Vivobarefoot Motus Strength review: the barefoot shoe that betters your strength training

It's the brands first shoe specifically for functional fitness, weightlifting and CrossFit – and it's pretty epic

T3 Platinum Award
Vivobarefoot Motus Strength
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

If you enjoy barefoot training, then you’ll love the Motus Strength, the first shoe in Vivobarefoot’s latest performance range designed for functional fitness, powerlifting and CrossFit. The grip is outstanding for technical movements and heavy lifts, they help you find your natural balance and they’re super snug. It’s a shoe that will only better your training.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Extremely comfortable

  • +

    Excellent stability for squats and deadlifts

  • +

    Awesome grip

  • +

    Great fit

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Only two colourways for women (four for men)

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Vivobarefoot Motus Strength shoe in a sentence: An excellent barefoot training shoe that fulfils all your fitness needs, whether that be weightlifting, CrossFit or general functional fitness. 

I’ll just go ahead and say it, these are my new best workout shoes. When I first saw them at the Vivobarefoot shoe launch, I liked the look of them. Then, when I tried them on I kind of loved them a little bit. Having done weightlifting for years I could immediately see, and feel, the benefits of these shoes for my squats and deadlifts (being closer to the ground, having great grip and a wide toe box). But, recently, I’d started incorporating high intensity functional movements into my training – like jumping lunges and sled pushes – and was curious as to whether they’d be as comfortable, and practical, as my beloved Nike Metcon 9s. They are, if not better.

If you're someone that enjoys barefoot training and are looking for an ‘all round fitness shoe’, I’d say the Motus Strength is a no brainer. However, if you’re new to barefoot shoes, like I was, and are still a little hesitant, read on for my full review.

Vivobarefoot MOTUS Strength review: Price and availability

The Vivobarefoot MOTUS Strength is available to buy directly from Vivobarefoot UK/ Vivobarefoot US / Vivobarefoot AU for a recommended retail price of £170/ $200/ AU$299.95. For women, they're available in two colourways (white and black). For men, they're available in four colourways (white, black, navy/orange and blue tint). There is also the 'Motus Strength JFF', but this is exactly the same shoe, the only difference is it's in an exclusive colour chosen by surfing legend John John Florence.

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength

(Image credit: Future)

Vivobarefoot MOTUS Strength review: specifications

  • Upper: Collar knit (recycled PET and roica elastane), KPU overlay (bio base and PU), Vamp Mesh (recycled PET)
  • Lining: Polyester and polyurethane
  • Outsole: Natural Rubber and synthetic rubber
  • Laces: Recycled PET
  • Insole: Recycled PET

Vivobarefoot MOTUS Strength review: Design and features

In case you’ve never heard of the brand before, Vivobarefoot shoes are all about reconnecting your feet with the ground, with a thin midsole and wide toe box to help them move naturally. The Motus Strength, ticks these boxes for sure but, as Vivo’s first functional fitness shoe designed specifically for high intensity workouts (like CrossFit, powerlifting and road running) it has fitness-focused features.

For starters, the Motus Strength outsole (which is only two millimetres high and completely flat) has 1.5mm raised lugs providing excellent grip and stability on a variety of terrains for functional exercises and explosive movements. As someone who has tried them on astroturf, gym floor and outdoors I can definitely confirm this. The wide toe box also encourages your toes to splay into a much stronger, stable base, ideal for your heavy deadlift to your box jump. CrossFitters will also appreciate the rubber side walls on the shoe, and across the front, to assist with movements like rope climbs.

Vivobarefoot Motus Stength: Sole of the shoe

(Image credit: Future)

While some barefoot training shoes can feel light and not provide any sort of protection to your feet, the Motus Strength definitely feels like it offers more substance. Especially around the front of the shoe. Around the toe box is a mixture of knitted mesh and rubber overlays, so your foot feels really secure. Rubber actually extends just up over the toe too, so you’ve got a tiny bit of protection if you stub it. Maybe not so much if you drop a dumbbell on it though. Its mesh material also offers great breathability so your feet don’t get too hot during those sweaty sessions.

I think the shoe itself looks really cool and I received a lot of compliments whilst testing them during training (more on that below). But if I had to pick two star points about this shoe, it’s 100% the grip and the comfort.

Vivobarefoot MOTUS Strength review: Performance

I do a mixture of strength and conditioning training and I tested the Motus Strength over the course of two weeks.

I couldn’t wait to try them during my deadlift and front squat session. More so, because at the shoe launch GB powerlifter, Sophia Ellis, took us through a deadlift lesson and also swears by the Vivobarefoot shoes. I can see why. Usually, I’ll deadlift in my Converses, but I immediately noticed the benefits of wearing the Motus Strength shoes. For starters, the grip on these shoes feels amazing and the fact they have a zero heel to toe drop gave me full contact with the floor, enhancing my stability. The width of the shoe also helped with this as it allowed my toes to spread evenly.

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength review: T3 active writer testing out the shoes

(Image credit: Future)

Initially, I wasn’t even going to try these for my squats, as I prefer wearing my Under Armour Reign Lifter squat shoe. However, a powerlifter at the gym convinced me to give them a go. Again, I felt stable, balanced and there was no chance of my foot slipping. The only thing I would say is, because the shoes are completely flat, if you don’t have great ankle mobility, you may prefer a squat specific shoe, just to help with your depth.

For more high intensity exercises – like jumping lunges, sled pulls/pushes, push press, burpee broad jumps, wall balls – the Motus Strength felt solid during all of these. Being closer to the floor just gave me more control and feel anchored to the ground. For example, when I’ve done lunges in other shoes my feet may slightly wobble because of their heel width. But in the Motus Strength, I can firmly place my foot down and have confidence it’s not going to move. You feel in control of the shoe, not the other way around.

Comfort-wise, these get a big thumbs up from me, they remind me of water shoes. They do feel slightly tight when you first put them on, but they loosen up within a few minutes of wearing. Although Vivo says these can be worn for road running I didn't try this and, personally, I’d rather just swap over to my best running shoes.

Vivobarefoot MOTUS Strength review: Verdict

As I said right at the start, these are my new favourite workout shoes and, when it comes to barefoot training shoes, I think they're the best. Not only are they ridiculously comfy (you'll forget you're even wearing them), the grip is top-notch and I don't think I've ever felt more stable whilst working out in a shoe before. (It felt seriously weird afterwards swapping over to my running trainers.)

It doesn't go unnoticed that these shoes are pretty pricey, but I think they're totally worth it and an investment piece that'll last. Not only are they made from high-quality sustainable materials, but Vivo actually care about the welfare of their workers too. Of course, there are cheaper alternatives out there, like the Nike Metcon 9s, which also work well for the same style of training, but I'd say they aren't as grippy and you can't deadlift as well in them. But, they are good for squatting in. Vivo also do have some cheaper alternatives too, like the Primus Lite III and the Primus Lite Knit, which are both cross-training shoes. However, their grip just doesn't match that of the Motus Strengths'. 

Like I said, I didn't try running in these, but Vivo does say you can. That being said, I think they're probably best for shorter runs, sprints and intervals, as oppose to trying to run a half marathon (maybe leave that to your running shoes).

I personally think they're awesome and worth the price if you're someone who enjoys training and does it regularly. Hopefully mine are going to last for a long time but, when their time is up, I'll definitely be investing in another pair.

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.