Who hasn’t heard of Wellness shoes? They’re those shoes that do something else like Sketchers Shape-Ups, Earth Shoes, or my company’s NGR Shoes. If you haven’t seen an ad for them yet, you will. They are all becoming extremely popular. The Times even did a piece on the December 7th. And why not! You go about your regular day and burn extra calories engaging your muscles a little more. You have to wear shoes anyway so why not get a little more out of it right?

I guess because I play a role in this industry a lot of people come to me with questions about this so I thought I’d answer some of these here for all you 944-ers out there! (If you have more questions, feel free to comment and I will try to get to them.)

This is the most frequent question I get. “For years I have been fine with “normal” shoes, why should I switch to these?” My answer is simple – why not? Who wants fine when you can get great?? Like I said before, you have to wear shoes anyways so why not wear shoes that helps you burn extra calories and tone your lower body. Seems like a common sense thing to me... but that’s just me.

There are basically three technologies: unstable surface, simulated uphill, and weighted.

Unstable surface shoes like the MBT, Sketchers, and EasyTone have special soles that create a constant motion when standing or walking. This “rocking” back and forth and side to side forces you to use your muscles to keep your balance all the time. Sort of like sitting on a Swiss ball or walking on sand. Makes sense.

Earth Shoes and FitFlop basically simulate walking uphill. We all know how walking uphill works the legs more so these shoes try to simulate that by placing your heel slightly lower than your toes. So, even when you’re walking on flat ground, it will “feel” like you’re walking uphill. Pretty neat trick huh.

Lastly, weighted shoes like NGR Shoes use weights to increase the impact of everyday activities or exercising. These 21st Century ankle weights distribute the weight evenly along the bottom of the foot to reduce the risks associated with ankle weights while maintain a normal walking motion. The idea is simple; more weight means more muscle activity which leads to increased calorie burn and toning.

The simple answer is yes. Reebok and NGR have done studies that show increased muscle activity and caloric burn. The exact benefits are very individual because we all react differently to exercise and have our own habits: duration and intensity. For example, doing the Santa Monica stairs in NGR Shoes will definitely up your calorie burn by 30-40%. Similarly, take a brisk walk in MBTs and you’ll notice you’re working harder than with your normal shoes. So my answer is a definite yes! They work!

Besides my obvious bias for NGR Shoes (which I think mix fashion and function the best), I like the MBTs and am growing fond of the Reeboks. I like the MBT’s because they are high quality and I think that’s important. Remember that these shoes are made to work you out more – I’d be apprehensive of getting a lower quality product on my feet for this. That’s like going to Wal-Mart to buy your prom dress. You can do it but if there is ever a time to splurge, this is it! The Reebok I like for their styling overall. I’m not too crazy about the way the Pods look (the things that create the unstable surface, but I like the shoe itself. And of course, NGRs are my favourites...sorry. But seriously I have good reasons: for one, I know they work, second, I love how they look and, call me vain, but I care, and third and most important of all for me, I can use anywhere even at the gym (you can’t with some of the others).

Anyways, hope this sheds some light on these new wellness shoes!