What’s the Deal with Shape-Up Shoes?

MBT Kaya MBT Tunisha


Recently, Siouxsie spied one of her non-goth female attorney friends who was on her way to the office sporting the Mary Janes pictured above.   This is so confusing.  What are these shoes?

So, Siouxsie investigated.  Maybe this is a sign that attorneys are getting edgier.  Or maybe her friend had a secret dark side?

Nope.  Siouxsie casually questioned her friend about the shoes.  She stated that they are not funky shoes; they are  “shape up” shoes made by MBT (Massai Barefoot Technology):

The shoes were invented by a Swiss engineer called Karl Müller in the early 1990s. He noticed, on a visit to Korea, that walking barefoot over some soft paddy fields alleviated his back, knee and Achilles tendon problems. He also discovered that the Kenyan Masai tribesmen don’t suffer from back pain and are famous for their perfect posture.  Putting these two pieces of information together, Müller reasoned that this was because they walk across ground that yields underneath their feet. Walking on hard surfaces, such as pavements, that don’t have any “give”, he concluded, has done our backs in. Not to mention our knees and ankles.  Müller decided that the answer was a shoe with a curved sole, effectively with no heel, which mimics the rocking motion of a foot walking on soft sand or grass.  [source]

The manufacturers promise that if you wear these shoes, you will have a firm butt and toned calves.  The theory, in short, is that the shoe’s unstable sole keeps you off balance and so you have to use smaller, little-used muscles. And this somehow is said to burn more calories, improve posture and tone legs.

Blech.  This whole concept is ridiculous.  The shoes are named after Masai tribesmen.  But they DO NOT wear any shoes.  At all.

The most important thing about a shoe should be how awesome it looks, and then how comfortable it is.  And perhaps, you should consider what the shoe is made from and how it is made.  But don’t think for a minute that a shoe can magically make you become more fit.  That is beyond silly.

There is no way these shoes will firm up your butt.  Not to worry.  These shoes are terrific for a different reason.  They will make you a little more goth.

And if more women start wearing these MBT shoes at (or even on their way to) the office, it might just make it okay for folks like Siouxsie to take it one tiny-platform step farther.

Demonia Emily Demonia Dolly

And then maybe one day, this will possible.

*Disclaimer:  Siouxsie has never tried MBT shoes.  Nor does she plan to.  She has pretty amazing posture, which she owes all to yoga, not some shoe (although now that she thinks of it, maybe her propensity to collect difficult-to-balance-in platform shoes hasn’t hurt).


~ by siouxsielaw on June 21, 2010.

7 Responses to “What’s the Deal with Shape-Up Shoes?”

  1. I’ve never heard of the MBT’s – but they’re really fugly. Give me good ole Demonias any day! Like the bottom platform sneakers too 🙂

  2. I never noticed how goth these shoes are. You have really opened my eyes.

  3. […] Law wrote in with a suggestion for a poll about Shape-Up Shoes — as she wrote about the topic here, these things supposedly a) help you exercise muscles you wouldn’t normally, giving you a […]

  4. I wore Earth brand shoes for years, which is basically the same thing (although more aesthetically pleasing). I think what it comes down to is whatever pair of shoes you wear affects how your feet hit the ground, which in turn affects which muscles are used. So technically, what this brand of shoes promises is true, but it just means that the backs of your legs are getting a work out but the fronts aren’t. Or if you wear regular shoes, vice versa – but you don’t hear regular shoes bragging about working out the front of your legs.

  5. […] Last week, Siouxsie blogged about Shape-Up shoes. […]

  6. Not really. They are very comfortable to walk in. But if you have posture or back problems to begin with, the weight can exacerbate them. I tried them and loved the way they felt to walk in…but couldn’t take the back pain and returned them.

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