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New Balance faces lawsuit for 'toning shoes'

New Balance's Rock&Tone 1442 shoe.

TEXT OF STORY

JEREMY HOBSON: New Balance is about to get a 'run' for its money. The sneaker company faces a lawsuit that claims its 'toning shoes' don't do the job. The suit seeks class-action status for customers who believed the shoes would help them slim down -- from the ankles up.

Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman reports.


Mitchell Hartman: With its attractive 20-somethings showing off their sculpted legs and gluts, this New Balance ad says it all.

New Balance commercial: Burn calories and activate muscles. The toning shoe that doesn't look like one.

New Balance claims the shoes push muscles to burn more calories, because the rounded soles make walkers work harder to maintain balance. John Horan of Sporting Goods Intelligence says toning shoes are big sellers because women think they can walk their way to a fitter figure.

John Horan: These companies do studies to prove the claims. But the question has come up whether these studies have any real scientific validity.

The American Council on Exercise recently found toning shoes don't perform as advertised. Webster University sports economist Pat Rishe:

Pat Rishe: If New Balance is not able to defend its position, they potentially lose the trust of the segment of the population that's been buying these shoes.

Working women aged 20 to 55, who've been willing to spend upwards of $100 for shoes they think can make them look better.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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