Help Me Rhonda: Can special shoes really help burn more calories? |

Help Me Rhonda: Can special shoes really help burn more calories?

Rhonda Beckham
Rhonda Beckham

A great friend of mine was generous enough last Christmas to give me a pair of Skechers Shape-Ups. These are one of the newest items in fitness gear. The original version, MBT shoes, came out a few years ago, but they were too unknown for me to fork over $250 to experiment.

The brochure says, “Designed to improve your life by changing the way you walk, Shape Ups feature a unique soft kinetic wedge insert and dynamic rolling bottom to stimulate walking barefoot on a yielding surface such as sand.”

Many people have been asking me if they work. The ads I’ve seen for these new tech shoes purport to tone your butt, thighs and calves, burn more calories and improve posture just by walking in them. Because most of us want the quick fix, these styles of shoes have been hugely popular and many makers have jumped on board.

I initially noticed my calves seemed to be getting a better workout. But overall, I’d say I’m not getting everything that the commercials would like us to think is happening.

I’ve been telling others I haven’t noticed much difference, but maybe it’s because I already exercise hard on a consistent basis and have better-than-average balance. Basically, the shoes put you slightly off balance and your muscles are constantly working to keep you balanced and centered. If you’ve been sedentary for a while, then you’ll probably notice a lot more toning in your legs simply by getting up and going.

They do challenge your balance, so I keep a pair of my trusted New Balance nearby for teaching my classes. Concentrate while going downhill or up stairs. I wouldn’t try running in them, although I just heard Reebok EasyTones are similar and have styles specifically for running.

Skechers now has Tone-Ups, the new leg-toning sandal just in time for summer. Although they look comfortable, they are not something you’d want to wear with your favorite sundress.

If you have flat feet like me, you may notice they reduce the impact of walking simply from the rolling action. Another perk is even though I feel I already have good posture, these shoes make me feel like I am standing straighter. They will definitely make you taller as most models have 11/2- to 3-inch heels.

You can expect to pay about $50 for the sandals and slippers and anywhere from $100-$130 for the other styles, including athletic, boot, work shoes and slip-ons.

I wouldn’t run out and buy a pair of these thinking they are going to get you to meet all of the body’s fitness needs and get you to finally lose those extra 20 pounds. On the other hand, if getting a pair is going to motivate you to actually start that walking program you’ve been putting off for too long, then go ahead and invest.

Rhonda Beckham is the owner of Help Me Rhonda Personal Fitness Training. She is a nationally certified personal trainer operating out of Kahle Community Center and Sierra Athletic Club, and a Pilates instructor at Emerald Bay Physical Therapy. She may be reached at (530) 208-6369, and

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