Dr. Scholl himself invented the original exercise sandal in the late 1960s. The sculpted wooden slide was designed to encourage natural gripping and flexing when walking. These really seemed to resonate in the 1970s, with the rise of a more ‘natural’ Bohemian vibe.
This ‘Better than Barefoot’ Scholl exercise sandals 1972 ad encapsulates the trend away from funky hippie, to folksy boho (rather hipster-ish, if you will). It was all in keeping with the green, back-to-nature environmental movement at the time. It shows fun-loving couples frolicking in the water, with the girls gripping onto their sandals for dear life.
Scholl extolled the virtues of their exercise sandals by claiming that you will: 1) Experience comfort. 2) Experience the Scholl Shape-up. 3) Experience that they’re like wearing nothing at all. All good in theory, but if you’ve ever worn a pair you will beg to differ. I had a pair in the 70s, and they were the most uncomfortable, hard-to-wear shoes ever! I’ve always been a clog-wearer, but these always felt like wearing death (or at least injury) traps to me.
The ‘Dr. Scholl’s Original Exercise Sandal’ is still sold, and seems to appeal to the Millennial market. Maybe they can figure out how to wear these things better than I did back in the day. 🙂