Shaping up

The ads are everywhere, buy the new Sketchers Shape-ups and you can “get in shape without setting foot in a gym.” Yes, advertisements claim that these shoes are designed to promote weight loss, tone muscles and improve posture. They are even supposed to make you sleep better, improve cardiovascular circulation and reduce cellulite.

The target audience is women and I must say, this all sounds really great! Sign me up for two pairs — the runners and the dressy ones!

These shoes consist of an innovative design that mimics walking on a malleable surface like sand. With each step your body uses various stabilizer muscles to balance your body — these are muscles that normally wouldn’t be used as much when walking on hard surfaces in regular shoes.

This actually isn’t a bad idea. It’s too bad these shoes look like ridiculous platform throwbacks. It would be difficult to walk around seriously in these things, but maybe the results are worth it. I mean, they are supposed to make me look taller.

The shoes are supposed to be worn everywhere, like an accessory to your average day. The ads feature images of women shopping at the mall for clothes in Shape-ups, as well as a server doing her job in the shoes. By wearing these shoes and doing standing exercises that involve rocking in the shoes, the claimed weight loss and toned muscles are supposed to occur.

This is where the real problem with Shape-ups lies. It is entirely possible that some women will lose weight and tone muscles by wearing these, but for most people it will take a lot more than a fancy pair of shoes to achieve these ends. If a fundamentally healthy lifestyle is not also put into place, integrating healthy eating and regular exercise, these shoes are bound to be disappointing.

But the ads don’t mention this. And it is perhaps even more heart-wrenching to consider that the ads for Shape-ups should have to mention this. In a time where many people expect quick fixes and easy outs, the reality is that there is no substitute for hard work.

If you are out of shape and are buying Shape-ups to get into better shape, don’t do it to avoid the gym. Buy these shoes as part of a bigger plan to get more exercise and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Yes, shaping up is hard work that will require more from you than just buying a pair of ugly shoes, but it will be worth it in the end.