If you've considered Inov-8's f-lite, Road-X, or Bare-X series running shoes for any reason over the past few months, you've undoubtedly seen the term CrossFit associated with them. In most cases, they're described as ideal CrossFit shoes, or something like that. This is because the CrossFit philosophy(?) emphasizes efficiency in a rigorous workout. And, low-profile shoes, like the three Inov-8 product lines mentioned already, facilitate this efficient motion.
When I bought my first pair of Inov-8 f-lite 230s over a year ago, they were not synonymous with CrossFit footwear. They were running shoes, trail running shoes to be precise. But, their versatility on a variety of surfaces generated appeal outside the trail running community. And, people with a penchant for trendy exercise programs naturally gravitated toward a fashionable, minimally-styled shoe.
For those who don't know, CrossFit refers to a sort of gym-dependent exercise program. However, practitioners may do it outside of a gym, too. It's a modern program. You can tell because of the capital "F" in the middle of a word that has no business being compounded. And, rather than state a bunch of (probably) incorrect assumptions about the program, I'll just let you form your own notion of CrossFit based on this video:
Needless to say, I do not CrossFit. Wait, I mean I am not a CrossFitter. Or, I don't do CrossFit?
Anyway, I've loathed the gym for as long as I can remember. Weights annoy me. People grunting and sweating profusely on the same bench I'm about to use make me wish I was doing something else. The monotony sucks. The lighting sucks. The music sucks. And, the smell sucks. So, I run—outside.
So, why am I writing about CrossFit?
Well, you know how sometimes you find something that you like a whole lot? Let's say, for instance, you've discovered a band called Pold Clay. You hear one of their songs from their first album, which is only a month old. And, the song is awesome. It's fresh. It's meaningful. It's everything you need a song to be for you at this moment. So, you buy Pold Clay's debut album and listen to it nonstop for weeks in your car, while you're cooking dinner, while you're eating dinner, etc. You learn all the songs by heart and never seem to grow tired of hearing this band's music.
Then, one day, you're at some large retail establishment with a subscription-service radio station playing current hits over the store speaker system. And, you hear your song, the song Pold Clay used to speak directly to you! Then you hear it again while you're having coffee at Starbucks! Then you hear it at the gym! (And, you don't even go to the gym!)
Suddenly, Pold Clay's music is everywhere, and everyone likes to talk about how cool the songs are. Other people are all, "Ooh, have you heard 'Burgundy' by Pold Clay? It's awesome! I just love the singer!" These people don't get Pold Clay like you do; they don't appreciate the nuances that make Pold Clay's music special.
But, these people are cooler and more popular than you, maybe even better looking. So, their "appreciation" of Pold Clay's music garners more attention for the band, which is somewhat bittersweet for you. After all, you like Pold Clay. You want the band to succeed. That's the point of producing something for public consumption, right? But, now, when you listen to Pold Clay's music, you know that people around you assume you're just jumping on the Pold Clay bandwagon. They don't know your history with Pold Clay, that you were a fan from the beginning.
Eventually, Pold Clay releases another album, and it's nowhere near as good (for you) as their first album was. It's lame and overproduced. And, the lead singer doesn't seem capable of the range he had in his earlier songs. Sure, the second album debuts in the top 10 on various best-seller charts. There are at least two well-written, catchy songs that are worthy of being played over and over again in large retail establishments. But, the charm is gone. This album is designed to appeal to a larger audience. And, you are not part of that audience.
Or, maybe you are.
...Sorry. What were we talking about?
Oh, right, Inov-8 and CrossFit: No doubt, the popularity of the f-lite series among the CrossFit community was a major inspiration for the the plethora of colorways for the 230 released back in June. And, now, the 195 is available in several new colors, too!
I like color. I appreciate the emotive quality of certain colors. And, wearing color on running shoes, where emotive statements have been limited to subtle whispers in off-white and gray for so many years, is a major advancement in running shoe design. So, I'm happy that CrossFit has done so much to promote the awesomeness of Inov-8's minimal shoe offerings.
When Inov-8 reps announce new colorways for these f-lite 195s on their Facebook page, the first thing people ask is, "Where do we get the such-and-such colorway?" This is a valid question, because the distribution of the various new color varieties is somewhat mysterious—certain colors seem to be reserved for certain retailers.
Zappos has most of of them. Shoe Mart has a couple of them. A CrossFit gear store apparently has exclusive rights to an all black version. And, as of right now, RunningWarehouse has none of the new colors. (I am confident that they'll have some of them in the near future, though. Zappos seems to get the new stuff first, for some reason.)
Regardless of where you can buy specific colors of f-lites, the more important point is that you can buy f-lites in many more places than you could last year. This is good. This is progress. The f-lites are not overproduced or lame at this point. They're still part of a niche brand that happens to cater to both runners and CrossFitters, or RunnerCrossFitters (for those who lack commitment).
We'll want to worry, though, if we start seeing cheaper versions of our favorite Inov-8s in the big box sporting goods stores. Then, it might be time to find a new band.