YORK ATHLETICS Review: Versatile Kicks from the Gym to the Streets

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by  Savarone Ammann | Last Updated: 

The issue with most athletic shoes is that outside of the gym or a run, you can’t really wear them anywhere without looking awkward.

YORK ATHLETICS is bridging the gap with a line of shoes that they claim are built to perform but also show off a tastefully minimal style. Let’s lace up and see if they’ve nailed it or not.

Sweat in style
The Adult Man Image/Icon Image source: YORK ATHLETICS

YORK ATHLETICS

Bottom line: YORK ATHLETICS is making a minimal line of stylish, breathable kicks that can just as confidently carry you through a workout as they can a casual outing.

Ratings:

The Adult Man Image/Icon  Design
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Quality of Materials
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Value for Money
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Craftsmanship
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Customer Service

Pros:

  • Elegant styles that pair with any outfit
  • Low-top designs that are comfortable and minimal
  • Made with a variety of breathable materials
  • Simple, subdued color schemes

Cons:

  • Not as much support as other workout shoes
  • White soles are prone to scuff and attract dirt easily
  • Higher price point than other performance shoes

Who knows the pain of carrying around a spare pair of kicks in a bag? 

You’ve got one pair for your workout, and one for immediately after.

Most of my workout shoes are clunky, torn up, scuffed, smelly, and nothing I’d choose to wear outside the walls of my local fitness studio. 

YORK ATHLETICS has been making performance footwear for three straight generations. That’s a whole lot of time to perfect the design of an athletic shoe.

I unboxed three of their models and drug them through a full day’s schedule—from the gym to the coffee shop to the streets.

What Is YORK ATHLETICS?

Founded in 1946, back when your grandpa was kicking around and crushing workouts, the origins of YORK ATHLETICS began as Indian Head Shoe Manufacturing Company in Manchester, New Hampshire in a cigar factory building.

Then, in 1963, Henry Spaulding purchased the factory and started crafting performance footwear for professional athletes including an NFL Hall of Famer and an Olympic Gold Medalist.

Close up of York Athletics shoes

York family generation number two moved the shop just around the corner and transformed it into a sporting goods store. The new shop supplied the New England community with equipment, sports uniforms, and embroidery for almost four decades before closing up.

In 2016, the third York generation joined forces with footwear giant Mark McGarry to launch YORK ATHLETICS MFG, the direct to consumer training footwear brand I’m writing about today.

That’s quite the history.

YORK ATHLETICS

YORK ATHLETICS is for guys who value performance and style and want something that can cross over into both worlds. I probably wouldn’t run 10 miles in these shoes, but if I’m gearing up for a HIIT workout, weights or circuits, recovery work, or walking a long distance across the city with friends, these are the ideal hybrid.

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Things to Consider Before Buying Performance Kicks from YORK ATHLETICS

Model doing abs in York Athletics

Is it possible to go to a weekend workout class and romp around town for a bit after—all in the same pair of sneaks? Aside from dressier shoes, Most men’s footwear fall into one of two categories: performance or casual. 

What looks snazzy on the streets would usually crumble in a workout and provide little to no support. Vice versa, what performs in the gym looks clunky and misfitting anywhere else. 

YORK ATHLETICS is for guys who value performance and style and want something that can cross over into both worlds. I probably wouldn’t run 10 miles in these shoes, but if I’m gearing up for a HIIT workout, weights or circuits, recovery work, or walking a long distance across the city with friends, these are the ideal hybrid.

YORK ATHLETICS Review

Model tying shoes

I slipped my feet into three pairs of YORK ATHLETICS kicks: The Henry Runner Mesh, The Frank Trainer Mesh, and The Henry Runner Sweatshirt. Here’s the deets on all three.

The Henry Runner Mesh

York Athletics The Henry Mesh

The Henry Runner Mesh is strikingly different from other runners and cross-trainers I’ve seen on the market. This is because of it’s highly contrasted two-tone coloring from black to cream and it’s overall minimalist design. 

This design is entirely intentional as YORK emphasizes a perfect fit as one of their prominent selling points. YORK uses 52 points of measurement to create a fit that “promotes balance, comfort, and support.” I think they delivered on all three of those benefits in this shoe. 

The sole of the Henry Runner Mesh is composed of firm rubber that offers a supportive bounce as you stride forward. I found it performed best for short burst movements like ladders or sprints, but they also performed when I took them on a short run too.

Model in York Athletics

The Henry comes in mesh, sweatshirt, and leather, and all models feature a 9mm drop. The drop, or offset, of a shoe is the difference in height between the heel and the forefoot, measured in millimeters. In this case, the heel is 9mm higher than the front, acting to propel you forward and allow for optimized striking against whatever surface you’re moving across.  

YORK ATHLETICS superbly executed the front and back of this shoe. The heel features a sturdy internal plastic that holds the back of your foot in place as you move forward or back and side to side. This is great for HIIT workouts, stretching, or group classes. 

Toe box of York Athletics

The toe box features a protective TPU overlay that wraps around the top of the shoe and blends into the cream coloring. This helps keep water, grass, and dirt from caking on to the front of the shoe on runs and protect the softer mesh below.

On YORK’s site, they state very simply that the shoe was designed for “1-3 mile warm ups, 4-6 mile distance runs, all-purpose training.” I had no issues wearing these in the weight room and while bouncing up onto boxes. But for any run over 4 miles, I’d opt for something with a thicker sole and more cushion.

Mesh is typically employed for a cooling effect. This mesh does that beautifully. You’d have a better chance overheating in flip flops than these things. The many perforated holes let more air in than driving on the highway with your windows down. 

The counter effect is that the mesh is prone to collect dirt and isn’t at all waterproof. So make sure you keep these dry and, in turn, they will keep your feet dry too.

The Henry Runner Mesh from YORK ATHLETICS

This design is entirely intentional as YORK emphasizes a perfect fit as one of their prominent selling points. YORK uses 52 points of measurement to create a fit that “promotes balance, comfort, and support.” I think they delivered on all three of those benefits in this shoe. 

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The Frank Trainer Mesh

Side of York Athletics The Frank Trainer

The Frank Trainer Mesh is YORK’s gym and training specific shoe. Unlike its low-top counterparts, it features a mid-length upper, more durable woven mesh, and a leather stability cage that hugs the middle of your foot. 

Like The Henry, The Frank trainer also comes with a 9mm drop which seems to be what York thinks is the sweet spot for forward propulsion. These shoes are built for weightlifting, cross fit, circuit training, and general fitness sessions.

Model sitting on wall in York Athletics

For a cross-training kick, The Frank is delightfully lightweight but still offers support on heavier lifts. The leather stability cage helps to hold your foot in place which is perfect for doing high knees, jump ropes, box jumps, or weighted lunges. 

Because the stability cage on this model is made of brown leather, like the stuff you’d see in a belt, it makes the shoe look more like an athleisure design, one better suited for a jaunt through your local museum than for a grunt-inducing barbell-slamming weight routine.

Model in black York Athletics

If brown leather feels too chic for you, YORK also makes models of The Frank trainer with black and subdued grey leather that look more like a traditional performance cross trainer.

The Frank Trainer held up for every movement I put it through. I find it nice to wear a lighter weight cross trainer like this while doing ab exercises, burpees, and other total body exercises. A heavier weightlifting shoe will weigh you down for simple movements.

The Frank Trainer allows you to dabble in every kind of workout from weightlifting to circuits to HIIT and any kind of class your heart desires. However, I wouldn’t lace up The Frank Trainer for a max squat or deadlift the way I would with a pure weightlifting shoe.

The Frank Trainer from YORK ATHLETICS

For a cross-training kick, The Frank is delightfully lightweight but still offers support on heavier lifts. The leather stability cage helps to hold your foot in place which is perfect for doing high knees, jump ropes, box jumps, or weighted lunges. 

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The Henry Runner Sweatshirt

Front of York Athletics The Henry Sweatshirt

This is a first for me. I’ve never seen, felt, or worn a performance shoe with an upper fabric that mimics the stretchy version of a sweatshirt’s material. That’s the intention behind the jersey knit in the Henry Runner Sweatshirt.

YORK claims this creates a slipper-like fit intended to keep you just as cool as their mesh option. I disagree. If the Henry Runner Mesh lets in more air than driving on the highway with your windows down, then this is more like opening your front door on a breezy day. 

Aside from the jersey knit upper material, this model has the same design as the mesh version including the iconic leather pull tab on the back and the protective TPU overlay around the toe box which I love.

The sweatshirt-like upper adds a cozy, cushy element to this kick. It feels perfect for a recovery day or a mellow calisthenics session. I would gladly lace these up with joggers on a lazy Sunday afternoon before running errands.

The Henry Runner Sweatshirt from YORK ATHLETICS

The sweatshirt-like upper adds a cozy, cushy element to this kick. It feels perfect for a recovery day or a mellow calisthenics session. I would gladly lace these up with joggers on a lazy Sunday afternoon before running errands.

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What do Other Reviewers Say About YORK ATHLETICS?

While the York family has been kicking around in the kick game for three generations, this new line of performance shoes was only launched in 2016. Because of that, there aren’t as many reviews for various models yet.

Most guys agree these shoes can be worn in and out of the gym and were pleased with their purchase of a shoe that’s comfortable and performance-oriented.

My Thoughts Overall On YORK ATHLETICS

What I Like

  • The understated styles are classy, versatile, and easy to pair with any color of shorts or joggers.

  • The mesh, especially on the Henry Runner Mesh, is some of the most breathable fabric you will find in a performance shoe.

  • If you lace these up tight, the fit is snug and supportive all around your foot.

  • These shoes aren’t too heavy or too light, they land in a rare hybrid territory of workout shoes.

What I Don’t Like

  • Some of the models look almost too stylish for a typical grungy gym environment.

  • Any mesh that isn’t black scuffs easily and reveals dirt.

  • The runners aren’t ideal for distance runs, or anything over 4 miles.

Who is YORK ATHLETICS for?

YORK ATHLETICS is for guys who lead a consistently active lifestyle and don’t want to look like a dud on the streets. 

These are for guys who mix up their workout routines, pop in and out of the gym, and aren’t afraid to embrace some stylish accents in their workout attire. From HIIT to circuit training to weight sessions and short runs, YORK’s sneaks will equip you with capable footwear that breathe well and look a heck of a lot better than the next dude’s.

The Verdict

Remember, the problem with clunky workout shoes is that they look like freaking clunky workout shoes. That’s fine for your last set of max deadlifts, but looks especially awkward anywhere else. YORK ATHLETICS is making capable performance kicks that let you dash around the gym but leave you looking dashing on the streets too.

The lightweight, minimal designs of all the shoes in YORK’s lineup give them a depth of versatility for workouts ranging from HITT workouts to circuits to cross fit to short runs and calisthenics.

YORK has focused on cooling effects in all their kicks and The Henry Runner Mesh with a highly perforated upper is especially breathable. 

At over $100, these shoes aren’t cheap. But most quality workout kicks aren’t.

Do you care about what your workout shoes look like? Are you okay with bringing your workout kicks with you in a separate gym bag all together?

YORK ATHLETICS

YORK ATHLETICS is for guys who value performance and style and want something that can cross over into both worlds. I probably wouldn’t run 10 miles in these shoes, but if I’m gearing up for a HIIT workout, weights or circuits, recovery work, or walking a long distance across the city with friends, these are the ideal hybrid.

Shop YORK ATHLETICS
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

FAQs

Is YORK ATHLETICS a good brand?

YORK ATHLETICS is making minimal, stylish, well-constructed performance footwear that will hold up for an array of workouts and look dapper as ordinary streetwear. The Henry is their most popular model which comes in mesh, sweatshirt, and leather.

Who owns YORK ATHLETICS?

Travis, Evan, Kyle, Tyler, and Dylan York are the third generation of the York family operating the current YORK ATHLETICS MFG brand. The original York shoe company was founded in 1946 and has evolved throughout the years.

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