Did you ever see that episode of Seinfeld where George is playing basketball with Jimmy, the guy selling the freaky-looking training shoes? Ladies and gentlemen, MBT sneakers may not turn you into someone who refers to yourself in the third person and can dunk a basketball better than Dr. J., but they do promise significant improvement in performance.
Advertised as “the world’s smallest gym,” MBT sneakers take the philosophy that typical shoes don’t reflect the actual world we walk in. While the world is dishearteningly uneven, most shoes are flatter than Calista Flockhart. What the MBT sneakers attempt to do is improve one’s coordination and strength so that in turn the stress on the joints and spine can be lessened.
The MBT in MBT sneakers stands for Masai Barefoot Technology. The Masai, in case you weren’t aware, are a tribe in Africa who walk everywhere on either completely bare feet or the barest of sandals. If you’ve ever seen members of this tribe walk, you’ll also quickly notice they are the very model of the term “spring in his step.” Great posture and a graceful, loping stride are what the Masai have naturally and what the makers of the MBT sneakers hope to instill in its customers.
The core idea behind the design is to create an environment in which walking seems to be more of a smoothly continuous motion rather than one made up of repeated shocks to the system. Although being sold as a weight-loss or fitness product, the makers insist that the shoes aren’t just for the athletic. Indeed, everyone can benefit from these shoes. Everyone except those who already have perfect posture, anyway.
It the whole idea seems a little hazy, really the best way to understand it is simply to see them. Much like those oddly designed shoes from Seinfeld, the MBT sneaker is first and foremost a fashion statement; they don’t look like anything else on the market. They feature almost no heel contact with ground, instead placing the entire load upon the front of the shoe, which is what gives wearers that certain Masai spring.
If you check out any of the web sites that sell MBT sneakers, chances are you’ll be treated to little videos that show people walking and exercising in them. These videos are much more descriptive than all the words in the world and you’ll leave these sites either desperately wanting to try them on or laughing at them the way Jerry laughed at Kramer when he was wearing the training shoes on Seinfeld. Chances are it will be the former. They just look so darn comfortable.
Like everything else that promises to improve your lifestyle and health, of course, there’s a price tag attached. Be prepared. MBT sneakers are not cheap, and by not cheap I mean they are jaw-droppingly expensive. At least for most folks. But, hey, if you’ve got slightly less than $250 burning a hole in your pocket and you want to walk like a Masai warrior, then MBT sneakers are a no-brainer. For the rest of us, it’s a decision.