Over the past few years, a certain trend began to take form: exercise shoes that are meant to maximize the benefits of your day’s regular walking activities. Designed according to scientific standards, the body of the shoe increases the efficiency of your foot’s movement, affecting the rest of your body’s muscles more positively.
The craze started with Swiss brand MBT claiming that walking in their shoes would help alleviate pressure from your joints, help you walk with better posture, and train your body on how to balance yourself better. Although a quick perusal of the MBT brand’s website didn’t reveal this, initial buzz surrounding the shoe began in magazines and the online world to promote the shoe as being modeled on the way Masai tribesmen walk while hunting.
Bulky, and slightly geriatric looking, an older woman at my gym who suffered back problems praised the shoes for helping her strengthen her back and leg muscles after suffering an injury. But reviews I came across online were slightly negative; the aesthetics of the design (or lack thereof) and the hefty price tags for the shoes (they start at around $250) were enough to put me off the idea of trying out a pair myself.
But it seems the shoes prompted an interest in the idea of working out without stressing over it. Reebok have recently launched a new line of exercise shoes that are intended to be a one stop solution for squeezing in a workout during your day. The line is called Easytone, and should the name connote anything other than an act of magic, I was curious to try it out myself.
I was presented a pair by a friend: “Try these, and see what will happen to your ample derriere. Not in so many words, but the intention was clear. I had put on a couple of pounds and I was not looking toned nor at my best. Dubious, I glanced at the black and blue shoes that came with a pamphlet explaining the technology behind Reebok’s new line.
Easytones utilizes a technology developed by a former NASA scientist who has created an exercise shoe that works on the simple concept of balance pods built under the heel and the forefoot. Designed so as to create a slight natural instability with each step that one takes, the shoes force you to learn how to adjust your balance to adapt to this new strange sensation, forcing you to work your muscles a little bit more to adjust. Supposedly through these actions, your body is encouraged to tone up on its own.
The research behind Easytone claims that it targets your glutes, hamstrings and calves and claims that tests show that it can considerably increase muscle activation. Glutes are promised a 28 percent activation increase and hamstrings and calves 11 percent each.
My first few steps with the shoes were a bit strange. I felt elevated, and a little unsteady in my steps. Initially, the shoes felt slightly bulky and a little heavy on my feet and I was getting a bit of a pinched sensation around my hips as if I had pinched a nerve.
But I chose to ignore it, and walked around my house wearing them for an hour. The accompanying pamphlet also recommends certain exercises that one can do with the shoes on. These comprise of tricky jumps that force one to spend quite a bit of time learning how to balance on the shoes, floor exercises to encourage triceps and abs exercise and other assorted yoga-like positions to strengthen and tone other muscles in the body.
So now, hoping for a miracle for my ever sagging behind and my legs that were growing increasingly weak with every day that went by, I decided to walk for half an hour a day with them on and climb the stairs up to my house. And oh yes, wear them while running errands around town.
I tried out the exercises on the pamphlet too, and tried to stick to a daily regiment of exercises and walking but found myself to tire easily. I didn’t know whether I was doing the exercises right but I could feel the strain on my muscles to balance on each foot upon landing and the difficulty of balancing on the pods.
I decided to take up Ashtanga yoga four times a week instead, but stuck to my regular walking every day and wore the shoes whenever I possibly could.
After about four weeks of walking and starting with Ashtanga, I felt a difference albeit slight. My friends noticed I was walking better too, my back was straighter (perhaps strengthened from yoga) and I felt my legs were more toned. The strange sensation that I first felt while walking in my Easytones went away, and walking in Easytones felt natural.
And my glutes? Well, if my jeans can be used as a measuring tool, I would say there was a noticeable difference. I went down half a dress size after six weeks of walking and doing some yoga. But I think that consistency was key here; only regular workouts will ensure a pleasing result.
What I most appreciate about the Easytones though is that my legs regained lost strength quickly. Funnily enough, now whenever I climb stairs in regular exercise shoes or flats, something feels a bit odd. My muscles work a little harder and fall slack when recognizing that there is no force pushing against them.
Easytones have several shoes in the line, a pair of flip flops, and Easytone Go Outside, the pair I was trying out. There are various shoe names now coming out as the brand is becoming more popular, but the Reebok website doesn’t clearly explain the differences between the various models. I’m assuming shoes with smoother lines are intended to be worn as everyday shoes and the Easytone Go Outside for exercise.
For about $120, I think the Go Outsides can be a good investment, and Reebok promises that the pods in the soles of the shoes won’t wear out easily. Best of all, snazzy color combinations make the shoes look good, so there’s really no excuse for not walking anymore.
Reebok Easytone can be found in all Reebok outlets in Egypt.