The sneakers are durable, supportive, and easy to clean. Steamrolling into the ‘90s, Nike found innovative ways to advertise why they were the best at show – a tactic that remains essential to their continuous success – while expanding their product line tenfold. The addition of luminaries across a myriad of sports helped as well. Fast-forward to the present, and the brand still rests comfortably atop of the totem pole. If there’s rules to this game, Nike – as stellar a provider of performance shoes and apparel as it manufactures lifestyle items – wrote the manual.

This difference is not explained by faster runners choosing to wear the shoes, by runners choosing to wear them in easier races or by runners switching to the shoes after running more training miles. In a race between two marathoners of the same ability, a runner wearing these shoes would have a significant advantage over a competitor not wearing them. This pair of unworn 1972 Nike waffle racing flat “Moon Shoes” set a new auction record for sneakers with a $437,500 sale at Sotheby’s. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s New York.

The SuperReps are meant for group fitness classes — and they deliver on that promise with deathly precision. Sure, they may slow me down by a few split seconds on a TrueForm Treadmill than my go-to running shoes, Nike’s Epic React Flyknits, but the SuperReps compensate by making my landings on box jumps and burpees that much more friendly. They work well in the unpredictable situations that group fitness invites. Nike shoes run a little small compared to other brands of athletic shoes, but this doesn’t mean you should go for a big size upgrade. The difference is minimal and the size you wear in other brands probably won’t be too big or small in Nikes.

There is no such thing as a large-scale randomized control trial for marathons and shoes, but there is Strava , a fitness app that calls itself the social network for athletes. Nearly each weekend, thousands of runners compete in races, record their performance data on satellite watches or smartphones, and upload their race data to the app. This data includes things like a race name, finish time, per-mile splits and overall elevation profile. And about one in four races includes self-reported information about a runner’s shoes.

Your average group fitness class is a big sometimes-beautiful (sometimes-decidedly-not-beautiful, but that’s a story for another day) mess of fitness ideas, an effort to pack a bevy of movements into one hour of work. And if you wanted to get super-precise, you’d actually need a different sneaker for each. You’d use the running shoe that most people wear for any treadmill work, but then you’d want a lifting shoe for some deadlifts and squats, then something with a bit more cushioning for the box jumps, and something with tight lockdown (basketball shoe, anyone?) for the skater lunges.

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