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My New Kicks: New Balance Rock & Tones

About a week ago, after a particularly long day, I returned home to find an unexpected present from New Balance waiting for me: gray Rock & Tone sneakers.  (Thank you, New Balance!)  They fit perfectly, and, while I've only had a chance to run errands in them so far, they are super, super comfy. 

I'm actually not new to the toning sneaker phenomenon.  I've had MBTs for years, and I really love them.  There's no question that toning footwear is gimmicky, and a lot of the marketing, particularly for this new crop of shoes, is irksome.  (Sneakers don't do anything for you; you do the work.)  Reebok's hyper-sexualized EasyTone ads were especially offensive.  Still, it only makes sense that the way a shoe is constructed would affect your gait, and that shoes can be tweaked to align your body differently and target different muscle groups.  Toning sneakers' curved soles create instability, forcing you to engage your core and fight ever-so-slightly harder for your balance as you walk.  In theory, this mimics walking barefoot on uneven surfaces, the way humans were designed to walk.

W hen I had knee problems, my MBTs helped with the pain.  Now, they're just fun.  It really feels like wearing little Bosu balls on my feet.  The boldness of the shoe, though, is somewhat limiting.  I bought mine in 2005 or 2006, back when MBT didn't offer many choices of styles or colors.  My chunky, bright orange pair make quite the statement, and I can't help but wonder what people think when they see me in them.  (She spent how much on ugly sneakers?  Her cellulite must really be awful.) 

In comparison, my Rock & Tones are far more subtle.  The sole feels thinner, the curve is less pronounced and they look much more like regular sneakers.  I'm not sure that these are as "fun," but I'm probably more likely to wear my Rock & Tones around as a result.

I have to admit, though, that a little voice in the back of my head is asking why "more shoe" is the answer to the realization that walking barefoot is better for you.  I've been reading a lot about Vibram Five Fingers lately, which present a far more minimalist solution.  I'm definitely thinking about trying them for comparison.  They're so not me... but that could change.

I'll keep you posted.

-Gym Belle-

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Reader Comments (2)

I've been toying with the minimalist approach to shoes for a while, going through the same choices you've gone through (older MBTs, Vibrams, Terra Plana/Vivo Barefoot, etc.), mostly after reading this article:
Most recently I bought a pair of Kigo shoes - I wouldn't wear them to run or workout, but so far they're my favorites for wearing around. They're definitely inconspicuous (unlike the Vibrams!!!) and I've gotten compliments on them for their looks. But nothing's perfect, and their insoles wear on my feet funny.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTracy

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