Anytime a company brags their product will help me "get in shape without setting foot in a gym," they get my attention.

Anytime a company brags their product will help me "get in shape without setting foot in a gym," they get my attention.

Skechers Shape-ups ($110 at Famous Footwear) are athletic shoes (there are also non-athletic styles) with a gadget feel and a gadget lure. Skechers designed their fitness footwear to "promote weight loss, tone muscles and improve posture." Since I walk daily, what's not to like?

The premise behind the shoe is it's constructed to simulate the action of walking on a surface similar to sand. The shoe's sole encourages a rocking-chair-type motion as you walk - your feet rest on soft foam wedges that protect the foot while exercising core muscles at the same time.

Skechers claims men and women who use this product regularly will improve their posture, improve blood circulation, strengthen abdominal muscles, reduce stress on the knee joint, firm calf muscles and strengthen the back. For men, the shoes also firm leg muscles. Additional benefits for women include firming and toning muscles in the thigh and buttocks areas.

The first time I put on my charcoal/black Shape-ups, I felt a bit like Frankenstein roaming the countryside (sans the outstretched arms rocking side to side) as I walked. The thick soles create that effect, and the rocking motion of your stride takes a bit of getting used to.

However, after the first session or two with these shoes, familiarity set in and the self-consciousness evaporated.

After a week of walking in my Skechers Shape-ups, I can't really tell if there's been a significant difference in my fitness level. However, if wearing the shoes gets me to walk more, I suppose fitness will follow. To date, no one has commented on my calf muscles or complimented my butt.

The shoes come with a brochure that details four exercise routines with names like Kick Back and Roll and Rock. I have no intention of trying any, and indeed have already thrown away the brochure.

But when I kick back these days, Shape-ups are my shoes of choice. They make for an enjoyable and stand-out-from-the-crowd walking shoe.

By the way, if you're looking for an interesting travel shoe, Puma makes the Urban Flyer Fold ($150 at zappos.com). These can transform from a full shoe to a slip-on thanks to a gadget-y fold-down suede heel. The heel can be worn normally around the back of your foot, or folded down when you're navigating airport security or simply want slide-on convenience.

Got a gadget question or a high-tech toy to recommend? E-mail gspot@columbusalive.com