Looking for a new walking shoe, I was intrigued by the concept of the Reebok Easytones. At $120, though, this bargain-shoe-shopper balked and thought, "Maybe not..."
However, I could not get over my initial draw to a shoe that would help make the benefits of walking more of a systemic thing. The adds for AviaSport, Sketcher, and Reebok versions of this same shoe claim whole body toning, improved circulation, and improved posture. I was skeptical, but definitely intrigued. I did a little online research, and found consumer reviews that praised the shoe, saying they really were everything they were advertised to be. When I went shopping for some dress shoes, I saw a display for the Sketcher ShapeUps right at the register, and asked the rep about them. She said she had a pair she wore around the store, and she could definitely feel those muscles working when she walked around.
I decided that since I spend the majority of my day on my feet, walking on my treadmill desk, it was at least worth a shot. Initially I was going for the Reebok Easytones, because of the three styles they look the most "normal." I had only seen the white sketchers, though, which I thought looked like white blocks. Not attractive, by any means. And I think most consumers agree, because there were hardly any tan or black versions of the shoe left when I got to the store, but plenty of white still left. Anyway, I went to Shoe Show because someone told me they had the Easytones there, and arrived to learn that they actually had the ShapeUps, and had never had the Easytones in the first place (That has happened to me twice since being here in this tiny town. Someone told me they had Doc Martens at another store, and what they actually had were Dockers. Not the same thing). I digress...because I saw that they had ShapeUps in other colors, and that these other colors looked much more sleek than the ugly and chunky white ShapeUps. So I bought them. At $100, I still felt like I was sinning, never having spent more than $30 on a pair of shoes for myself. But I figured, if they don't work, I will simply never by them again.
So the actual trying of the shoes: The shoes came with a DVD and a booklet. I am not kidding. I thought that was a little silly, but a little instruction never hurt anyone, right? I mean fools despise wisdom, and I do not want to be a fool. So I watched the DVD and read the booklet, and I was actually glad. They give you some good tips on how to get the most out of the shoes, and how not to injure yourself.
I walked around my house a little bit last night, trying to get used to the motion. I had a sneaky suspicion that starting with them on my treadmill was less-than-clever. I could certainly feel it working my calves and shins, but I thought, "This is silly, I certainly do not feel anything muscular being worked anywhere above my knees. Definitely not in my abdomen." I avoided drawing any complete conclusions yet, though, because they did say your first time walking in them (especially for those who do not walk frequently, but even for advanced walkers) should be no longer than 25-45 minutes.
So I started off on my treadmill thinking it would be a little too easy. They advise starting off slower than your normal walking pace, and I started off at my typical 2.0 mph. After about 5 minutes I slowed down to 1.5, but that felt so dreadfully slow that I bumped it back up to about 1.7. After 40 minutes, I stopped. My calves and shins were hurting, and I was beginning to rethink my decision. But, I did as they said, my first time really walking in them was in the 25-40 minute time frame, so I took of my shoes and stood at my desk for a while.
I started back up after about ten minutes, and was startled to note that I could feel each step creating the necessary tension in my abdomen and in the small of my back. My obliques, especially, were starting to feel the workout. And every step got more comfortable, instead of less. I walked for an hour and loved it. I took another short break, and went to it again.
Wearing the shapeups, I may not necessarily get as many miles in as I have before, because I find it is helpful to stop and rest every 45 minutes to an hour. I am not entirely sure why this is, and - who knows - I may be able to go for longer periods of time as my muscles adjust to the new motion. I am interested to see how this develops.
All that said, I do really enjoy my Sketchers ShapeUps, and it seems they do keep their advertised promises. I can definitely feel muscle groups working as they said they would, and I am thinking I will see some very positive results.