Sunday, 16 January 2011

MBTs: Walking the walk

As you may be aware I'm trying to get fit and with that challenge comes a whole new world of stylish opportunities; Stella McCartney for Adidas, Sweaty Betty, not to mention fitnesswear on the high street and performance enhancing footwear.

Trainer technology has advanced in recent years with the likes of MBTs, Fit-Flops and now the new Rebook Easytone trainers (with that rather distracting advert full of pert bottoms) becoming an increasingly popular choice of footwear for fitness fashionistas. The price of this type of footwear isn't cheap and has often put me off purchasing a pair in the past, along with their reputation for unflattering shapes and styles. Much akin to how mobile phones in the 80's resembled bricks, these kinds of shoes looked like brick strapped to your feet.

Just before Christmas I was invited to attend a body MOT in the city centre, courtesy of the folks behind MBTs, and I was lucky enough to be given a pair of my very own MBTs, below, to road test. As they arrived just before Christmas into a city coated in snow and ice, I decided to wait until the weather had mellowed before giving them a spin - my balance and coordination is an issue in regular conditions with familiar footwear - this would have been a Bambi on ice situation!
Masai Barefoot Technology physiological footwear, or MBT for short, was first developed in 1996 after researchers noticed how members of the Masai tribe walked barefoot over uneven ground. The brand was the first of its kind when it first launched in the US and its shoes aim to replicate 'natural instability' which in turn creates the need to balance, through a constant, rolling movement underfoot. The uneven surface forces the wearer to balance, in turn toning the leg muscles and improving posture.

Last week was my first trip out of the house wearing my pair (other than pottering around the house) and it felt so strange. The way the MBTs work forced me to balance, so I constantly felt like I was tipping forwards and convinced myself that I would fall flat on my face. Walking downhill was particularly challenging but now I've worn them a few more times I'm actually noticing a significant difference. I can really feel them working my calves when I walk up hills and
because of they way they make you balance, I find myself concentrating on my posture more - which is one thing I am always trying to improve.

From a style point of view I was worried that I would look like I had shoe boxes strapped to my feet but the style I picked, while 'sporty' is also quite sleek. I have worn them with black leggings, boot cut trousers with dresses and skinny jeans. While I do feel self conscious wearing them it is more because of the way I need to concentrate on my walk, rather than how the shoes themselves look.

At £100+ this type of footwear should be considered an investment for your wardrobe so if you are considering buying a pair think long and hard about when you would wear them and what colour and style would best go with the contents of your wardrobe. With regular wear you could see an improvement in both your posture and muscle tone but the makers believe every wear will experience different benefits.

I've yet to try exercising in them but will report back when I do : )

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