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.
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.