Food for Thought · High street

For all BodyCombat warriors: review of the Reebok women's Les Mills BodyCombat trainers

Les Mills Touchlite BodyCombat Women’s trainers, in White/Black/China Red/High Vis Green/Gravel. Release 61-62 issue, £75 now on sale for £37.50 from Reebok

Les Mills BodyCombat Women’s trainers in Black/Solar Pink/White. Release 60-61 issue, £75 now on sale for £37.50 from Reebok

Les Mills Touchlite BodyCombat Women’s trainers, in Porcelain/Vitamin C/Polar Blue. Release 62-63 issue, £75 from Reebok

Les Mills BodyCombat Women’s trainers, in Porcelain/Vitamin C/Polar Blue. Release 62-63 issue, £80 from Reebok

If you’re one of the millions around the world participating in classes from over 100 000 instructors in 15 500 clubs across 80 countries last year, you’ll know that the world of Les Mills is only going to get bigger from here. Sportswear companies know that, which is why Reebok decided to bank on their success by introducing exclusive Les Mills range of sports gear for the legions.

From a range of Studio, Dance and Cycle apparel and footwear, all Les Mills fans are bound to find something that will appeal to them. I’m not a big fan of buying clothing or shoes that advertise a brand’s logo, but there have been a couple of items since the collaboration began that really spoke to me. Some time ago, I purchased the army green Combat compression long bra top on sale. I’ve worn it quite a few times to class and have even worn it in support of the 3-hour Combatathon.

Les Mills BodyCombat Compression Long Bra Top in Prime Green/Lemon Zest, £40 now on sale for £20 from Reebok

The other thing that really got me excited was when Les Mills introduced a range of Combat footwear. When I saw the BodyCombat trainers in Black/Solar Pink/White I knew I wanted a pair. A look at the price tag of £75 was the only thing that made me hesitate. I’m not one to spend a lot of money on clothes and shoes that I know will deteriorate over time. When I saw that it had been reduced to half price (now on sale for £37.50!) I knew I had to snap up a pair. I hard a hard time deciding between the lime green and black TouchLite (to match my Combat top) or the black and pink Combat trainers (I love pink), but decided to go with the pink and now that they’ve arrived from Germany, I love them to bits!!

My new black, white and Solar Pink Combat trainers

There was a bit of an issue with the courier company which was quite frustrating. When I ordered from Reebok before, there wasn’t an issue at all, but it seems the courier company just can’t cope with the big boom in sales during the Christmas and New Year period so there was a 4-day delay in me receiving my shoes when another Combat friend who lives in the same area as me received hers on the first day after the New Year.

So about the Combat trainers, here is some specification information about the Combat trainers:

  • mesh upper for breathability and NanoWeb technology for support
  • low cut opening for mobility
  • MetaSplit grooves on the soles for natural foot splay
  • Forefoot grip and stabilising frame for added support and traction
  • Non-marking outsole with cut lines for flexibility and a pivot point for functional traction
  • Integrated BODYCOMBAT™ graphic and pearlised painted midsoles for cool distinctive style

I read reviews on both the Combat trainers and the Touchlite version, but to be honest I’m not really sure what the difference between them is despite advertising that their TouchLite technology is their ‘most responsive and resilient foam cushioning’.

The coloured Reebok Les Mills insole

Close up of the integrated BODYCOMBAT™ graphic

Distinctive Combat release numbers 60-61 so Combat warriors can identify when the shoes were produced (these releases were started on July and September respectively, which means the trainers are July 2014 editions)

Signature Reebok logo at the heel with a cool ombre pink effect on the sole

Mesh upper with NanoWeb techology

Some of the reviews customers who bought the trainers commented that the shoes werent’t true to size, that it was too big or too wide; others mentioned that tightening the laces worked and measuring your foot (from heel to toe) and using that against the sizing guide to buy the correct size meant they were happy with their trainers. I decided to heed the advice of measuring my foot and checking the sizing guide found no issue with their sizing and I still ended up buying them in my usual UK size. When I tried them on, they fit quite well; because I’ve got wide feet, they fit me very well. For those with narrow feet, if you do find the shoes are too wide, you might want to get some thicker trainer/gym socks to give your feet some grip; I found wearing my thicker socks meant the shoes were too tight. When I slipped my feet in, I can already feel the forefoot grip which, although it wasn’t at all uncomfortable, I wasn’t too sure if it would end up causing discomfort over time during class.

From close up, you can see the graphics detail, but they’re really not that visible when standing from a distance or from standing up straight. I’m not bothered by it though, it’s another hidden surprise detail you notice when you stand closer. If you really want the graphics to stand out, I would recommend the TouchLite version.

Unfortunately, the trainers didn’t arrive in time for my first class for the newest release (Combat 62), but I was able to use it a couple days later, one week after the release was introduced in classes at the beginning of the month.

Wearing my new Combat trainers (which I’ve dubbed Miss Combat) to work with the SmartBar at morning BodyPump

When I first began doing squats, I could feel that the sole was quiet well designed. The MetaSplit technology on the sole did help me feel more grounded, but the issue I had was while in a lunge position, the back heel grip felt too thin and like it was going to slide off my foot. That was a major concern of mine because I have another pair of Mizuno trainers that I bought from Hong Kong which had a thicker heel grip but still had the same slipping problem (although to be fair, they’ve not slipped off at all so far). After a while, in a set (ie standing position), I could really start to feel the ‘support frame’ on the sides of my feet at my ball joint and base of my pinky toe. Surprisingly, the forefoot grip never caused me any problems.

Now the real test was to see how well it would work for its actual purpose: in a Combat class.

One of the reasons why my eye started wandering for a new pair of trainers was because once during class, my foot had somehow moved inside the show over the sole, so I lost balance and nearly sprained/broke my ankle. The assurance from the specifications and customer reviews that the trainers really do provide a good level of support for shuffling and other moves we practice in Combat sealed the deal for me. I didn’t feel the support frame at all during the class and the heel grip was still a little slidy, but the shoe never came off. The support that came from the shoes really did work. The only thing I was surprised to find was when we were in a wide stance (ie legs wide in a semi-crouch position with legs bent) that my feet started sliding further and further apart! It wasn’t really an issue when standing or when shuffling or doing kicks, but it’s not so good for a wide stance. I did feel like I had more grip on the studio floor with the shoes though and with the wider design, the support really did kick in.

My conclusion: I really love Miss Combat! I was under the impression that it was just a marketing ploy, to have Les Mills Programme Directors or creative designers within the company working with Reebok to boost their sales, but I’m happy to be proven wrong. It does seem like the people at Reebok and Les Mills have worked together to comeup a design that is fit for the purpose of the classes they’re intended for. My only peeve is how slidy the soles are when you’re in a wide stance, otherwise I’m very pleased with my new trainers.

Posing with my friend’s TouchLite version after Combat

Anybody else bought a pair of trainers from the Reebok Les Mills range? What did you think of them? What about those who bought the men’s BodyCombat trainers, did you feel they were better?


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