I hate to work out but love to look good, so I was curious about all the fitness shoes on the market that give you a workout by just walking. My husband told me I should buy a pair and give them a try, but most are pretty expensive and I am way too cheap to spend that much for a pair of shoes. He told me to pick a pair I liked and he would get them for me for Christmas, so I did some research on the different types and styles that were available.
The most popular ones by far are Sketchers Shape-ups so I started there. Sketchers had both sneaker and boot styles of shoes but I could not find any I really liked. I thought about the type of shoes I wear most that I would get the most use out of and for me, that's good old flip-flops. I remembered seeing a show where they talked about a flip-flop fitness shoe called FitFlop. I looked them up and found that they sold them online at Bath & Body Works. They looked really cute so I told him that's what I wanted to try.
The style he bought me is the original design called the Classic Walkstar. They are marketed to not only give you a workout by just walking, but they are also said to improve your posture and reduce leg, back and foot pain. They work like the Shape-Ups but in my opinion, are more attractive. Instead of the sole being so rounded and ugly on the outside, Fitflops have incorporated the workout feature better into the design so it is not obvious on the outside. So unless someone reads the tag, no one would notice that these are workout shoes.
According to the FitFlop web site, the shoes have a dense contoured heel strike area that absorbs up to 22% more shock and quickly pushes the foot forward onto a less stable mid foot bed which creates instability under foot. Unlike the feeling I had when I tried other workout-while-you-walk shoes, I don't notice the instability and there is no rocking motion, so they feel more natural to me. The unstable foot bed works the muscles because it forces the legs to find a point of balance. Then as the foot moves in a forward motion and reaches the toe area, which is harder, the muscles get a rest before the next step starts it all over again.
So, what feels different from regular flip-flops? For one thing, the sole at its highest point is about 1 1/2 inches high. I am personally used to cheap, thin flip-flops so the height was a little new to me, but I like it. The sole itself is harder underfoot than the soft cushy ones I am used to and has a rougher texture to it, so that was a little different. The biggest difference I notice, though, is in the straps. The side parts are fabric and are wider than normal flip-flop straps. They are also set back farther on the shoe than a regular flip-flop. There is a large leather circle in the middle that has the logo embroidered on it, and the leather continues down to the strap that goes between your toes. These parts felt a little hard to me at first but they are starting to soften up and my feet are getting more accustomed to them. They fit my feet a little more snugly than other types of flip-flops, but I have to assume that is to hold the foot in the proper place to get the most benefit out of them.
So, do they work? I wish I could give a definite answer but all I can really say, now, is that I hope so. I have worn them off and on for a few weeks now and what I can say is they are defiantly not hurting anything. I will continue to update this as I wear them more and more and let you know if I see any measurable progress. I am also happy to report that when I was wearing them out this weekend there were a group of women in one of the stores pointing to them and saying how cute they were so if nothing else, they look good. I recently saw that they have some new styles of them out for the Spring so I might go check those out too and maybe get another pair.
Update On May 04, 2010: I saw in an ad today that Sketchers now has a pair of flip flop fitness sandles as well called Tone-ups. They come in different colors and styles but the construction of them lokks very similar to the Fitflops.