Are Toning Shoes For Real?

no shoes to tone your legs

Photo: Iris Young CC-By-2.0

Over the last couple of years, shoe companies have been peddling their versions of toning shoes. New Balance, Reebok, Skechers, etc.

To be frank, when I see the ads on the television, I have to wonder how exactly a shoe is going to fulfill the promises made. Can a shoe really tone your legs and butt? Seriously, they’ll burn more calories?

I started my research by looking around online. What I found was some people absolutely love them. Then there was another group–they were skeptical. The group that loves them didn’t seem to be able to back up their comments with anything other than their testimony.

That other group offered up quite a bit of scientific reasons why the toning shoes should be avoided. Then again, one of them didn’t want us to wear any shoes at all.


Back in the 1970’s, there was a shoe called Earth Shoes. These used a negative heel, which imitated walking in sand.

Fast forward a few decades, and we get to the modern toning shoe. The “technologies” used today vary greatly.

  • Rocker Bottom Sole- As the title says, the soles of these shoes are curved–Think rocking chair. This is supposed to align the spine, and improve your walking gate. If you own these, pretty much just stick to walking. I wouldn’t recommend doing much of anything else
  • Curved Sole – It’s said that the curved sole (curved like a ball–spherical), can be used for walking or running. These things are unstable. That’s how they work. Can you say ankle injury?
  • Collapsible Heel Sole – Super squishy, like walking in sand. Again, walk, don’t run.

But do they work?

Do they work? Well, yes. And, no. There’s nothing magic going on here.

Sure, muscles are being used in a way that they haven’t had to be worked before. When walking, that is going to force your legs and parts attached to work differently than if you wore normal walking shoes, or no shoes at all.

Will you burn more calories? The answer is a big, fat NO!!! Shoes are not going to cause you to lose weight either. The act of walking is what does the work. Not the shoe nailed to your hoof.

Break it down

The staff here at PhitZone (you know, Becca and I) have come to the conclusion that you’re far better off buying a good set of cross trainers. You can walk, jog, bike, kickbox, and lift weights in them. And guess what–they shouldn’t cost you anywhere near the $100 that the “toning shoes” would set you back.

Plus, if you’re serious about building a killer backside, check out 3-Steps to Build a Better Butt.

No it’s your turn. Do you wear these when you walk? If so, give us your honest opinion on them.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

11 Responses to “Are Toning Shoes For Real?”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by fitnesslife, Todd Boyer. Todd Boyer said: Cool new blog post: Are Toning Shoes For Real? [...]

  2. Anne says:

    Ugh, where was this 5 months ago? I bought a pair (edit – brand name withheld), and rolled my ankle as you pointed out. I ended up throwing them away because I didn’t want anybody else to get hurt.

  3. Tim says:

    I’ve been wondering about these too. My mom bought a pair, and I was skeptical. I see the commercial on tv, and just don’t get it. Yet another fitness doo-dad-must-have-to-be-bit that seems like a waste of cash. Thanks Todd

  4. Todd says:

    Ahhh, our regulars are the first to comment. :) Anne, what where you doing when you rolled your ankle, and how bad was it?

    Tim, that commercial for the Reeboks is what made me curious. I thought the exact same thing. They just don’t seem like they’d do that much. Now I realize that they can lead to injuries as well. No thanks.

  5. Greg says:

    I’ve heard these claims as well. Sounds to me like a gimmick that’s more likely to end up with injuries from referred muscle imbalances. Knee pain, hip pain, etc. Count me out!

  6. Todd says:

    @Greg, that was my take on these shoes as well. I have no doubt that they help stimulate muscle not normally used to that extent. But, at what cost? My feeling is that they aren’t worth the money.

  7. I’ll let you know, Earth Footwear is giving me a pair of kick ass $200 toning rain boots and I’m going to wear them to the bars. I’ll be walking around and dancing and I’ll know for sure if there’s a difference. I’m reviewing them. I WANT THEM NOW.

  8. Todd says:

    Is this the same company that made the earth shoes? I didn’t know that they were still around. Toning rain boots… I’d have never ever… EVER put that one together. Keep me posted on your review, and I’ll like to it.

  9. That very same company. They’re Earth Footwear now. Toning raining boots are brilliant. Look at the amount of people walking around NYC. I’m wearing them to the bar. They’re super stylish and they don’t say you’ll lose weight anymore, they say they’re for fitness and will help tone your legs. I’ll be getting them soon enough!

  10. I’m a little skeptical of toning shoes, but they might be worth a try.

  11. Todd says:

    @Chris, as you can tell, I’m skeptical as well, but I’m not convinced that they are worthy of trying. At least not yet.

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