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Does it Really? We Put FitFlops to the Test!

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
9/9/2008 3:58 PM   :  115 comments

See More: fitness, advertising, ,
FitFlops seem to be the talk of the town, whether you live in the US or the UK! And for good reason: They were featured as one of Oprah's Favorite Things, and claim to be "the flip flop with the gym built in" that can "tone and trim your legs" while you walk. So, are they the real deal or just a bunch of hype?

Four of us (myself included) tested FitFlops here at the dailySpark for a few days. So based on our unscientific trial and my expertise in fitness, I'm going to evaluate some of the claims made by FitFlops, so you can decide for yourself whether you'll be adding them to your own shoe collection anytime soon.

CLAIM Improves your core muscle strength.
FACT The shoes feature "microwobbleboard" technology, which promises to challenge your balance and therefore recruit more muscle fibers than walking in traditional shoes alone. It's true that unstable surfaces do target your core muscles more. But the less challenging the "wobble board" or unstable surface is, the less you'll benefit. Think about what would be harder to balance on: A board sitting on top of a baseball (very challenging) or that same board sitting on top of a marble (not so challenging). To me, it seems that a "microwobbleboard" might not challenge your balance enough to make much of a noticeable difference in your core strength. "I noticed that they were harder to balance in, I think because they feel 'squishy,' which seems to be what the microwobbleboard technology is," reported one reviewer. "I think I did have to engage my core more to maintain balance."

CLAIM Absorbs shock on your feet, knees and back
FACT We tested the shoes and all agreed that they were comfortable for walking, even longer distances—especially when compared to traditional flip flops, which are very unsupportive and generally bad for your feet and joints. "I have been known to exercise in regular flip flops, so these are certainly a much better alternative, said one tester."I thought that they were generally very comfortable and supportive."

CLAIM Encourages better posture and stronger muscles
FACT The supportive nature of the shoe could help encourage better posture. But you need more than an ergonomic shoe to improve posture, which depends greatly core strength, a flexible chest, and a strong back.

CLAIM Burns calories
FACT Well, walking in any shoe burns calories. This isn't a benefit that can be attributed solely to FitFlops.

CLAIM Can help reduce cellulite and slim and tone your thighs!
FACT Well, nothing can really get rid of cellulite and exercise like cardio and strength training is the only way to potentially diminish its appearance. Walking in FitFlops will not reduce your cellulite any more than walking in general will.

CLAIM Strengthens and tones muscles in the feet, legs, buttocks, stomach and back
FACT FitFlops were developed by real scientists and researchers in London, and at least one actual study has been conducted to back up the claim that wearing the shoes engages the muscle fibers of the legs and butt longer. However, the study conducted was only on a group of 15 women, and I haven't found any pertinent information about these women (their weights, health status, fitness levels, etc.) anywhere. It's incorrect to assume that what happens for 15 women (that we don't know anything about) will happen for women of all ages and fitness levels. And while it may be true that, due to their "microwobbleboard" or ergonomic design, FitFlops stimulate the muscles more than regular shoes, they are by no means a substitute for strength training exercises, which would blow FitFlops away in terms of muscle recruitment and challenge. However, one tester said, "I felt that my legs felt a little more fatigued using the FitFlops as compared to walks wearing other shoes, but I would not say the difference was significant." Another tester felt "some 'activity' in the legs, especially the calves, when you walking in them for a period of time."

Overall, I'd be wary of the too-good-to-be-true claims on any product. While wearing FitFlops is by no means an excuse not to exercise or strength train, we all agree that they are probably the most comfortable flip flops we've ever tried. And since flip flops are generally unsupportive and unsafe for long-term walking, these make a great choice. Our testers didn't feel that they were very fashion forward enough to wear for more than "day to day errands," but if the FitFlop encourages you to get out and walk more, I think that's a good thing!

You can buy FitFlops for about $49.99 (and up) at a host of retailers, such as Bath and Body Works, Macy's, Victoria's Secret, and other online stores.


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Comments

  • RHYDOLION
    115
    for 2 yrs I suffered painful knees and eventually saw an orthopedic consultant who sent me for a scan resulted being listed for knee op. I was then told about fit flops and bought a pair - within 4 weeks my joints improved -a year later no discomfort whatsoever and my shoes wardrobe has nothing but fitflops. Maybe they don't suit everyone but I'd much rather be pain free, better posture and have my own joints as long as possible. When I told the orthopaedic consultant of my findings he was so grateful that fitflops helps their works and reduce their cost and list of patients! - 7/23/2014   2:24:48 AM
  • PONDXYZ
    114
    I guess they are new....so who knows if they will last a couple years or not....no matter what i buy....longevity is a big plus.
    https:// www.facebook.com/pages/%E0/72550283
    4138847
    - 3/18/2014   2:47:47 AM
  • 113
    I bought a pair of FitFlops and began wearing them religiously. While they definitely reduced the shock compared to walking in regular flipflops, I started to notice a new SEVERE pain in my knee (I have bad knees but this was different and far worse). The only thing that had changed about my daily routine was the FitFlops so I stopped wearing them. I've been fine since and threw the darn things in the garbage! - 6/24/2010   9:14:05 AM
  • LILACWOLF
    112
    I just looked them up because I love a comfy sandal. I have to say, for $60 I should be able to get a shoe that fits my foot, no half sizes or different widths? I'm not impressed. I'll just do what I did last year, visit my local cobbler shop and get a comfy sandal that fits perfectly. - 3/13/2009   5:27:25 PM
  • 111
    I have a pair for almost a year now. I really like them compared to other flipflops. I did find I had more balance and that I didn't feel like my toes needed to grip the sole as I walked. My first week wearing them, my shins hurt. But eventually it got better. Unfortunately, I have no idea if I received any physical benefit from wearing them. - 2/6/2009   8:38:46 AM
  • 110
    ok, where have I been??? This is the first I have ever heard of these...I have worn flip-flops for years but then the legs and back gave me a fit and I was left to wearing sneakers for support........my poor feet have never let me forget that they don't get the (airing) that they need.I may have to look into these - 2/6/2009   7:11:16 AM
  • 109
    1st fact not mentioned- any sandal that fits between the 2 toes only can pose hazards to your feet & legs- http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008
    /06/21/earlyshow/health/main4200038
    .shtml
    - 2/6/2009   12:58:48 AM
  • 108
    They are the most comfortable shoe I have ever wore I have 3 pair and that is the only shoe fit flop I wore during the summer and in the house. - 2/5/2009   5:04:03 PM
  • 107
    I twisted my ankle while walking on an uneven sidewalk and wore a pair of flip flops to the specialist who responded with " no wonder you hurt your ankle wearing those things." There is no good flip flop! I am a nurse and work with podiatrists who are familiar with the problems associated with these destroyers of soles. They rank up there with the spiked high heels. - 2/5/2009   2:59:47 PM
  • WRITER28
    106
    I have problems with my balance due to deafness. I wouldn't try these flip-flops. I have a pair of Earth Shoes (popular in the 70s and early 80s, they have a 'negative heel') and I love them. Wearing them has taken the stress off my back and knees and my calves are toned. I will be getting a few more pairs of Earth Shoes because I love these shoes. I find that I feel better wearing them and my sense of balance is better. Google 'Earth Shoes' to find the website and retailers around the country. They also have a catalog. Prices are $$ but, I don't mind, because I feel so much better wearing these shoes than I do shoes with even a 1/4" heel. - 2/5/2009   1:54:20 PM
  • IGIRL66
    105
    I've had two foot and ankle surgeries and have seen several podiatrists and orthopedic doctors in the past few years. Most of them have told me to never, ever even consider wearing any kind of flip flop, even "fitness or walking" flip flops. My favorite foot doc said he sees the flip flop fad as job security. The more people who wear them, and the more they wear them, the more patients he's going to have who require serious foot treatments and surgeries. He laughs at the irony that women have stopped wearing heels (which cause serious foot problems) but switched to something EVEN WORSE for their feet: Flip flops. - 2/5/2009   10:56:19 AM
  • 104
    I LOVE my FitFlops and feel I've easily gotten my $50 worth of wear out of them. They have been worn at every possible chance since last Spring and still good to go. I have plantar fascitis and fallen arches which means nothing but a good shoe. Wearing these have given me the liberty to wear the shoes I love and stand for longer periods without feet and back hurting. I never bought these on the basis of firming leg muscles but for those with feet issues -- definitely worth it. I will be buying another pair this summer for a backup in a different color. - 2/5/2009   8:06:52 AM
  • MUFFINTOPBEGONE
    103
    Thanks for another great review!

    I figured these were more hype than anything else when they made their way into stores a couple of years ago. And when I saw the price tag, I thought, "never"!

    However, upon hearing how comfortable they are, I might give them a second thought. I live in Texas, where I can wear flip flops at least 9 months out of the year and I practically live in them from May-October, at the very least. I have very high arches and it is hard to find sandals that support my feet properly, especially if I'm going to be doing a good amount of walking.

    I'll keep my eyes peeled for these to go on sale and then I'll try them out. - 2/3/2009   9:16:18 AM
  • 102
    Footsmart currently has these on sale for $39.99. I have been considering them, but am hesitating because I have arthritis in my knees. One of them is really bad, and I am afraid that if I get thrown off balance walking in these sandals that I will tear up my knee. Anyone else have this problem that has tried these??? - 1/27/2009   10:58:55 AM
  • 101
    I had a pair of these all last summer. While, I do agree that these are by far my favorite and most comfortable summer shoe. I'm not sure if they actually did anything for my legs and buns. I would absolutely recommend these if you're looking for a great flip flop that you can do just about anything in. - 1/25/2009   10:25:23 AM
  • 100
    Yes, they are pricey. But they are also very, very comfortable. I have high arches and therefore have a hard time with regular flip flops. I went ahead and got these and have enjoyed them so much. I love how my feet feel when I'm walking around in them. Think of it as an investment in your feet if nothing else! - 1/24/2009   2:51:08 PM
  • 99
    Fit Flops. HA HA HA HA..... Sigh.

    When will it end?

    My favorite is "walking in Fit Flops burns calories." DUH. - 1/21/2009   10:15:15 AM
  • 98
    I haven't tried Fit Flops, and probably won't. Have you tried MBT's? Expensive? Oh yeah. I had to think long and hard before buying mine as well as do a lot of research. They "made sense", so I bit the bullet. I DO NOT REGRET IT! The first time I went for a walk in them, my butt muscles were sore. And balance? Yep, you have to be constantly aware and "re-position". And yes, I'm from Florida also...they have sandals. - 1/20/2009   1:38:05 PM
  • JENNYFF
    97
    I've been curious about these. I live in the South and wear thongs/flipflops most of the year. I would love to have some with more support or cush. $ 50 for flip flops no way. I'll stick with my 2 year old Born sandals until they wear out. - 1/20/2009   2:55:19 AM
  • 96
    I have a pair of these and they are unbelievably comfortable; I would wear them every day if I could. At $50 a pop they are the cheapest pair of shoes I own on a $/usage basis, which is the way I determine value. - 1/19/2009   9:14:15 PM
  • 95
    NNZOOM - YES! Dr. Scholls! I remember them. They had the same premise - wear the sandals and work your calf muscles. I have seen the FitFlops in the Victoria's Secret catalog. I don't wear flip flops (we call them "thongs" here in New England), but I had been curious about the FitFlops. I like the look of the red and white ones, but honestly I just can't get past the price. I do spend $35-50 on shoes, and $75 on running sneakers, but I would not pay $49.99 for a pair of flip flops! - 1/19/2009   3:29:42 PM
  • 94
    shoot, my hubby complains If I wanna get running shoes for 50 bucks. let alone flip flops. - 1/6/2009   8:02:56 PM
  • M0NISHA
    93
    yikes! i wouldn't even buy these for $4.99 ... "micro wobbleboard technology"? love it! :| how about just come to hawai`i & walk on the sand for free? - 12/31/2008   8:18:32 PM
  • 92
    50 bucks for a pair of flops is just way too expensive for me...wow! - 12/30/2008   10:20:01 PM
  • 91
    It seems to me by reading this review and reading some of these comments that these shoes are great for walking but not so much for exercise results. My opinion is they should went to the shoe for walking support angle and not the bogus claims that they will help you lose weight.
    As for me, I am not really a fan of flip flops, especially thong. I didn't grow up wearing them other than at swimming pools times, and those times were not very often. I didn't like the feeling of the throng between my toes and the instability of the shoe. I had to adjust to them when I had to wear them as shower shoes in the Army. The same with sandals; I grew up wearing closed toe shoes, and had this thing about not showing my feet (though my feet aren't ugly). I found one pair of sandals that I liked the style and would wear every once and while, and I don't know what my mom did with them when she had my things shipped to Texas. So, now other than in the gym shower, no one will see me in open shoes and rarely will they see my feet. Overall, I would not buy the shoes, (may try on a pair), no matter the cost. - 12/23/2008   8:54:20 PM
  • 90
    I agree 50 bucks is more than I am willing to pay for sandles or flip flops. - 12/10/2008   12:57:03 PM
  • NODUH60
    89
    I guess they are new....so who knows if they will last a couple years or not....no matter what i buy....longevity is a big plus. - 12/10/2008   12:30:29 AM
  • SKINNYCHIC8
    88
    $50 is more than I am willing to pay for a pair of flip flops that make or may not improve my health. I will stick with exercising in tennis shoes. - 12/9/2008   12:59:27 PM
  • 87
    I love these sandals! They are sooo comfortable and I've actually gotten compliments on them from people who didn't realize what kind of sandals they are. IMO they were worth the money as I wear them often, and now that I'm pregnant, I need comfortable footwear. I would not buy a pair in each color because of the price, but whenever these sandals wear out, I will buy another pair(saving my loose change for them, since I know it will be a couple years before I need another pair). - 11/10/2008   1:48:56 PM
  • 86
    I have a pair and really do like them. Unfortunately I have not been able to wear them for too long of a period at one time because after awhile they SQUEAK! I have no idea why and have not heard of anyone else having this problem. It's actually the 2nd pair I've had withe the same problem. I exchanged the first pair and now debating on what to do with this pair. It's so loud and embarrassing out in public. - 9/13/2008   11:57:35 PM
  • 85
    A nice exercise DVD, stability ball, and resistance band comes to less than $50. You can even purchase some additional mp3s to work out with for that price :) - 9/13/2008   11:15:03 PM
  • LCROWLEY1
    84
    I had only heard of the Curves ones, this is new for me, thanks for the information. - 9/13/2008   8:18:14 PM
  • FLANAGANJJ
    83
    I love my fit flops. Recently found out that I have that heel problem and the foot doctor said I could were fit flops but not flip flops. Needed the heel to be cushioned. Wish they were cheaper I'd buy more. - 9/13/2008   3:46:09 PM
  • 82
    Oprah's favorite things are merchandise that she is paid to advertise for. Please forgive me for the honesty. Oprah is one of the smartest marketers out there. - 9/13/2008   3:22:00 AM
  • JIMZGRL
    81
    I bought a pair back in July. Went to a 3-day music festival in August(LOTS of walking). Wore my tennis shoes the first day=sore feet, wore my fitflops the next 2 days=no sore feet! They are SO comfortable, kinda squishy feeling. When I use my elliptical in my tennis shoes sometimes the sides of my feet will hurt, with the fitflops I have no problems. I give them five stars and two thumbs up!!!!! They are SO worth the price!!! - 9/12/2008   4:04:01 PM
  • 80
    My physical therapist recommended Rainbow flip flops for summer walking and I wear the ones with high arch support. I think I paid $45, but, unlike regular flip flops, they last for years and are comfortable. It's hard to find summer sandals with arch support and when it's over 100 degrees outside, I simply don't want to wear sneakers! - 9/12/2008   6:59:55 AM
  • AWLADYBUG77
    79
    I have tried the leg toning Curves tennis shoes from Avon, and they definitely work your legs more than a standard pair of tennis shoes. - 9/11/2008   10:36:59 AM
  • TWINSMOM0429
    78
    Yet another silly fad and money scam. People will try anything to lose weight easier & faster. But, it comes down to diet & exercise. It's pretty basic. Not some flip flop that will "get rid of cellulite" & "strengthen your core muscles" Needless to say, I will not be trying the FitFlop. Silly waste of money. - 9/11/2008   9:13:56 AM
  • 77
    If you ever see me in flip flops its because someone was being cruel to me and placed them on my corpse to be buried in. lol I don't even like wearing them when I've gotten a pedicure.... I sit there with my toes under the fan until I know they're dry. Then I put my open toe sandals (sandals with heels) on and go on about my business.

    Yoga Toe sandals? I've never heard of those, I'm going to look those up. I have a toe on each foot that's crooked which is annoying when I'm painting my toe nails in a hurry.... the polish gets on the toe beside it. Thankfully, its only enough so I can see it because I know it does it. For anyone else to see it they'd have to be staring in between my toes. But still, it would be nice to not have to worry about that. - 9/11/2008   8:38:06 AM
  • 76
    Dr. Scholl's came out with the "exercise sandal" about 40 years ago.... I wore them all the time.... never lost an ounce!!! - 9/11/2008   8:37:45 AM
  • 75
    I bought a pair last year online. I didn't notice any benefits from wearing them and I wondered if maybe its because I had gotten a size too large. Overall, I don't think they work. I'm not going to go buy a smaller size to see if that was the problem... $50 is way too much for an unattractive pair of sandals. - 9/11/2008   1:44:16 AM
  • STEPFANIER
    74
    I have a pair of Yoga Toe sandals. I LOVE them. They've really helped straighten my toes. I had to start by wearing them just a few hours a day--i got blisters between my toes! They're comfortable, and I've noticed a profound difference in my yoga balancing poses. - 9/11/2008   1:32:23 AM
  • 73
    Not in this life time would I buy a pair of flip flops for $50.00 no way! no how! no flip flops. - 9/11/2008   1:00:34 AM
  • 72
    I've NEVER EVEN HEARD OF THEM lol..

    Would love to hear more from people who actually bought them tho, I need some comfy walking shoes.......flipflops (if they are great) would be great for me - 9/11/2008   12:13:12 AM
  • 71
    I have a friend whose sister claims she lost 40 pounds with FitFlops alone... but she also started at about 350, so I think the whole "results may not be typical" thing applies here.

    I kinda want to try them, but I'm hoping they'll "fad out" in a few months and go to a reasonable price. I AM a die-hard flip-flop wearer (who lives in Florida), so they may be more reasonable to me than some.

    Also- can we suggest products to review? Someone mentioned Yoga Toes earlier, and I've heard about them and been curious. I'd love to know if they're really a good product or just a bunch of bunk! - 9/10/2008   9:59:48 PM
  • BOOFSMOM
    70
    I couldn't see spending that much on the Fit Flops (I don't like flip flops anyway), but because I have a lot of hip, knee and foot problems, I have purchased the MBT shoes. They may be expensive, but they have been worth it to me. They have relieved pressure and pain, my posture is MUCH better, and my legs are toned. I am unable to exercise too much (short walks almost daily), but just wearing these as my all-day, every-day shoe has made a huge difference.

    I know several other people that swear by them as well. They are certainly worth checking out. - 9/10/2008   9:08:36 PM
  • 69
    FitFlops or just FlipFlops $50 bucks for a pair is crazy. - 9/10/2008   8:08:41 PM
  • 68
    I'm addicted to my Crocs.
    Finding a shoe that fits, feels good, and encourages movement, that's the goal. My Birkies hurt- traitors! My feet are smaller, and I need new tennies... but my Crocs are great.
    Nice article, fun to read the comments.
    $49., not too much if you've got it, too much if you don't. Simple! - 9/10/2008   7:08:32 PM
  • 67
    Oh My Goodness! LMAO - I delighted myself having read this article. Most particularly because I know someone who bought them, and was advocating for the flips meanwhile because I had no knowledge of the product I couldn't say anything other than.. "Thats great! Go for it!" .. truth was, i wasn't buying a word of it. :D - 9/10/2008   5:54:40 PM
  • 66
    Oh please! Another gadget that claims all sorts of unproven benefits. I would say save your money, put on some regualr shoes on and do some regular exercise. Works for me. - 9/10/2008   3:39:29 PM

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