Title:
Exercise methods and apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Left and right rails are supported on a frame and movable up and down with respect thereto. Left and right skates are supported on respective rails and movable back and forth with respect thereto. As a result, each skate is movable through a variety of paths within a respective vertical plane. Each rail is a leaf spring and provides its own, inherent reactionary force in response to upward and downward movement thereof.



Inventors:
Gordon, Trace O. (Park City, UT, US)
Application Number:
09/808795
Publication Date:
08/09/2001
Filing Date:
03/15/2001
Assignee:
GORDON TRACE O.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/110
International Classes:
A63B21/012; A63B21/22; A63B23/035; A63B23/04; A63B5/08; A63B21/00; (IPC1-7): A63B22/00; A63B21/22
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CROW, STEPHEN R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARK A. KRULL (BEND, OR, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An exercise apparatus, comprising: a frame; a left rail and a right rail, wherein each said rail is flexible and resilient, and each said rail has a first portion secured to the frame by a fastener, and a second portion supported by the frame and movable relative thereto; and a left foot support and a right foot support, wherein each said foot support is mounted on a respective rail and movable in a first direction relative to the rail and the frame, and each said foot support and respective rail are movable in a second, generally orthogonal direction relative to the frame.

2. The exercise apparatus of claim 1, wherein each said second portion is slideably supported on the frame.

3. The exercise apparatus of claim 1, wherein each said first portion is forward of a respective second portion and supported by the frame at a relatively higher elevation above a floor surface.

4. The exercise apparatus of claim 1, wherein opposite ends of each said rail are supported by the frame.

5. The exercise apparatus of claim 4, wherein the opposite ends include respective, relatively higher forward ends and respective, relatively lower rearward ends.

6. The exercise apparatus of claim 1, wherein each said foot support is rollably mounted on a respective rail.

7. An exercise apparatus, comprising: a frame designed to rest upon a floor surface; a first elongate leaf spring having a first end fastened to the frame, and a second end movable relative to the frame; a second elongate leaf spring adjacent the first leaf spring and having a first end fastened to the frame, and a second end movable relative to the frame; a first foot support, mounted on the first leaf spring, wherein the first foot support is both movable back and forth along the first leaf spring and movable up and down together with the first leaf spring relative to the frame; and a second foot support, mounted on the second leaf spring, wherein the second foot support is both movable back and forth along the second leaf spring and movable up and down together with the second leaf spring relative to the frame.

8. The exercise apparatus of claim 7, wherein each said second end is slideably supported on the frame.

9. The exercise apparatus of claim 8, wherein each said first end is bolted to the frame.

10. The exercise apparatus of claim 9, wherein each said second end is disposed between generally laterally extending members on the frame.

11. The exercise apparatus of claim 10, wherein each said leaf spring has a relatively higher forward end and a relatively lower rearward end.

12. The exercise apparatus of claim 7, wherein each said foot support is rollably mounted on a respective leaf spring.

13. The exercise apparatus of claim 7, further comprising handles rotatably mounted to the frame and selectively movable to a position generally adjacent and parallel to the floor surface.

14. The exercise apparatus of claim 7, wherein the first foot support and the second foot support are interconnected and move in reciprocal fashion along respective leaf springs.

15. The exercise apparatus of claim 14, wherein the first foot support and the second foot support are connected to a flywheel rotatably mounted on the frame, and the flywheel rotates in response to rearward movement of either said foot support relative to a respective leaf spring.

16. An exercise apparatus, comprising: a frame; a left rail and a right rail, wherein each said rail is flexible and resilient; a left anchoring means, connected to the frame, for anchoring a first end of the left rail to the frame while allowing an opposite, second end of the left rail to move relative to the frame; a right anchoring means, connected to the frame, for anchoring a first end of the right rail to the frame while allowing an opposite, second end of the right rail to move relative to the frame; and a left foot support and a right foot support, wherein each said foot support is mounted on a respective rail and movable in a first direction relative to the respective rail and the frame, and each said foot support and respective are movable together in a generally orthogonal, second direction relative to the frame.

17. The exercise apparatus of claim 16, wherein each said anchoring means includes a fastener interconnected between the frame and the first end of a respective rail.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to exercise methods and apparatus and more particularly, to exercise equipment which facilitates exercise through a variable path of motion.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Exercise equipment has been designed to facilitate a variety of discrete exercise motions. For example, treadmills allow a person to walk or run in place; stepper machines allow a person to climb in place; bicycle machines allow a person to pedal in place; and other machines allow a person to skate and/or stride in place. Yet another exercise apparatus, disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,290,211 to Stearns, has been designed to facilitate several different exercise motions, including free form paths of foot movement and controlled paths of foot movement comparable to walking, running, stepping, cycling, striding, skiing, and/or elliptical paths of travel. In particular, the exercise apparatus has foot platforms which move relative to intermediate supports which, in turn, move relative to a frame. As a result of such an arrangement, the foot platforms enjoy two degrees of freedom relative to the frame. In other words, each foot platform is free to move through all sorts of paths within its respective vertical plane.

[0003] The Stearns patent discloses foot platforms which are configured to move in reciprocal fashion and foot platforms which are configured to move independently of one another. In the latter configuration, a return mechanism is desirable to overcome the force of gravity acting on the foot platforms. In other words, once a user provides the force necessary to move a foot platform downward, the apparatus provides the force necessary to return the foot platform back upward in the absence of user supplied force (either downward on the platform or upward on a toe strap). In the reciprocating configuration, the foot platforms are constrained to move in generally opposite directions, and thus, no such discrete return mechanism is required because the user provides the return force.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] The present invention may be seen to provide an exercise apparatus having left and right rails supported on a frame and movable up and down relative thereto, and left and right foot platforms supported on respective rails and movable back and forth relative thereto. Unlike the embodiments shown in the Stearns patent, however, the rails on the present invention are flexible and resilient and function as leaf springs in response to vertical movement.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

[0005] With reference to the Figures of the Drawing, wherein like numerals represent like parts and assemblies throughout the several views,

[0006] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exercise apparatus constructed according to the principles of the present invention;

[0007] FIG. 2 is a side view of the exercise apparatus of FIG. 1;

[0008] FIG. 3 is a top view of the exercise apparatus of FIG. 1; and

[0009] FIG. 4 is an end view of the exercise apparatus of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0010] A preferred embodiment exercise apparatus constructed according to the principles of the present invention is designated as 100 in FIGS. 1-4. The exercise apparatus 100 generally includes a frame 120, left and right foot supports 180a and 180b movably mounted on the frame 120, and left and right handles 190a and 190b movably mounted on the frame 120. The foot supports 180a and 180b are movable up and down relative to the frame 120, back and forth relative to the frame 120, and through various curved paths of motion having variable vertical and horizontal components. The handles 190a and 190b are independently movable through an arcuate path relative to the frame 120.

[0011] The frame 120 includes a generally I-shaped base 122 which is designed to rest upon a horizontal floor surface 99. The base 122 includes a forward transverse member 124, a rearward transverse member 126, and a longitudinal member 127 extending perpendicularly therebetween. A forward stanchion 130 extends upward from the base 122, proximate the forward end. A laterally extending support 132 is mounted on top of the stanchion 130, and a trunnion 136 extends rearward from the stanchion 130. A rearward stanchion 140 extends upward from the base 122, proximate the rearward end. A laterally extending support 142 is mounted on top of the stanchion 140. An intermediate stanchion 150 extends upward from the base 122, just in front of the rearward stanchion 140. A laterally extending support 152 is mounted on the stanchion 150 and supports left and right brackets 155a and 155b which cooperate with the support 152 to provide laterally extending left and right slots.

[0012] Left and right rails or guide members 160a and 160b are interconnected between the forward support 132 and the intermediate support 152. In particular, a rearward end of each rail 160a and 160b is inserted through a respective slot on the intermediate support 150, and a forward end of each rail 160a and 160b is connected to the forward support 132 by means of a bolt assembly 135a and 135b. The slots and the bolts 135a and 135b cooperate to allow deflection of the rails 160a and 160b while also maintaining them in parallel alignment relative to one another and the base 122.

[0013] Each rail 160a and 160b is made from flexible and resilient steel and may be described as a leaf spring. The rails 160a and 160b deflect downward in response to a downward force and deflect back upward in the absence of a downward force. The rails 160a and 160b are depicted in a relatively curved or deflected configuration to emphasize this feature of the invention. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the rails 160a and 160b may be made of other suitable materials, such as fiberglass and/or graphite composites, without departing from the scope of the present invention.

[0014] Each foot support 180a and 180b is rollably mounted on a respective rail 170a or 170b in a manner known in the art. Rollers engage both sides of each rail 170a and 170b to maintain the respective foot supports 180a or 180b in proximity thereto.

[0015] A flywheel 170 is rotatably mounted to the trunnion 136 and interconnected with the foot supports 180a and 180b by means of flexible members or timing belts 178a and 178b In particular, each timing belt 178a and 178b is formed into a closed loop and disposed about a respective pulley on the rearward support 142 and about a respective pulley and one-way clutch combination on the shaft which supports the flywheel 170. Each foot support 180a and 180b is connected to the lower stretch of a respective timing belt 178a or 178b. The arrangement is such that rearward movement of either foot support 180a or 180b causes counter-clockwise rotation of the flywheel 170 (as viewed from the left side of the machine 100 and indicated by arrows in FIG. 1). The right foot support 180b is also connected to the upper stretch of the left timing belt 178a, by means of bracket 188, thereby constraining the two foot supports 180a and 180b to move in reciprocal fashion. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the left pulley and one-way clutch combination freewheels relative to the flywheel 170 during rearward movement of the right foot support 180b. Those skilled in the art will also recognize that a coil spring may be placed in series between the bracket 188 and the left timing belt 178a to keep the belt 178a taut and allow sufficient freedom of movement during operation.

[0016] Since the foot supports 180a and 180b are movable relative to the rails 160a and 160b, and in turn, the rails 160a and 160b are movable relative to the frame 120, the foot supports 180a and 180b are movable in a variety of manners relative to the frame 120. For example, the foot supports 180a and 180b may simply move up and down (together with the rails 160a and 160b) relative to the frame 120; or the foot supports 180a and 180b may simply move back and forth along the rails 160a and 160b; or the foot supports 180a and 180b may move through a path that combines the two preceding motions, such as downward and backward and then upward and forward. In addition to facilitating a greater variety of exercise movements, the flexible and resilient rails 160a and 160b also inherently tend to absorb shock during downward exercise movement.

[0017] A lower end 184 of each handle 190a and 190b is rotatably mounted to a respective side of the support 124, and each handle 190a and 190b rotates relative to the frame 120 subject to friction disc resistance, all in a manner already known in the art. Resistance to rotation may be adjusted by rotating knobs 186 relative to the respective handles 190a and 190b. An upper end 182 of each handle 190a and 190b is sized and configured for grasping by a person standing on the foot supports 180a and 180b. A flange 128 extends downward from each end of the support 124 to engage the floor surface 99 and provide clearance for rotation of the handles 190a and 190b.

[0018] Those skilled in the art will recognize additional embodiments, modifications, and/or applications which differ from those described herein yet nonetheless fall within the scope of the present invention. For example, other types of inertia altering and/or resistance devices, such as a band brake or a motor, could be added to or substituted for the flywheel arrangement without departing from the scope of the present invention. Furthermore, the size, configuration, and/or arrangement of the components of the preferred embodiment may be modified as a matter of design choice. Recognizing that, for reasons of practicality, the foregoing description sets forth only some of the numerous possible modifications and variations, the scope of the present invention is to be limited only to the extent of the claims which follow.