New Fit Trend: Penguin Feet (Too cute or too crazy?)

by Charlotte on March 27, 2012 · 40 comments

He’s sexy and he knows it. 

 Next time you’re at the gym, on the running trail or even picking gum off the back of your pants at the park, look down. Chances are something bright and shiny will catch your eye and it’s probably not that new gel-manicure nail polish on their toes (although I hear that stuff is cool too, albeit toxic – danger and beauty, my fave!). The latest fitness fashion trend is what I affectionately call “penguin feet” – the wearing of very brightly colored shoes with an otherwise staid outfit. (And actually the little guys with the blue feet aren’t penguins but blue-footed boobys but that’s not as catchy and I have a hard time saying “booby” at the gym without giggling.)

Like preteen boys and their underpants, I used to be a whites-only girl when it came to workout shoes. For years I only owned white sneaks with the occasional colored stripe (which, in all honesty, was often pastel). Partly it was because that was all that was available. (Except for all black shoes which I associated with old people and gym teachers and would therefore never wear.) But a couple of years ago – about the same time that “pop of color” came into the lexicon thanks to countless ladymags – I started to like a little stripe of neon down the side or a POP (heaven help me) of pink on the sole (all the better to kick you with!).

Lately though I’ve gone full-bore awesome.

It started with these electric blue Nikes. (Blue footed booby! Buwhahahah!)


Then I took a step further on the wild side with these comfy-as-they-are-adorbs Mizuno Enigmas

And if I own the Enigmas in gray/neon green/fuscia then of course I must have them in purple and turquoise! (My purple shoes are my happy shoes!)

These high-top polka-dot Nikes with red laces were cute but a huge mistake. MAJOR BLISTERS. That’s why I’m posing holding onto a locker. Because my ankles were bleedings into my shoes and I could barely stand. Thank heavens for no-questions-asked return policies!

My latest loves are these cerulean and neon orange Mizunos! (That match my suhweet running jacket! That’s another problem with the penguin feet trend – now I feel compelled to match all my outfits to my shoes. I never used to worry about that and it’s like a sickness now.

Best part of the above pic is Jelly Bean’s incredulous look like “What the crap are you doing, woman?!” See – don’t these just look like they run faster?

The Gym Buddies love this trend too. Check out Megan’s black and turquoise kicks! And Krista owns the loudest pair of neon purple and yellow shoes. Daria wears gray and turquoise or pink and green. Allison is the only one who has white shoes now (for reasons I am not sure of as she wears so many neon shorts and tops that I know she’s not afraid of a pop, heck a punch, of color)!

And – are you ready for this? – these are my latest acquisition:

Y’ALL I HAVE RAINBOW BRITE SHOES!!! Although they are nowhere near as cute as my own lil’ Rainbow Brite is! Seriously she dressed herself like this – moon boots and all – and now I know we’re related!

I like shoes. I have a lot of them. It’s no secret. One of the best perks of my job is getting free shoes from amazing brands like Mizuno. (Full disclosure: all the shoes pictured here I got for free. Except the Rainbow Brite shoes. I bought those. And I’m not sorry.) So this is one fitness trend I’m loving right now. Fun! Happy! (And heaven knows I need happy right now.) Plus, penguins are adorbs!

But what do you think of bright gym shoes? Too ostentatious? Love colors but the brand you prefer only comes in white? Do you try and match your shoes to your gym outfit? What are you current favorite athletic shoes??

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

radioactivegan March 27, 2012 at 11:59 pm

I love the brightly colored shoes! All the more reason to exercise!

In fifth grade, I did a class project on the blue-footed booby. I may have picked it for the name .. I was at least as mature then as I am now.


Amy March 28, 2012 at 12:00 am

Um, what are the Rainbow Brite shoes and where can I get some too??

Beyond that, I like comfy yet fun shoes. I have a pair of Rykas right now that are “minimalist” and they have a nice bright fuchsia stripe around the sides of the soles. Good gym shoes are expensive, so usually I have only one or two pairs. I definitely *do not* match my shoes to my outfit.


Amber March 28, 2012 at 12:18 am

I have hot pink with metallic silver trim sneakers. My then 2yo helped my husband design them on NikeID. I wear them with pride and I get so many compliments on them. I’ve since gotten another pair of obnoxiously colorful sneakers (purple and neon orange), because that was the color left in my size when the shoe I wanted went on clearance!
I do not try to match them to my clothes.


Crumpled Moments March 28, 2012 at 3:51 am

My colors are neon green and pink. I’m always on the lookout for workout clothes and sneaks in these colors. Recently, I saw a teenage boy with a pair of obnoxiously loud lime green sneaks. I’ve been stalking shoe stores looking for these sneaks.


Miz March 28, 2012 at 5:11 am

I loove me some bright.
and want.
a lot.
and need?


Cort The Sport March 28, 2012 at 5:26 am

I was the same way — my mom taught me that the ONLY choice in a tennis shoe was white (same philosophy for sheets, walls, dishes….) I remember buying my first pair of GASP….black Brooks Green Silence shoes (and black socks, egad!)! I got so many compliments and my shoe wearing confidence soared! I’m now eyeing a pair of bright yellow shoes for my racing season, a change-up from the bright pink of last year.

You are right about the dilemma now of at least being sure that the wild shoes don’t clash (or better yet match) the outfit!!


Naomi/Dragonmamma March 28, 2012 at 6:36 am
Naomi/Dragonmamma March 28, 2012 at 6:37 am

Holy crap, do you think that link I posted could be any longer?


Katie March 28, 2012 at 7:00 am

My college roomates and I used to compete for who could find the most obnoxious (read:bright) running shoes. I recently won with my grey and hot pink shoes that I just got last week.

Rainbow Brite shoes?!? WHERE are these? I must have them.


Carrie March 28, 2012 at 9:28 am

Whoa! Those are some pretty awesome shoes!

Most of my shoes have been white with some sort of pink or purple color on them. BORING.


Heather @ Bake, Run, Live March 28, 2012 at 9:29 am

I am really boring when it comes to shoes. Mine are white with that little stripe of color on the sides. Boring! Now my boyfriend loves shoes and some of his are really bright!
Off the subject (or not), have you seen Discovery Channel’s Penguin cam? So cute!!!


geosomin March 28, 2012 at 9:30 am

I seriously want those new shoes. So. Bright. So presssccciousssss…….


Heather March 28, 2012 at 9:50 am

I LOVE the Rainbow Brite shoes! I kind of want some…

I’m a big fan of color and have no shame about not matching them to my outfit. Unfortunately, the Asic GT2160s I bought on sale only came in white (with a pop of blue) in my size. The pair of the same model before that were silver and fuchsia. I’ll be looking for a brighter color the next time around!


Laura is Undeterrable March 28, 2012 at 11:08 am

Oh my gosh I am all about bright shoes! The brighter the better!

The funny thing is I took my dad to buy running shoes for his Christmas present. He got some very plain white brooks with some red accents (the logo and a bit on the sole). He told me that if he would have shown up to XC in high school with those shoes he would have been kicked off the team. I asked if he would prefer the bright neon Newtons.

Times have changed, my friend.


Melissa March 28, 2012 at 11:14 am

I never wore all white shoes because I thought they were for nurses. Also I have super thin feet so shoes are a pain to fit. My current shoes are grey with bright pink and green accents. I really want those rainbow brite shoes. I was obsessed as a child and as a 5 yo made my parents tape the show! My sister and I still fight over the rainbow brite towel we have!


Patricia March 28, 2012 at 11:17 am

Love it! Unfortunately with my wide feet, my first thing always has to be what fits. And it’s almost always something from New Balance which limits my choices. I would love some fun shoes for wearing to the park in the spring and fall though!


Alyssa (azusmom) March 28, 2012 at 11:28 am

Jelly Bean is adorable!
And I LOVE the Blue-Footed Booby. Seriously love them. It’s kind of an obsession.
Unfortunately my shoes are all quite boring. I used to have all these fun socks, though. Some had frogs, others had otters, yet others had funky stripes. Now I’m just boring.
Boring, boring, boring.
Gotta do something about that.
Maybe a pair of Rainbow Brites…


Dr. J March 28, 2012 at 11:57 am

I hear that this is the way Imelda Marcos got started :-)

Better add some closet space to the ole homestead, lol!


MassachusEATS March 28, 2012 at 12:25 pm

I have those bright turquoise RealFlex Reeboks – and love em! I pretty much only wear black/gray at the gym so they “match” everything, I guess ;)


Helene @heathyfrenchie March 28, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Wow nice collection!
I have always loved a bit of color on my shoes. I just got a new pair of pale blue and green running shoes :)
And I do match my outfits with my shoes, or at least attempt to!


Rebecca March 28, 2012 at 12:35 pm


I love them with my whole heart and also probably my wallet.


Silvia March 28, 2012 at 12:42 pm

I love my pink Asics, and I’d love to have them in light blue as well.


cursingmama March 28, 2012 at 2:35 pm

there is a lady at my gym who has clothes to match her shoes…. and from what I can tell there are at least 10 different shoe/clothes outfits. I try not to have gym clothes envy… but I am weak and lust after every ensemble. I’ve promised myself a new shoe/clothes outfit when I reach each of my fitness goals!


Patty March 28, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I’ve been into bright everything lately – bright shoes and bright clothes. My most recent purchase was a neon green Columbia pullover. Rainbow workouts are just so much more fun! (Maybe it’s a psychology thing? Bright colors make you move faster or something?)


Deb the CraftySFH March 28, 2012 at 3:01 pm

the awesome rainbow bright shoes are

A little librarian sluething action. What are Dance sneakers and what makes them special?


Abby March 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm

I love bright sneakers! Seriously, they’re one of my favorite things. I wear sneakers to work so I have a ton of cute ones. All my coworkers know me for it. But these aren’t gym sneakers that I could work-out in unfortunately. I bought the white and blue Asics I wear to the gym before the bright shoe obsession started. I (almost) hate them for lasting as long as they have, thus preventing me from getting new bright ones to match the new cute lululemon crops I have.


deb roby March 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm

I NEVER wear white shoes. hate them. But I buy a lot of black and gray shoes.
My favorite pair of shoes at the moment are Merrill Pace gloves in neon lime green. Which goes perfect with my black pants/shorts, and whatever color t I’m wearing that day.


Jody - Fit at 54 March 28, 2012 at 8:06 pm

I love fun shoes & my Hoka shoes – the only ones I can wear – are super funky & cool colors – I LOVE IT!!!!

Those last pair of shoes – WOW! Cool!


quix March 28, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Love love love the rainbow brite shoes! I go for whatever is comfiest and fits the best, but I was not-so-secretly thrilled how loud and awesome my new racers ended up being! :)


Serena March 28, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Yay!! Did I inspire this post?! The pair I sent to you last night will be my first full neon :) The cross trainers I wear right now were a small step in the “bright direction”…they are grey with neon accents.

If you ever want to borrow the pink and blue Rebox you just let me know!


SinnerElla March 28, 2012 at 9:29 pm

I covet your Rainbow Brite Shoes! Like, fo’ rilz. Like Froot Loops, I’m is cereal. I WANT, LOVE, NEED, MUST HAVE!!!!!


Abby Anderson March 28, 2012 at 10:36 pm

I love this!! I have a turquoise pair, a hot pink pair and a neon yellow pair that I rotate through. Bright sneaks def make you run faster. And no, dont always have to match.


Abby Anderson March 28, 2012 at 10:40 pm

I love this!! Bright sneaks def make you run faster. And, no, you don’t always have to match.


Jen March 29, 2012 at 8:07 pm

I can’t wait until next month when the purple Newtons come out!!!


Meg April 1, 2012 at 4:38 am

I’m a “what’s on sale” girl, as my perpetual student-hood limits my budget. But one year I was looking for fencing shoes. Since I couldn’t afford actual fencing shoes (which are ridiculously expensive, asymmetrical, and awesome with strange ankle support) and I wanted something I could cross train in anyways, I was just on the look out for sale shoes with a continuous sole. The dance sneaks you posted about earlier would have been perfect, from the sounds of it. I finally found a shoe that was perfect — light track shoes with a single-substance sole that curves up the back of the heel — but the “sale” version was on sale because they were hideous. Bright bumble-bee yellow-and-black tops with a clashing red sole. I wore them for 2+ years of fencing, including wearing a hole through the side of the left shoe doing an accidental foot-drag on concrete. I still have them, 3 states and 5 moves later. I just can’t seem to throw ‘em out.


Alisha April 4, 2012 at 9:45 pm

The soles of the Rainbow Brite shoes look similar to those of my running shoes, Newtons. Newton running shoes keep you on your toes, and they come in wild colors on purpose. Mine are not as wild; they are bright pink with gray mesh. I love that “pop of color.” :) But it’s ironic because the shoes are the only pink item of clothing I own!


Michelle October 5, 2012 at 4:26 pm

I only like this look on girls. I find it so unattractive when men wear bright workout shoes. Looks 80s in a bad way.


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