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Ask Chris Black: What’s Your Entire Gym-Shoe Rotation?

Photo: Courtesy of the author

If you’re looking for the most powerful hair dryer or handiest chef’s knife, those things can be easy enough to find. Other objects of desire are a little more taste-based. What’s the next status water bottle or hand wash, for instance? Regular readers of the Strategist will know that we’ve previously turned to resident Cool Guy Chris Black (he’s a partner at brand consultancy Public Announcement) to help us answer both of those questions, and to get more of Chris’s advice, he’s now answering reader questions for us in a regular column. If you have a burning question about the next fanny pack or Noah rugby shirt, drop us an email with the subject line “Ask Chris” at

You’ve shared your favorite workout clothes and shoes to work out in while traveling, but what’s your entire gym-shoe rotation? I’m after something suitable for lifting and light cardio that also looks good, but curious about all the different pairs you wear and what for.

Honestly, I think people overthink it. I wear one or two pairs of shoes to the gym and swap them out every four months or so. Right now, I am wearing the Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2. They are incredibly light and breathable, perfect for a quick treadmill warm-up or a chest day. I see a lot of people wearing Converse Chuck Taylors and Vans Eras for leg day. Either keep your foot extra flat, so your form is perfect, but I hate the way those classic silhouettes mix with my Nike tech fabrics.

For tennis I wear the NikeCourt Zoom Cage 3. They’re cool enough to wear to dinner and offer excellent support for sliding on the hard court.

I have been eyeing a pair of Mizuno Wave Prophecy 8s for my longer outdoor runs — they are so INSANE! I have a friend who swears by them. In all black, they seem understated until you look at the sole. This wild setup will literally put some spring in your step.

You’ve talked about what vitamins you take, but are there any additional supplements you swear by? What does the Fit God take to prepare before and recover after a grueling workout?

Pre-workout powders are like legal cocaine — raw energy that, when applied to lifting or cardio, will yield RESULTS. My go-to is Genius Pre Workout Powder. The Sour Apple flavor is honestly terrible, but it’s worth it. Just listen to this description: “unlock strength and power that will take you beyond raw capabilities and push you to new levels of excellence.” WOW.

Guzzle some cherry juice post-workout if you’re feeling sore. Not the best taste, but it does actually help to relieve those pesky aches and pains from muscle damage, inflammation, and oxidative stress!

But the serious recovery trick is the Hypervolt, the massage tool from the kings at HyperIce. [Editor’s note: we’ve tested and written about the similar TheraGun massager before.] This shit is like a jackhammer for your muscles. It has three speed settings and multiple interchangeable attachments. My BFF/tennis coach in Los Angeles has one, and I make him use it on me after evening sessions so I can hit Barry’s in the a.m. with no problems. This thing will leave you drooling.

What sort of décor or other items should the young Chris Blacks of the world use to show off their taste in a college dorm room?

I think the only time I was in a dorm was when I was being snuck in by a student at Agnes Scott College in the early 2000s. The good old days. But I digress. I get the idea — dorms are small and come equipped with ugly furniture. The first bit of advice: keep that shit CLEAN. Spotless, even!

Beyond that, if dorm regulations allow, be sure to have a nice candle burning. Something simple like Diptyque’s Patchouli — a woodsy, herby one I use at home myself — will do the trick.

I would also suggest using Framebridge to get some beautiful framed prints or other things to cover bland dorm-room walls. Framed things help any place you hang them feel more sophisticated, and less like your disgusting high-school bedroom. And Framebridge topped the Strategist’s list of best online framing services, with writer Liza Corsillo calling it “a user-friendly service for regular people with a lot of options.”

Also, get a dimmer. Those harsh stock fluorescent lights don’t flatter anyone, even the young! This kit comes with a dimmer and some “smart” bulbs that you can adjust from your phone.

Every college kid needs a mini-fridge to stock cheap canned beer and absolutely vile leftovers. This orange one from Smeg is the only option I’ve seen that isn’t depressing.

If you are feeling crazy, get a beautiful mid-century chair for studying. It will make those late-night cramming sessions more chic. I love this Wishbone chair designed by Hans Wegner. In addition to the natural oak, it comes in a ton of other colors — you could even pick the shade that represents your alma mater.

If you are feeling crazy and also want to attack the floor, ask your roommate (or mates) to go in on a cool vintage rug or two from my friend King Kennedy’s shop. They’re not cheap, but they’re truly vintage (King says this one was dates to the 1890–1910s), so if you take care of them you can keep them when its time to ditch the dorm for good. They come in a bunch of shapes and sizes, too, so you can layer them to give your room that tattered, Wasp-library look.

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Ask Chris Black: What’s Your Entire Gym-shoe Rotation?