The case against Skechers and claims brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ran 27 pages and included an agreement by Skechers to cease all prior claims made on behalf of its product, 'Shape-ups' related to health, fitness or weight loss. The FTC, in sum, suggested that such claims constituted Skechers false advertising.
Skechers claimed that just by wearing them, consumers would burn calories and strengthen muscle through the simple process of walking.
Not so fast, said Peter Kupprion, a strength and conditioning specialist interviewed as part of the CBS News report. Kupprion was quoted as saying it's a stretch to think that the simple act of wearing a shoe is "going to produce a tangible result, or noticeable result.
"My biggest concern was that it could actually be taxing on your body, to be standing on an unstable shoe all day and could lead to a risk of injury."
Kevin Valluzzi concurs. The owner of The Fitness Leader based in Tenafly told The Record of Bergen County (05/20/12) that shoes such as Skechers Shape-ups not only fail to deliver toning benefits to muscles, they can also cause injury over the long term.
"People don't even think about the knee, hip and even back injuries they can cause," Valluzzi, himself a personal trainer, said. "When you have a sneaker like that with such an elevated heel, it's almost like walking on a high heel. And after weeks and months it can throw off your gait, because your feet are never coming into contact with the ground."
The Skechers toning shoes at the center of the controversy is the Shape-up line, which features a one-inch 'rocker,' or rolling sole. Skechers claimed that because the shoe provided its own, innate instability the wearer would have to compensate and in so doing "use more energy with every step."
However, the 'instability' at the heart of the shoe's stated benefit has, as the trainers above suggested, become the source of Skechers injuries for some people, resulting in a Skechers Shape Up lawsuit. Other consumers are demanding—and will be getting, their money back.
The Shape-up isn't the only shoe named in the FTC settlement. The Resistance Runner, Toners, and Tone-up shoes were also referenced. The alleged Skechers false advertising also included a false representation of clinical studies supporting its claims of muscle toning and weight loss.
For his part, trainer Valluzzi told The Record that he couldn't believe such shoes were allowed on the market in the first place. In his view the shoes stem from society's wish to get maximum benefit from minimal physical investment, and the shoe companies vying for market share in providing that dubious benefit. "It's part of the whole quick-fix thing people want," he said.
What people want and what people get are often two different things. Many have sought reduced weight and toned muscles, but instead have wound up on crutches from Skechers injuries.