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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