You’ve seen the commercials, the girl with the legs that go on for miles and that perky butt. She says, all you have to do is walk in her “toning” shoes and you, too, can have a butt like hers.


As an educated woman, I had to look at these shoes with a bit of uncertainty. I mean, I jump, lunge, squat, sprint, jog, walk up hill, step up, extend, stretch and I don’t have legs like her, so what would make me think that simply walking with a bit more heel-toe stride would give me the shape I wanted?

I tried them on and after a few stride lengths they felt, well, weird. Too cushiony. Too awkward. And quite frankly, I felt that we were going to have a few too many back, knee and hip problems coming up from wearers of these toning shoes. Anything that changes your natural gait into something unnatural is bound to cause problems.

Sure enough, three months later, here’s the research to prove it. Now I can firmly say, I told you so.

An independent research group studied the claims of the top three toning shoe companies: “Burn more calories, tone muscles, improve posture, reduce joint stress. Train muscles your trainers never knew you had. It’s the shoe proven to work your hamstrings and calves up to 11 per cent harder. And tones your butt up to 28 per cent more than regular sneakers just by walking.”

An independent scientific study made up of Porcari, John Greany, Ph.D., Stephanie Tepper, M.S., Brian Edmonson, B.S., and Carl Foster, Ph.D., designed a pair of studies, one evaluating exercise responses to walking in traditional athletic shoes (a New Balance running shoe) versus the popular toning shoes. The second study evaluated muscle activation when walking in regular athletic shoes compared to toning shoes.

The study took 12 regularly active females between the ages of 19 and 34 years. The ladies completed exercise trials on a treadmill with each different type of shoe with consistent speeds and inclines.

Meanwhile, researchers monitored each subject’s oxygen consumption, heart rate, ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) and caloric expenditure.

A second group of female volunteers, between the age of 21 and 27 years, were used to test the muscle activation in all main muscles of the legs and core.

The results? Across the board, none of the toning shoes showed statistically significant increases in either exercise response or muscle activation during any of the treadmill trials.

There is simply no evidence to support the claims that these shoes will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories or improve muscle strength and tone. There was absolutely no difference in the amount of energy required nor the activation of the muscles in which the companies claim increase tone.

Save your money. Buy a good pair of shoes for the activities you enjoy. Get your body moving!

And hey, if you naturally have a great butt, thank your parents!

This column is provided by Mrs. Lee Randell, independent fitness consultant, who is an ACE certified advanced health and fitness specialist and personal trainer. You can reach her at