Toning shoes give workouts a leg up
Pamela Greene is a fitness programmer with Fort Jackson's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Everywhere I look, women are wearing toning sneakers in hopes of a getting a great rear view. Can a sneaker really deliver a more sculpted lower body without weights, aerobic classes or the tried and true squat? Take a closer look at today's hottest fitness gear and see if you too should give toning sneakers a try.

Since this is such a popular new piece of foot gear, I am not surprised that brands that we have relied on to meet our footwear are front and center with the latest styles and designs. Brands like Sketchers, Reebok Easy Tone, and New Balance and just a few to choose from. The technology that makes these sneakers so appealing is the unstable heel and the rolling bottom, from which shoe manufactures claim users get their results.

The unstable surface forces the abdominal muscles to remain engaged and make your legs and glutes work harder, whether you are walking or standing. Some brands provide additional cushioning in the sneakers to help with surface impact. Styles vary as the toning sneaker evolves to look trendier and less like something your grandmother would wear.

Another addition that makes the toning sneaker more attractive is the celebrity spokespersons advertising the sneakers. From Eva Mendes for Reebok Easy Tone to Kim Kardashian for Sketchers, such status more than likely makes the toning sneaker more marketable and profitable.

Some of these toning sneakers have higher heels than others so what women exercisers are doing probably varies. Some women are strictly walking in these sneakers, while others may be wearing them to their aerobics class or trying to run in them. Because of the unstable balance of the toning sneaker, there is a potential risk of falling off balance and possibly getting injured.

Each brand is advertised as a walking sneaker, but because the sneakers boast positive results, exercisers might give more strenuous workouts a try. I have a pair of Earth sneakers. They are what I call the original toning sneaker. They were developed in the 1970s as a type of footwear that would help the body and the environment. Their design is different from the toning sneakers you find in shoe stores. They have what they call the "negative heel," which means the heel is lower and the toe area rises on an angle.

The Earth sneaker/shoes were created to mimic how it would feel walking on sand in your bare feet. If you know yoga, the sneakers make you stand with your body in "Mountain Pose." You are constantly sitting in your heels. That's what makes the technology sculpt your rear view. Also, the way you stand in the sneakers is designed to take stress off your joints and improve posture. The sneakers are so light that I am able to do just about any style of exercise while wearing them.

People have responded positively and negatively to toning sneakers. One population of women who stand on their feet all day decided to give toning sneakers a try. They commented on the support and comfort their feet and legs received, not weight loss or toning results. One local exerciser stated that she suffers from plantar fascia. Wearing the toning sneakers has eased her foot pressure and that is reason enough for her to keep wearing them.

As a regular exerciser I have had much success with the Earth sneaker. I tried them in 2008 and was pleased. They are all I buy now. I won't say these sneakers are for everyone, but they are for me. Toning sneakers range from $70 to $300 or more: Are they worth the investment?

I guess if it gets you off the couch and into the gym or walking more, then they are worth it. Investing in your health is never a bad decision.

Page last updated Thu September 8th, 2011 at 08:13