Will Ugly Toning Shoes Actually Give Me Beautiful Legs?

Do you own any of these ugly shoes and think that they’re going to give you the body that you’ve always wanted just by wearing them? I swear, I was walking by Haagen Daaz one day with Roman and the dogs and I saw this woman wearing a pair of these ugly things sipping a milkshake. I told her I was a trainer and was a little skeptical of the shoes, but was excited to meet someone who’s tried them and wanted to hear what she thought. She swore it was the reason she dropped a dress size, but I just couldn’t believe that those shoes alone are what made her lose weight. I figured that it wasn’t the shoes themselves, but it was the fact that wearing those shoes probably made her more mindful about being healthier overall, and perhaps owning those shoes made her walk around more than she normally would have, which made her burn more calories, and therefore lose some weight. And don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing at all, I just couldn’t believe that these shoes alone could be responsible for transforming your body. I started reading around to see if these things really do work and here’s what I found…

So, we have the MBT shoe, Skechers Shape-Ups, and Reebok EasyTone, which claim that they can all give you a better body by helping you lose weight, tone your butt and thighs, and burn more calories. And they even have studies to go along with them that claim they work. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) conducted a research study and put these shoes to the test to see if they really lived up to their claims. In a nutshell, here’s what they found:

These companies did conduct experiments, however they were not peer-reviewed and were of questionable design. At first glance, it’s easy to see why women would buy these shoes. Their claims seem to make sense and so it’s easy to put the shoes on and say, “hey, I can actually feel my muscles working”. You have to be careful of studies sponsored by manufacturers though, because their main goal is to prove that their product works and it’s very easy to conduct a research experiment and find evidence to support your theory. It must be peer-reviewed, proven, and reproven for it to be true.

ACE conducted a study testing these shoes for exercise response (i.e. heart rate and oxygen consumption), as well as muscle activation in the butt, thighs, back, and abs. They took 24 women from ages 19-27 and separated them into 2 groups to measure both exercise response and muscle activation. Each of the women rotated between all three of the balance shoes, as well as a regular sneaker as they performed various 5-minute exercise trials on a treadmill. A baseline for their performance was taken before the testing too, so they had something to compare their results to.

Result: None of the shoes showed a significant increase in either exercise response or muscle activation. There was no evidence showing that any of these shoes will help women exercise more intensely, burn more calories, or build more strength or tone. It’s a hard thing to hear, but there is no quick fix. If you’re hoping that these are magically going to transform your body I’m here to tell you to stop waiting. BUT, if these shoes mean that you’re getting out and walking around more, and they make you more mindful about being healthier, then that’s definitely a plus and I say more power to you!

Product Review: The Shake Weight

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXHUdvvHTkw]

I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the hilarious commercial for the Shake Weight and you might be wondering if it really works. The commercial claims that using the Shake Weight for just 6 minutes a day can give you toned and defined arms in a matter of weeks. Well, I was in the mall the other day and saw one of those “As Seen on TV” product booths and decided to buy one to test out their claims myself. Any time I hear something like “in just 6 minutes a day” my alarm bells start ringing, because it just sounds too good to be true. Is it?

The inventors of the Shake Weight say that they’ve come up with a technology called “dynamic inertia”, which is just a fancy way of saying that you hold the weight in place and shake it. They say that this technology helps you build and tone the muscles in your arms to give you a sleek and slender shape. So, I tried it out and here’s what I found:

Pros: It’s great for beginners. Anyone can learn how to use it. I definitely felt a burn within one minute of using it and you’re isolating your muscles in a way that’s similar to the way you contract your muscles during a plank (i.e. isometric contraction), which means it’s great for stability work.

Cons: It’s great for beginners. Which means that after about 4-6 weeks you won’t really see any major benefit from the Shake Weight. Eventually you’re going to have to increase the intensity, which isn’t really possible, because it only weighs 2.5 pounds. Their claims of getting sleek and toned in a matter of weeks if you use it for only 6 minutes a day are false, because you’re going to have to do a lot more if you want to burn the fat that’s surrounding your muscles (eating right, cardio, etc.). If working out for 6 minutes a day worked I would have a lot more hours in the day to train a lot more people and most likely I wouldn’t even have a job.

It doesn’t quite shake the way it does in the commercial either. When I opened the box I began looking for batteries, because in the commercial the shaking almost looks mechanical, but you quickly find out that it’s actually slower than they advertise. And that’s not all bad, because it means that you have to work a bit harder. But, it is false advertising, which always turns me off from products, because it makes it seem as if the inventors don’t fully believe in their product as is.

The DVD that came with the product had some exercises involving shaking the weight, but a lot of the 6 minute video were traditional exercises that you could do with any old weight. So what’s the point of having the Shake Weight at all? Oh, and did I mention false advertising? The trainer they used for the DVD was rail thin. Seriously, a stick bug. Are they trying to tell us that you will look like her after using this product for just 6 minutes a day? I promise you that you will not.

And one more thing… From a purely exercise theory perspective, our bodies are designed to move in many directions and it’s best to work out your muscles in a functional way, which means that you should do exercises that mimic every day movements (i.e. a squat with a curl and a press mimics picking up something from the floor and placing it on a shelf). For instance, your shoulders move up, down, and around, so working out your shoulders by just holding them in place doesn’t really help you use them in the way they are supposed to be used. It will definitely help build stability, but it won’t build strength. A muscle needs to go through a full range of motion around the joint to fully reap the benefits of building strength and tone, so just shaking this weight while holding your position will only build the muscle in that position. Make sense?

Bottom Line: It’s good if you’re just beginning, but don’t use it thinking that it’s some magical device that will get rid of your underarm fat. It won’t. It may help, but eventually you’re going to have to progress beyond it. Would I tell people to spend money on it? No. Just get yourself a set of weights and shake those.