When I tested Reebok’s RunTone shoes last March, I found them to be “springy, versatile and comfortable,” which made me want to work out more. I also emphasized that it’s the squats and lunges – not the shoes – that will strengthen America’s glutes; the health claims amount to hype and clever marketing.
Today, the Federal Trade Commission agreed. As part of a settlement with the FTC over deceptive advertising, “Reebok International Ltd. will refund $25 million to consumers that bought the athletic wear maker's toning shoes,” wrote Chicago Tribune reporter Walin Wong.
“According to the FTC complaint, Reebok falsely asserted specific numerical claims, saying, for example, that walking in EasyTone shoes had been proven to lead to 11 percent greater strength and tone in hamstring muscles than regular walking shoes.”
In addition, there’s actually no such thing as 'toning' a muscle. And since there’s no standard definition, it can’t be measured. “If you’re poking a muscle that feels soft even when it’s flexed, that means you’re poking fat, not ‘untoned’ muscle,” said Alex Hutchinson, the author of “Which Comes First Cardio or Weights?” a book of fitness myths.
Reebok, which has stopped manufacturing boxes and promotional materials with the deceptive claims, certainly isn’t the only company touting the health benefits of shoes. But now that the FTC has taken action, will Skechers, MBT and Fitflops modify their own statements?Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun