Top-Selling Fitness Product Is Not a Quick Fix: New Study Shows Ineffectiveness of Popular Air Glider Devices For Staying in Shape

Posted: Apr 24, 1997 in

SAN DIEGO - The air glider machine, the fitness industry’s top-selling infomercial product, may be less effective than a quick walk or slow jog for most exercise enthusiasts, according to a new study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

Researchers from the exercise physiology laboratory at California State University, Northridge, reported in ACE FitnessMatters, ACE’s bi-monthly publication, that "moderately-fit" participants in the study were not able to reach peak performance levels while exercising with the devices. Using the Fitness Flyer and the Airofit air glider machines, the subjects, exercising at maximum effort, only reached a peak heart rate of 155 beats per minute, equal to a quick walk or slow jog. On average, a moderately-fit male between the ages of 23 and 29 (such as the subjects studied) should be able to reach a heart rate of 194 beats per minute during a peak-performance test.

"The market is being overwhelmed by these air glider machines but they’re not adaptable to all fitness levels and will not produce the promised results to an every day exerciser," said Richard Cotton, one of the country’s leading exercise physiologists and editor in chief of ACE FitnessMatters. "It is neither a ‘quick-fix’ product nor a long-term solution to reaching your overall fitness goals."

Body height and size are also variables overlooked by the manufacturers in creating these products. Because the foot pedals and arm levers cannot be adjusted to accommodate height differences, it is likely that muscle recruitment will vary depending on the size of the user.

The study also explored the stability and durability of these machines, revealing improper resistance gauging and gradual deterioration of the products. While the Fitness Flyer offered some variability in resistance, there was no means of quantifying the settings. It was found that of the two separate knobs (one for each pedal) both could be turned 180 degrees -- but had no markings to assure equal resistance on both pedals. The Airofit had no such resistance knobs, with intensity set only by personal stride length and cadence. In addition, many of the Fitness Flyer’s bolts came loose after repeated use, with parts such as the digital display having to be removed entirely.

"These devices may help someone get started," said Cotton, "but serious exercisers should spend their time and money elsewhere."

Responding to consumers’ growing confusion over misleading fitness claims and a surge in home-fitness equipment offerings, ACE will continue to provide reliable, unbiased information that will help people cut through the clutter and enjoy safe and effective physical activity. ACE will publish these findings in ACE FitnessMatters. Consumers can subscribe to this publication by calling (800) 825-3636. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. As the nation’s "workout watchdog," ACE conducts university-based research and testing that targets fitness products and trends. ACE sets standards for fitness professionals and is the world’s largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE Web site at

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