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Skechers Shape-Ups for Weight Loss?

Posted on January 29th, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger

Skechers Shape-ups

Skechers’ new stab at a fitness product is a shoe with a large sole, purported to tone muscles (whatever that means), reduce body fat, improve circulation, aerobic conditioning and exercise tolerance, and improve posture while relieving muscle tension and back/joint problems.


Skechers provides research on their website to back-up these claims. Let’s take a look.

1. One study shows that leg muscles are used more with Shape-ups than with standard sneakers. From this, they infer that Shape-ups will tone muscles, improve aerobic capacity and reduce bodyfat… haha, ok Skechers, good one.

Wait, you’re serious? Oh, man!

This study had only 10 subjects and the specifics are not provided. I could not find the study published in a peer-reviewed journal, so I contacted the lead researcher who referred me to Skechers. After a few communications back-and-forth, I’ve been unable to connect with Skechers to discuss the research.

2. The second study shows electromyographic analysis of muscle activity at different speeds with Shape-ups and normal shoes. Shape-ups scores higher at every speed.

“Wearing Shape-ups increases muscle activity, which leads to higher energy consumption compared to normal shoes, so exercising for a long time (walking) will burn subcutaneous fat and visceral fat, and effects such as firmer buttocks may be expected. This varies between individuals.”

Higher energy consumption by how much? 50% more? 1000% more? And, what are the raw numbers? Because the calorie burn numbers produced by walking for any sane length of time may turn out to be negligible in a weight loss effort.

Exercising for a long time will burn subcutaneous and visceral fat, eh? Just how long are we walking for here? Nothing burns fat like low-carb, restricted calorie eating. Nothing.

3. The third study is a 6-week trial at a Chiropractors office where some of his patients were given Shape-ups and told to continue exercise and diet as normal. Average weight loss is said to have been 3.25 lbs. and improvements in glutei strength and low back endurance were found.

This can barely be considered research. There is no control whatsoever and since that data are not published anywhere significant, this all basically means nothing.

In one article I read while trying to find the research, it was said that the women who wore Shape-ups in this trial reported improved posture. Well, a real research study has shown that simply telling people you’re investigating effects of a program on their posture improves their posture (2005 Harman)

These shoes are much like the Massai Barefoot Technology shoes that have been tested in better conditions and published in peer-reviewed journals… for physical therapy purposes, NOT for weight loss. (Romkes 2006, New 2007)

The sad part is people are buying into this as the thing that will help them finally achieve the body they’ve always dreamed of, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only are these shoes practically worthless in terms of weight loss, but even worse, they’ll distract people from what they should really be doing to stay on the path to their ideal body. Instead of meticulously tracking their food intake and setting goals, staying active and getting enough sleep, people will mindlessly strap on their Shape-ups and begin their never-ending stroll down the road to nowhere…. and it pisses me off.

But not you. You’re following S.P.E.E.D. You’re reading this blog. You know better. Good for you!


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22 Responses to “Skechers Shape-Ups for Weight Loss?”

  1. Alyssa says:

    Matt, what a great article! I laughed the entire time while reading it aloud to my mother (who owns “the original” MBTs, which I believe is where Skechers got the idea). I’m so glad to have the inside scoop on these gimmicks!

    • I’m glad you liked it, Alyssa. How does your Mother like the MBTs? Does she have them for PT reasons?

    • Fleta says:

      Big help, big help. And sueialrtpve news of course.

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  2. Pat says:

    Thanks for the research. I was ready to buy into all the hype and buy a pair. Thanks again.

  3. [...] Another interesting review: [...]

  4. [...] Matt had written an excellent post about the popular “toning” shoes awhile back. Go read…. Then I want to direct you to a recent post over at Obesity Panacea about “toning” shoes. To be clear, these “toning” shoes, whatever type, are a NOT going to help you lose weight or get in better shape, period! Share: [...]

  5. kara says:

    I so agree! However I admit that I have said shoes, however It has nothing to do with the fact that i think they will make me loose any weight OR tone anything. I just got them because they were 50% off and they were super squishy :) I am on my feet all day at work and I was just looking for the most comfortable shoes. I DO not exercise with them or anything else.

    • Matt Schoeneberger says:

      LOL @ super squishy!

      So you like the comfort? I would think the wobbliness would make them uncomfortable but maybe it’s not that bad.

  6. kara says:

    They are not really wobbly after you are used to them, that’s the funny thing about why they would in no way work. After you are used to them you adjust accordingly. I don’t go around making sure I roll my feet as far back on my heal to toe as I can. All you body does is adjust to the rocking by stepping where it is most steady, you just do it automatically. However I did one time badly sprain my ankle in them at work, although I may , or may not, have been trying to do the running man ;)

  7. Kara says:

    See, I can always count on you for great advice.

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