The FIT: New Balance 813 Cardio Comfort Trainer
Cardio Comfort feels good, man.
by Sandy Dover / @San_Dova
In the NBA world, athletes are subject to physical rigors that most laypeople cannot comprehend. For the elite basketball player, his/her body is his/her literal temple and principal livelihood, and while the roughly 400 players in the NBA put their bodies and minds to the test daily and yearly, those outside of that realm (in the so-called real world) also have become just as conscious about their fitness and health. The FIT is a series that will concentrate on the Fuel, Information and Training (F.I.T.) that it takes for both NBAers and laypersons to be at their very best in the world, as well as focusing on the literal Food, Intelligence and Technology that also comes into play in our physical fine-tuning—because after all, without having the vital fuel, guidelines and tech advancements to feed our bodies, help us better absorb and process what’s necessary, and make the labor efficient and effective, we don’t have much to advance our collective health and performance. The FIT is here to bring to light what can make us all the uniquely tuned creatures who we presently are and can continue or aspire to be.
In a sport like basketball, the training necessary to enhance your fitness in the game is essential. Many players train outside of the gym or on the floor, but the cardio room has become a staple in collegiate and pro players’ training facilities. A lot of hours are spent on the treadmill and various kinds of exercise bikes, and sometimes, wearing bulkier shoes can affect your motion and how your body feels (get numb feet on the elliptical, ever?). Enter the New Balance 813 Cardio Comfort Trainer.
Designed to make your cardio exercise routine easier and more pleasant, the 813 is (per New Balance)…
…[A] lightweight, low-profile cross-trainer designed to minimize the numbness that often occurs while using cardio machines at home or in the gym. The 813 is also perfect for other conditioning, making it a superior multitasker that supports you in comfort whenever you work out.
The 813 also has a variety of features in it that can tickle your feet even before you set your feet into them, such as:
C-CAP® midsole provides cushioning and support – Ndurance® rubber compound for maximum outsole durability – Stretch textile quarter and vamp with fused synthetic stabilizers provide a custom-fit upper with minimal seams for no-rub comfort – Synthetic/textile upper provides comfort and durability – Multi-density insert provides excellent cushioning for all-day comfort.
In my various testings of the 813, I felt the shoe to be extremely comfortable. To start, it’s only 9.2 oz. and the stretch, spandex-like upper enabled a great deal of comfort in and of itself. The C-Cap midsole was incomparably forgiving to my feet, and the aid of its ultra soft insole was like a cherry on top of a sundae.
To say that the 813 has a great fit is like saying that Jay-Z is good at music. The shoe’s upper and midsole assisted greatly in the 813 forming to my foot automatically. On the upper, the aforementioned synthetic stabilizers act as a kind of cage on the upper that helped to contain my foot and add lateral support. The shoelaces are strong, and the shoe compresses fully on impact with the ground, which was cool to see when I looked down at my feet.
Though there are a lot of good surprises about the 813, the best thing about the shoe when it comes to fit is that the shoe’s insole is removable. This was helpful for me, because on my initial wearing, I felt that the shoe was too soft and didn’t give me enough support for my fascias and arch. I removed the stock sockliner and inserted my own stiffer insole, and my issues went away, so the 813 has become a shoe where you can literally customize your softness (Note: You’ll have to buy your additional softness if you want to change your softness. Bummer.).
There are a couple of minor drawbacks that I experienced (and not all people will experience these things). One is that the lateral cage of the upper rested on my left pinky toe in such a way that it rubbed. There was no raw rub, but I just felt that, and it was sometimes that I became conscious of when I wasn’t concentrating on my workout.
Also, though the 813 is a good all-around cross-trainer, its design gives way to light support, about what you’d need if you’re moving forward on a cardio machine, but not necessarily doing heavy and dynamic weight training (like me); it is okay for light lifting, but if you’re pushing big weight on curls or any sort of standing exercise, you may need something else to assist you, but every person’s different, so trying them out wouldn’t hurt you or the shoe. Having said all of that, the 813 was perfect for me as a treadmill runner and a powerwalking shoe.
In all, the 813 is just the right shoe for the player looking to log some extra miles on the treadmill or exercise bike, during or after practice (I’m thinking of Kobe Bryant and Kevin Love). It’s soft, comfortable, and a pleasure for not only your feet, but for your entire body. It feels good, man.
PRODUCT UPDATE – April 17, 2012
In my first run evaluation of the New Balance 813 – also known as the Cardio Comfort – I didn’t anticipate the shoe being as supportive and as versatile as it’s proven to be. The name was kind of misleading being that it’s been dubbed what it is; for a shoe made specifically to be a remedy to the numbness that can come on from repetitive motions on the elliptical machine and cardio bicycles at the gym, I didn’t have much trust that it would be an all-around performer away from the cardio area.
I was wrong.
Often in my reviews and features, I’ll go back to shoes that I’ve evaluated in the past and see how they change or how they stay the same. Although New Balance communicated to me that the Cardio Comfort was good for any kind of fitness training, I had little faith in the Lycra upper…but as I came to find out, the Lycra didn’t trigger much of an issue for me as did the stock insole, which while very soft and forgiving, lacked the type of underfoot support (specifically in the arch) that I felt would give me a new balance, literally. With a little faith and a stroke of genius (“Just put in more supportive insoles!” said the young man with strawberry blond roots, lol), I found a new shoe made anew in the Cardio Comfort.
Going to a standard favorite in insole brand Sofsoft, I used a combination of two insoles for weight training, interval training, and standard cardio – one set was a version that molded to my feet by way of kitchen oven, and the other is a highly cushioned set with a moisture-management overlay to evaporate sweat during activity; between the two, I found that the Cardio Comfort became a highly-supportive training shoe that still maintained its great range of motion (by way of the spandex) and its light weight, even with a more substantial sockliner inside.
Upon reflection, I wish that New Balance would market the 813 Cardio Comfort as “a cross-training shoe that fights cardio machine leg numbness”, which would not only keep future wearers from being in the dark about the shoe’s capabilities, but also make the Cardio Comfort a much more popular and credible product. In the current days of training becoming more than just a “lift day” or a “treadmill day”, the Cardio Comfort fits the heavy-duty needs of the everyday athlete who needs something strong enough for power, light enough for dynamic movement, and stable enough to do just about anything necessary to get through the workout.
The New Balance 813 Cardio Comfort trainer can do all of those things – not just pedal along for 40 minutes on a Stairmaster.
Sandy Dover is a published author and web & print magazine columnist in the world of publishing, while doubling (or quadrupling?) as a sports product tester and fitness advisor in the fitness world (with the two worlds often colliding). You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline, as well as at About Me, Facebook and Twitter.