Title:
Lower body exercise equipment and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An exercise apparatus comprising a hoop or support bar that a user steps into and pulls up above his or her buttocks to the small of the back can be used for performing squats, lunges, and calf raises. The hoop or support bar is lowered and raised during exercise and provides movement resistance as the user exercises. The hoop or support bar supports the user's back, thus reducing the strain on the back and making exercising more comfortable. Additionally, an adjustable resistance element makes exercising more efficient, and allows the user to raise or lower the intensity of the exercise depending on his or her comfort level.



Inventors:
Brown, Donald (Chester, NJ, US)
Application Number:
10/231978
Publication Date:
03/04/2004
Filing Date:
08/29/2002
Assignee:
BROWN DONALD
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/130
International Classes:
A63B21/04; A63B21/055; A63B23/04; (IPC1-7): A63B21/02; A63B21/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BAKER, LORI LYNN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Daniel M. Cislo (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An exercise apparatus comprising: a hoop capable of repeated substantially up and down motion; and a resistance element coupled to said hoop for providing resistance to said motion, wherein a user of the apparatus positions their waist generally inside said hoop for exercising, and wherein said hoop is moved substantially up and down by said user against said resistance while said user is exercising.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said hoop is positioned against said user's lower back while said user is exercising.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said user exercises by moving from a first standing position to a second position, said second position being a sitting or squatting position, said hoop being used to support said user's back.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a support stand which is freestanding on a surface for supporting said hoop.

5. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein said hoop is pivotally coupled to said support stand.

6. The apparatus of claim 5, said support stand comprising a base and a vertical member extending from said base, and forming an acute angle with said base, wherein said hoop is coupled to said vertical member at an end of said vertical member opposite said base.

7. The apparatus of claim 5, further comprising a support arm for supporting said hoop, said support arm being pivotally coupled to said support stand at a pivot point.

8. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein said resistance element is coupled between said support stand and said support arm, wherein said resistance element pushes said support arm pivotally upwards with respect to said pivot point, such that resistance is provided when said hoop is moved down.

9. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein said resistance element is coupled between said support stand and said support arm, wherein said resistance element pulls said support arm pivotally downwards with respect to said pivot point, such that resistance is provided when said hoop is moved up.

10. The apparatus of claim 1, said hoop being made of a rigid material.

11. The apparatus of claim 1, said hoop including a flexible band segment for receiving said user's back.

12. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a stepping pad for receiving said user's feet while said user is exercising.

13. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said resistance element is adjustable.

14. The apparatus of claim 13, further comprising: a support arm for supporting said hoop; and a support stand for supporting said support arm, said resistance element being coupled between said support stand and said support arm, wherein said resistance element comprises at least one band.

15. The apparatus of claim 1, said hoop being further capable of repeated side to side motion.

16. A method of exercising comprising: providing an encircling element capable of repeated generally up and down motion against predetermined resistance; stepping into said encircling element and placing said encircling element around one's lower back; and repeatedly ones body using one's leg muscles, while said encircling element supporting said back against said resistance.

17. The method of claim 16, said repeatedly lowering and raising step comprising moving from a first standing position to a second position, said second position being a sitting or a squatting position.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein one's legs are slightly bent in said first position.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein one's feet are generally hip-width apart in said first and second positions.

20. An exercise apparatus comprising: an engagement element for engaging a user's back including means for repeatedly moving said engagement up and down; support means for supporting said engagement element; and resistance means coupled to said engagement element for providing resistance to said means for moving said engagement element, wherein a user of the apparatus positioned inside said engagement element for exercising, and wherein said engagement element is moved by said user against said resistance while said user is exercising.

21. The apparatus of claim 20 wherein said means for moving said engagement element up and down includes pivot means, wherein said resistance means is coupled between said support means and said pivot means.

22. An exercise apparatus for performing squats, lunges, or calf raises comprising: a support bar for supporting a user's back while performing exercise, wherein said user moves generally up and down while exercising, said support bar generally engaging the user's body while generally moving with said user; and a resistance element associated with said support bar to provide resistance while said user moves either up or down.

23. The apparatus of claim 22, wherein said resistance is provided while said user moves down, wherein said resistance is dependant on the weight of said user.

24. The apparatus of claim 22, wherein said resistance is transferred down form the hips of said user.

25. The apparatus of claim 24, wherein said exercise can be performed with minimal spinal compression and shoulder tension.

26. The apparatus of claim 22, wherein said resistance is variable.

27. The apparatus of claim 26, wherein said resistance is provided as said user moves down and assistance is provided as said user moves up, or wherein said resistance is provides as said user moves up and assistance is provided as said user moves down.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] This invention relates to lower body exercise equipment and methods of exercising.

[0003] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0004] There are many forms of exercise for working the lower body muscles. Squats, lunges, and calf raises, wherein the person exercising repetitively lowers and raises his body from a standing to a sitting or squatting position using the leg muscles, are one type of exercise designed to work the calves and upper leg muscles. However, such exercises may put undue strain on the back (spinal compression) making exercise stressful, more difficult, and less efficient.

[0005] Various forms of exercises have used belts worn around the small of the back for supporting the lower back. Bohmer et al., U.S. Pat. No. 6,059,696 discloses a belt for supporting an individual walking on a treadmill. Additionally, Lemire, U.S. Pat. No. 5,158,510, discloses a support belt which is attachable to different types of exercise machines.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] The present invention is for an exercise apparatus comprising a hoop or support bar that a user steps into and pulls up above his or her buttocks to the small of the back for performing squats, lunges and calf raises. The hoop or support bar is pivotally supported on the apparatus and can be lowered and raised during exercise. Additionally, an adjustable resistance element is provided.

[0007] The hoop or support bar supports the user's back, thus reducing the strain on the back and making exercising more comfortable. Additionally, the resistance element makes exercising more efficient, and allows the user to raise or lower the intensity of the exercise depending on his comfort level.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

[0008] It is an object of the present invention to provide an exercise apparatus for performing lower body exercise, namely squats, lunges and calf raises.

[0009] It is another object of the present invent to provide an exercise comprising a hoop or support bar which supports a user's back while doing squats, lunges, and calf raises.

[0010] It is yet another object of the present invention to provide an exercise apparatus which provides adjustable movement resistance and back support for performing squats, lunges, and calf raises.

[0011] It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a method of exercise wherein a user steps into a hoop or support bar for doing squats, lunges, and calf raises and wherein the hoop or support bar provides the user with back support and movement resistance.

[0012] These and other objects and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from a review of the following specification and accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exercise apparatus in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, showing a user of the apparatus in a first standing position.

[0014] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 1, showing the user in a second sitting position.

[0015] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the hoop of the apparatus of FIG. 1.

[0016] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a hoop for the apparatus of FIG. 1, according to an alternate embodiment.

[0017] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the stand of the apparatus of FIG. 1, shown close up for illustrating its construction.

[0018] FIG. 6 is a perspective top view of the arm and vertical member of the stand of the apparatus of FIG. 1, shown close up for illustrating their structural connection.

[0019] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an apparatus, similar to the apparatus of FIG. 1, in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0020] The detailed description set forth below in connection with the appended drawings is intended as a description of presently-preferred embodiments of the invention and is not intended to represent the only forms in which the present invention may be constructed and/or utilized. The description sets forth the functions and the sequence of steps for constructing and operating the invention in connection with the illustrated embodiments. However, it is to be understood that the same or equivalent functions and sequences may be accomplished by different embodiments that are also intended to be encompassed within the spirit and scope of the invention.

[0021] The present invention is for an exercise apparatus comprising a hoop or support bar that a user steps into and pulls up above his or her buttocks to the small of the back for performing squats, lunges, and calf raises against a resistance element. The hoop or support bar is lowered and raised during exercise.

[0022] According to a preferred embodiment, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the apparatus 100 comprises a hoop 101 pivotally supported, via a pivotal support arm 102, on a support stand 104 which is freestanding on a floor or other surface 106. The hoop 100 is an element which generally engages or encircles the user's waist for supporting the user's back while exercising. Additionally, a resistance element 108 is coupled between the support stand 104 and support arm 102. According to a preferred embodiment, the resistance element 108 pushes the support arm pivotally upwards, with respect to the support arm/ support stand pivot point 109, such that resistance is provided when a user, with the hoop 101 positioned around his back, pulls down the hoop 101 to perform squats, lunges, or calf raises. The hoop 101, as best illustrated in FIG. 3, is preferably made of a rigid material such as steel or other metal, or plastic. The hoop 102 need not be circular and may take on any geometric shape. According to a preferred embodiment, shown in the figures, the hoop 101 is ergonomically designed, having a rounded bar 110 for receiving the user's back, and angled segments 112, 114 for supporting the user's elbows as the user grips the hoop. Padding 116, 118, 120 for cushioning the user's back and arms, and for gripping by the user, may also be provided. The padding may be of a sponge or other absorbent and/or cushioning material.

[0023] FIG. 4 illustrates an alternate embodiment for the hoop 400, wherein, instead of being fully formed from a rigid material as the hoop 101, the hoop 400 includes a flexible band segment 402 for receiving the user's back. The segment 402 may be made of a flexible cloth or rubber material. The rest of the hoop 400 is made of a rigid material as the hoop 101.

[0024] The support arm 102 may form an integral unit with the hoop 101 or may be slidably connected to the arm 102 (e.g. via telescopic arm and a lock pin adjustment mechanism) such that the distance of the hoop from the pivot point 109 is adjustable. however, this may also be achieved by making the arm 102 slidably adjustable on the stand 104.

[0025] The support stand 104 includes a base 122, and a vertical member 124 extending upwards from the base. According to a preferred embodiment, the base 122 may include a bar 126, and a transverse member 128, such that the apparatus is freestanding on the surface 106. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the member 124 preferably forms an acute angle 130 with the base 122. The member 124 may also be at a 90-degree angle with the base 122.

[0026] FIG. 5 is a close up view illustrating the construction of stand 104, according to a preferred embodiment. The bar 126 includes transverse flap segments 500, 502 which are bolted to the transverse member 128, and a central flap segment 504 for supporting the vertical member 124. The transverse member may be formed from two rods 506, 508, such that a cavity 510 is formed at the joining point between the bar 126 and rods 508, 508 for receiving the bottom of the vertical member 124. Segments 512, 514 are bolted between the vertical member 124 and bar 126, for attaching the vertical member to the bar, as shown in FIG. 5.

[0027] The base 122 may further include a stepping pad 132 for the user to stand on while exercising. The stepping pad further gives extra support to the apparatus 100 in its freestanding position. According to a preferred embodiment, the stepping pad forms a small angle 134 (approximately 5 to 15 degrees) with the surface 106.

[0028] The support arm 102 may be pivotally connected to the vertical member 124 of the support stand 104 via a hinge pin 136. According to a preferred embodiment, the support arm 102 is a rectangular cylinder and includes an aperture 600 for slidably receiving the vertical member 124, as shown in FIG. 6. The aperture 600 is made wide enough, such that the arm is free to move pivotally up and down. Holes 602, 604 on the walls forming the aperture 600 are aligned with holes on the member 124, and the pin 136 is inserted through the corresponding holes to form the pivot point 109. Although the member 124 is illustrated in FIG. 6 as being hollow, this need not necessarily be the case. Additional holes 138, 140 may be provided on the member 124 for making the height of the arm 102 from the surface 106 adjustable.

[0029] Pins 144, 146 are provided on the arm 102 and vertical member 124 of the support stand 104 for attachment of the resistance element 108 between the vertical member 124 and the arm 102. The pin 144 is located on the end of the arm 102 opposite the hoop 101 with respect to the pivot point 109, such that resistance is provided when the hoop 101 is lowered.

[0030] As shown in the figures, the resistance element 108 comprises two bands, joined on either side of the arm 102 and vertical member 124. The bands may be of rubber other stretchable material for providing bungee type resistance as the user pulls down the hoop 101 for performing squats, lunges, or calf raises.

[0031] The bungee type mechanism provides resistance which is variable, such that the increasing resistance is provided as the hoop is pulled down, and decreasing negative resistance, or assistance, is provided as the hoop is raised back up. Also, the resistance mechanism allows the user to use his weight to pull the hoop down. The resistance is preferably transferred down from the user's hips, eliminating any spinal compression and shoulder tension.

[0032] Additional bands may be added to the pins 144, 146 for making the resistance adjustable. Additionally, for adjusting resistance, the pin 146 may be inserted into other holes provided on the member 124. Other types of resistance elements, for example springs or weights, may also be used.

[0033] As shown in FIG. 7, the pin 700 provided on the arm 702 for attachment of the resistance element 704 between the arm 702 and vertical member 706, may also be located on the same end of the arm 702 as the hoop 708, with respect to the pivot point 710. According to this embodiment, resistance is provide when the hoop is raised rather than lowered.

[0034] Further features may be provided, such as making the apparatus 100 foldable to a compact unit for easy storage. Wheels may further be provided for making the apparatus 100 portable. Mechanisms for adjusting the angle of stepping pad 132 and angle of the vertical member may also be provided. Additionally, a hoop may be made capable of side-to-side motion as well as up and down motion (e.g. by providing a ball joint between the arm and vertical member of the present invention) for providing other forms of exercise.

[0035] According to a preferred method for exercising, the user 150 positioned within the hoop 101, with feet 152 planted on the stepping pad 132 and hip width apart, lowers himself from a first standing position (shown in FIG. 1) to a second sitting position (shown in FIG. 2) by bending his legs. Thus, the user can generally move up and down while exercising. This motion may be repeated for working the lower and upper leg muscles. Alternatively, the user may repeatedly alternate between a standing and a squatting position. Other forms of exercise, which can be performed using the apparatus of the present invention, will be apparent to one skilled in the art.

[0036] The hoop 101 supports the user's back and may also be used to gain extra leverage by allowing the user to press his elbows, arms, or hands against the hoop 101 as he exercises. Thus, the strain on the back is reduced, making exercising more comfortable and reducing the likelihood of back injury. Additionally, the adjustable resistance provided makes exercising more efficient, and allows the user to raise or lower the intensity of the exercise depending on his comfort level.

[0037] While the present invention has been described with regards to particular embodiments, it is recognized that additional variations of the present invention may be devised without departing from the inventive concept.





 
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