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Major sportswear brands have been making training sneakers for years, but, ironically, they tend to feel like an afterthought in the shadows of signature sneakers and hyped-up collectible releases. It's easy to find yourself working out in the wrong shoes simply because you opted for brand recognition over intentional design.
Co-founded in 2015 by Marcus Wilson and Michael Schaeffer, Nobull is a sneaker startup giving athletes of all levels the tools they need to work out well. And if you were wondering where the name Nobull comes from, it's exactly what you're thinking — a "no bullshit" mentality around its products and business.
"The name reflects our brand's approach to everything from product design to marketing to content creation—everything you need, and nothing that you don't," said Wilson. "We are committed to authentic and aggressive simplicity."
Unsurprisingly, the brand was originally born out of the CrossFit community. Wilson knew his customers needed to be able to "run fast, lift heavy weights, rope climb, burpee and box jump." When it came to designing the brand's Trainer, he understood the importance of versatility, ultimately developing a shoe that would be able to handle the range of motion and intensity required for the most intense types of workouts.
But you don't have to be a CrossFit athlete to wear Nobull's shoes. The brand's approach to performance without the noise is what makes them uniquely appealing to people who simply want the right tools to train and do their best in the gym.
We had two gym-goers at different places in their fitness journeys test Nobull's original Trainer, the Trainer+, and two different styles of running shoes to see if they lived up to the hype.
The short answer: they did.
I see these trainers all over my gym, and after trying them, I understand why. They're a great cross-training shoe, but they're especially good if you're into weightlifting. I was a competitive weightlifter for four years, but the cool thing to do then was to wear Converse or Vans because of how flat the soles were. The Nobull Trainers are ... let's say ... much better.
The sole of the shoe is super flat with just the tiniest bit of a curve beneath the toe, which keeps you feeling stable beneath heavier weights (there's less cushioning in these than the Trainer+ style Amir tried, which I prefer for lifting). They also offer a light amount of arch support so I don't feel the insole pressing awkwardly against my arches when I'm lifting. I like that the inside of the tongue has a foam-like texture that grips well to my socks so there is absolutely no slippage when I'm pushing on a heavy leg press.
The shoes come in lots of fun colors, but I'm partial to the white camo. I think it's a fun play on the classic white leather trainer, and it matches all my gym clothes.
You definitely won't catch me running in these as they don't have enough support and were not built for that kind of exercise, but I wear them for pretty much everything else. From circuit classes to resistance workouts, isometrics, and all types of weightlifting, these are my shoes of choice.
These fit true to my usual size, which is a true 8. I don't recommend sizing up or down in the Trainers — go with your usual size. — Sally Kaplan, executive editor, Insider Reviews
I'm far from a competitive weightlifter, but wearing shoes dedicated to training in the gym has made a huge difference in my workouts. Before testing the Nobull Trainer+ shoes, I'd wear any comfortable shoes to the gym — typically a pair of running sneakers. Although they're great for warming up on the treadmill or bike, I always found them to be too soft or unbalanced when deadlifting, using a squat rack, or any other weightlifting machine.
The Nobull Ivy Trainer+ solved that with super sturdy midsoles, flat grippy outsoles, and a durable abrasion-resistant upper. Feeling planted on the ground not only gave me more confidence while doing those exercises, but it was also safer.
These pairs differ from the original trainers in that they have a bit more support and cushion in the sole with a little extra traction.
The Nobull Trainer+ shoes fit true to size. I wouldn't recommend sizing up or down. If you size up, you'll potentially lose that sturdy, planted feel they provide and if you size down, they'll likely be too tight. — Amir Ismael, senior reporter, Insider Reviews
As the Insider Reviews resident sneaker expert and collector, I've tested a variety of knit running sneakers from major sportswear brands and startups alike. While the concept of being lightweight, breathable, and flexible is the same across brands, Nobull's Knit Runner really impressed me in its delivery. The upper is stretchier than any other knit material I've worn on my feet, but the shoes still feel secure with the sock-like treatment around the ankles and the heel counters.
The Knit Runner did an excellent job with energy absorption while running short distances. The midsoles are made of a bouncy phylon foam material, which is typically what you can expect on a running shoe at this price range. There are more comfortable running sneakers that I think are better equipped for long-distance running from other brands, but with superior cushioning technology comes a higher price tag.
Aside from performance and comfort, I really like the aesthetic. If you enjoy running sneakers as a style statement, but prefer pairs with minimal branding, these are a great choice.
I typically wear a size 8.5 running sneakers. I went with my true size for the Knit Runners and found them to fit perfectly. If you prefer a more relaxed fit I would recommend going up a half size as the sock-like fit will still keep them secure on your feet. — Amir Ismael, senior reporter, Insider Reviews
I opted for the Runner+ instead of the regular Runner pair because I love an extra bit of cushioning when walking and running. These are extremely bouncy and cushioned, not far off from a pair of Hokas. The first time I wore them on the treadmill it was like launching off springs. I definitely wouldn't want to wear these for weight training, but I love them for fast-paced walking and short-distance running.
The breathable mesh upper prevents my feet from getting sweaty, and the insole has just enough arch support. Despite how bouncy they are, I feel grounded in them thanks to great traction. I was worried the thickness of the foam would lead to crushing or buckling over time but they're still as firm and bouncy as the first day I got them.
My only complaint about this pair is that I could see a bit of the glue where the foam sole met the fabric, which was surprising straight out of the box. It hasn't resulted in any issues as far as construction or quality so far, but it did give me pause at first. I'll report back if I have any issues, but it's been several months of running and walking in these and they've managed to hold up really well.
I'm usually a true size 8 and I very well could have sized down to a 7.5 in these for a snugger fit, but I happen to like a little extra room to wiggle my toes because I deal with cramping in my arches. I don't find my feet slipping around or anything, but there's definitely more breathing room than most size 8 sneakers (including Nobull's trainers, which fit like a true size 8). — Sally Kaplan, executive editor, Insider Reviews
The name Nobull might be catchy, but it's clear that the products live up to their promise. If you're already putting in the work at the gym, you can rely on Nobull sneakers to give you the support, comfort, and traction needed to complete your workouts. While its shoes aren't going to serve every type of sport or workout, they're good for the average gym-goer, weightlifter, or CrossFit enthusiast.
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