Can you REALLY walk your way to a better body? We put fitness footwear to the test

Published: 2011-06-16 15:34:42
Author: Peta Bee

  A pert bottom, thinner thighs and banished cellulite — and all without setting foot inside a gym. What woman wouldn’t be tempted by such promises?

It may sound too good to be true, but these are the bold claims being made by the manufacturers of toning shoes — specially-made footwear that aims to shape, slim and improve posture simply by its wearer putting one foot in front of the other.

Marks & Spencer is the latest retailer to jump on the toning shoe bandwagon by announcing the launch of its StepTone sandal later this month.

It hopes the shoe will compete with the hugely popular FitFlop and has upped the ante by claiming it provides a 10 per cent more intense workout than any of its rivals while, with a starting price of £25, being far cheaper. 

So, with holidays and thoughts of bikinis just around the corner, are toning shoes worth splashing out on? We investigate . . .


What most brands of toning shoe, including the new M&S version, have in common is a degree of instability in the sole that encourages a rolling front-to-back action.

In theory, the body’s muscles, particularly those in the legs and buttocks, must work harder just to maintain balance simulating a mini workout with each step. 

Some makers claim that one step in a toning shoe is the equivalent of three in a normal shoe. It is a theory that was first put to the test by the Swiss engineer Karl Muller who, in 1990, studied the walking style of the Masai tribe in East Africa and found them to have good posture, little joint pain and the appealing side effect of no cellulite.