Top Toning Shoes

The toning shoe craze came to an end by 2013, following settlements and refunds by major marketers for ad claims that their shoes helped tone the legs and buttocks. The designs used rocker-soles or instability pods to either force the foot into a greater range of motion with each stride or are unstable so the body has to keep balancing constantly. With a toning shoe, it is still important to look for basic elements of walking shoe performance. The shoe must fit the foot correctly so the the foot isn't sliding around in the shoe. For performance walking, the shoe must still be flat, flexible relatively lightweight. Many toning shoes fail on those criteria. Some lines are disappearing fast, so if you love them, shop now.


ABEO R.O.C.S Aubrey
ABEO R.O.C.S Aubrey. The Walking Company

ABEO R.O.C.S. smartly doesn't market their rocker-soled shoes as toning shoes, but as comfort shoes. After liquidating the remaining stock of MBT shoes in the USA, they debuted this line in 2013. They are lightweight shoes despite having a very thick sole. As toning shoe lines are phased out, walkers who became fans of rocker-bottom shoes needed a new source. If you are one of those people, give ABEO R.O.C.S. a try-on. They come in a variety of colors and styles.

FitFlops Toning Sandals

FitFlops Slingback Comber
FitFlops Slingback Comber. Courtesy of Pricegrabber

FitFlops have a microwobbledboard in the sole to provide a little bit of instability to activate the muscles. I find the effect pleasant and wear them for a variety of purposes. Slingback Comber design, which has a heel strap and ankle strap, you can even do a brisk walking workout in them. They also have many flip flop designs, which might be nice for the instability effect but which are not good for fitness walking. Still, I loved the Roma design (discontinued) so much that I stocked up on extra pairs.

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Nike Free Run+ Shoes

Nike Free Run+ 2
Nike Free Run+ 2. Courtesy of Pricegrabber

Nike Free Run+ shoes simulate barefoot walking with an ultra-flexible sole. This gives your foot an extra workout, so they recommend building up time in the shoe. They are lightly cushioned and shouldn't be worn for distance walking, although I have friends who wear them on six mile (10K) walks. Unlike the heavier types of toning shoes, these are very lightweight and I enjoyed wearing them all day for lifestyle walking and shorter workouts. Oprah agrees with me and added them to her 2010 Favorite Things list.

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Vibram FiveFingers

Vibram FiveFingers 640
Vibram FiveFingers. Courtesy of Pricegrabber

While some people think rocker bottom shoes look weird, they haven't begun to see weird until they spy someone wearing the foot-shaped (with toes) Vibram FiveFingers. They are flexible to give the freedom of barefoot walking, but with the protection of a Vibram sole. The theory is that they will help people with balance. They come in several styles. My reviewer says they converted him into a walker, he loves them so much.

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Reebok EasyTone Shoes

Reebok EasyTone Shoes
Reebok EasyTone Shoes. Courtesy of Pricegrabber

The Reebok EasyTone shoes have instability pods under the heel, forefoot and toe of the shoe, to promote more muscle activation. I like this design compared to any rocker bottom shoe, but they are less flexible than I like in a performance walking shoe. I've had both good and bad reader reviews for them.

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Skechers Shape-Ups

Skechers Shape-Ups Walking Shoes
Skechers Shape-Ups Walking Shoes. Courtesy of Pricegrabber

Skechers Shape-Ups defined the toning shoe market. While other designs had been kicking around, Skechers popularized them. They continue to add different designs, some not as heavy as the pair that I panned for being too heavy. They are super cushioned and feel great. But our readers have had highly variable results, some blaming them for muscle aches and even injuries. Others say they work as advertised.

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