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These companies did conduct experiments, however they were not peer-reviewed and were of questionable design.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!