Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Get in shape without setting foot in a gym? Erm, not quite...

It is a truth universally known that I piled on the pounds during my pregnancies. I won't bore you with the finer details. Suffice to say that it did take me rather a long time to shift the weight, hampered somewhat by the fact that I am also a tad lazy. Not lazy, as in I like to slob in front of the TV every night, but lazy as in I never go to the gym. Never ever. In fact, I don't even have membership to a gym. I mean, seriously, there's no point in fooling myself. I'd just never go.

So when I received an e-mail asking me if I'd be interested in reviewing some trainers, I smiled. A smile that said 'If only you knew what I was really like'.

But then I looked a little closer at the e-mail.

Trainers that help you get in shape without setting foot in a gym.

Now they sounded like my kind of trainers. I read on. The Skechers Shape Ups, it claimed, were designed to :

  • Promote Weight Loss

  • Strengthen the back

  • Firm calf and buttock muscles

  • Reduce cellulite and tone your thighs

  • Increase cardiovascular health

  • Improve posture

  • Reduce stress on knee and ankle joints

Ok, so I had been in France and I had been forced to eat rather too much French cheese and saucisson and I could have done with shifting a few pounds. And besides, Skechers were responsible for making my all-time favorite flip-flops which I had worn constantly for about five Summers until they had died a death and left me devastated in the process.

It was a no-brainer. I agreed to review them.

So when they arrived in the post, I was more than eager to put them on and start off-setting the thick layers of peanut butter that I had smeared all over my toast that morning.

But, alas, before putting them on it was recommended that I watch an instructional DVD. Now let me just paint a quick picture for you. This is mid-Summer holidays. I have two children. Under no circumstances am I allowed to watch anything on television other than Peppa Pig and Dora the Explorer without encountering so much resistance that I know it's futile to continue. And besides, an instructional DVD for a pair of trainers? Oh purlease. I may be verging on the lazy side, but I have worn a pair of trainers before.

So I tossed the DVD aside and slipped my feet straight into the superior quality uppers of durable leather and breathable mesh. Well you would, wouldn't you?

Big mistake.

I almost toppled over there and then.

If only I'd watched the DVD, I would have heard the words of wisdom...

Take a moment to find your centre of balance.

But fret not. I managed to steady myself against the wall and as I did so I realised I could almost touch the ceiling. These trainers were huge. It felt like I was standing in five-inch heels, without the elegance or sophistication that heels bring, unfortunately. In fact, it felt like someone had tied two bricks to the bottom of my feet...extremely soft and comfortable bricks, but bricks nonetheless. And what's more, they made me about six foot tall. Now in the brochure that accompanies the DVD (which I quickly sat down and read just in case I was missing something important like 'under no circumstances should you put these on your feet if you are over five foot tall'), it states that;

With proper use, your body will appear taller.

The thing is, I don't really want to be taller. I'm quite happy being 5ft 8 already (ok, ok 5ft 7 and a half). No, but seriously, I'm above average height for a woman and my feet are definitely larger than average too. And trainers in particular have a way of making my feet feel like boats. And the Sketchers Shape-Ups, well they may be the QE2 of boats, but they're still boats.

However, I am a fair kinda gal and an open-minded one at that (no one mention poo please, this is a serious trainer review), so I regained my balance (not quite as easy as it sounds) and strode straight out of the front door to put them through their paces. Four hours later I returned home on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year (just my luck) and released my poor, sweaty, sorry feet. They were in agony. As were my legs, my buttocks and even my back.

When I did eventually watch the DVD (much later when the girls had gone to bed), I learnt that...

Shape-Ups will probably feel awkward at first.

Hmmm. Well, they're not wrong there. And it goes on to recommend that...

You should start by wearing them for short periods of time (ie 15 to 20 minutes).

Ok, so it serves me right for not having paid attention to the instructional DVD, but even if I had, it does state that...

Consistent use may result in soreness during the first few weeks of use. As your muscles strengthen, aches 'should' subside.

So how long is 'a few weeks'? Aches 'should' subside? What if they don't? Do I really have the time or inclination to wear a pair of trainers which are 'awkward' feeling and cause me pain for a few weeks, on the off-chance that my buttocks might be firmer? Anyway, who said I wanted firmer buttocks? My husband has never complained.

And then I watched the DVD again, just to make sure I hadn't missed anything. And do you know what they suggested? A series of exercises entitled Kick Back, Rock & Roll, Roll & Rock & Roll and The Lean. Exercises? But I thought they were supposed to tone up without exercising. Or was that without going to the gym? But isn't that the same thing? I mean, people who don't want to go to the gym (me), hardly want to stand with their palms pressed against a wall whilst they bend their knees and stretch out their leg muscles in repetitions of 5, do they?

Ok, so this is the thing. There's no denying that they look good - when I first saw them in the box I was impressed and there's also no denying that they're comfortable - the four separate cushioned linings see to that, but they're just strange-feeling. Kind of un-natural. And in fact, the brochure says that Skechers Shape Ups teach you to walk in a different way. But that's the problem. I don't want to walk in a different way. This is England. If I start swinging my hips and pretending to be on a catwalk then, apart from feeling like a prize plonker, I'll probably be beaten-up. And I'd really rather not be.

Soooooooooo. That's my review. Well, they did say in the e-mail that they wanted an honest review. And as one of my esteemed readers told me only a few days ago, my blog is one of the most honest ones she's ever read.

So there you go. You can't say fairer than that.

I'm sorry lovely people at Skechers. But seriously, my feet are still hurting...


  1. Blimey, they sound advanced, but you still have to walk in them? They don't do it for you? Rubbish.

    I fancy some of those bad-boys the Beasty Boys used in one of their videos, where they just bounced around a city.

  2. wow when i first read this i was all set for popping out and getting some, as i am allergic to gyms so unfortuantley i am unable to go (cough cough) but this sounds harder work, if i wanted to ache i would do my john travlota on a saturday night (after several voddies), i think i am going to have a go at them toning tables, just lay there and voila i'm inchs(feet) slimmer than i was when i went in lol and besides my hubby says instructions are a waste of time and never reads them ( this is why he always says everything is crap cos it doesnt work- no dear you just didnt read the instructions)
    now go soak them feet with a bottle of wine, you deserve after all that walking!

  3. I had a similar experience with MBTs so got a full refund. I tell you what though - FitFlops are just amazing - I wore my every day all summer long and feel really sad I can't wear them throughout the winter...and I paid for them myself....

  4. I was almost tempted until I read on. I think it's going to have to be the carving knife for me. No, seriously, I am going on holiday for a week and then I am determined to do something about this blob around my middle. I used to be so slim.

  5. Yes, Mrs...go for the FitFlops. Similar concept to the MBT/Skecher phenomenon but far lighter, prettier and cheaper.

    You are hysterical. Wonder what the Skecher company thought after your review! Hee!

    :) Karin

  6. I think I would get some if I had a dog to walk. Then you could see that as extra exercise. But I don't. Luckily I LOVE the gym.

  7. I'm going to buck the trend here. I want some! I think I'd love them. And I'm 5'7" plus a bit too. And I have enormous feet. And I do not ever ever ever set foot in a gym. Never. Ever. On principle.

    Fit-flops sound good too. How have I not come across them before? Why is everyone recommending them now, at the end of summer? Huh? People? Grrrr.

    Great review though, really enjoyed it. x

  8. I loved reading this review! You're such a good writer. I agree with you on this - I don't want to learn to walk a different way to loose weight - running is doing it for me. And I am one of those who never ever reads the manual or watches the DVD.

  9. Sounds far to much like hard work!

  10. sore feet? i have the same from walking around Paris without wearing giant moon boots lol! I was secretly hoping they would have worked miracles so i could run out and get some and wear them for work :) x

  11. I second the FitFlops ... now I don't know how effective they are, but definitely a lot prettier.

  12. I want some!!! I don't care about the pain, pain is gooood (in a Jane Fonda way, not in a masochistic sense!). And my buttocks (make that thighs, calves, stomach, well everything really) definitely need toning up. Plus my chiropractor told me off yesterday for wearing flatties which don't support your joints AT ALL. Which I'd say makes the Platform-Skechers perfect. Where do I get 'em, where??? (Hope your aches are easing up now honey xxx)

  13. Great review. Anything that says you can shape up without going to the gym always makes me suspicious.

  14. SPD - Ah you see - that's where they've gone wrong. Trainers that walk for you...now those are my kind of trainers. Those and ones that bounce around the city too...

    Bev - So is that what the doctors said hey? Nice one. Think I may be allergic to gyms too then. At least they make me all red and sweaty... Yep, hubby hates instructions too. Will not follow them ever. I'm normally quite good so I'm not sure what happened in this instance. But like I said, not sure it would have made any difference. Don't let me put you off them though!!

    nixd - I am soooo behind. I used to be quite cool once you know. Haven't even seen fitflops. In fact, I think I may have seen the word written down and I just thopught some one had spelled flip flops wrong. And now it's only too late isn't it. And then when I get them by next Summer they'll be something way more sophisticated on the market and I'll still be behind. But yes, I live in flip flops, so fit flops sound like my kinda thing x

    Maddie - I'm a huge advocator of will-power! Forget exercise. Good, healthy eating yes, but will-power too. Will-power to stop yourself eating that chocolate biscuit when it's all you can think about. That's the only way I lost any weight at all. But I don't think you have much to lose...

  15. Cafe Bebe - Yep, like I said to NixdMinx above - Fit Flops sounds so much more 'me'. Although now Summer is coming to an end...I may have to wait another whole year until I get some. Thanks hun. Bit scared to know what the Sketchers people think...buy hey, I can't write a damn thing if I'm not honest. I kind of seize up!

    Mwa - Yep, they do say they're good for dog-walking, but I don't have one either and sadly I doubt the cat would enjoy being put on a lead! I'm sure they're good for some people. Just not for me!

    BiB - Thanks hun. Ooh you totally sound like me (apart fromt he wanting to try them, taht is). But seriously, give them a go. I'm sure they would suit some people (just not me). But yes, fit flops. I'm so with you. I've never seen them either...why are we so behind? As I said to Nixdminx above, I was once cool...where did it all go wrong? Yep, fit flops for next Summer it seems...

    Lady Mama - Thanks darling. Bless you for your lovely comments. Got a bit worried about what I was going to say about them, but my mantra is, 'if all else fails, be honest and then yu don't tie yourself up in knots trying to remember what it is you're supposed to have done'. Or something like that....!

  16. New Mummy - My sentiments exactly. All I want to do with a pair of shoes is put them on my feet and walk. Is that asking too much?

    Amy - Oh how was Paris? Must pop over to your blog and say hello. Hope you had a great time. Don't let me put you off them - I'm sure they must work for some people (just not, ahem, me)!

    Frogs - Yep, I'm gonna do it...Fit flops it is. Just wish I'd known about them before Summer was almost over. (I'm so out of date these days).

    Mamma Po - Oh honey, hilarious. Sketchers may yet forgive me if someone likes them! See Sketchers people - over here - read this comment - someone wants to try you!!! Like I said above, I'm sure they work for some people...just not for me. And besides - you are sooooo much better at me than reading instructions and doing things properly. I think you might be just who Sketchers were hoping for!!

    Rosie - Thanks honey. Well, I was hoping it might be true...but even with not going to the gym it was too much like hard work...shame really!

  17. How funny that you're still meant to do exercises in them. Maybe you could wear normal trainers and do the exercises on the DVD? If you could be bothered of course. Very funny review, love the honesty.

  18. You can get winter FitFlops, they're lovely and cosy. I lived in mine the whole of last winter. They're a bit like short Ugg boots but with a thicker sole. See, no need to wait until next summer :-)

  19. I have MBT's and you've reminded me that on my 'walk' yesterday I had them on which is probably why I struggled. And who's got time to watch a dvd? You just want to put on and go! I wonder- were they hard to get on? because MBT's are really hard, I can never remember how to loosen them to get them on!

  20. whistlejacket - Thanks! Yep - only occurred to me halfway through watching the DVD that they were suggesting exercises. I mean really....If I'd wanted to do exercises I would have put on normal trainers (ahem not sure I have any though)!!!

    frogs - Oh my dear you have made me smile - thank you!! I shall do a quick google aearch and find them now. Here's to Winter flit flops. My world may never be the same again.

    Chic Mama - Exactly - needing to watch a DVD in order to wear the trainers properly put me right off. But maybe that was just me being a tad lazy. I'm sure they would have worked for some people! But no, they weren't actually difficult to get on...they were strangely comfortable in a very odd way!

  21. Don't worry - just got a mail to say that Fitflops are going to do wintershoes (sort of an Ugg boot that tones your bum whilst you walk - could anything be better ???) - just need to find the pennies for this one (would be wrong to spend my health in pregnancy grant on these, right)

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  23. But you're so lovely and thin!!! You don't need these. I have however been sorely tempted myself as me and my gym are estranged... although I still seem to be paying alimoney...

  24. A very honest - and hilarious - review indeed. These sound like the MBT thingies. Why not just totter around in your fanciest pair of sparkly party shoes? They probably have the same effect but may also help you to feel more like a lady in an endless world of messy floors, unkempt hair and hastily applied nail polish (well, that's my world anyway).

  25. Very good review, not scathing, honest...very funny, no-one, but no-one EVER reads the instructions! And watch an instructional DVD pfft!

  26. Shoes that make you fall over and hurt your thighs/calves/bum? Aren't they called stilettos?

    Loved it!


  27. Very honest review, was hoping you were going to sing their praises so I could rush out and buy a pair...but alas looks like I will just have to stick with trying to get motivated to go to the gym.

  28. On principle I don't think I could don footwear that required me to follow instructions.

    Of course both Shape Ups and FitFlops still have a major flaw in that they require one to actually, well... walk.

    Anyone know of a pair that will give you a full body work out whilst propped up on a cushion? I'll take 5 pairs.

  29. Muddling Along - I know, I know - I just heard too. Frogs + Sprogs above just told me. Think I know what I'm going to treat myself to!

    Michael OBG - Don't be shy now...you can say anything to me...

    Sparx - Now that is precisely why I don't have Gym membership. Can't quite believ I've never fallen in to that trap. Not like me to be so restrained! And yes I do need them. You only saw me with clothes on. Underneath it's a different story!

    Hot Cross - Oh you're so right. Now why didn't I think of that? I shall get my heels out straight away, even if I do just sit here in them!

  30. Frog in the Field - Thanks! Exactly...people normally don't read instructions when they put a piece of flat pack furniture together, so they're hardly going to read it for a pair of trainers...when I did watch it though, it made me giggle - was the best part I think!

    Insomniac - Oh darling - I wish they had been stilletos. May have given them a good review then. At least I would have looked good hey?

    Lorraine - Oh don't let me put you off - just watching the instructional DVD is an experience not to be missed. But the Gym - Oh no - I would recommend that even less!

    Dawn - Ha ha ha. Yes indeed. Save 5 pairs for me as well!

  31. They sound very intriguing.

    I saw some trainers in a shoe shop here which were meant to help with back problems. Maybe "trainers which help" is the new thing.

  32. Ooooh I nearly bought some MBT's (same thing only different) but am so glad I didn't now - I did wonder about them and the are sooo expensive. Thanks for the review honey!

  33. If they want to send me a pair I'd be happy to try them on my walks up the mountain ;)
    Although I did manage to fall down the stairs wearing a pair of slippers on Friday!
    I know someone who bought MBT's and she doesn't walk anyway....probably why she didn't lose any weight!

  34. Iota - They are intriguing. Yes, that's a good way to describe them. Unfortunately though, they just require a bit too much effort for the likes of me.

    Reasons - Yep, same, same, but different. Strange thing is, I only checked out the retail price of them yesterday - after I'd written the post and I was blown away - they retail at almost £100!!!! Crikey. Definitely wouldn't spend that on them...

    magnumlady - Oh slippers and stairs just don't go together well. I fell down the stairs with slippers on when Edie was a baby and landed right on my tailbone. Still hurts me now, almost two years later. Hope you're ok. Not sure you could climb mountains in these trainers - they're just too wobbly...

  35. Fantastic review - honest, straightforward, funny. I'm with you totally on avoiding gyms. And exercise, if we're honest, so not surprised you were tempted to try them!

    And congrats on being Blog of the Day - woo hoo!!

  36. That is one of the best reviews I've ever read. I think the people at Skechers should be proud of it. Bad press can sometimes be good press if you know what I mean!

  37. AMM - Eek - do you think?? Do you think they'll hate it?? I couldn't lie...

    Catharine - Thanks love. Yep, think I must be allergic to gyms - they make me go all red and sweaty. Best avoided I think. Shame the trainers didn't work though. I could have done with shifting a pound or two!

    jpb - Well thank you very much indeed! Hmm... haven't actually heard from the Skechers people yet, so we will see!

  38. I usually skip the review blog posts but really enjoyed this one. There is some really strange stuff out there!

  39. Jen - Thanks. (And yes I do too). Reviews are booooooring. Glad you liked it though. Yep, strange trainers. People have too much time on their hands inventing these sorts of things I think!

  40. MT: sorry, but missed the key element. It's the DOG. Did you have a dog available when you were trying your new outfit? Bet you didn't.

    For more help on getting fit with a dog, see my "Health and Fitness Tips" on my chrome blog. Always glad to be of assistance.

  41. Rob-Bear - No, no, no - I didn't. Darn it. Do you think that's where I went wrong? I guess I could have taken my cat out for a walk but I'm not sure she would have liked it really. Will pop over to yours. Thanks for the link x

  42. Lol!! I admire you honesty not sure Sketchers will though ha! I have seen your comment on my post about reviews - Thanks, i'm glad you didn't take offence to my frank confession :)

    Honestly though, it's all in the walk so maybe they're on to something! It's a good job your girls are still too young to be embarassed, can you imagine in a few years we won't be aloud to do anything!!!!

  43. WoB - Yep - If I had really wanted to use them properly - and put up with the pain and do the silly walk, then I'm sure they would have done some good...but hey, life is too short! xxx