You have probably heard of the shoes that claim to tone your butt just by walking, amongst other things (like improved circulation, greater fat loss, strengthening of your calves, hamstrings, and low back). It is hard not to see commercials or magazines with the ads of scantly glad women with great buns donning a pair of these ridiculous looking shoes. The claim is that you simply walk with these shoes, and the above results are yours. The distinctive feature of the shoe design is that they have a rocker bottom which alters gait and provides instability. The many ads of scantly glad women with great buns donning a pair of these ridiculous looking shoes and claims of research validating their effectiveness are pasted all over magazines targeting women, and TV commercials. Hall of fame quarterback Joe Montana endorses them, as do several other celebrities. Let’s look at the research and some common sense to see if this is legit. THE PHYSIOLOGIC AND ELECTROMYOGRAPHIC RESPONSES TO WALKING IN REGULAR ATHLETIC SHOES VERSUS “FITNESS SHOES”,Porcari, Ph.D., et al. * American Council on Exercise (* amongst the “et al was Stephanie Tepper, who submitted this research study as part of her masters thesis at Univ. Wisconsin-Lacrosse. The lead author often takes credit and is listed first because they head the department, but it seems like Stephanie did most of the work – just trying to give credit where credit is due). The researchers looked at the most common “fitness shoes”: Skechers Shape Ups, MBT, and Reebok Easy Tone shoes, and compared them with standard flat shoes (New Balance). The study was very well designed. They concluded that there was absolutely no difference in muscles activated, energy spent, calories burned, or any metric to substantiate these claims. The research shows clearly that this concept of a shoe design to increase fitness, like most fitness fads, is a load of crap. In spite of their convincing marketing campaigns, these shoes do not do what they claim. Unfortunately, they do rob you of $100-$250 dollars, look silly, deceive you, and may increase your risk of injuries. Teppers study revealed that some subjects excessively pronated while walking in the “fitness shoes”. Over pronation has been linked to foot and knee pain. So where did these companies get their data about these false claims? Skechers sites independent research (which means they performed heavily bias and poorly designed experiencements to boost their claims), and will not publish their research. Accordingly, I suggest the name be changed to Sketchys. Even if their claims of increased muscle activation of the glutes by 40% via walking with heir shoes were true, who cares? This does not mean that you will get stronger or lose more fat. It is like saying using a broom to clear a foot of snow off my driveway is 40% more effective than using my hands – therefore, we should all use brooms to deal with snow accumulation! These companies have made millions deceiving people. This happens all to often. The formula is well established: find a problem people desperately want solved, provide them a simple and easy solution, and use celebrity media, and unscrupulous claims that most won’t critique to appear legit. People are easy targets for this junk because we so desperately want to feel better and look better. Please don’t let fall for this stuff, and encourage your friends and family to steer clear from this garbage. The road to improving fitness, reducing pain, and looking and feeling better is full of enough challenges. No need to add the ill feelings of deceit and failure on account of falling for these schemes to the challenge. Instead, encourage them to read, investigate, and seek legitimate solutions for proper health and fitness. Hopefully my newsletters and blogs will continue to serve as your resource for the fitness truth. Speaking of, be sure to sign up for my new print newsletter by clicking here. Our first edition goes out on Monday, and we will be sending them monthly, full of recipes, practical health and fitness solutions, humor, and special offers. Also, check out this article to learn the truth about working the glutes and here to see some more videos of a great glute exercise.