Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: Nike Studio Wraps

I've seen the Nike Studio Wrap for awhile now, and I have to say I've been intrigued since they first came out. I always do my Pilates, Barre, Yoga & PiYo workouts barefoot, and I like it that way and understand the benefits, but these shoes are just adorable and I've been wanting to try them so I finally carted myself down to the Nike Outlet Store and picked up the full 3-piece set, called The Wrap Pack.

Style: First off, they are just cute. You can wear them any number of ways, and none of them are a bad look. The options at the outlet were minimal, so I went with the basic black. Always a classic, so I'm sure I'll get plenty of use out of them.

Comfort: Well, comfort is subjective, and also subject to use. For just wearing around the house, they are quite comfortable. For sports-specific use, I have varying levels of comfort and suitability opinions. The piece in between my toes bothers me for certain things, but I'm not a fan of toe socks, vibrams, or anything else wedged in between my toes. That's a personal preference, your opinion may vary wildly based upon whether this bothers you or not.

Gym Use: I didn't feel there was sufficient support for use at the gym. Not for weight training or even for the elliptical. I made it through my workout just fine, but I just didn't feel it was suited for that. Now, to be fair, that's not the target market, but I wanted to give it a try nonetheless.

Home Workout: For this I tried home-based step aerobics, some dance aerobics, resistance band exercises and general bodyweight work. Either the wrap with the outer sole, or any combination you're comfortable with, works great for these workouts. My step (The Firm Wave) is a little hard on bare feet, so the outer sole, with or without the inner wrap, was a welcome change. I just don't like wearing shoes for home workouts in general, even though I sometimes need them, so these really filled the gap. Enough support without being bulky.

Pilates, Yoga & Barre: For Pilates, I primarily do mat work and the occasional Pilates Chair. For Yoga, it's your basic moves at home and not in a studio setting or hot yoga (well, at least not yet anyway). Barre work is using a home Fluidity barre, but I think this experience would translate well to a studio barre class. For this I used just the basic wrap (and sometimes the ribbons) and I found it to work quite well. There's enough traction to help hold a pose without adding to any bulk. It's completely flexible, comfortable and doesn't bother me too much. I like barefoot as well or better just because of the whole thing-between-my-toes issue, but if you're not home and don't want to be completely barefoot, they're a great choice. If you just want your feet to look all cute and complete an outfit - also a good choice. The outer sole for going to and from a studio is a really nice feature too.

PiYo: As a PiYo instructor, this was the reason I purchased them. PiYo is a unique format utilizing Pilates & Yoga-inspired moves with other bodyweight exercises for total strength & flexibility conditioning. Now you would think that my experience using these for the other types of workouts would be similar, but not really. PiYo is unique, and you move through the various poses rather quickly, which is why I just did not care for these shoes for PiYo. The first half of the lesson, they're fine. From the warm-up through to the Power section, either the wraps alone or even using the outer sole works just fine. There's a lot of standing work, lunges, things like that where they work very well. But once we move into the Flow section, even sooner on certain lessons, where there's a lot of movement through low lunges, warrior poses and such, there's a little too much traction which slows me down, and then it starts to pull in between my toes and I want to rip them off and throw them across the room...which I did. Now if toe socks and toe shoes are your thing, or at least don't irritate the living daylights out of you, you may love these for PiYo as well. I didn't.

Everyday: These shoes do have a practical component as well. The outer flat is functional for daily casual wear. You can even throw them in your purse for walking commutes. I plan on wearing them on my next flight, which hopefully means less drama with TSA. Maybe they won't make me take off the inner wrap during screening. One can hope anyway. Why would I wear a studio wrap for air travel? Oh why not! Like I said, they're cute!

Sizing: Here is where it gets difficult, and where I think you would benefit from a trip to a store to go try them on, especially if you are anywhere in between their rather broad sizing categories. For example, I wear a 7 in street shoes, 8 in running shoes. Now their small goes from 6-7.5, Medium 7.5-9. Since I fall right in the middle, and many of you might, a trip to the store, if one is close, is wise. I ended up purchasing the size 8 Wrap Pack and that translated to a Medium in the inner wrap. The small is tight, but not horribly so, and the medium is fine, and at the end of a long day my feet might appreciate the 8, though to be honest the 7.5 outer would've been fine it just wasn't an option with the Medium inner wrap. If they stretch out, as some have said, it could be an issue, but for now and for me, I recommend going with your running shoe size or at least sizing up 1/2 size from your street shoe. Of course, I recommend going into a store and trying them on and comparing if you are in between. Even if you don't purchase in the store, it's still good to go and be certain which size to order so that you aren't playing return-roulette trying to find your perfect fit.

Price: The Wrap alone will run you anywhere from $30-$60 depending on where you can find them and which color selection you choose. The Wrap Pack is $50 at the Outlet for whatever they have in stock, and varying prices on websites that go all the way up to $160 for the Premium Wrap Pack on Nike's site. I picked mine up at the Outlet store for the not-so-bargain price of $49.95. Well, it is quite the bargain to the I-can't-believe-it price of $160 on the Nike website (granted that's for the premium leather version but still.  Honestly, I think Nike took a page from Lululemon and others who think that those of us who take mind/body classes are missing that part of our mind that deals with practical finances, but hey, they are cute :)

ETC: I wish there were more mix & match options. For now you can only buy the inner Wrap or the full set (Wrap Pack).  It would be nice to be able to purchase additional ribbons or outer soles separately so that you can change up your style without having to purchase multiple sets. I'm not a huge fan of these shoes, but for more options I could become one. Hey Nike, did you hear that?

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