Most of us know these machines as cross trainers but many people also refer to them as elliptical trainers. Why is that?
The word elliptical is used to describe the shape of the movement that you perform with your feet when you are training. It means a shape like a flattened circle. When you hop onto the machine the your feet will start to move in an egg like motion that means you are forming the shape of an egg. As your foot rises it will smooth out the top of the curve by taking it across the top before it moves down to the bottom of the stroke, then it will sweep back across the bottom of the stroke before rising.
This action has been used in cycling and is still used in certain crank sets. The chain ring is shaped like an egg to give you a much smoother application of power while you are riding. If you watch the Tour De France carefully you will be able to spot a few.
This motion was designed to replicate running and walking, if you think about the action movement of you legs you form a very similar pattern when you take each step. The very clever thing that the elliptical cross trainers do is to take out the impact of each step. The impact for many of us can be a problem for our joints or back or it may just be the case that you do too much impact sports. Since this technology was built and was offered to the market as a reliable fitness machine they have become very popular.
So, if you are in the gym or talking to friends about fitness then you will know what they mean when they refer to an elliptical or cross trainer. They are one and the same.