Toning Shoe Settlements and Refunds

Toning shoes were a huge fad from 2009 to 2012, but several companies ran afoul of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and had class action lawsuits filed for their advertising claims. Toning shoe companies such as Skechers, Vibram, Reebok, and New Balance pulled their toning shoe models from the market and offered refunds or settlements.

The advertising claims that were unsupported by research included that you could burn more calories and tone your buttocks and thighs.

Some wearers preferred the rocker-soled type of toning shoes as they can offer relief for heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. These can be harder to find now, but RYN Footwear offers some models, as does The Walking Company. If you choose try a shoe that seems to promise wonders, select a retailer that has a generous shoe return policy and be sure to return them if they don't work well for you.

1

Skechers Shape-Ups

Skechers Shape-Ups 2.0 Comfort Walking Shoes
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Skechers Shape-ups were the most popular shoes of the rocker-soled toning shoe craze. They had many advocates, especially people with plantar fasciitis foot pain, as well as many detractors who said that the shoes gave them a new injury or did no good.

Where they got into trouble was with advertising that claimed the shoes would help you lose weight would tone your muscles. Celebrity Kim Kardashian was a brand spokesperson, offering an example of a shapely derriere presumably due to wearing these shoes.

Skechers USA Inc. agreed to a $40 million settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over charges that they deceived their customers with unfounded advertising claims. You could apply for a refund if you purchased any of Skechers' footwear called Shape-ups, Resistance Runner, Shape-ups Toners/Trainers, and Tone-ups between August 1, 2008 and August 12, 2012. The deadline for filing a claim was April 18, 2013.

Skechers has phased out rocker-soled shoes, although you might still find them for sale on closeout. After the settlement, they were careful to call them comfort shoes rather than claiming they will help you lose weight or shape your buns.

2

Vibram FiveFingers

Vibram FiveFingers
Vibram FiveFingers. © Ben Schumin / Creative Commons

Three class action lawsuits were filed against Vibram over health claims made for their foot-shaped minimalist Vibram FiveFingers shoes. The suits took issue with statements that the shoes would help you improve your posture, strengthen your muscles, and reduce your risk of injury.

Vibram denied the allegations settled for $3.75 million to end the litigation. They continue to manufacture and sell the shoes, which remain popular for those who want the feel of running barefoot while still having some protection for their feet.

Settlements were offered for certain models of Vibram FiveFingers footwear purchased in the United States from March 21, 2008 up to and including May 27, 2014, for up to two pair without proof of purchase. The deadline to submit claim forms was September 24, 2014. The settlement checks went out in 2016 and were for amounts just over $20.

The merits of minimalist shoes and barefoot running are hot topics of research. There are strong advocates that you should walk and run as nature intended. But older and overweight exercisers often find it more comfortable to wear shoes with more structure and cushioning.

3

Reebok RunTone and EasyTone

Reebok EasyTone Shoes
Reebok EasyTone Shoes. Christopher Polk / Getty Images Entertainment

Reebok entered the toning shoe market with well-designed RunTone and EasyTone shoes that featured instability pods along the sole and heel. Reebok no longer manufactures these models.

Reebok agreed to a $25 million FTC settlement over their unsupported advertising claims that their shoes toned and strengthened muscles. You could file a claim if you purchased Reebok EasyTone, SimplyTone, RunTone, TrainTone and JumpTone from December 5, 2008 through the settlement date. The deadline to file a claim was April 10, 2012. Refunds began going out in August, 2012.

4

New Balance TrueBalance and Rock&Tone

New Balance had a few models of toning shoes to meet the demands of the fad. They were far less extreme looking than Skechers. New Balance agreed to a $2.3 million settlement of a lawsuit without admitting wrongdoing. The lawsuit alleged that New Balance violated state laws in marketing its toning shoes with claims of more muscle activation and burning more calories.

If you bought New Balance Rock&Tone, TrueBalance, Aravon Ria, Aravon Riley or Aravon Quinn between January 1, 2010 and August 29, 2012 you were able to file a claim by February 25, 2013.

New Balance faced a different lawsuit over labeling that their shoes were "Made in USA." The suit alleges that significant components are manufactured outside the country. A proposed settlement that might return a few dollars to buyers was still under up in the air by the end of 2018.

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