Who doesn’t want firm buttocks and rock hard thighs? That’s the question men everywhere should be asking Reebok after they became the first major shoe manufacturer to bring out their own leg-toning walking shoe, marketed, just like similar shoes before it, only to the ladies. You know the footwear in question--the shoes with the lopsided soles, which force wearers to work a bit harder to walk, toning all the while.
While men should thank Reebok for helping to further tone the gams of the fairer sex, shouldn't we demand equal access in pursuit of a tighter tush?
The EasyTone ($100), which launched worldwide this month, has two pods with air pockets centered on the heel and forefoot. The pods are designed to look and behave like the balance balls at gyms (used by both men and women) across the country that intentionally keep the wearer off-balance. The instability requires an increase in muscle activity. As the (female) wearer shifts weight from the heel to the toe, the pods transfer air back and forth. Reebok leveraged its internal expertise with air transfer from their decades of Pump designs in developing the shoe.
The idea of intentional instability isn’t new to the footwear industry, but with Reebok, the technology is finding its way into the mainstream for hte first time. MBT footwear (available for both sexes) has been around for several years with its easily recognizable curved sole that seemingly turns your foot into a rocking chair. Reebok concedes that the EasyTone is pursuing the same ultimate benefit but is quick to point out distinctions. First and foremost, MBT shoes look different. They market themselves as the anti-shoe and those wearing a pair should get used to the attention. The EasyTone look like any other shoe once on the foot. The Reebok shoe also has two pods, one in the heel and forefoot, while MBT is designed around one larger pod.
Says Head of Womens at Reebok, Katrin Ley, “We believe every woman has the right to a nice butt but for busy women, trying to fit this into their hectic lives is not an option. Reebok EasyTone allows them to tone as they go about their everyday business. The combination of the balance pod technology and great styling means it’s a shoe they are not ashamed to be seen wearing either.”
But what about the buttocks of men, Reebok? What about the buttocks of men?
“When you talk about toning from the gluts on down, that seems to talk directly to women,” said Bill McInnis, the head of Reebok’s Advanced Innovation Division. “Guys aren’t spending a lot of time thinking about how their legs are toned up.”
As much as I'd love to just let Reebok dictate how I choose to live my life, I wanted to go against the wishes of Bill and Katrin and try some EasyTones for myself. But despite my willingness to ignore color palettes for the sake of science, Reebok doesn’t even offer an EasyTone in a women’s equivalent to a men’s size 12.
Determined, however, to conduct an objective and unbiased evaluation, I turned to the closest test subject I could find – my wife. The subject immediately noticed a distinct instability after putting the shoes on. While walking forward, a slight wobble of the foot could even be seen by an observer standing behind. That said, after a few days of wearing the shoe, she couldn’t discern muscle fatigue or soreness suggesting a significant increase in muscle activation.
As is often her wont, the subject next broke the rules for suggested usage deciding to jog in the footwear. Unlike the walking evaluation, the subject felt an immediate difference commenting that it was “just a lot harder to run,” with clear muscular soreness in the calves, thighs and buttock. She added that it felt like she “did lunges and squats during the jog”. McInnis emphasizes that the shoe is being sold as a walking shoe and that the components are tuned for walking but admits that a running version could be close behind (thought we’d fear, given the market research, still ahead of a men’s version).
And as for that men's shoe, Reebok won’t offer a peep in terms of any expected timeline for its gender-politics-defying debut. So, in the meantime, we’re endorsing a protest where men everywhere stop walking in their Reeboks altogether, pausing to appreciate the fruits of EasyTone's labor while sitting on a park bench and enjoying the view.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.