I remember seeing the advertisement nearly two years ago. I was on the couch with two of my best friends, Kim and Megan, watching TV and eating Chinese. We couldn’t find the remote to fast-forward through the commercials. And God forbid one of us abandon our couch cushion and lo mein to do it manually. So we watched as pairs of perfect legs made their way across the screen for a new product called the Reebok Easytone Toning Shoes.
“Balance pods create natural instability that force your muscles to work harder! Provides 28 per cent more muscle activity in the butt! 11 per cent more in the thigh and hamstring and calves!”
“What a bunch of $*&#,” I said, as I struggled to pick up a pile of noodles with my chopsticks.
“I have to get those,” Kim said, as she inhaled an eggroll.
“Seriously, where could the remote be?” Megan said, as she looked around her, expecting it to magically appear out of thin air.
Fast-forward five days. We all met for a walk to work off those eggrolls and noodles and whatever else we consumed that week. As expected, Kim had a brand new pair of Reebok Easytone Toning Shoes. Kim is the girl who has tried every cellulite erasing cream, every slimming body wrap, every fat reducing lotion—in short, every purchasable item that promises weight loss without work and exercise.
We set off for a six-mile loop, during which Kim raved about her shoes. “You have to try them! I can totally feel it!” And, for the past two years, she has sworn by her Easytones.
After hearing Kim’s sales-pitch for months, Megan bought them too, but she was not such a fan. “I don’t feel anything different,” she told me. “I think you were right. It’s a bunch of $#*&.”
I borrowed Megan’s shoes to see for myself, and I agreed with her. I was right. There was no noticeable difference between my tried-and-true Nikes and the nifty-and-new Reeboks. Kim told us we were both crazy and cynical. We told her she was crazy and delusional. We had this argument about once a week.
And then came this:
On Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission released the following in a statement: “Reebok International Ltd has agreed to pay $25 million to settle charges that it made unsupported claims that its ‘toning shoes’ help wearers get fit faster.”
The money will be used towards consumer refunds.
Adidas, the parent company of Reebok, released its own statement, explaining: “The (FTC) allegations suggested that the testing we conducted did not substantiate certain claims used in the advertising of our EasyTone line of products. In order to avoid a protracted legal battle, Reebok has chosen to settle with the FTC. Settling does not mean we agreed with the FTC’s allegations; we do not. We stand behind our EasyTone technology—the first shoe in the toning category that was inspired by balance-ball training.”
New Balance, Skechers, Ryka and Avia all have their own version of a toning shoe and may soon face the same scrutiny from the FTC.
But, just as Reebok stands behind its product, so does Kim. “My hips don’t lie,” she insists.
Me? I stick by my initial reaction. It’s $*#&. Just as remotes don’t magically appear out of thin air, a pair of sneakers will not magically tone your legs; you actually do have to get your butt off the couch. $*#&!