The HOVR Apex is a shoe aimed at the gym-goers out there. Not just aimed at runners like so many modern shoes, it claims to offer better support for weights sessions as well as the odd run.
It's one of a number of UA shoes to use its HOVR technology.
The material is similar to many other shoe brands at the moment, which claims to use cushioning for a good level of energy return and to reduce impact. You've probably heard the same claims from the foam in the Adidas Boost foam and the all new Nike Joyride.
But while those are running focussed, the UA Apex lines up with CrossFitters favourites the Nike Metcon and Reebok's Nano ‚Äď but does it shape up? We take a look:
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UA HOVR Apex specs
Price: $140 | Weight: 370g/ 13oz (men) 311g/ 11oz (women) | Type: Fitness training | Stability: Neutral | Heel to toe drop: 8mm | Alternatives: Nike Metcon 5 / Reebok Nano 9.0 / NOBULL
The bulk of the marketing material surrounding the launch of the HOVR Apex when it launched in July focussed heavily on the Halo Gray variant of the shoe. That version of the design is by far the most eye-catching of the three currently available and has a certain level of 90s nostalgia associated with the colorway, largely due to the bright neon rubber that covers the ankle.
The 90s association doesn't stop there though as the shoe itself has the sort of chunky build reminiscent of trainers from the decade - something that clearly sets these apart from the other functional trainers available at the moment. Where most are trying to get smaller and fit as close to the foot as possible, the Apex looks like something Jerry Seinfeld would happily walk though New York wearing.
The outsole continues the bold colours with vibrant pink (on the Halo Gray version) triangular block set against the contrasting white and there's also a noticeably thick padding to the tongue itself. As far as design goes, it's bold, and we love the retro style of it, but does the Apex deliver as well in training as it does from an aesthetic perspective?
The HOVR Apex is designed specifically for 'training', however, what that means exactly isn't particularly clear in the product material.
For shoes like the Metcon or the Nano, there's a very clear focus on functional training like CrossFit. Those movements can cover everything from heavy lifting and fast body weight movements to shorter distance running. Under Armour isn't as specific with the Apex.
We've mentioned that the Apex is a chunky shoe and that's something that isn't just apparent when you're looking at it. On the foot it feels noticeably bulky when you first put it on - that includes the inside padding and the thick midsole, especially under the heel. In contrast to the lighter, minimalist functional options out there, it doesn't feel like a shoe designed for speed and agility. That said, it is ridiculously snug and comfortable from the first wear.
We've tested the Apex out in a number of scenarios, from functional training and HIIT classes to weight training and power lifting (focussing on the lower body). For anything using slower, static movements, even those carried out in a strength based class, the Apex were perfect. The 8mm offset, mixed with a sturdy build make them a nice gym shoe for anyone doing general gym training.
If you ramp up the exercises to something a bit more spatially demanding, like CrossFit or outdoor training sessions that include a level of sagittal movement, they do feel quite cumbersome.
That thick midsole/outsole is well padded and supportive, but not well designed for fast movements where you may land at multiple angles on the foot. That bulkier nature to the build also means that they can get quite hot when doing something like HIIT.
Although the firm cushioning does offer a nice level of energy return for static jumps (think squat jumps, power lunges and burpees), for any sort of distance running, they're a definite no go.
The flat outsole isn't conducive to consistent pounding of the pavement, especially for any heel strikers out there.
As a functional training shoe, whether that's HIIT, CrossFit or anything that involves quick movements at a high level, there are far better options out there, especially for the price tag.
It's a nice looking shoe and works perfectly if you're the kind of person that wants a pair of trainers they can wear out and about as well as in gym sessions, it's a very durable, well made and sturdy piece of kit that should last a while. Extend that to running or quick, agile movements on varied surfaces and you'll need something a bit more specialized though.