Health

Testing out the new barefoot running shoes

Today Reebok launches RealFlex, the latest design in feel-great footwear. With 76 independent sensors on the bottom of each shoe, RealFlex technology works with your stride, providing all the benefits of barefoot running without putting undue pressure on your joints.

RealFlex launch RealFlex Duhamel
Realflex shoes

Reebok Canada

Today Reebok launches RealFlex, the latest design in feel-great footwear. With 76 independent sensors on the bottom of each shoe, RealFlex technology works with your stride, providing all the benefits of barefoot running without putting undue pressure on your joints.

The sensors twist and expand to support your foot in all the right places. Bill McInnis, Reebok’s head of advanced innovation, calls them “running buddies.” These padded “pals” make for a unique shoe-wearing experience because they retrain you to land on your forefoot instead of your heel.

I tested the shoes in early April when Reebok invited the press to New York City for their U.S. debut. Ali Larter and Josh Duhamel celebrated the launch with us, while professional stuntmen taught us how to leap over rocks, slide across yellow taxicabs and jump through “glass” windows.

Within seconds of lacing up, I had an instant spring in my step, and perhaps the fantastic, lightweight fit gave me a little too much confidence.

I was the first to volunteer to tackle the deceptively large rock. I leapt up, but not quite over the boulder, bruising my shin (but mostly my pride). Mr. Duhamel laughed. Ego squashed. At least my running form was flawless. Stepping out became a whole new sensory experience: I gripped the floor and engaged different muscles in my foot.  

“We’re about technology you can feel,” McInnis tells us. “The more you can feel the ground, the more you can automatically react to it.”

Back in college, a running coach told me that children encouraged to play barefoot during their formative years strengthen muscles throughout their entire foot, making them more efficient runners. “Look at a cheetah—his paws claw the ground, and that’s how natural running works,” Coach said. To improve our form, we had barefoot training sessions on a sand track. If only we’d had RealFlex then.

Ali Larter enjoys wearing her pair so much she doesn’t just reserve them for the gym. “I love how sexy and streamlined they are,” she told me. “As a new mom, it’s all about the ease of exercising for me. I find myself wearing them everywhere I go, so when I can find a moment for myself I know I can go for a quick jog.”

By the end of the event, I’d hit my stride. For the next stunt, I launched off a trampoline and through a “glass” window. In that moment, I was like a blonde Lara Croft. These shoes are awesome.