The Confetti Collection is a special caspule celebrating you and your fitness goals at the start of 2023, sold exclusively at APL.com.
If you’re ready to get serious about your fitness, Adam and Ryan Goldston want you to know that athletic performance is a passion that starts from the ground up—and in their mind, that means it starts with your feet!
The identical twins are lifelong athletes with a passion for fashion. Thirteen years ago, they turned that energy into entrepreneurship, founding Athletic Propulsion Labs or APL, the only footwear banned by the NBA for giving the wearer an “undue competitive advantage.”
APL shoes have been proven to make you instantly jump higher and run faster, and they make you look pretty cool while doing it.
“We believe you don't have to sacrifice aesthetic for function, or function for aesthetic,” Adam says. “There is a way for the two to coexist and also make each pillar stronger … If we can create an amazing product that performs at the highest level and looks incredible, that should make your workouts better and [your] quality of life, because if you train hard and succeed, that will probably carry over into other aspects.”
We spoke to the brothers to learn more about APL’s unique approach to “luxury performance” footwear, and to pick up a few tips that you can apply to your own search for the perfect sports shoe, whether you’re looking to get into running, cross training, basketball, HIIT, recovery and every moment in between.
Ryan and Adam Goldston of APL
Why is the type of shoe you wear important for your fitness goals?
Adam: For everybody, it's different, but we always say, "if you look good, you typically feel good; and if you feel good, you typically perform good.” That doesn't mean you're going to be the best in the world, but it means you will be the best version of yourself. Confidence is the underlying aspect. That's why we think creating a beautiful product is important, but it's always function first and foremost.
If you're starting out on a fitness journey, it's different than if you're further along on the path, and I want to make sure you have a product that will support you and enable you to perform the way you want so you can maintain what you're trying to do over a sustained period of time. The most important thing when you're building any type of fitness or performance regiment is consistency. It's not necessarily about sheer volume, it's about repetition and how long you can actually do this. If you start training two and a half hours a day on Jan. 1, chances are you're not going to do that over a long period of time, but if you're training 30 to 45 minutes a day and you're able to incorporate that into your daily schedule, it's much easier.
The Tracer is a training shoe, not a pure running shoe, so if you want to train in the gym, do stationary lifts, it's a great shoe. Then we have the Zipline, which is absolutely incredible. You can run for long, sustained distances and look amazing doing it. We have different products that appeal to different aspects of the training goal and help you stay motivated.
Ryan loves to train in bright colored shoes, because it motivates him to go harder. It's that little touch of inspiration. The Streamline shoe, there's an arrow that points forward. It's supposed to remind your subconscious to keep going. It's pretty subtle, but your mind picks up on that stuff.
APL's Streamline sneaker
How did you get into footwear? What drives this passion?
Ryan: We're mirror image identical twins, and our passions were always sports and shoes. Adam and I both played basketball at USC, and while we were there, we were doing everything we could to increase our performance. We spent all this time working on a technology that could instantly make you jump higher.
I was in an entrepreneurship program, and I used APL as my business plan. I said “there's three things that are going to make us unique: one, we're going to create a shoe that makes you jump higher. Two, we're going to price it for $300, which is twice the price of other brands at the time. Three, we're going to start by selling direct to consumer. My professors told me it would be a massive failure; we wouldn't be able to create a shoe that makes you jump higher, we wouldn't be able to price it there, and we certainly wouldn't be able to go direct to consumer.
Adam and I started the company anyway while we were still in college in March 2009, and then October 2010, our shoes got banned by the NBA for instantly making you jump higher. That day, it was the no. 1 news story in the world; the number two, three and 17 most searched terms on Google; and there were over a million articles posted within 10 days. We sold nine months of inventory within three days.
We have utility patents on a compression spring based system that sits in the cavity of the forefoot. When you compress all of your energy, it instantly propels you upwards. The NBA said "it provides the wearer with undo competitive advantage." That was the exact wording. That was the thing that really charged the business.
APL Techloom Phantom, holiday collection
I'd love to hear about the different styles of shoes you offer and what athletics they cater to best.
Ryan: We were looking to create a category that didn't exist, which was luxury performance. For years, we just sold men's and women's basketball shoes exclusively through our website. June 2014, we launched our men's and women's running shoes. That was the pivotal moment toward this category of luxury performance, because we started to go into luxury retailers saying “you can have a product that looks unbelievable but also performs unbelievably.” Adam always says "beautiful performance," and that was really what we're looking to create.
The Streamline was conceptualized on a trip Adam and I took to Tokyo. One day we walked 14.3 miles, and our favorite stop was to get these Japanese soufflé pancakes that are so thick, fluffy, soft and light. We were like, “we have to create a midsole that's trying to mimic this experience for your feet.” We always want to create products that we want to wear all the time. We live athletic, sport-inspired lives, so we create products that allow us to change our clothes throughout the day but keep our footwear the same.
What should people be looking for in the right shoe?
Ryan: It comes down to “what is the goal you're looking to achieve?” There's times when people are looking to set [personal records] in terms of how fast they're actually running, and there are times when they're just looking to consistently run and wear a product that gives them the support, comfort and cushioning to go out every day and achieve that.
Are you doing high intensity interval training? Are you working out in a gym? I love our Zipline. It’s the shoe I go to the most, because I lift weights and then do HIIT. The cushion, support, FutureFoam midsole, and freedom in the upper allows me to achieve all those goals in the best possible way. When I'm going after a hard run, I go for the Streamline, and when I'm not doing as much run-focused training, I go for the Tracer.
There's a lot of evolutions that occur within our products. The Breeze is an amazing example. Most products don't allow your foot to function the way it's designed to when you're running. Your toes are supposed to expand and elongate. We created our Stretch Techloom material to allow that.
Adam: It doesn't have to do with performance necessarily, but one thing people don't realize is we engineered our slides to be like a shoe. Most people engineer slides just to slip on and off your foot, but ours has a traction outsole and this proprietary memory foam-esque footbed. When you step into it, it feels like you're stepping into a supportive shoe. People use it for recovery post-workout or just wearing around the house.
How can folks care for their performance shoes?
Adam: The majority of our products are machine washable. They're expensive products, and we want them to last a long time. We want you to confidently wear them regardless of color or the situations you want to wear them in. Shoes can't look brand new forever, just like nothing can, but you get to put them through use and then put them in the wash.
I wouldn't put them in the dryer. I would air dry them. Shoes that aren't machine washable are typically made out of a material that does not get as scuffed or dirty. It's a more resilient material, and that's really why you can't put it in the washing machine. You can spot clean or you send your shoes to a cleaner, but the overwhelming majority of our product is machine washable. Not to give a free plug to somebody else, but machine wash them with Dreft baby detergent, and they will look nearly brand new.
Typically in the footwear industry, it’s tested against mileage, and most footwear is designed to withstand 250 to 300 miles of use. We realize it's an investment to purchase our product, and we're proud of that. We wanted to create a product you could keep as clean as you possibly could. With that being said, by no means do you need to wash the product. It's not going to make it perform at a higher level. It'll just refresh what the upper looks like.
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How often should folks replace their fitness shoes?
Ryan: Every single person is different, right? I'm going to put more pressure on my product than somebody that's smaller. It all depends on the type of force you put on the product. Standard claims are really difficult when it comes to that.
A lot of people either supinate or pronate. More people pronate than supinate. Very few people have pure, neutral feet. If someone's an over-pronator, you're going to run through your shoes faster than somebody with neutral footage, because you're putting pressure in a small place constantly. If that’s you, you're going to have to replace it more frequently, especially if you're doing hard, difficult miles in challenging terrain. If you're just walking through the city at a normal pace, you're going to have a shoe that will last you a long time, regardless of the brand.
If you look at the product and see key signs of degradation, where it's wearing on one side of the outsole or it's extending high up into the midsole where it doesn't feel stable underfoot; that's a good sign to replace your footwear. Your feet are the foundation of your body, and your shoes are the foundation of your movement. If you have high quality shoes that are very comfortable and supportive, the probability of performing better and feeling better about your performance is higher. If you don't feel comfortable in your product and you feel like it's in a place where it's not optimized for what you're trying to do, that's a sign to replace it.
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Anything else that’s important to think about?
Adam: At the end of the day, unless you're in the top 1 percent trying to push your performance to the highest level possible, the greatest decision you can make in terms of footwear is comfort. When people are starting, the main thing is that you continue to do this as frequently and consistently as possible. You want to find a product that is in-function, first and foremost, and then optimized for comfort for your specific foot.
I think we create the most comfortable shoes in the world and perform at the highest level. I'm biased because we make them, but if you're making a decision for performance and you find something that is extremely comfortable, chances are you’ll do your activity more frequently.
Ryan: I agree with Adam that we make the most comfortable shoes, and I agree with that, for however many days a person is looking to train, if you feel great while you're doing it, you're more likely to [keep going]. The main thing is to choose the product that just feels the best for you, and it is a really great added bonus if it looks great on you. I like to wear bright shoes, because I feel like it elevates my performance and pushes me to do more. So if you feel like you look great and the product feels great, you're gonna have the highest probability to go do that physical endeavor every day.
Visit APL.com to learn more and find the perfect show for your fitness journey from today until forever.
Photography by: Courtesy of APL