Toning Shoes: Do They Really Work?

Do Toning Shoes Work?

You might have seen them at the local department store or in a magazine ad - funny looking shoes with thick, slightly rounded soles that promise to tone your legs, lift your buttocks and help you lose weight.

Celebrities from Oprah to Joe Montana have given their endorsement to these miraculous shoes. Their uneven soles are designed to mimic walking on sand. With an uneven base, the theory is that all leg muscles will be more actively engaged to ensure balance and that -- as as result -- additional calories will be burned and muscles will be toned. Perhaps even stubborn cellulite will vanish!

Sounds good, doesn't it?

Most of the toning shoes are designed in athletic shoe-style. But there are also flip flop versions (cutely called "fit flops) and strappy "Mary Jane" options, as well. Trust me that none of them are are particularly stylish however.....

Notwithstanding their unattractive appearance and high price tag, toning shoes are flying off the shelves these days as people hope for a quick fix to their diet and fitness goals.

Fit Slops are another type of toning shoes
Fit Slops are another type of toning shoes | Source

American Council on Exercise Reviews Toning Shoes

Despite the industry claims that muscle tone is increased 11-41%, there are plenty of medical professionals who do not agree with the hype about toning shoes.

In 2010, the American Council on Exercise conducted a study using researchers from the University of Wisconsin, Lacrosse, to determine whether the special shoes really did engage muscles to a greater extent than regular walking or running shoes.

The results of the study? Well, it may be nothing more than marketing hype!  In other words, your money may be better spent on regular walking or running shoes.

Dr. John Porcari asked 12 women to test toning shoes by walking on a treadmill at speeds of up to 3.5 miles per hour. The study showed that there was no difference in oxygen consumption, heart rate, perceived exertion or calories burned between the women wearing toning shoes and those wearing other, regular trainers.

According to the researchers' results:

"Our finding demonstrates that toning shoes are not the magic solution consumers were hoping they would be, and simply do not offer any benefit that people cannot reap through walking, running or exercising in traditional athletic shoes."

So now what?

The Today Show Asks the Question Whether Toning Shoes Work

Real Life People Endorse Toning Shoes

Certainly, you are a savvy enough consumer to know that you cannot believe paid endorsements - even if its Joe Montana or Oprah Winfrey! But to counter the findings of the American Council on Exercise, many "real life" people are endorsing toning shoes based on their own experience. At the same time, studies like the one conducted by the American Council on Exercise probably is not based on a large enough sample to result in relevant statistical evidence.

As shown in the video above, random women that were given the opportunity to try out toning shoes positively rated them as effective. On a scale of 1-10, the three women above gave the shoes at least an 8, if not a 9!

The Today Show video did not elaborate, however, on what their testers were considering with respect to the shoes: (1) weight loss, (2) muscle tone, (3) comfort, or (4) style.

So, how do you decide whether or not toning shoes are worth the investment? Bottom line - you might have to try the shoes yourself to see what you think.

Reebok's EasyTone Shoes

Benefits and Drawbacks to Toning Shoes

Before you run out to your local shoe store to try out toning shoes, consider this list of pros and cons:

Toning Shoes Benefits:

  • May improve posture
  • Could encourage owners to walk or exercise more
  • Part of an overall health regime
  • Consumers are generally favorable as to the feeling of increased muscle use as a result

Toning Shoes Drawbacks:

  • Not particularly stylish - clunky and heavy looking
  • Expensive - regular walking or running shoes cost 20-40% less
  • Not necessarily helpful - other, less expensive athletic shoes may provide the same result for calorie burn and weight loss

Considering the pros and cons, you'll have to decide whether its worth the calculated risk to purchase and use toning shoes. Certainly, it cannot hurt to try new equipment like these shoes. Some people that buy them do so as part of a new health/exercise regime. They are likely to report positive results.

Others that believe in miracle weight loss "cures" may be disappointed that the shoes are not the magic bullet they might have been led to believe.

Unfortunately, it will take more than just a pair of shoes to lose weight and tone up. In other words, you need to consider diet and exercise as part of a regular routine to see a real difference.

Reebok toning shoes
Reebok toning shoes | Source

Where to Buy Toning Shoes

Several major shoe manufacturers have their own toning shoes. Sketchers has "Shape-Ups," Reebok makes EasyTone, and New Balance sells a series of their own toning shoes. They're not the only companies that market these shoes, either.

You can buy toning shoes online at major sites like Amazon.com and eBay.com. Or, just do a search for toning shoes in general and you'll get many results! Retailers including Macy's, Nordstrom, Target and Fred Meyer also sell toning shoes. You could get lucky finding coupons to reduce your out-of-pocket investment for these training shoes.

For those of us that like to save money, consider getting a used pair at a garage sale or through Craig's List.  You can at least try out the toning shoes for less than the $100-250 retail price for a new pair....

Would you try Toning Shoes?

  • Yes, and I already have a pair!
  • No, I think it's a bunch of hype
  • No, I get a good enough workout with my regular shoes
  • Yes, I'm really curious and I think they will work!
See results without voting

Make Your Own Magic with Toning Shoes

Simply buying a pair of toning shoes won't help you lose weight. You'll have to actually use them! Each and every day, you need to put on the toning shoes and walk a significant distance.

Medical professionals recommend walking at least 10,000 steps every day (about 6 miles overall) for good health. This means parking a bit farther away from the store entrance, taking the stairs, walking the dog, and hoofing it to and from the bus stop. If you sneak in extra steps each day, you may not even realize that you are exercising.

With special toning shoes, you could see improved results over regular shoes, but there is no guarantee!

My recommendation? Buy a relatively cheap pedometer and use regular walking shoes. Track the steps you take each day and see if you can increase them over a week or month.

Step by step, you'll soon be on the way to fitness and better health!

Sketcher's Shape-Ups Toning Shoe Review

© 2010 Stephanie Hicks

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Comments 52 comments

girly_girl09 profile image

girly_girl09 6 years ago from United States

This is the best article I've ever read about these shoes. You really explored both sides. I haven't tried them as I think wearing heels is a great way to help tone leg muscles. :D Even so, I agree that they could have some benefits, such as encouraging people to walk more and essentially become more active individuals; that is never a bad thing!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you girly girl! I am a runner, so I do believe in having good quality exercise shoes. I've seen these toning shoes all over the place and have been curious whether they work or not. Definitely pros and cons on both sides, it seems.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia

I got an email similar to this hub a few weeks ago with the same stats and whatnot. I found it pretty interesting.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

I thought the stats were interesting, the only drawback is that the sample pool was so small. I'd like to hear about toning shoes being tested on more than just 12 women. A cross-sample of men too, would be helpful since men are obviously wearing them as well.


LillyGrillzit profile image

LillyGrillzit 6 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

Thank you for an informative article on a subject I have wondered about for quite sometime. There is always a push to make us think working out can be done easier...probably not. I do have some sandles that I have to keep on with my toes that work me out plenty, and make a loud slapping sound...no loss of body fat there. :0) Thanks


robie2 profile image

robie2 6 years ago from Central New Jersey

Why am I not surprised to hear that the jury is still out on toning shoes. For me it's not the shoes, but actually putting them on my feet and walking out the door that is the hard part LOL

Great hub and great info as usual Steph


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Lilly - I always love your comments. I think if you are motivated and put on a pair of shoes to exercise, you might see a difference... otherwise, just a bunch of hype!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Robie - thanks! I agree that the jury is still out and we may never get a definitive verdict. Like most types of commercial enterprises, the researchers that are paid by product makers will find what they "should." That's why its so great to hear from actual users of these toning shoes about their own experience. Put on a pair of shoes - any shoes - and go walking! That will make a difference!


raisingme profile image

raisingme 6 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

Great article. My youngest daughter just purchased a pair of toning shoes. I will be passing this on to her.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you raisingme - I hope this is helpful for both you and your daughter in considering how toning shoes can help achieve your fitness goals! Best, Stephanie


belliott profile image

belliott 6 years ago

Great information. I have heard a lot about toning shoes but appreciate reading the detailed information.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you belliott - I have a friend who works at the Walking Company who swears by the toning shoes. I posted a link to this hub on Facebook and we've started quite a conversation about MBTs!


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

I invested a "mint" in the first toning shoes by MBT, hoping to get more muscle from my walking sessions. I did not happen. Did my posture improve? Yes, while walking I observed that I was definitely standing up straighter. As for all the other promises made to the consumer - nada - nothing! I think the style of the shoe caught on and other companies, followed suit. But then, what do I know? Great hub and sound information. Thanks.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

That is so interesting, vocalcoach - and part of why I wrote this hub. Really want to hear about people's experiences with MBTs to see if they, in fact, worked to tone muscles. Appreciate your comment - best! Stephanie


nifty@50 profile image

nifty@50 6 years ago

I would buy these if I thought they would keep my body in proper alignment. I have problems with my back from time to time and was considering those insoles that are supposed to help your alignment. The thought of walking in sand all day doesn't excite me though LOL! Great hub!


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

No magic shoes? Can I have another wish?,Lol;)


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Ha - yes, you may! A really fast metabolism! ;-)


SilverGenes 6 years ago

I also own MBTs and wouldn't be without them. In fact, I bought a second pair after finding out how great they are for me. I have knees that are not what they used to be (years of dance and running takes a toll!) so walking any great distance was not comfortable. Now I can walk indefinitely with no pain, injury or discomfort and that alone is worth the price. No pressure on the lower back, either. Do they give more of a workout? Yes. Very definitely. However, I learned they don't work by leaving them in the closet and looking at them LOL. I know another woman who has her mobility back because of these shoes. No, I don't sell them - I wish I did. At least I could get a break in the price because they're not cheap. But then, nor is any good shoe. As for the knock offs? I have no idea. I'm sticking with what works for me and that's MBT. Does it slim you down? Expending more calories than you take in does that. So I guess if you consider that these make it possible for me to be a lot more active, then the answer is yes :)

NGRs - I think they are the ones with the green trim in the photo - are the worst shoes I have ever tried. They are weighted and that ends up putting about 8 pounds of pressure on your lower spine and increasing the damage to knees. For me they were horrible!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Wow - thanks for sharing your experiences SilverGenes! Sounds like you have to be careful which MBTs you buy, but from your experience toning shoes work - provided you wear them! Thanks so much, Steph


easylearningweb profile image

easylearningweb 6 years ago

Hello Stephhicks68,

What a great hub! I've been thinking about writing a hub on my experience with my Reebok EasyTones Sneaks. I've had them for a few months...and all I can say is I love them! I liked the Reebok version because they weren't as thick and clunky looking. They look like regular sneaks.

I can definitely feel the difference in my thighs and hamstrings. The trick is to wean into them and wear them a little more each day. I would definitely buy another pair.

Thanks for your informative hub!

Regards,

Easylearningweb


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi easylearningweb,

So great to hear your experience with the toning shoes too! I think you should still write a hub on the Reebok EasyTones Sneaks. Great that you can feel a difference in your legs.

Best to you, Steph


big_C74 profile image

big_C74 6 years ago

Great article. Nice job.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

thank you big_C74! Appreciate the comment!


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 6 years ago

i have a pair of skechers shape ups and am thinking about getting them in different colors. i viewed the training video that comes with them, but this is the first time i've read an actual article on them. I liked the first video where they tried different brands. Thanks for the pleasant, informative read stephhicks.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Kim - glad that you found the review of toning shoes helpful. I hope that your shoes will help you get into shape!


ExpandYourMind profile image

ExpandYourMind 6 years ago from Midwest USA

Thanks for this interesting hub. The comments were helpful also. I've wondered if these shoes actually provide the benefits claimed. I'm in the market for a new pair of athletic shoes; I may consider a pair of these.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks Expandyourmind - I agree! I'm glad that people are being honest in the comments section here about the benefits (or not) of toning shoes!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

So drat! From what I gather purchasing a pair will not improve my posture, burn more calories, improve my leg and thigh muscles........I ACTUALLY have to put them on and go out the door with them! I was just about sold on purchasing a pair. Haha! Seriously...glad to have the feedback from this hub. Have been considering getting a pair.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

LOL Peggy - I love your comment, and I have to admit that I feel the same way. I just wish there were some magical shoes that could make me lose weight without any effort. Alas, we still have to move our bodies...


Uma07 6 years ago

These shoes look pretty comfortable and would go well with western outfit.I like them and if they can move some body muscles what more could you want?

Great hub Steph!Thanks for the info.:)

Uma


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

I've been on the fence and found your review of the toning shoes most helpful and the best I've read to date. Great review and thanks!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks Katie - I appreciate that! I'm still on the fence myself. If I decide to get toning shoes, I'll probably borrow some, or get some on eBay or Craig's List! Cheers, Steph


Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin

We live in a world now where people simply think there's a magic pill for everything. The 'work' part, through technology and innovation, is able to removed from the equation, along with effort and discipline as well. Pop a pill, throw on a pair of shoes and voila! You will accomplish everything your heart desires.

The reality is that that's not realistic, and my opinion is that these shoes, like most of these 'magic' solutions, are no different than any other pair of shoes one will own, OTHER THAN the fact that they have a different design.

I should add my wife has a pair of them for whatever that's worth.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Great perspective Springboard! You nailed it - this must be why toning shoes are so popular (and cost so much too!) Thanks for the comment :)


mulberry1 profile image

mulberry1 6 years ago

I would never spend the $$ they want for these either way. I do have an inexpensive version, by LA Gear that I bought on sale. I'll admit they are great for walking and very lightweight/comfortable.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Right - I am with you. I might try them if I could get a pair of toning shoes for $50 or less through eBay.... :)


2patricias profile image

2patricias 6 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Pat writes: I have got as far as trying on MBTs, and then decided they were just too ugly.

Tricia did buy a pair of Fit flops this summer, and found them exceptionally comfortable.

Tricia works as a Pilates instructor, so she demonstrates Pilates/ walks around her exercise studio for several hours every week.

I walk an average of 6 miles per day.

Neither of us really think that we would gain any tone by buying special shoes because we already walk more than the average person. Also Tricia has good posture through Pilates and she makes sure I am standing in correct alignment.

However, it there was a shoe on the market that promised a flat stomach we might be tempted.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Great comment Pat and Tricia! I kind of feel the same way, skeptical of claims that simply wearing a special shoe can boost your leg tone. If you are already walking 6 miles a day and teaching Pilates, you'll be in great shape (or if you are training for a marathon like me). If you ever find that flat stomach shoe though, do let me know! ;-)


MrTokarsky profile image

MrTokarsky 6 years ago from Flordia

I am going to have to agree with you! I think this whole Gigantic sole sneaker is i think a running joke by sketchers... I think someone got wind of this and still to this day scratching his/her head saying "hahahahaha" as they wear normal shoes. Reminds me of... the AB roller or that thing that you strap around your waist and it shocks your abs in to a six pack... better yet the shake weight...yikes! Nothing like a fake consumer quick and easy fix to promote weight loss! and for the record shame on you Joe Montana... Shame on you.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

LOL - great comment. I have to admit, I was really surprised that Joe Montana would wear MBT shoes! ha! ;-)


katrinasui profile image

katrinasui 6 years ago

Great article! I didn't know about toning shoes. After reading your hub i am thinking to buy one.


jacqueline Harris 5 years ago

i purchased a pair of sketchers 2 weeks ago and after a couple of days my lower back began to ache and gradually got worse over the the 2 week period until it became quite extreme @ $200.00 a pair and with all the rage i'm not happy as i may need to take time off to recover i believe they can contribute to problems of this kind or may even exasibate pre exsisting conditions


fadibody profile image

fadibody 5 years ago

Great hub!Very interesting.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 5 years ago from UK

Easily one of the best articles on toning shoes- comprehensive, covers the pros and cons and extremely well written. Thanks for this stephhicks68, I'll bookmark it for future reference for me and my clients.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you so much fadibody and Docmo! I hope this information on toning shoes is helpul.


Max Clayne profile image

Max Clayne 5 years ago

Toning shoes is what I need for my sport activities,

I always wondered that my old shoes is not good for me because it causes some inkle pains, but I guess that toning shoes is the solution for this problem.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Good luck Max - let us know how the toning shoes work for you!


marilyn navan 5 years ago

Informative article. Thank you.

The only thing that would have made it better reading for me, would hae been if you got a used pair off of craigslist or ebay, as you suggest and reported to us directly.


katie 5 years ago

I really like that you put were to get a cheeper pair! And I like how you told the pros and cons!! I think I'm going to go to target tomorrow a get a pair! There only 30 buck! That's a good deal compared to 130!! Thaks for telling it like it is!! :D all let you know how they work! Or if they work! Lol :D


Ronnie 5 years ago

I definitely see both sides of the argument. I don't know for sure if toning shoes work or not but I sure would like to try them.


shoeclub profile image

shoeclub 4 years ago from New York City

I tried them a few months back and didn't really notice much difference from regular shoes.


murali krishna 3 years ago

We are in the technological 21st century.Foot wear has become a part and parcel of modern gadgetry. Only humans wear foot wear. I will ask one question to all of you do you know how to walk correctly?

It is pity so much of medical knowledge is pouring in Right walking is not defined and not taught to Kids and adults as awhole.

MBT and Sketchers are trying to fill the void in the present scenerios.

Walking consist of to the common man 1.Heel strike

2.Foot flat

3.Heel off

4.Toe off

These are the stages described by the old timers with their keen observation powers.

These stages has backing from the body design of Bones and muscles. each stage is achieved by some stages of bony and muscular actions. hence any actions that promotes normal walking is fine. these foot wear are better than the flat footed foot wear.

Medical science has not described how much is the angle at the ankle at Heel strike or How much angle should be there at Heel off stages In an ideal conditions.

In such a scenerio lots of research needs to be carried out on walking.

some of the claims are good but they have exagerated it. Hence apart form the cost trying a variety may be of great help to each of the individuals.

Lot of research needed in this regard in medical fields.

mkbPerfectHealth.blogspot.com

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