Photo Credit: Reebok
A month ago, I started wearing a pair of trendy "toning" sneakers. They have soles that are rounded instead of flat, forcing my legs and glutes to work extra hard during every step. In just two weeks, I noticed shapelier calves and leaner-looking thighs; by the three-week mark, you could almost bounce a quarter off my tush.
Except you couldn't. And I didn't notice anything. And nothing changed. My stubborn cellulite remained, my cankles are on a staycation. In fact, the only time I noticed a difference in my exertion level was while doing single leg squats one day in my snazzy sneaks, but the shoes came with a label specifically warning me from doing anything besides walking in them.
I’m not alone. In the past year, women have flocked to DSW to buy Skechers Shape Ups, MBTs (Masai Barefoot Technology) and Reebok’s EasyTones, all in the hope of looking like this.
But were our toning shoe shopping sprees all in vain? Yesterday The American Council on Exercise (ACE), in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, released the results of their latest study which tested the popular toning shoes. The study failed to find any evidence that the cult-like sneakers offer any enhanced fitness benefits over traditional athletic shoes.
"Toning shoes appear to promise a quick-and-easy fitness solution, which we realize people are always looking for," says ACE’s Chief Science Officer Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D. in a statement released by ACE. "Unfortunately, these shoes do not deliver the fitness or muscle toning benefits they claim. Our findings demonstrate that toning shoes are not the magic solution consumers were hoping they would be, and simply do not offer any benefits that people cannot reap through walking, running or exercising in traditional athletic shoes."
As for the soreness many consumers swear they feel after wearing these shoes? Study researchers explain that the shoe’s unstable sole design cause wearers to utilize slightly different muscles to maintain balance than they would while wearing normal shoes, resulting in temporary soreness that passes as the body adjusts.
Bryant did note that shelling out dough for special toning shoes could help you shape up simply because they motivate you to be more active. Bottom line? It's more important how much you move rather than what's on your feet.