Between my tendency to sweat profusely during any workout (see here) and my overall poor sense of balance (despite my regular yoga practice and barre workouts) I have a tough time holding any pose for an extended period of time. Once you mix my lack of stability with slick conditions, I’m done for.
I’ve tried placing hand towels on my inner thighs to stay in tree pose, and I typically wipe my entire body down before even bothering with crow pose. When barre moves call for balancing high on my tiptoes, I give it my best try, but usually never last for more than a few seconds.
Enter the New Balance Studio Skins ($ 40-$ 55, newbalance.com). Neither shoes nor sandals, these structured foot covers are designed specifically for any workout class where you’re supposed to go barefoot, but could use a little extra traction and support. Obviously I was thrilled when I heard about them, and now our relationship has been going strong for over a year.
The soles provide just enough traction and support to help you stay stable—even when things get sweaty.
The bottoms of the Studio Skins are made of silicone, which makes them really grippy against a wooden floor or rubber mat. Even when my yoga mat is sprinkled with sweat, the grippiness persists, allowing me to hold a pose more gracefully and consistently. What’s more, the ball and arch of the foot are slightly cushioned, which just feels nice and also adds a little more support than my bare feet can offer me.
Since the soles are so thin, they don’t inhibit me from pointing or flexing my foot like full-on sneakers do—not only can I comfortably bend my feet into tiptoe position, but I can stay way more stable with the help of the soles.
They’re designed to mold to your feet, so they can feel almost too tight when you first pull them on. But the tight fit has a purpose.
The snugness is what helps keep the shoes in place so you can stay balanced long after you’ve begun your practice, and in my case, after the sweat’s already started pouring out. If the Studio Skins were too big and your feet could slip around in them, it would kind of defeat the purpose. When I first tried mine on, I had a brief moment where I thought I had bought the wrong size. But by the time the barre class was over, I completely forgot I was even wearing them.
That is, until multiple classmates swarmed me—instructor included—asking exactly what I was wearing. I fielded all their questions like a pro, except for one: A classmate questioned if the open heel construction would provide ample support for her recurring Achilles tendonitis. I’m neither a podiatrist nor shoe engineer, so it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor first if you have any specific concerns about how these shoes will work (or not) for your personal foot needs.
I also just like knowing I have something between my feet and the yoga mat or floor, even if it doesn’t cover them entirely.
What prompted me to even try these shoes in the first place was a few plantar warts that popped up on my feet in 2017. While I won’t get into the specifics of them, I will say it took almost a year of dermatologist visits every three weeks and a few different treatment options to get rid of the warts. Now, I have no idea what gave me the warts in the first place, but after that experience, I find some security in knowing that the surface area of exposed skin is drastically smaller. (Whatever helps you sleep at night, right?)
But once I bought a pair and discovered how much they actually helped me get through my workouts, I found many more reasons to love them—which is why I’ve spent the last year or so with these fused to my feet and don’t plan on parting with them anytime soon.
Buy them: New Balance Studio Skins ($ 40-$ 55, newbalance.com)