Title:
Antimicrobial fitness article
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fitness equipment includes a frame element, a user contact element, and an antimicrobial agent persistently associated with the user contact element. The antimicrobial agent provides antimicrobial properties to the treated elements of the fitness equipment.



Inventors:
Ong, Ivan Wei-kang (Charlotte, NC, US)
Application Number:
11/526931
Publication Date:
03/29/2007
Filing Date:
09/26/2006
Assignee:
Microban Products Company
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B23/00
View Patent Images:
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20090275447GRIP SLEEVE FOR EXERCISE BARNovember, 2009Fishman et al.
20100081551Yoga Asana StandApril, 2010Harley
20030022765RESISTANCE REGULATOR FOR A MAGNETIC BRAKEJanuary, 2003Wu
20090062080Stowable armsMarch, 2009Guy et al.



Primary Examiner:
RICHMAN, GLENN E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MICROBAN PRODUCTS COMPANY (11400 VANSTORY DRIVE, HUNTERSVILLE, NC, 28078, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A fitness equipment, comprising: a frame element; a user contact element; and an antimicrobial agent persistently associated with the user contact element.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to the field of built-in antimicrobial protection and, more specifically, to an article suitable for use in a sporting good or fitness equipment which has imparted therein built-in and long lasting antimicrobial characteristics.

Fitness machines and other devices used for cardiovascular and strength training can be found in commercial fitness centers, physical therapy facilities, hospitals, workplaces, and other locations.

In use, a subject generally but not always rests on one or more supports. Supports can include a seat, a seatback, or other surface positioned for the user to contact in positioning himself for the particular exercise.

Because each user commonly is exercising aerobically, perspiration routinely is produced by the user and transferred to one or more surfaces of the fitness machine. Perspiration contain bacteria or other microbes, and the moisture left on the fitness machine also aids microbial colonization. A post-use wiping of the contaminated surfaces and components, usually with a towel which may itself be contaminated, is incompletely effective in eliminating such colonization.

Microbes left on the fitness equipment are then available to infect a later user coming into contact with the contaminated surface or component.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S)

As used herein, the terms “microbe” or “microbial” should be interpreted to encompass any of the microscopic organisms commonly studied by microbiologists. Such organisms include, but are not limited to, bacteria and fungi as well as other single-celled organisms such as mold, mildew and algae. Viral particles and other infectious agents are also included in the term microbe.

The term “antimicrobial” includes biostatic activity, i.e., where the proliferation of microbiological species is reduced or eliminated, and true biocidal activity where microbiological species are killed.

For ease of discussion, this detailed description may make reference to bacteria and antibacterial agents. This method of presentation should not be interpreted as limiting the scope of the invention in any way.

The term efficacy, as used herein, is defined as the characteristic of inhibiting the growth of a microbe on a substrate, by either biostatic and/or biocidal effect.

The term non-metallic as used herein means antimicrobial agents, other than quaternary ammonium compounds, that do not contain or utilize metal ions such as silver, zinc or copper.

A sporting or fitness equipment article can include, for example and without limitation, a cardiovascular or strength training machine such as a treadmill; a simulated stair climber; free weights and weight benches; elliptical machines; stationary bicycles; stretch trainers; and multi-station or multi-exercise machines.

In other venues, such as a residential setting, fitness and exercise equipment can take the form of a multi-gym fitness machine or an article designed for one or a limited number of exercises. An example of the latter article would be a grip strengthener, generally made up of two gripping sides hingeably connected with a resistance element disposed to act on the hinge. Squeezing the grip elements together against the resistance strengthens the muscles of the hand, wrist, and forearm.

In broad terms, an antimicrobial sporting or fitness equipment article comprises one or more antimicrobial agents disposed in or affixed to the article or a component thereof so as to effect a biostatic or biocidal property upon contact with a microbe.

Turning to an exemplary fitness machine, the various components thereof may be constructed from a variety of materials. Components contemplated herein include, without limitation, frame members, grip elements, seating structures, foot pads and foot resting surfaces, device displays and input panels, equipment adjusters, cable sheaths, and the like. Of these, the most common sites for microbial contamination are those with which the user contacts, such as the grips, seat and support components, input panels, and adjusters.

Grips and gripping components of a fitness equipment article can be provided in a variety of configurations. For example, a grip can be constructed of a sheath-like gripping element disposed over a tubular frame member). Such sheath-type grips can be manufactured of, e.g., polypropylene or a thermoplastic elastomer having a desired Shore scale hardness.

A number of thermoplastic elastomers are known and can include both solid and foamed varieties. The chemistries of such thermoplastic elastomer compound variations are sufficiently similar to permit an antimicrobial agent to be broadly used.

Manufacturing methods can include casting, injection molding (both insert- and over-molding), and other well-known processes. Examples of grip materials include EVA, foam thermoplastic urethane, styrene-butadiene rubber, and the like.

Alternatively, a grip can be a discrete article affixed to the fitness equipment article, for instance a molded polymeric component attached to the equipment article with screws, bolts, staples, adhesive or other commonly known attachment means.

Seating and support structures can take many forms, such as a unitary molded polymer component, a board or frame with a foam resting or supporting surface over-molded or otherwise disposed thereon, and the like. Similarly, support components are conventionally disposed on a fitness equipment article to properly position the user's body or provide a leverage or hinge point. As one example, a leg extension article commonly includes support components intended to be positioned behind the user's knees. These support components facilitate flexion and extension of the user's legs against resistance without excessive movement of the legs, thereby better isolating the targeted muscle group(s). Seating and support components optionally can and typically do include a colorant.

A seat surface can be a substantially solid article molded of, e.g., a vinyl, a nylon, a polycarbonate, a polyolefin, or a polyurethane. Sheath-type support components similarly can be made of, e.g., EVA, foam thermoplastic urethane, styrene-butadiene rubber, and the like.

Foot pads and foot resting surfaces may be made of a polymeric substrate and affixed to a fitness machine frame element. Alternatively, the foot resting component can be constructed of a metal having thereon a paint, powder-coating, dip-molded polymer or similar covering.

The above gripping, seating, support, and foot supporting components may collectively be thought of as user-contacting elements.

Suitable antimicrobials for use in the above grip and user support components include, without limitation, organic compounds, and inorganic compounds, the latter group including inorganic metallic compounds.

Equipment adjusters include pins, knobbed screws or bolts and the like, for adjustment and securement of the seat, selection of a particular weight or resistance, and so on. Such pins usually are metal but can have a handle or other grasping element made of TPE, PU, PE, PP, or other formable resin affixed thereto.

Frame members of a fitness machine generally can be constructed of metal or polymeric resins, such as high density polyethylenes. Metal frame members can be less unfinished or finished with a clear-coat layer, by powder-coating, or painting. Painting can be accomplished by, inter alia, by dip-coating, spray-coated.

Fitness machines having resistance provided by a plurality of weight plates, for example, typically have a cable connecting the weight plates with the handle or other member gripped by the user. Such cables often are coated with a polymeric compound such as polyvinyl chloride, both to protect the cable from damage and corrosion, and also for user safety. Cable coatings or sheaths generally can include antimicrobial agents.

Suitable antimicrobials for use in the above adjuster, frame, and resistance components include, without limitation, organic compounds, and inorganic compounds, the latter group including inorganic metallic compounds.

Antimicrobial agents include, without limitation, triclosan and other chlorinated phenols; ortho-phenyl phenol; diiodomethyl-p-tolylsulfone; 3-iodo-2-propynyl N-butylcarbamate; azoles such as propiconazole, tebuconazole or thiabendazole; 3-benzo[b]thien-2yl-5,6-dihydro-1,4,2-oxathiazine 4-oxide; alkyl dimethylbenzyl ammonium saccharinate; N-butyl-1,2-benzisothiazolin-3-one; 4,5-dichloro-2-octyl-3(2H)-isothiazolone; 2-n-octyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one; cyclopropyl-N′-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-6-(methylthio)-1,3,5-triazine-2,4-diamine; 1,3-dicyano-2,4,5,6-tetrachlorobenzene; metals (e.g., silver, zinc, copper) including metal compounds such as silicates, zeolites, amorphous glass compositions, sol-gel compositions, and the like; zinc and copper compounds such as pyrithione; and titanium dioxide in various forms.

Device displays and input panels typically are disposed on fitness machines, in order to control various settings (such as resistance or duration) or to cause information to be displayed (e.g., calories burned, distance traveled). Device displays and input panels may be keypad or touch screens. The latter may comprise a touch screen overlay. The overlay generally has a printed portion comprising an ink. Housing and knobs are typically ABS or polycarbonate but may be constructed of other materials.

A touch screen frequently has an overlay thereon, the overlay having the various markings and text printed therein. An antimicrobial may be in such embodiments incorporated into the ink used in the overlay.

Touch panels, input screens and fitness equipment controls can also be considered as user contacting elements.

Exemplary methods and antimicrobial agents for use in a touch screen or control panel are discussed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,358,519, the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

It will therefore be readily understood by those persons skilled in the art that the present components are susceptible of broad utility and application. Many embodiments and adaptations other than those herein described, as well as many variations, modifications and equivalent arrangements, will be apparent from or reasonably suggested by the present disclosure, without departing from the substance or scope of the present invention.

Accordingly, while the present invention has been described herein in detail in relation to its preferred embodiment, it is to be understood that this disclosure is only illustrative and exemplary of the present invention and is made merely for purposes of providing a full and enabling disclosure of the invention.

The foregoing disclosure is not intended or to be construed to limit the present invention or otherwise to exclude any such other embodiments, adaptations, variations, modifications and equivalent arrangements.





 
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