Gear Guide: Skechers Shape-Ups Fitness Shoes

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By Su Reid-St. John
Skechers Shape-Ups are the newest entry in the growing field of negative heel and rocker bottom shoes that claim you can strengthen your lower half, firm your abs, improve your posture, and burn extra calories just by wearing them around. Who could resist testing a product like that?

Here's a little background on this kind of shoe: They basically work by putting you off balance. The heel is set slightly lower than normal shoes and the bottom of the shoe is curved, so your muscles are constantly working to keep you balanced and centered. A fitness-expert friend of mine likens wearing this type of shoe to "standing on little boats," and she's dead-on.

I wore the Shape-Ups throughout the day for about a week, heading out several times for a stroll around the walking path we have on our campus at work. I could definitely feel my leg and butt muscles working as my feet and legs readjusted with each step. I could especially feel the burn while walking uphill, although I began to dread the downhills, as my feet kept sliding forward to crunch my toes against the fronts of the shoes (one apparent downside to the curved bottoms).

Skechers attaches a whole slew of claims to these babies. Let’s take a look at some of the major ones:

To be fair, Skechers offers other colors and styles, although they all sport the big, boatlike sole. Plus, as another colleague pointed out, more and more people are beginning to wear this kind of shoe around town and to the gym, so you wouldn't necessarily stick out like a sore thumb.

Bottom line: These shoes will indeed give your legs a workout that goes beyond mere walking—if, that is, you can get over their looks. I'm still working on it.

Product: Skechers Shape-Ups fitness shoes

Category: Shoes

Pros: Comfy and fun to wear, they're an easy way to add a little tone to your legs, butt, and abs, whether you’re power walking or just running errands at lunch.

Cons: They're somewhat dorky-looking.

Cost: $110 at skechers.com (Although that might seem expensive, it's less than half the price of some of the other negative-heel shoes out there.)

Extra tip: These shoes are definitely made for walking—not running.