P. T. Barnum is smiling. And so is Skechers, all the way to the bank.
Endorsed by NFL legend Joe Montana, Skechers Shape Ups toning shoes claim to be “a great way to exercise as you go about your busy day,” and promise to help you burn more calories, tone muscles, improve posture, reduce joint stress and cellulite, and improve circulation. With sales of these shoes already in the millions, people seem to be buying the hype (literally).
Of course, that’s all it appears to be – hype. Skechers’ claims are based on self-funded, unpublished research and thousands of customer testimonials. Self-funded research is notoriously biased, and “customer” testimonials can be, too.
But, the question remains: is there any truth to these claims? Let’s have a look…
Burn more calories. If spending $100+ on a pair of shoes is the only way to get you to actually go for a walk then yes, you will burn more calories in your Shape Ups. If you’re already walking or exercising regularly, the additional calorie burn will be minimal at best.
Tone your calves, thighs, and glutes; reduce cellulite; improve circulation. Exercising does these things, not the sneakers you’re wearing.
Improve your posture. Doubtful.
Reduce stress on your knees and ankles. Perhaps, but so will losing weight. And so will wearing any well cushioned shoe.
What Skechers doesn’t tell you is that by providing an unstable walking surface, these shoes increase the risk of falling in people with balance issues, and the abnormally thick sole increases the risk for ankle sprains. Podiatrists are also reporting Achilles tendon aggravation in people wearing these shoes and recommend stretching before walking in them. They’re also hideous.
This isn’t the first time a company has promised improved fitness by wearing their shoes (Earth Shoes, circa 1970), and other companies are already bringing similar footwear to the market in hopes of cashing in on this latest health-fad-cash-cow. Don’t be a sucker; remember, there are no shortcuts for getting in shape. No funny shaped shoe, exotic berry, pill, or sit-up machine is going to get rid of your gut for you. Make it a habit to exercise at least 5 days a week, follow a sensible diet and do so consistently. When you start to see some real results from your own hard work, you’ll be the one smiling.