Thursday, July 14, 2011

Joya vs. MBT Shoes -- a Toe-to-Toe Comparison

I was recently given the very amazing opportunity to review two great athletic shoes in a head-to-head -- or rather Toe-to-Toe – comparison.

I’ve worn the Joya Venezia and the MBT Moja
for well over a week now.

What a truly enlightening experience this has been for me. Literally, two of the best-made shoes in the world. It has been a privilege to experience them.
These shoes are both so well-crafted – it’s not been easy to choose one shoe’s merits over the other.

They are similar in their outer-shell style and design but different in fit, comfort, and functionality. The MBT Moja is a rocker-based technology shoe. It’s designed to encourage better posture and aide in toning the muscles of the calf and leg as you walk. And it does that! It’s the sensation of walking on sugar-sand. I grew up on a beach (Tybee Island, GA) and the soft sugar-sand really gives you a walking workout.

MBTs owe their toning properties to Masai Barefoot Technology (developed by Karl Mueller Sr. father of Karl Mueller Jr. who developed the Joya Shoe!) to cushion the joints, ease foot pain and increase toning. They are the shoe by which all others are judged.

The first day I wore them – I KNEW I’d had a better work out! The next morning, I could FEEL it in every muscle! It’s a good feeling.

From the Website:
*MBT (Masai Barefoot Technology) was born in 1996 when we discovered that natural instability can have positive effects on the human body. We made this discovery by observing the wonderfully agile Masai people walking barefoot on natural, uneven ground. Seeing these people in action made us realize that the human body is simply not designed to walk or stand on the hard, flat surfaces of modern society. So we set out to develop a new kind of footwear, one that would mimic walking on soft, uneven ground. The results have been dramatic and revolutionary. It’s a question of balance.
When walking in MBTs, the ground no longer feels flat and stable, so the body has to compensate and create stability. The key to the function of MBTs is the curved sole construction. Its integrated balancing area requires an active and controlled rolling movement and can help the body to improve balance and posture while standing and walking.*

The Joya Venezia is a shoe built for wearer comfort.
Oh my. It’s like walking on a cloud.
While exhibiting much of the same rocking motion as the Moja, it makes the walking easier due to the extreme comfort of the shoe.
Comfort when walking for pleasure, sport, or exercise is of the utmost importance. Uncomfortable, ill-fitting shoes can often lead to pain, not to mention tired, sweaty feet!
Joya’s internationally patented Joya Sole Technology absorbs shock, reduces stress on joints, aligns the body and spine, and increases muscle activity. When you are comfortable, you are much more willing to exercise – it makes perfect sense!
With the anti-microbial mid-sole developed for Joya Shoes, sweaty feet are a thing of the past. Oh! And the 3D Mesh insoles are sewn-in! This is a welcome relief from the MBT Moja which have a removable insole. While a removable insert is great because it can be washed, it’s also a problem if it gets twisted or scrunched up during wear.

From the website:
*The Joya Sole Technology is a revolution. Our motto is: “Step inside, just walk and enjoy.” Due to the unique construction and technology of the sole, Joya needs no instruction manual as is the case with some other technical footwear brands. One does not need to learn how to walk with Joya -- Joya simply learns how to walk and function with its owner.*

The SPECS on the two shoes are similar:

The Joya Venezia:

Upper: Nubuck Leather/Mesh

Lining: Breathable Mesh

Insole: 3D Mesh

Midsole: Antibacterial Cool

Outsole: Natural Rubber

Sole construction: Active Air Pump

Price: $229.00


The MBT Moja:

Upper: Split Leather

Lining: 3D Mesh

Midsole: Dual Board Shank

Outsole: Athletic SS10

Sole Construction:

Price: $169.99


Now, for my toe-to-toe comparison!

I've worn both shoes for over a week now. The MBT Mojas are just as advertised -- they make you 'think' as you walk. You consciously consider your posture and your balance. You really do walk heel-to-toe.
They are great for the purpose-driven walk-about. You feel the effects the next day, for sure!
The shoes are sturdy and well-built, a bit on the heavy side (even though they are constructed of light-weight materials). They fit snugly and don't 'give' much. They also run a bit to size and, in my opinion, are best fitted in a store. If you order on-line, buy a shoe at least 1/2 size larger.
For me, there was a breaking-in period as well. It took a few days of wearing to get them to fit / conform to my wide foot.
The insoles are removable -- both a pro (they can be washed) and a con (they can and do 'scrunch up' and sometimes move around as you're walking.

The Joya Venezia also live up to the claims -- these are the most comfortable shoes (walking, casual) I've ever worn!
They are lighter than the Moja but just as strongly constructed. The seams are so well-sewn, I foresee no fraying issues.
They fit snug to the foot but offer a bit more 'give' and flexibility than the Mofa.
There was no 'breaking-in' period, either. I put them on, they fit immediately and were comfortable immediately.
Like the Moja, the Venezia runs a bit small. I wear a 6 1/2 to 7 and the Venezia I received are a 7 1/2 (7.5). However, I've been told that the size issue is being addressed.
The insoles are incredible. They are sewn-in, a BIG plus for me, and don't move around, scrunch up, or twist. The insoles also have a mesh center which both wicks away moisture and gently massages the bottom of your foot as you walk. Oh... Heaven!
While the Joya Shoe offers much of the same rocker technology as the MBT, it doesn't require as much concentrated thought to walk in the shoes. You just put them on and... GO!
For me, the sheer comfort of the shoe makes all of the difference: If I'm comfortable, I am more likely to walk longer and farther.

My conclusion:

The MBT Moja:

For short, purpose-drived walks (workouts), I like the Moja. It works the muscles of the calf, leg, thigh, and glutes. It makes you concentrate on your posture and form and it's suitable for flat surfaces and forward movement.
The shoes are durable and well-constructed.
There is great arch-support for those of us with high arches.

Not suitable for all-day wear. I don't find them secure enough for stairs and side-ways movements (such as sports) are not recommended.
The removable insole is an issue for me -- it tends to twist, move about, and get scrunched up.
I have wide feet and the snug fit is a bit uncomfortable.

The Joya Venezia:

Very suitable for all day wear. These are quite seriously the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. They are made of sturdy, durable materials. There is no breaking-in time required. They fit at once. While they 'hug' the feet, they do not constrict the feet, thus your foot's movement is much less constricted.
There is no restriction or limit on motion: forward, backward, sideways -- the shoe adapts to you.
I like the sewn-in insole. It stays put and the massaging effect is very relaxing and soothing.

There are only a few cons. I wish there were a bit more arch support. I also wish there was just a bit more 'rocker' effect. And last... I really don't like the shoe laces! I know -- that's an odd comment, but it's true. For some reason, these shoe laces will not stay tied!

For the shorter, work-out walk, I prefer Moja. For the long, leisurely walk, stair-stepping, and everyday athletic endeavour, I much prefer the Venezia!
For me, the Joya Venezia is the clear winner.

When you're comfortable, you can and will do more. It's that simple. When your feet hurt, you just can't give it your all and enjoy it.

With the Venezia, you are walking on air. You will walk farther... and feel better for it. I recommend it. It is, without question or doubt, worth the cost.
You deserve it and your feet deserve it!
This shoe actually encourages you to move -- and that's a benefit I will gladly accept!



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Julius H. Pierce said...

The Joya Venezia is a great walking shoes, I bought a pair 3 months ago and they are the most comfortable walking shoes shoes I ever owend.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this very detailed review. I have been contemplating which pair of new shoes to buy as the best shoes for walking on concrete and I think I have found it here!