An elliptical trainer and the Guthy-Renker Fitness Flyer offer a low-impact cardio workout. Compared to other cardio machines, such as a treadmill or stair stepper, there is no impact on your joints with the elliptical or Fitness Flyer. However, the similarities stop there. They have different designs and features.
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An elliptical trainer is a type of cardio machine. Precor, a fitness equipment company, introduced the first elliptical trainer in the 1990s, but dozens of companies make this type of machine, as of 2011. Several variations exist, including front-drive, rear-drive and center-drive elliptical trainers. The Fitness Flyer is a product made by the Guthy-Renker direct marketing company. No other companies make the Fitness Flyer, although Fitness Quest makes a similar product called the Gazelle Glider.
An elliptical trainer is a more mechanically advanced machine than the Fitness Flyer. An elliptical has a flywheel mechanism, usually on the front or back of the unit. A drive belt connects the flywheel and crank arms, so when you move the pedals, you move the flywheel. This creates inertia within the drive mechanism. The Fitness Flyer has a metal U-shaped frame. Pedals are attached by long metal arms to the top of the U-frame. The pedal arms swing forward and back. The Fitness Flyer is smaller and lighter than an elliptical trainer.
An elliptical trainer and the Fitness Flyer offer low-impact cardio workouts with both a lower-body and upper-body aspect. The movements are different on each machine. The pedal motion of the Fitness Flyer is more of an arc. It's similar to cross-country skiers, but with an upward curve. The pedal motion of an elliptical trainer is an elliptical shape -- your feet travel around an oval, not just back and forth.
You can adjust the resistance of the Fitness Flyer pedals using manual knobs on the frame. A small monitor provides basic feedback about your workout, such as time and distance. Most elliptical trainers offer digital pedal resistance and some models have a power incline ramp. The console typically provides information about distance, heart rate, time, calories and resistance level. Most elliptical trainers have built-in workout programs that automatically adjust the resistance for you.