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Finally, Research on Those Popular Toning Shoes!

skechers shape upsAlthough we’ve done a little informal research on our own about those popular toning shoes, we haven’t yet found a research study that really looks at whether these puppies work or not. And while anecdotal evidence can help, sometimes you just need the cold, hard facts!

According to the American Council on Exercise, none of the shoes tested—EasyTone, Skechers or MBT toning shoes—showed statistically significant increases in either exercise response or muscle activation during any of the treadmill trials as compared to a basic pair of running shoes. *Cue wrong answer music.*

Our advice? Count on yourself—not your shoes—to do the workout!


FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!


  1. I knew it!!! I did at one point cave in to the advertising pressure and purchased a pair of EasyTones (They don’t look as huge and boat-like as other types), but never did I use those as an excuse to slack on my workout routine. I thought maybe if I wore them on the way to work and back that I would gain something from them (nothing to lose, right?) But I saw no results and it just became a nuiscance to change shoes all the time! Therefore, I donated them and purchased a good quality plain ol running shoe for my workouts. A much better option if you ask me. Thanks for this post!

  2. Amy Teeple says:

    I have been wondering about this. It doesn’t really concern me that the shoes don’t tone (because if I had purchased them – which I didn’t – that would not have been my reason), but I am concerned that there is the potential of long-term damage. I will be curious to read long-term studies on these shoes.

    It’s understandable that people want some help with their weight loss and toning, but it’s sad that some people want to replace actual work with an easy fix. It’s even sadder that marketers prey on this mentality.

  3. Carrie says:

    I find they do make you stand up straight while walking. So when I just walk I wear them but mostly for posture lol But if I jog then plain ole running shoes are the way to go.

  4. Melissa says:

    I’ve been wearing my Skechers Tone Ups flip flops for two months now and notice no difference in my legs. A slightly more lifted butt, though nothing super significant. What I have noticed is a lot more foot pain, particularly on the outside of my feet. The shoes are squishy comfortable, but the pain when I take them off is sometimes too much.

  5. I don’t think anyone is trying to say that these are a replacement for working out. If they help you burn an extra five calories, that can’t be bad, and if they make people more aware of their bodies, that’s also a good thing. I have the New Balance rock&tone shoes, and not only can I feel a difference when I walk in them, but when I wore my calorie counter my calories burned during a 1.65mi walk went from 115 to 160… so that says to me that they DO help.

  6. Dave says:

    Great article! Been wondering about these.

  7. Jill says:

    Well, today that may be the case but if we wait long enough someone will counter with yet another study totally supporting (pun intended!) their initial claims.

    Personally, I love my Skechers ~ I walk taller, better posture and my occasional knee pain is G O N E when I wear them… ’nuff said! Now that’s research!!!! 🙂


  8. Ivori says:

    I have been thinking about those types of shoe since I viewed the 1st commercial.
    Of course, I wanted to buy a pair, thinking that while walking my muscles in my legs and butt would work harder than using regular running shoes.

    I’m glad you ladies posted this information, saved me a lot of money !

  9. Heidi says:

    We live in a world where people are looking for the easy way out. So sad. Truth is everything good in this world comes through consistent effort. And it’s a pretty fun ride if you just except it.

  10. I suspected that was the case and even turned down an offer from Payless and Champion to reccommend the shoes on my site. That said, if they encourage people to walk more than they normally would, then maybe they really have worked.

  11. Linda says:

    I bought them, and after my first couple of used my butt KILLED. Sure I don’t looke like the commercial but I do find they help and I find a walk to be more of a workout than usual. If I jog I have to wear regular runners but I am prettty pleased with the result of these.

  12. Dawn says:

    Although I completely disagree with the advertising claims of “getting fit without ever stepping foot in a gym”, I bought Sketcher’s brand for the work I do and the ground I cover in a warehouse. It is, by far, the best arch support I’ve ever found in a shoe. As a certified personal trainer, I feel two muscle groups engage more than regular athletic shoes–the calves and the lower glutes. I bought them on sale for a savings of $30. That worked for me because I want a good quality shoe for work.

  13. SamSam says:

    I think these shoes can be a great motivator. If you are not a gym-junkie or someone who works out regularly, then if shoes can encourage you to walk more than usual and feel good about yourself as you walk, this is a great thing for helping general fitness.

    Generally the people saying they are not at all worth money and have no effect appear to be very fit people who work out regularly – this is definitely admirable – yet if we can encourage people who do not live this way and are unlikely to take to the gym or intensive training for whatever reason to work out more, then it is certainly worthwhile.

    Further, the study said it was taken on treadmill workouts, which I assume means running, whereas most people appear to use toning shoes for walking not running – would a study on walking benefits have attained different results? Who knows?

  14. Leslie says:

    I have two pairs of the Shape Ups, and I really like the shoes. I suffered with plantar facitis (sp) and after wearing these, it’s gone. They are a nice additions to my shoe wardrobe.

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