"Toning" shoes are on my Christmas list. Well, so are these, but come on - let's be practical here. Because I have secretly been coveting a pair of toning shoes for a while now, I went my local sporting goods store to try on a few of the different varieties. What I found was that the more they look like toning shoes (you know what I am talking about) the more effective they felt. And vice versa.
The first pair I tried on were the Sketcher I figured, toning-wise, these were going to be the leader. Once I had them on, I could immediately feel my quads, calves, and abs engage. It is almost like you are walking on miniature balance balls. Even standing in one place, I was rocking a little back and forth because I couldn't get myself stabilized. However, I can't get over how bulky they are and am definitely looking for something a little more unassuming.
The next pair that I tried on were the New Balance True Balance shoes. They are more of the style of shoe that I am going for because they look just like any other running/walking shoe, but when I tried them on I was a little underwhelmed. I really couldn't feel any balance or toning quality in the shoes. The heel of the shoe felt more cushioned, but that is really the only difference I felt when walked around in them. But who knows, maybe you need to wear them for more than 10 minutes to really feel the benefits.
Next I put on the Reebok Easy Tone Go Outside Walking shoe. These basically look like a standard running shoe but have two pads on the sole of the shoe. One under the ball of the foot and the other under the heel. I could feel myself try to balance and stabilize while just standing still, but not as dramatically as the Sketchers. I did feel it when I was walking. My legs, glutes, and quads were definitely more engaged. After 3 tests, these are becoming the clear favorite.
Even though my mind was more or less made up, I tried on a pair made by Avia. They are shaped more like the Sketchers shoe and provide, what feels like, around the same amount of instability. They definitely look a little less like toning shoes, but not quite enough for my taste. But I would recommend them for anyone who wants a lot of toning potential without having a shoe that stands out as a toning shoe.