Title:
Exercise Device and System, and Methods of Using Same
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of performing exercise movements utilizesan elongated flexible member having a relaxed position in which the elongated flexible member has a generally arcuate shape. In the method, one end of the elongated flexible member is supported in a substantially fixed position. An opposite end of the elongated flexible member is manipulated such that the opposite end is brought toward the one end substantially in a first plane. With this manipulation, the elongated flexible member is displaced from the relaxed position to a flexed position. The opposite end of the elongated flexible member is rotated in a second plane, different from the first plane, while maintaining the elongated flexible member in the flexed position. In a related method, both ends of the elongated flexible member can be manipulated to the flexed position.



Inventors:
Holleman, John C. (Vidalia, LA, US)
Application Number:
12/243156
Publication Date:
01/14/2010
Filing Date:
10/01/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B21/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070179359Healthy city living guide and related functionality for managing healthAugust, 2007Goodwin
20080009395Horse-riding type exerciserJanuary, 2008Tseng
20090011909POWER-CORE TRAINING SYSTEMJanuary, 2009Glisan
20070173382Yoga belt and method of useJuly, 2007Axelrod
20100035728WALKING ABILITY DIAGNOSIS SYSTEMFebruary, 2010Shinomiya et al.
20060128530Playground climbing structureJune, 2006Gillett et al.
20070275836Multifunctional trainer for strength trainingNovember, 2007Parviainen
20080070757Device for the Reeducation of Motory Deficiencies, Particularly Deficiencies When Walking, in PatientsMarch, 2008Albert
20090023554Exercise systems in virtual environmentJanuary, 2009Shim
20070135282Arch fitness deviceJune, 2007Coraggio et al.
20070298939Dumbbell and Adaptor With Securable Incremental Weight Plate FeatureDecember, 2007Anderson



Primary Examiner:
MATHEW, FENN C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NIXON & VANDERHYE, PC (901 NORTH GLEBE ROAD, 11TH FLOOR, ARLINGTON, VA, 22203, US)
Claims:
1. A method of performing exercise movements utilizing an elongated flexible member having a relaxed position in which the elongated flexible member has a generally arcuate shape, the method comprising: (a) supporting one end of the elongated flexible member in a substantially fixed position; (b) manipulating an opposite end of the elongated flexible member such that the opposite end is brought toward the one end substantially in a first plane, the elongated flexible member being displaced from the relaxed position to a flexed position; and (c) moving the opposite end of the elongated flexible member in a rotating motion across a second plane, different from the first plane, while maintaining the elongated flexible member in the flexed position.

2. A method according to claim 1, wherein step (a) is practiced by supporting the one end with one part of a user's body.

3. A method according to claim 2, wherein step (b) is practiced by manipulating the opposite end with a different part of the user's body.

4. A method according to claim 3, wherein the one part of the user's body is one of the user's hands, and wherein the different part of the user's body is the other of the user's hands.

5. A method according to claim 3, wherein the one part of the user's body is one of the user's legs, and wherein the different part of the user's body is the other of the user's legs.

6. A method according to claim 3, wherein the one part of the user's body is one of the user's chest, thigh, hamstring, calf, and foot, and wherein the different part of the user's body is one of the user's hand, arm, thigh, hamstring, calf, and foot.

7. A method according to claim 1, wherein step (a) is practiced by supporting the one end with one of a floor, wall and ceiling.

8. A method according to claim 1, further comprising (d) manipulating the opposite end of the elongated flexible member such that the opposite end is displaced away from the one end substantially in the first plane, and repeating steps (b) and (d) while performing step (c).

9. A method according to claim 1, wherein the elongated flexible member is provided with handles attached at the distal ends, the handles being rotatable relative to the elongated flexible member, and wherein while performing step (c), the method comprises rotating the handle attached to the opposite end of the elongated flexible member relative to the elongated flexible member.

10. A method of performing exercise movements utilizing an elongated flexible member having a relaxed position in which the elongated flexible member has a generally arcuate shape, the method comprising: (a) supporting opposite ends of the elongated flexible member at or near distal ends thereof with the elongated flexible member in the relaxed position; (b) manipulating the elongated flexible member such that at least one of the opposite ends is brought toward the other substantially in a first plane, thereby displacing the elongated flexible member from the relaxed position to a flexed position, wherein the generally arcuate shape of the elongated flexible member in the relaxed position facilitates initiating the manipulating step; and (c) while performing step (b), supporting the opposite ends of the elongated flexible member and moving the opposite ends individually or jointly in a rotating motion across a second plane, different from the first plane.

11. A method according to claim 10, wherein step (a) is practiced by supporting one of the opposite ends in a substantially fixed position.

12. A method according to claim 11, wherein step (a) is further practiced by supporting the one of the opposite ends with one part of a user's body.

13. A method according to claim 12, wherein step (b) is practiced by manipulating the other of the opposite ends with a different part of the user's body.

14. A method according to claim 11, wherein step (a) is further practiced by supporting the one of the opposite ends with one of a floor, wall and ceiling.

15. A method according to claim 10, wherein step (a) is practiced by engaging the opposite ends of the elongated flexible member between the respective distal ends of the elongated flexible member and a center of the elongated flexible member, and wherein step (b) is practiced by driving the distal ends of the elongated flexible member toward each other.

16. A method according to claim 15, further comprising positioning the elongated flexible member around a user's neck and shoulder area, wherein step (a) is further practiced by engaging the opposite ends of the elongated flexible member with a user's arms, and wherein step (b) is practiced by driving the user's arms towards each other in front of the user's torso.

17. A method according to claim 15, further comprising positioning the elongated flexible member between a user's legs, wherein step (a) is further practiced by engaging the opposite ends of the elongated flexible member with the user's legs, and wherein step (b) is practiced by driving the user's legs towards each other.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part (CIP) of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/321,179, filed Dec. 17, 2002, pending, the entire content of which is hereby incorporated by reference in this application.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

(NOT APPLICABLE)

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to exercise devices generally, and more particularly to those utilizing elongated flexible members that, with the application of the exercise force by the user, may be forced into a flexed position from an original, unflexed position. Relaxing the force permits the exercise device to regain its original position, and the exercise can then be repeated as desired.

Related Art

“Exercising,” or subjecting the human body to resistance forces in excess of those encountered in every day life, has long been used by humans to tone and build muscle groups. Depending upon the muscle group of interest, a number of different exercise devices and methods have been used. For example, exercises such as running or jogging address leg muscles primarily (while also yielding aerobic benefits). Swimming utilizes many muscles in the body. Other exercises utilize the resistance of one's own body weight, such as push-ups and pull-ups.

Certain muscles are difficult to exercise without some form of resistance training equipment. By way of example only, biceps exercises are difficult to carry out without some form of equipment. Exercise weights, for example barbells and dumbbells, have long been used for these and other muscles. Weight machines permit the same exercises, in somewhat more controlled, and some would argue safer, fashion.

However, resistance training utilizing “weights,” that is utilizing gravity forces on heavy objects, has some disadvantages. Obviously, the inconvenience of manipulating and storing very heavy weights is a primary one. In response to such disadvantages, or as an adjunct to conventional weights, various devices have been developed to provide resistance training not by heavy weights, but by resilient members such as springs and elastically deformable rods, and the like. Some of such devices take the form of a hand held elongated member, whether of a metal spring (which may be a coil spring or flat spring, or some other variety) or some other type or shape of elastically deformable material, that can be grasped by the user with both hands and then flexed to provide the exercise. Alternate uses of certain such devices have been to exercise other muscle groups, for example the legs.

In general, such exercise devices have the advantages of relatively light weight, low cost, and are handy to store until desired for use. A specific example of exercise devices of this type is a single straight flexible rod with handles on either end, perhaps with the handles being adjustable as to angle of attachment to the rod; or two rods connected by a coil spring with handle grips on each end of the rods. The device is grasped by both handle grips and the user attempts to flex the rod by breaking down the coil spring and forcing the device into a U-shape, which, upon release of the bending force, reverts back to the original straight position. When released from the flexed position, the coil spring snaps the ends of the rod back into the straight position with considerable force. This device can generally be used to exercise only the user's arms, and only in front and overhead of the body, because of its length and the nature of its components.

A drawback to known prior art handheld apparatus is that the elongated member, in its unflexed position, is substantially straight. From the unflexed or straight position, the device must be “broken over” past a starting point, to commence flexure. The geometry presented by such apparatus increases the difficulty of use, as depending upon the flexure rating (that is, the force required to flex the device) the user must have considerable strength to commence flexure. Said another way, it is more difficult to start the flexure movement, than to continue it once started. An analysis of the forces required to commence flexure of a straight device shows that the initial forces (that is, to “break” the device from its initial straight position, to a curved position) must be largely, if not exclusively, a rotary or twisting motion roughly along the axis of the user's arms, instead of more-or-less lateral movement in which the user's entire arm and chest muscles can be applied. In addition, due to size and/or shape of prior art straight configured apparatus, oftentimes they are amenable to use only to exercise arms, and then only in front of or above the user's body.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is an exercise device comprising a flexible and resilient elongated member having a generally arcuate shape, with hand grip portions on at least a portion of the length of the elongated member, and methods of use of the exercise device. The invention further comprises a set of more than such one exercise device, each having a different flexure rating. The hand grips may cover substantially the entire length of the elongated member, in order to provide a multitude of gripping locations and consequently leverage points, in turn providing a multitude of different resistance levels available to the user. The basic exercise movement is with the user holding the exercise device by the hand grips where the hands are spread apart, then bringing the hands together by applying forces to the elongated member to flex it from its initial relaxed position, to a flexed position, the forces applied by desired body parts. Flexing may be accomplished by using opposing forces exerted by hands, knees, arms and legs to overcome the resistance exhibited by the device, which will vary depending on its composition and dimensions.

The device may be comprised of various materials having properties that allow it to return to its original shape after being multiple flexures, without appreciable loss of resiliency, resistance, flexibility and elasticity. Dimensions, including length, and flexure rating, may be optimized to the particular body of the user.

The arcuate shape reduces and/or eliminates the initial twisting or rotational movement needed to commence movement of a straight-configured device, yielding a device in which relatively uniform force is required to maintain or increase the extent of flexure. The arcuate shape of the device (as compared to a straight device) also facilitates exercises with the device positioned behind the user's neck, back or legs, and eases carrying out the flexing action without appreciable contact with any part of the user's body other than his or her hands.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a view of the exercise device;

FIG. 1a is a cross section view of the exercise device;

FIG. 2 is another view of the exercise device, showing an alternative handle design;

FIG. 2a shows an embodiment having a full-length hand grip surface;

FIGS. 3 and 4 show another embodiment of the exercise device having a modified shape; and

FIGS. 5-10 show various methods of use of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

While those having ordinary skill in the field of exercise equipment design and use will recognize that many different embodiments of the present invention are possible, without deviating from its scope, with reference to the drawings some of the presently preferred embodiments will now be described. The term “flexure rating” is used at times hereafter, and means the amount of force needed to flex the elongated member.

FIG. 1 is a view of one embodiment of the apparatus in a first or unflexed position. The apparatus 10 comprises an elongated flexible member 20 preferably having hand grips 30 to be grasped by the user. In one embodiment, the hand grips 30 are rotatable on the elongated flexible member 20. While the scope of the invention encompasses flexible members of varying generally arcuate shapes, it has been found that for most users an angle A of, for example, 5 to 30 degrees yields satisfactory results; however, it is understood that the scope of the invention is not limited to that range of angularity, and depending upon a given user's preference, greater or smaller angles may be used. FIG. 2 is an alternative hand grip design, comprising a ball shape on the outer end of handle 30. FIG. 2a is yet another embodiment in which hand grip 30 covers substantially the entirety of the length of the exercise device (the flexible member 20 indicated by dotted lines). It is understood that elongated flexible member may not have defined hand grips, but merely locations thereon for gripping.

It can be seen that the embodiments in FIGS. 1 and 2 comprise a generally smooth arcuate shape of elongated flexible member 20. FIGS. 3 and 4 show other embodiments of the invention, with the handle designs of FIGS. 1 and 2, but in which the overall shape of elongated flexible member 20 comprises two generally straight sections, with a curved middle section. It is understood that both shapes are encompassed by the present invention. Different materials and/or methods of manufacture may lend themselves to forming one or the other of the two general shapes.

The invention further comprises a set of more than one exercise devices, each comprising an elongated flexible member, and each having a different flexure rating. The user can then avail him or herself of relatively light or heavy workout regimes. Flexure rating values of between 2 and 25 lb. have been found satisfactory for many users. The length of the elongated flexible member is typically between 4 and 5 feet, but can be made in any length to suit the user.

The preferred embodiment of the exercise device is formed from an elongated flexible member 10 having a substantially round cross section shape (as can be seen in FIG. 1a), made from an elastically deformable (that is, that will return to its relaxed, arcuate shape after being forced into a flexed position) material. A number of different materials are suitable. Currently preferred materials are various plastics such as nylon polymers, urethane, or other resilient materials well known in the art. The elongated flexible member may be formed by extrusion or other means well known in the art, from which process the members typically emerge substantially straight in configuration. The arcuate shape may be formed by different methods. One method is to simply bend the elongated flexible members to the final flexed position, after which the members tend to retain some of the flex shape, thereby forming the arcuate shape. Yet another method is to heat the central portion of the member, then bend the central portion into the arcuate shape, after which the members are allowed to cool. This method may yield the embodiment of the elongated member having two substantially straight sections joined by the central arcuate section. Yet another method is to mold the arcuate shape into the elongated member during fabrication.

Since many of the plastics suitable for the elongated member will yield a relatively hard and slick surface, preferably an outer covering 20a of a softer material, for example a layer of rubber or rubber-like substance, is added, as seen in FIG. 1a. Outer covering 20a yields an improved gripping surface (should the device not be gripped by hand grips 30) and helps reduce injury, should the device unexpectedly spring back and strike the user. The hand grip sections are preferably formed from a softer foam material, such as an open or closed cell foam, providing an easily gripped section which will yield to the user's grip, and prevent slipping of the hand.

As later described in connection with the methods of use of the exercise device, the invention may further comprise leg pads 40 on flexible member 20.

Methods of Use of the Exercise Device

The present invention further comprises methods of use of the exercise device. The exercise device can be used in different ways to develop musculature and toning throughout the body, as well as for specific muscle groups. FIGS. 5 through 10 illustrate some of the presently preferred methods of use.

FIG. 5 illustrates a method of use of the exercise device to exercise various arm and shoulder muscles. With the exercise device positioned behind the user's back, one hand grip is held in a lower position (the user's right hand in FIG. 5), while the other hand reaches upward to grasp the other hand grip. The exercise is carried out by bringing the two hands toward one another.

FIG. 6 illustrates a method of primarily biceps exercise. One hand grip is held stationary against the user's chest with one hand (the user's left hand in FIG. 6), while the other arm is used to flex the apparatus and bring the hand grips together, tending to exercise especially the biceps of the moving arm.

FIG. 7 illustrates a method of use particularly adapted to chest muscle development. From the position shown, the user's hands are repeatedly brought together then separated, yielding the exercise. The arms can be extended to greater or lesser degrees to exercise different muscle groups.

The exercise illustrated in FIG. 8 is another one particularly adapted to chest muscle development. The apparatus is held behind the user's body, then the user's hands brought together in front of the body.

The apparatus is additionally adapted to exercise certain leg and hip muscles. FIG. 9 shows an exercise in which the user is seated, the apparatus is flexed sufficiently far to be held between the user's legs when spread apart; then, the user's legs are brought together against the resistance of the apparatus. Leg pads 40, seen in FIG. 9, may be added to assist in holding the apparatus in place between the legs.

Yet another chest, arm and upper body exercise is shown in FIG. 10. Here, apparatus 10 is grasped and the user's arms brought upwardly until the forearms are substantially vertical. Keeping the forearms substantially vertical, the forearms are brought together in what is at times described as a “butterfly” motion.

More advanced exercise movements provide for multi-plane movements with flexed or engaged muscles. Such multi-plane movements provide for greater range of motion and an enhanced exercise effect. With the elongated flexible member in a relaxed position, one end of the elongated flexible member can be supported in a substantially fixed position. The opposite end of the elongated flexible member is then manipulated such that the opposite end is brought toward the one end substantially in a first plane. In this move, the elongated flexible member is displaced from its relaxed position to a flexed position. While supporting the one end of the elongated flexible member, the opposite end is rotatable in a second plane, different from the first plane. This basic move can be performed with various combinations of a user's body to exercise different muscles.

For example, supporting an end of the elongated flexible member in a substantially fixed position may be accomplished with a user's hand or arm, while the opposite end is manipulated with the user's other hand or arm. In this context, not only is the arm manipulating the opposite end of the elongated flexible member benefiting from flexing the elongated flexible member while rotating the supporting muscle, the user's muscles supporting the opposite hand are also placed in tension in supporting the substantially fixed end of the elongated flexible member. A similar move can be performed with the user's legs or with combinations of other user body parts. For example, the substantially fixed end of the elongated flexible member may be supported with the user's hands, arms, chest, thigh, hamstring, calf, foot and the like. The manipulating end is most preferably positioned with a movable body part such as a user's hand, arm, thigh, hamstring, calf, foot, etc.

As an alternative to supporting the one end of the flexible member in the substantially fixed position with a user's body part, the one end may be secured against a fixed surface such as a floor, wall, ceiling or the like. In this manner, although the user would not benefit from the user's muscles providing the substantially fixed support, the support against a fixed surface is naturally more stable and can enable the user to perform moves under greater resistance.

The basic moves including flexing the elongated flexible member in the first plane and rotating at least one end of the elongated flexible member in a second plane, different from the first plane, may be repeated slowly for a certain number of repetitions for a specified duration. Alternatively, the move may be performed more quickly to provide more of an aerobic exercise.

For all of the illustrated exercises, which comprise methods of use of apparatus 10, the number of repetitions may be varied to suit the particular user. It is understood that other exercises could be developed utilizing apparatus 10.

While the preceding description contains many details, it is understood that they are offered by way of example only and not limitation. Many variations could be made in the exercise device, and methods of its use, without departing from the scope of the invention. As to the exercise device, the diameter and length as well as the properties of the material of which it is composed determine the amount of force required to accomplish flexing and the consequent effect on the participant. The device can be structured to allow many repetitions before the user is fatigued, therefore inducing shaping as compared to bulking-up of muscle groups; or it can be structured so as to have a higher flexure rating to promote bulking and the increase in body mass and musculature.

The exercise device is preferably cushioned to provide for comfortable usage, versatility, reduction of any potential injury and pleasing aesthetics. Complementary parts can be added to the apparatus to allow additional exercise activity, such as leg presses or squats. It can be fabricated in various lengths to suit the physical stature of the potential exerciser.

At lower flexure rating values the device can be extremely helpful for rehabilitating joint injuries to the shoulder, elbow and other joints. It can be used by athletes to develop and enhance specific skills such as throwing a baseball, football or javelin. Use prior to participation in sporting events permits athletes to be able to reduce the risk of injury by providing a simple and convenient mechanism for warming up the germane muscle areas.

While the invention has been described in connection with what is presently considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiments, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to the disclosed embodiments, but on the contrary, is intended to cover various modifications and equivalent arrangements included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.