Cigar Aficionado

Aqx Aquatic Training Shoe

You've just finished a rousing game of volleyball at the company picnic and you're strolling toward the pool for a refreshing break from the hot summer rays. You strip down to your swimsuit and are about to jump into the cool soothing water when Steve from Accounting observes that you still have your shoes on. Paying your colleague no mind, you and your stylish footwear plunge into the pool, as oblivious of the additional burden as Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed were when they backpedaled fully clothed into the tank in It's a Wonderful Life.

What your cohorts apparently didn't notice were the half dozen hydrodynamic polyurethane resistance fins and the six outsole drainage ports on your navy blue AQx Sports Aquatic Training Shoes. The sleek-looking shoes, inspired by a biomechanics and human physiology professor during a fishing excursion, will not only turn you into a modern-day Jay Gatsby, they're a great way to keep fit, recover from sports injuries or train for that upcoming 5K or cross-country skiing expedition.

Garry Killgore, a former competitive runner who coaches track and teaches exercise science, physical education and health in Oregon, was searching for a deep-water shoe with the benefits of land-based running without the impact that causes wear and tear on joints and muscles. While fishing one day, Killgore observed that the gills of steelhead salmon close when the fish swims forward and open in reverse. A lightbulb went off in his head: what if a shoe could replicate the gill action and provide adequate resistance in the same plane of motion as that of a cross-country runner? He asked a former student, Jeff Thomas, who had experience in retail product development, to come up with such a shoe, and the AQx "ATS" was born.

In addition to the fins and drainage ports, the ATS is constructed with a neoprene upper with mesh overlays for comfort and breathability, bungee-like laces with a locking slider for a snug yet comfortable fit, and a reinforced pull tab for easy on-and-off maneuvering. The shoes add 20 to 30 percent more resistance to your leg movements in the water, burn extra calories and provide a vigorous cardiovascular workout.

For deep-water running, AQx Sports will soon offer its Zero Gravity Suit, which allows a natural range of motion and will keep you warm even if the water's not. You can also stay in the shallow section if you want to tackle some plyometric drills or just take an aerobics class.