You’ve probably seen the commercials for Skechers Shape-Ups or Reebok Easytone shoes that promise to tone your calves and firm your butt, right? If not, here’s a quick refresher: Reebok’s ad features an attractive spokeslady who has obviously done more than walking to achieve her athletic figure, and the camera man is (apparently) so infatuated with her butt that he can’t take his eyes off it. Skechers debuted Shape-Ups during the Super Bowl, with Joe Montana talking about how these shoes have improved his strength. Really?? I’m not sure which is worse, Joe Montana endorsing a pair of shoes or Dan Marino talking about how great he feels after losing weight on NutriSystem. Seeing these otherwise respectable figures doing this kind of shit that makes me laugh and puke in disgust at the same time.
However, now that I’ve said that, I have a confession: I recently bought a pair of Skecher’s Shape-Ups. Yes, after months of making fun of Joe Montana for pimping these things, I just had to try them out. Damn those commercials for sticking in my brain. Sometime last week, I decided out of the blue that I wanted a new pair of shoes. Internet window shopping has been a guilty pleasure of mine for years, but somehow I took this low moment of impulsivity to its conclusion and actually bought a pair.
I typically want a shoe that is comfy and good for lots of walking, so for the last couple of years, I have bought Merrells. I put two pairs through hell and they kept on asking for more, but I retired them anyway when they started looking more like roadkill and less like shoes. On a side note, the Keen sandals I bought five years ago are still kicking and great as ever, and their sneakers lasted me a couple of years as well. The more rational side of me would have stayed with what has been tried and true, but those damn Skechers were featured on every site I was looking at as the “hottest new thing.” Why that didn’t scare me off, I don’t know. Usually, anything that’s trendy instantly turns me off, but noooo, not this time. This time I caved in and took a look at them. Advertising won this round.
Aside from all the yackety-yack about weight loss and a firmer butt – which experts claim isn’t true anyway – these shoes also boast better posture and blood circulation, which I’ll admit I could use if the claims are for real. These side effects come from the “kinetic wedge technology” which Skechers claims is like walking on sand. This changes the way you walk, and in effect, makes your legs work harder while you walk – hence the claim for weight loss, firmer muscles, better posture and circulation, etc. I likened the effect to the days in the early 2000s when I wore Street Flyers to and fro. After I found out I couldn’t roller skate for shit, I wore them anyway because they were heavy little boots. Walking around in them made me exert more energy while I was walking around and doing things I would have been doing anyway. Why not?
Why not indeed. I connected the dots between my Street Flyers and the Skechers Shape-Ups and thought to myself, “I’ll be walking around campus all summer, so this could be a convenient way to stay in shape. If I really hate them, I can return them and pretend it never happened.”
Less than two minutes later, I became the owner of a brand-new pair of Skechers Shape-Ups.
As I waited for my shoes to arrive in the mail, I frequently questioned why the hell I bought these damn things when I really shouldn’t have dropped that kind of money on something I didn’t need. Impulse buys are rarely smart decisions, so thoughts of how I would justify it tortured me throughout last week. “What a waste,” I thought. “Even if I return them, I still have to pay postage to send them back. What was I thinking?! What will my husband think when he sees them? He makes fun of them just as much as I do!”
Another voice in my head said, “Just try them. You might like them.”
Yes, I do have voices in my head and they argue with each other constantly. It’s maddening. And no, these aren’t the kind of voices that go away with medication. I’ve tried.
The shoes arrived yesterday. I took them out of their box, laced ‘em up and put them on carefully with all tags still attached; that way, if I did return them, they’d still look brand-new. I stood up. That’s when I discovered the “kinetic wedge technology, which is located near the middle of your foot. This causes you to exaggerate the heel-to-toe motion you make when walking. At first, it felt weird, like I was standing on little balance balls embedded in my shoes. It did not feel like walking on sand. I don’t know where Skechers got that crazy idea, but I’ve walked on sand before and this wasn’t it. The silver lining, however, was that since I wasn’t actually walking on sand, my feet weren’t filthy after a few steps. That was nice.
I walked around. Skechers does warn you that getting used to Shape-Ups might take some time, but I found that the learning curve wasn’t a huge deal. I liken it to walking around on a boat: at first, you’re a little unsteady, but you adjust quickly. Much to my surprise, I found them incredibly comfortable. I took a stroll around the house and decided that I would put them to the real test tomorrow while running around town.
That’s what I did today, and I’m actually pleased to say that the Shape-Ups passed the test. In fact, I love them. For as much walking as I do, comfort is the ultimate feature I want in a pair of shoes, and these are insanely comfortable. They really are easier on my joints as the ads claim, and I did notice that it was easier to stand up straight in them. Major brownie points if they alter my posture for the better. As for everything else, I really don’t give a damn if they give me an amazing butt. I doubt they’ll make me lose weight – for one thing, they aren’t much heavier than a regular pair of shoes, so there goes my Shape-Ups/Street Flyers connection. Second, after walking around in the Shape-Ups today, my muscles weren’t sore. It will take lots of walking – in these shoes or any other pair of shoes – to lose any weight, and since I won’t be trying, I doubt it will happen. I’m quite all right with that. I feel better knowing that I’m not wearing these shoes for the trendy reason and wearing them for the same reason I’d wear any other pair of shoes I like: They’re comfy!
Oh, and for those of you that were wondering, here’s how things went down with my husband:
“You bought Shape-Ups?”
“Don’t judge. I know I’m a hypocrite. You needn’t say anything.”
“I’m not judging,” he said with a smirk that said it all. And of course, he is right.
Cross-posted on Oh, the Profanity!