You're probably not into CrossFit if you've never heard of the TYR CXT-1 Trainer. But if you are in the market for a highly versatile cross-training shoe that isn't a Nike Metcon, a Reebok Nano, or a Nobull trainer, you need to pay attention.
In a move that surprised everyone, American fitness apparel brand TYR – better known for kitting out triathletes and Olympic swimmers in racing suits, goggles, and swim caps – transferred their considerable talents to the CrossFit scene last year with the introduction of their first shoe, the CXT-1
I say 'introduction' because the CXT-1 first came to the world's attention in stunning style during the 2022 CrossFit Games when it appeared on the feet of no less than six male athletes who finished in the top 10, including Roman Khrennikov and Ricky Garard who podiumed in second and third place, respectively.
In a further genius marketing move, those wanting to buy the CXT-1 after seeing it in action could only sign up for waiting lists and patiently countdown the weeks until it was released several months after making its debut, which only upped its desirability and helped the shoe to sell out several times over.
TYR CXT-1 Trainer review: price and availability
TYR CXT-1 Trainer review: features and technology
You might think the TYR CXT-1 Trainer looks like most other CrossFit shoes on the market with its flat rubber sole, toe bumper, and wrap-around rope guards…and you’d be right. But it also features a few subtle differences that make quite an impact, the biggest being the 9mm heel-to-toe drop in the midsole.
Most CrossFit shoes – such as the Nike Metcon 8 with its 4mm toe drop - feature a minimal drop to help distribute weight more evenly across the foot. Therefore, the 9mm drop on the CXT-1 is, I believe, the biggest we’ve seen on a CrossFit shoe ever. But the high drop is there specifically to aid ankle mobility and increase squatting depth while boosting overall comfort and stability (more on this later).
Billed by TYR as ‘powered from the ground up’, the CXT-1 features a patent-pending stability platform for premium support and optimum ground contact, which is further enhanced by the very wide wrap-around side grippers that extend around the heel for added stability.
These grippers – in conjunction with the heel guard and deep toe bumper - also help to increase the durability of the shoe during moves like rope climbing, wall walks, and burpees.
Finally, the firm yet flexible Surge NRG foam midsole promises responsiveness during agility training, while the engineered mesh upper aims to keep your feet cool no matter how intense your workouts get.
TYR CXT-1 Trainer review: style and aesthetics
If I had to sum up the aesthetic of the TYR CXT-1 Trainer in a couple of words, I’d call it satisfyingly ‘old school’. Maybe it’s because I’m a 90s chick who spent most of the decade wearing shoes with gum-coloured soles – think the Adidas Originals Gazelle or Stan Smith – but for me, traditional, plain styles just scream dependability and resilience, and I like it.
I appreciate that there are no bells and whistles or flashes of neon on the CXT-1. It’s almost like TYR (pronounced ‘tier’) are happy for the shoe to do the talking without screaming it through the design. But that’s just me. If you like a bolder colourway, TYR has now introduced brighter, more colourful styles alongside their more muted designs, and more are in the pipeline. That said, if you want a flashy shoe, you should look elsewhere.
TYR CXT-1 Trainer review: fit and performance
The CXT-1 has an anatomical toe box that isn’t overly wide for a secure fit, but it is certainly roomier than the toe box on the narrower Nike Metcon 8. These shoes are true to size, so I went with my regular size, and my normal-width feet felt very comfortable, but wider feet may want to buy a half size up.
I have high arches, so I really appreciated the arch support. Even though the Surge NRG foam midsole is on the firm side and geared towards stability, my feet felt incredibly comfy and well-supported throughout the footbed, and I could wear these shoes for a couple of hours during workouts without any issues.
The mesh upper that wraps from the lateral side across the toe box to the medial side of the foot is certainly as breathable as promised, and it has a nice bit of stretch, but not so much as to take away from the seriously secure, locked in feel across the midfoot.
That’s helped by the basic lacing system, which is surrounded by microsuede for added durability, so you can pull your laces pretty tight if you want or use the sixth eyelet if needed. The tongue is also nicely cushioned and doesn’t shift around because it is gusseted at the sides.
The shoe certainly seems durable, thanks to the extended toe guard that helps protect the shoe during toe-dragging moves like burpees, plus the smooth heel clip, which helps you glide down the wall during wall walks.
I can’t comment on the durability of the generously sized lateral and medial rope guards (I haven’t climbed a rope since primary school), but I can say they really add to the stability of the shoe and do a great job of cupping your foot in certain places. Overall, the rubber surrounding the shoe is fairly rigid but also surprisingly flexible, so it supports the foot while allowing it to flex at the same time.
The sole itself is predominantly flat with a little groove in the middle to help channel a rope through, and there’s a very slight toe spring to make running easier, although these shoes are best used for short sprints and not for anything over a mile or two as the cushioning just isn’t there under the forefoot to support long runs (as is the case with most CrossFit-specific shoes).
The rubber sole features different textures and is extremely grippy, and the flexibility in the forefoot and overall responsiveness make this shoe excellent for agility work, multi-directional movements, and explosive exercises like box jumps.
Onto the bit you’ve been waiting for: the midsole drop. Well, personally, I love it. I don’t have the best squatting action due to tightness in my ankles and calf muscles, but the CXT-1 helps with that issue brilliantly, and I felt really supported.
Even though the shoe has a 9mm heel-to-toe drop, you don’t necessarily feel it because the shoe feels surprisingly flat. Rather than have the drop gradually slope downwards (which could make you feel like you’re pitching forwards), you instead feel a tiny but sharp rise right at the back of the foot, and I think it’s this that helps to boost the heel a little while still providing a flat feel. In short, this simple but clever trick makes a big difference, and I reckon those with long limbs will appreciate it too.
The wide, flat base provides amazing ground contact and stability, and overall, the CXT-1 really shines during heavy lifts. That said, if you prefer training in a minimal shoe, it probably won’t be right for you, and it’s this factor that could split people’s opinions of the CXT-1 down the middle.
TYR CXT-1 Trainer review: verdict
The TYR CXT-1 is hands down one of the best cross-training shoes around and will handle pretty much anything you want to throw at it. The wide, flat base and 9mm heel-to-toe drop provide an incredibly stable platform for lifting yet manages to be flexible and responsive enough for agility work and multi-directional movement at the same time.
Durable, tough, and solid, you might think this trainer lacks some of the bells and whistles of other CrossFit-specific shoes, but it has everything you need to get the job done well, whether you’re in a CrossFit box, the gym, or training at home. Top marks.