Performance nutritionist and avid gym-goer James Hudson puts inov8’s new multi-functional gym shoe to the test.

In a world where consumer choice is so vast, choosing a new pair of gym shoes can seem overwhelming. If you’re anything like me, you might end up repurchasing the same style of trainers simply because they ‘did the job.’ However, by doing so, you might be missing out on something better. Over the past few months, I’ve been testing the inov8 F-Fly – and it just might be worthy of becoming your next go-to trainer.

How we tested the inov8 F-Fly

James Hudson put the F-Fly to the test in March and April 2024. As it’s a multi-purpose trainer, he assessed its performance across treadmill workouts and functional fitness circuits in his local gym (The Fitness Society in Berkhamsted). He also took the F-Fly on a number of outdoor runs, to see how it performed over less predictable terrain.

Men’s Fitness verdict

A reasonably priced trainer with a large array of features that perform well in the gym and on the run. Comfortable and durable to boot.
  • Comfort. No blisters and no rubbing after a full day of wear on the first go. That’s rare!
  • CrossFit-ready ROPE-TEC to make rope climbs a breeze
  • Lightweight but durable with good bounce for running
  • Limited range of colour options which may disappoint you if you prefer a loud color pallet
  • Not the prettiest shoe
  • Unlike some of inov8’s models, it doesn’t come in a wide fit
inov8 F-Fly gym shoes in the box they're delivered in

Out-the-box impressions

When I first unboxed these trainers I was greeted by what looked on the surface as a fairly plain, very lightweight but seemingly unremarkable trainer. That said, they were sturdy and they looked like they could be a good all-rounder.  Fortunately, they fit well too, despite the shoe being a standard fit and my feet being rather wide. I think this was due to the mesh upper providing more give, allowing the shoe to accommodate my broad feet. It’s difficult to know if a shoe will fit you well, but I would say that if you have a fairly regular or even slightly wide foot you will probably be fine with this shoe.

Design and build quality of the inov8 F-Fly

With regards to build quality, I want to mention a little detail which I think is great for those who go hard in their shoes. Where the sole meets the lightweight mesh upper, there are some reinforcements (little extra rubber bits that help connect the sole to the mesh).

As this shoe is marketed as being able to ‘tackle any workout’ it needs to hold up to movements like burpees where the shoe is scuffed around a lot on the floor. Usually, the first part of my shoes to suffer from this style of functional training is the connection between the sole and the fabric of the shoe (I always get those little tears, as if my foot is trying to break free). So this reinforcement shows some real foresight in design and would likely give the shoe more longevity. 

On closer inspection, I noticed more features that got me excited to test the shoes out properly in a workout. There was a reinforced section of the midsole, which the CrossFitter in me recognised as a feature to help give you extra grip when rope climbing. This will also protect the shoe, making it more durable, especially if you’re regularly performing this movement. 

Next to that bit of reinforcement on the midsole, I read the text ‘PF PRO’, which stands for Powerflow Pro. Despite being naturally sceptical of creative marketing phrases like this, I was quite excited. I recently tested the inov8 Bare-XF, which had ‘Boomerang Technology’ in the sole (also present in the F-FLY). I was blown away by this feature and genuinely thought it gave the shoe loads of pop and spring. So, the thought of this shoe delivering the same benefits from the Boomerang Tech in combination with this new Powerflow Pro would surely make my treadmill runs a breeze!

How the inov8 F-Fly performs in practice

I laced up the F-FLY in my local gym (shout out The Fitness Society) and started my workout on the assault runner with a steady warm-up run. I usually run in minimal barefoot-style shoes, so my first impression of the F-FLY was that it’s supremely comfortably. Immediately I could feel the slight squish under my foot and the impact of each footfall felt nicely cushioned.

Although it was supposed to be a steady warm-up, I found my pace starting to creep up as the bounce from the shoe made it easy to run with a longer stride length. Was this the Powerflow Pro at work? I wasn’t sure, but I surmised that if this was a running shoe it would be pretty good. However, it was supposed to be an all-rounder, so I needed to trial more movements. 

On the gym floor, the shoe made light work of box jumps and jumping split squats, providing spring and flex, but to be completely honest I couldn’t tell the difference in the amount of bounce in the F-FLY compared with the Bare-XF. They both seemed very springy, although the fact the Bare-XF is slightly lighter made jumping movements seem that little bit easier.

Where the F-FLY came into its own was during the lifting section of my workout. A slight drop of 4mm from heel to toe gives everyday (slightly inflexible) gym-goers like me an edge. This drop helps improve positioning in movements like squats, making it easier to keep your back more vertical and your chest up. 

It was approaching an hour of bouncing around the gym floor and even though this was the first time I had worn this pair of shoes, my feet were still super comfy. At the end of the workout, I had a ski erg finisher and my feet felt well-grounded and completely at home in the shoe. I wore the shoes home after the session and for a couple of hours after, forgetting they were on my feet.     

Useful features

4mm drop

This helps you transition from running to lifting seamlessly, giving you that extra range of movement. It’s particularly helpful during circuit-style or HYROX workouts, where you’re going from running into a movement like wall balls. 


If rope climbs feature in your workout, this feature is essential for the longevity of your trainer. If they don’t, you won’t even notice the feature is there, but if that friend who does CrossFit convinces you to go to their box, you’ll be ready. 


I took the shoe out for a run in the park a couple of days after the gym workout. There was a slight dew on the ground and the tops of the shoe got a little damp. But as the sun rose and the day got warmer the shoes dried out remarkably quickly and my feet were dry. inov8 tout the engineered air mesh as making the F-FLY ‘extremely breathable’, and I have to say I agree.

Boomerang Technology

Another feature I think inov8 has got right. There’s a lot of spring and pop in these shoes.

I tested these shoes in both a mixed modal gym workout and a run in the park and my experience in both was overwhelmingly successful. 

Is the inov8 F-Fly worth buying?

In my opinion, the comfort of these shoes is one of the major selling points. It’s a shoe that performs well in the gym and on the run, and it’s so comfy you might want to wear it when you’re out and about. 

I loved the shoe’s bounce and pop, combined with its lightweight yet durable build. The only slight drawback is the shoe’s aesthetics, which are plain and unremarkable (though obviously this is subjective).

FeaturesPowerflow Pro midsole; Boomerang Footbed; 3D print Met-Cradle wraps around your midfoot; ROPE-TEC
Weight7.9oz / 225g
ColorNavy/Gum; White/Gum; Black/Grey