vans ultrarange vr3 in black

Why a Pair of Skate Shoes Could Be Your Next Gym Sneakers

These Vans sneakers might be more popular with lifters than they are with skaters.

Fast Facts

Vans UltraRange shoes were designed as casual shoes to go about your day-to-day in. Thanks to solid support and a low-profile design, they’re become increasingly popular at the gym. The UltraRange VR3, the newest of them, looks set to continue that trend. 

What’s in a gym shoe? The most popular—the Nike Metcons, NoBulls, and so on—are really not that similar. They differ in sole thickness, cushioning, outsole material, upper material, and really almost every other design feature on the shoe. 

Once you realize there isn’t a set template for what a “gym shoe” is, more options appear out of the ether. Take Vans—specifically Vans UltraRange—as a case example. The day-to-day sneaker has become a force in the gym world, and its newest version, the UltraRange VR3, looks set to continue that trend. Here’s why they’re popular at the gym.

Balancing Support and Stability

All construction quality and aesthetics held equal, there are fundamentally two forces a good gym shoe must address: support and stability. 

If they sound the same, they aren’t. Support is added cushioning, thicker midsoles, and a nice bouncy feeling on the foot. Stability is thinner outsoles, more ground-foot connection, and tighter fits. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that a shoe is unlikely to weave the two together, as they exist on opposite sides of the performance design spectrum.  

The All-Around Gym Shoe

As you might have guessed, a shoe that blends just enough support with just enough stability lends itself to a lot of exercise groups. 

Vans UltraRange VR3s manage to find a sliver of middle ground. The shoes are on the flatter side, which is good for stationary weightlifting like squats or deadlifts, but aren’t so flat that that lateral agility work is out of the question. There’s also a cushy midsole for comfort and a sticky outsole for grip.

Altogether, this means it’s a shoe that could perform as leg day, through HIIT sessions, and, thanks to its iconic Vans vibes, going out to the bar with friends. This is a rare combination of attributes. 


If it’s important to you, know that the Vans UltraRange VR3 is probably the brand’s most sustainably designed shoe to date. The upper is a  one-piece knit made with 50 percent organic cotton, 36 percent recycled PET, and 14 percent recycled nylon. The new midsole—which the brand calls EcoCush—is made using at least 50 percent bio-based EVA foam, partially created with plant-based sources. The outsole is a rubber compound made with responsibly sourced natural rubber instead of petroleum-derived synthetic rubber and was designed to maintain grip and durability (which is sort of Vans’ thing). 

The Bottom Line

Vans UltraRange VR3s were designed as casual shoes but, thanks to solid support and a low-profile design, they’re pretty great for the gym as well.