and a little embarrassing in quiet situations.

Second, the Metcons aren’t quite as flat as the Nanos.  Some people prefer this, like my old workout partner.  The Metcons have a slight little padding in the forefoot and a little curvature.  This is very nice for double-unders, running and box jumps.  But for squatting?  Not so much.  I feel I have to work harder to get my toes dug into the ground and my weight driven to the outside of my foot.  For lightweight sets and workouts this isn’t a big deal.  But when going heavy, when the stakes are high and posture/muscle recruitment is paramount, the Metcons make me work harder to get into position than the Nanos did, and I believe it is because they aren’t quite as flat.

I’m still wearing my Metcon 1’s even though a 2nd and 3rd iteration of the shoe has been released.  And honestly?  I’ll probably buy Metcons again.  Firstly, I’ll hope my next pair isn’t as squeaky as the first has been.  And I think they’ll be fine in that respect.  And regarding the flatness of the shoe it isn’t a huge deal since I have weightlifting shoes I can wear when hitting high percentages.

As far as toughness goes I’ll give a slight nod to the Metcons.  After 14 months of heavy usage they still look amazing with no rips or tears and just some slight wear.  The sole of the shoe seems virtually brand new as well, a huge testament to the quality of the shoe.

They’re so tough, in fact, that my friend who works for one of the best roofers I know (find him at works in his Metcons! Talk about a hard day’s work…

At the end of the Reebok and Nike are both producing great products that consumers are loving.  Personally I feel the largest difference between the two is aesthetic.  Both brands deliver a product that stands up to all the rigors of Crossfit.

Until next time, stay fit!


War Of The Shoes

It all started about seven years ago- a black sheep libertarian named Greg Glassman flipped the strength and conditioning world on its head.

Greg invented a style of training he called Crossfit that went “viral” (so to speak) around 2009.  Whether you like Crossfit or not its success is undeniable.

Part of Crossfits explosive growth has not only been the lining of Greg’s pockets but the growth of countless businesses all over the world.  Crossfit didn’t just revolutionize the idea of fitness, it breathed life into and created entire new industries surrounding the active lifestyle.

Arguably the largest beneficiary of Crossfit’s explosion (and there  are several companies you could argue for) has been Reebok.

Reebok, albeit a massive company, was losing terribly to names like Nike and up-and-coming Under Armour when Crossfit came along. Multiple companies had the opportunity to sign on with Crossfit, get rights to produce Crossfit’s shoes and clothing and events, but it was Reebok who not only saw the potential of Crossfit but bought into the Crossfit mentality.

They jumped in with 2 feet, embracing Crossfit with both arms, and have been virtually remade as a company since.  For years Reebok was growing, raking in the cash and virtually owning a monopoly on the Crossfit shoe market.  Sure, there were smaller competitors like New Balance and INOV8, but the offical shoe of Crossfit was the Reebok Nano.

Sadly, for Reebok, that’s begun to change.  The elephant that’s in most retail rooms was looming in the background, testing the market and waiting of the right time to enter the functional fitness scene.  That elephant is named Nike.

Nike entered by dipping their toes in the water, not with two feet as did Reebok.  But the response of the Crossfit community to Nike’s toe was tremendous.  Their first “Crossfit” shoe, the Nike Metcon, was sold out all over the world.  Granted, it was released in limited supply, but the excitement for the shoe and Nike’s entrance into the Crossfit world was unparalleled.

Tactfully, Nike time the release of the Metcon just a month or so before the annual Reebok Crossfit Games, Crossfit’s annual Super Bowl.  A few select athletes were pegged to wear and market the shoe, and this is where the drama kicks in.

Reebok released a statement that no other brand was allowed to be worn at the Crossfit Games.  This was of course met with mixed responses amidst the communty and Nike, to keep the hype going, actually had several semi-trucks parked outside the arena that hosted the Crossfit Games that said, “Don’t ban our shoe.  Beat our shoe.”

Needless to say the feud has raged for the last couple of years.  The latest event was the release of Reebok’s newest Nano, the 7.  All I need to say is, check out this meme:

Of course Reebok caught a lot of heat over this but it hasn’t deterred the loyal fans of Reebok from getting in line for the shoe.

The rivalry has been very entertaining and shows no signs of stopping, what with the reigning champion of the Crossfit Games, Mat Fraser, being a Nike sponsored athlete.

As for me?  I’m actually slightly torn between the two brands.  But I’ll write more about this in future posts.

Stay fit!

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