July 2nd, 2010
11:12 AM ET

Do these shoes make my butt look smaller?

Some shoemakers have enjoyed booming sales growth, thanks in part to shoes that promise to tone legs and glutes. Reebok's share of the U.S. women’s athletic footwear market more than doubled and Skechers tripled in the first quarter from a year ago, according to Bloomberg News.

According to a news article from Bloomberg, the success of these toning shoes prompted a Nike executive to joke, "Wouldn't it be great if we could make a pair of shoes that made your butt smaller, made my gut look smaller, make your muscles look a little bit bigger, just by putting them on and...walking in them?" Eric Sprunk, vice-president for global product and merchandising at Nike, said to an audience in May.  "Nobody can do that. I was just teasing."  Nike has not produced any toning shoes.

The oddly shaped shoes have their fans and critics. Medical skeptics say there have not been legitimate, independent studies proving the benefits of these types of shoes over traditional pairs.

Dr. Paul Langer, a podiatrist at Minnesota Orthopaedic Specialists, tried them out and told CNN last summer, "I can say that after a day in clinic, my legs feel tired and the shoes feel heavy (they are much heavier than conventional shoes). Because the shoes are unstable, muscles must [work] harder to stabilize the foot and leg. I would never propose that these shoes would replace a conventional fitness routine."

Shoes' toning claims draw experts' doubts

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Andrea

    I wear the skechers toning shoes and as a STOTT certified Pilates instructor, I feel they make my feet feel better when standing long hours and like I do work a little harder walking or using them on the elliptical. When I put regular sneakers on, they just feel flat. I love my skechers and will keep wearing them.

    July 2, 2010 at 15:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Sandra

    I got the Reebok ReeTones and noticed a difference in the tightness of my butt and legs within one month. The shoes are soo new, there is not enough studies out there to convince people they actually work. They won't work as fast if people just wear them as regular shoes. For people to notice a difference, they MUST actually exercise with the shoes. I noticed that my exercising was paying off quicker than ever before.

    July 3, 2010 at 00:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Bren

    The shoes have been proven to be a danger as they keep the wearer off balance. It's all just advertising hype, the "reason" they work is that the wearer is actually getting off their butts...you can do that without overpriced shoes that are just waiting to ruin your posture.

    July 3, 2010 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lisa

      They may have been proven a danger for some, but the shoes may have become a lifesaver for those with certain foot injuries, for example plantar fasciitis. I will be testing this theory of course.

      January 11, 2011 at 01:43 | Report abuse |
  4. Lincoln Brigham

    I've been certified by USA Weightlfiting, the National Strength Coach Association, and have several other fitness certifications. Anything and everything will get some results if you're really out of shape; the science is quite clear on that point. That includes ridiculously inefficient methods such as these shoes. I must say good for Nike for not jumping on this bandwagon just to make a quick buck in the short term. In the long run the outrageous claims associated with this fad will diminish the credibility of anyone who promotes these shoes as a fitness solution.

    July 3, 2010 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Lori Mewborn

    I have been very curious about these shoes. I do see how they could help tone to an extent, however, I would agree that they couldn't possible replace a good workout!

    July 3, 2010 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Lyla Rae

    I'm a nurse, I work 12 hour shifts on my feet. I have a pair of MBT's, which, I believe, were first on the scene. These shoes retail for $250+, I was fitted in a store and then found a discontinued color online for $86.00. I love them, not for glute toning, but because they've considerably improved my shin splints and low back pain. We all know there is no magic fitness solution, but these shoes have improved my life ever so slightly.

    July 3, 2010 at 22:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sarahbeth

      I'm a nurse and I have a pair of MBTs and also a pair of sketchers tone ups. I work out 5-6/days per week anyways and I don't think these shoes have a made a big difference, however, working 12 hours shifts, they definitely have imrpoved my low back pain and when worn with compression socks, my back and legs are much less swollen and tired at the end of the day.

      July 4, 2010 at 04:23 | Report abuse |
  7. Margaret Mayer

    I bought Sketchers Shape Ups about six months ago, and Ithey really work. These are the only shoes that I have ever worn that relieve the hip and back pain from four back surgeries. Even my shoulders and neck feel better. They REALLY do work on your gluteus muscles, abdomen, and legs. I tried another brand before trying Sketchers, and I did not like them, as they made me feel like I would fall. I lost ten pounds in six months without dieting. They were the most expensive shoes I have ever bought. I paid $99, and they were worth every cent. I am going to buy another pair at the end of the summer.

    July 3, 2010 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Katie

    For those of you who have this shoe, can you jump up and down in them, say, aerobically in an exercise class or skipping rope? Was curious if the instability gets in the way of these activities. Do you enjoy just walking in them daily as extra? My concern would be keepimg my ankles protected from a sprain.

    July 4, 2010 at 07:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Doug L


    There is an independent study concerning these shoes (see link above), and it repudiates the claims of negative heel shoes having any effect. It is only from a respected journal of sports medicine. The industry has NEVER SEEN anything ramp up like this, but they have lso NEVER SPENT on advertising like this. If sounds too good to be true, it probably is, folks. Eat less sweets and carbs, and walk one more flight of stairs or block and you will be better off......and richer.

    July 5, 2010 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
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    July 7, 2010 at 21:16 | Report abuse | Reply
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