Title:
Centrifugal force exercise apparatus and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus and method to exercise and strengthen arm and core muscles and improve muscle coordination includes a main body for being manually grasped and first and second arm units constructed and arranged to generic centrifugal forces to create exercise resistance. In an exemplary embodiment, the arm units include shafts longitudinal axes inclined to the longitudinal axis of the main body and mounted to spin or gyrate with respect to the gripped surface of the main body. The arm units are advantageously weighted to supplement the centrifugal forces generated by the gyrating motion, thereby to create exercise resistance.



Inventors:
Herder, Michael W. (Potomac, MD, US)
Application Number:
10/828193
Publication Date:
10/27/2005
Filing Date:
04/21/2004
Assignee:
PT Concepts, Inc. (Potomac, MD, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/93
International Classes:
A63B21/06; A63B21/22; A63B21/00; A63B21/072; (IPC1-7): A63B21/06; A63B21/00; A63B21/22
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BIDDER, ALLANA LEWIN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NIXON & VANDERHYE, PC (ARLINGTON, VA, US)
Claims:
1. An exercise apparatus comprising: a main body having a longitudinal axis; and first and second arm units mounted to the main body so as to be disposed at opposite longitudinal ends thereof, wherein the arm units comprise weights that are disposed to rotate about the longitudinal axis of the main body when the main body is grasped and moved through a small circular motion in a plane generally perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the main body, thereby generating centrifugal forces.

2. The exercise apparatus of claim 1, wherein at least one said arm unit is configured so that said weight is laterally offset from said longitudinal axis of said main body.

3. The exercise apparatus of claim 1, wherein at least one said arm unit is mounted for rotation about said longitudinal axis of said main body.

4. The exercise apparatus of claim 3, wherein said arm unit comprises a shaft having a longitudinal axis inclined at an angle of between about 0° and about 90°.

5. The exercise apparatus of claim 4, wherein said shaft is inclined at an angle of between about 30° and about 60°.

6. The exercise apparatus of claim 5, wherein said shaft is inclined at an angle of about 45°.

7. The exercise apparatus of claim 1, wherein said arm unit defines an interior cavity in which a weight is disposed.

8. The exercise apparatus of claim 7, wherein said weight comprises lead.

9. The exercise apparatus of claim 7, wherein said arm unit comprises a tube.

10. The exercise apparatus of claim 1, wherein said main body comprises a core rotatably disposed within an outer tube, and wherein said arm units are fixedly mounted to said core so as to be freely rotatable with respect to said outer tube.

11. The exercise apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a gripping portion on said main body for being grasped by a user.

12. The exercise apparatus of claim 11, wherein said gripping portion comprises a foam rubber-like tube of grip material concentrically disposed on an outer surface of said main body.

13. A method of exercising using a rotating or gyrating weight exercise apparatus, comprising: providing an exercise apparatus comprising a main body having a longitudinal axis; and first and second arm units mounted to the main body so as to be disposed at opposite longitudinal ends thereof, the arm units comprising weights that are disposed to rotate about the longitudinal axis of the main body when the main body is grasped and moved in small circles; manually grasping said main body; and moving said main body in and along small generally circular paths in a plane generally perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the main body, thereby rotating said weights of said arm units to generate centrifugal forces.

14. The method of exercising as claimed in claim 13, wherein said grasping comprises grasping said main body at a mid-point thereof, with both hands, fingers of one hand over-lapping the other.

15. The method of exercising as claimed in claim 13, wherein said moving comprises orienting said main body so that said longitudinal axis thereof is oriented generally vertically and moving the hand or hands with which the main body is manually grasped in and along small generally circular paths in generally horizontal plane

16. The method of exercising as claimed in claim 13, wherein said weigh is laterally offset from said longitudinal axis of said main body and wherein said moving causes rotation of said weight about said longitudinal axis of said main body.

17. The method of exercising as claimed in claim 13, wherein at least one said arm unit is mounted for rotation about said longitudinal axis of said main body and wherein said moving causes rotation of said at least one arm unit about said longitudinal axis of said main body.

18. The method of exercising as claimed in claim 17, wherein said arm unit comprises a shaft having a longitudinal axis inclined at an angle of between about 0 ° and about 90°.

19. The method of exercising as claimed in claim 18, wherein said shaft is inclined at an angle of between about 30° and about 60°.

20. The method of exercising as claimed in claim 19, wherein said shaft is inclined at an angle of about 45°.

Description:

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A goal of exercise and exercise devices is the development and maintenance of muscular strength and coordination. However, many conventional exercise devices target only select muscles or isolated muscle groups and may not be effective to train muscles to minimize the risk of injuries which commonly occur when undertaking day-to-day activities. For example, traditional exercises that target the abdominal and back muscles usually ignore the rotational or twisting directions which is where many injuries occur. Strengthening, training and increasing coordination of the core muscle groups including the abdominal muscles in the front, and on the sides, and the muscles in the lower and mid-back regions, is important to day-to-day injury prevention. Indeed, the development and maintenance of the core muscle groups is vital to daily activities such as bending and lifting, as well as virtually all sports.

The present invention provides an exercise apparatus in which centrifugal forces are generated by rotating or gyrating weights, to create exercise resistance for exercising the core muscle groups. More specifically, by gripping the main body of the device with one or both hands and then making small, even minute, circular motions, weights provided in longitudinal end units are rotated or gyrated to generate centrifugal forces. The more force applied to the circular motion of the main body and thus the gyrating weights, the more centrifugally created resistance is felt by the user as he/she controls the motion of the device, thereby exercising his/her muscles. The provision of gyrating or spinning weights in or by the respective longitudinal end units (hereinafter generically referred to as arm units) is thus designed to tone, train, and improve strength and core muscle stability for both healthy individuals and those undergoing physical therapy. Muscles are angle specific and learning to control those centrifugal forces in different positions trains the muscles. It also strengthens the hand, forearm, bicep, tricep, deltoid, rotator cuff, scapular and chest muscles.

Accordingly, the invention may be embodied in an exercise apparatus comprising: a main body having a longitudinal axis; and first and second arm units mounted to the main body so as to be disposed at opposite longitudinal ends thereof, wherein the arm units comprise weights that are disposed to rotate about the longitudinal axis of the main body when the main body is grasped and moved through a small circular motion in a plane generally perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the main body, thereby generating centrifugal forces.

The invention may also be embodied in a method of exercising using a rotating or gyrating weight exercise apparatus, comprising: providing an exercise apparatus comprising a main body having a longitudinal axis; and first and second arm units mounted to the main body so as to be disposed at opposite longitudinal ends thereof, the arm units comprising weights that are disposed to rotate about the longitudinal axis of the main body when the main body is grasped and moved in small circles; manually grasping said main body; and moving said main body in and along small generally circular paths in a plane generally perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the main body, thereby rotating said weights of said arm units to generate centrifugal forces.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other objects and advantages of this invention, will be more completely understood and appreciated by careful study of the following more detailed description of the presently preferred exemplary embodiments of the invention taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is an elevational view of an exercise device according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a schematic elevational view illustrated the rotary or gyrating movement of the end units of the device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of one end of the exemplary exercise device of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of one end of the main body of the FIG. 1 embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIGS. 1-4 illustrate an exemplary, presently preferred embodiment of a variable speed, gyrating weight, centrifugal force exercise apparatus 10. Thus, in an embodiment of the invention, the exercise apparatus is comprised of a main body 12 having a longitudinal axis and arm units 14 mounted to the main body so as to be disposed at opposite longitudinal ends thereof. The arm units comprise weights that are disposed to rotate about the longitudinal axis of the main body when the main body is grasped and gyrated in small circles in a plane generally perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the main body, thereby generating centrifugal forces.

In one embodiment, the gyrating weights that create the centrifugal forces are provided by rotating arm units. That is, the weight of the arm unit itself generates a centrifugal force by rotating or gyrating motion of the arm unit 14 relative to the main body 12 (FIG. 2). Thus, in the illustrated, presently preferred embodiment, at least one of the arm units 14 comprises a shaft 16 having a longitudinal axis. Because it is the inclination of the arm unit 14 that will give rise to the centrifugal forces when the arm unit is rotated, the shaft of the arm unit is advantageously inclined at an angle greater than zero degrees (0°) with respect to the longitudinal axis of the main body and operatively coupled to the main body so that when the main body is grasped and oscillated in a small or minute circle, the arm unit rotates around (an extension of) the longitudinal axis of the main body, thereby generating a centrifugal resistance force.

The arm unit shaft 16 may be disposed at an angle of about 90° but, as will be appreciated, such an angle of inclination may undesirably place the distal end of the arm unit too close to the user during rotation of the unit. In the event the arm unit is inclined more than 90°, it will be understood that the weighted arm unit will likely interfere with use of the device by virtue of possible contact with the user's forearm or upper arm. Thus, it is preferred that the arm unit shaft be inclined at an angle between about 0° and about 90°, more preferably at an angle between about 30° and about 60°, and most preferably at an angle of about 45° to maximize centrifugal forces while avoiding contact between the rotating arm unit and the user.

By the careful selection of material(s) for the arm unit as well as that of the main body, the overall weight of the device can be limited while concentrating weight in the arm units. The arm unit may have weights added to it and/or can be at least partially filled with a high density material 18 to thereby weight the end of the arm unit or at least a portion of the length of the arm unit 14, as described in greater detail below.

In an exemplary embodiment, each arm unit or arm unit shaft is inclined at a fixed angle with respect to the main body. It is to be understood, however, that the inclination angle of the arm unit shaft need not be fixed. For example, by providing a suitable ball joint to interconnect the arm shaft and the main body, the arm shaft may be variably inclined with respect to the main body, depending on the orientation of the main body and the motion imparted to the main body. In such an embodiment, when small circulatory motions are imparted to the main body, due to centrifugal forces, the weighted arm units will tend toward the maximum inclination permitted by the ball joint and will rotate at that disposition. However, when rotary motion is not imparted to the main body, the arm units may either freely or manually be disposed anywhere in their full range of motion. This may facilitate storage of the exercise device while still permitting centrifugal forces to be generated. In the alternative, the inclination angle between the arm shaft and the main body can be adjusted by coupling the arm shaft and the main body with selectively mechanically locked disk gears or some other known adjustable and lockable angle elbow-type joint.

An advantage of the presently preferred, fixed inclination of the arm shafts is that the user is always aware of the position and inclination of the arm unit shaft 16, so as to avoid body contact, which should never occur during proper use of the device. On the other hand, a ball joint structure will allow the arm to deflect or give, to minimize any potential damage or injury, in the unlikely event that the arm unit contacts the user or another object.

In the illustrated embodiment, a padding material 20 is disposed to overlie the shaft of the arm unit, such as a tube of rubber or urethane grip material. The grip material of the illustrated embodiment has several advantages. Firstly, the grip material provides padding in the unlikely event the user erroneously makes contact between the device and themselves or another object. Secondly, the grip material facilitates grasping and retrieving of the device in advance of commencing an exercise routine. Thirdly, the grip material aesthetically encloses the structural shaft of the arm unit.

As an alternative to a movable arm unit, the arm unit may be an immovable structure having a weight mounted for rotation or gyration therewithin. Thus, for example, a hollow arm unit may be mounted at either or both longitudinal ends of the exercise device, defining a circular path around the longitudinal axis of the main body for a free moving weight disposed therewithin. The circular path may be defined by a tubular ring.

For the arm units to be rotatable, they may either be rotatably mounted to each longitudinal end of the main body, with a suitable bearing or other rotary joint assembly, or the arm units may be fixedly connected to a rotatable core of the main body. In a presently preferred embodiment, the latter configuration has been adopted so that the main body 12 is comprised of an inner shaft or core 22 rotatably disposed within an outer tube 24 that is adapted to be grasped by the user with one or both hands. The shaft 16 of each arm unit 14 is operatively coupled to the rotatable core 22 of the main body 12, so that the arm units are disposed to rotate freely with the core relative to the outer shaft of the main body. In an exemplary embodiment, to define the angle of inclination of the shaft of the arm unit with respect to the longitudinal axis of the main body of the device, an elbow joint 26 is used to interconnect the arm unit to the core of the main body. In the illustrated embodiment, the elbow joint is configured to dispose the shaft and thus the arm unit at an angle of about 45° with respect to the longitudinal axis of the main body and is secured, e.g., with screws at 28 and 30. As noted above, the angle of inclination may be varied from the illustrated angle and/or may be adjustable.

To facilitate non-slip grasping by the user, the outer tube 24 of the main body is either surface treated or covered with a friction enhancing material. In the illustrated embodiment, a foam rubber-type exercise grip tube 32 is disposed to fit snuggly over outer tube 24. If deemed necessary or desirable, the exercise grip material may be held in place by adhesive. As an alternative to providing the foam rubber grip 32 of the illustrated embodiment, the outer tube 24 may have a knurled surface or may have a friction enhancing material, such as friction enhancing tape, applied to it. Furthermore, although in the illustrated embodiment the grip enhancing surface is disposed to extend along substantially the entire outer tube 24, it is to be understood that the friction enhancing surface may be defined at spaced locations along the length of the outer tube 24 or may be substantially limited to the mid section of the shaft where the user is typically directed to grasp the device.

In an exemplary embodiment, the core 22 and outer tube 24 of the main body 12 as well as the shaft 16 of the arm unit 14 are formed from tubes of, e.g., PVC or aluminum, to provide a generally lightweight assembly. To increase the centrifugal forces when the arm unit is rotated, the shaft of the arm unit is weighted as by providing a high density material therewithin. Thus, in an exemplary embodiment, the arm units 14 are weighted with one-half pound of lead, schematically shown at 18, to provide resistance or operating weight to increase efficiency in creating centrifugal forces. Because of its density, lead is a presently preferred material to weight the arm while occupying minimal volume. Other materials such as iron or sand are not as dense as lead and would thus require a lengthening of the arm or an increase in the diameter of the arm to provide comparable weighting and centrifugal forces to, e.g., a half pound of lead.

Because in the illustrated embodiment the arm unit 14 is defined as a tubular shaft 16 having a weight 18 disposed within it, an end cap 34 is advantageously provided to retain the weight 18 within the arm unit shaft 16. To ensure that the end cap remains in position, the end cap is advantageously attached to the shaft of the arm unit, e.g., with one or more screws at 36. It is to be understood, however, that as an alternative to the screw attachment shown at 28, 30, and 36, any suitable means may be used to join the parts of the device, such as PVC pipe adhesive, bolts, welds or the like.

It is to be appreciated that, as an alternative to providing a filled tube as a weighted arm unit, the material from which the arm unit is made can be selected so as to provide the desired end weighting. Also, the length of the arm units and their transverse dimensions may be determined as deemed necessary or desirable so that the weight of the material of the arm unit and/or the filler disposed therewithin provides the appropriate centrifugal forces for the desired muscle strengthening and coordination. In the illustrated embodiment, the overall length of the exercise device is approximately 27½ inches from arm tip to arm tip. Each arm unit is approximately 8½ inches long and the main body is approximately 14 inches long. It is to be appreciated that the foregoing dimensions are by way of example only and may be varied as deemed necessary or desirable for functionality or aesthetics, as noted above. Particularly, adapting the device for larger, stronger individuals or smaller and/or weaker individuals may determine the optimum length of the central shaft and/or the arm units as well as the transverse dimensions of the grip area and the end units. It is also to be appreciated that the grip area may be provided with isolated thickened areas to facilitate the manual grasping by individuals having a particularly large grip so that they may comfortably and securely grasp the central shaft.

As mentioned above, all parts except for the rubber grip, the weight and the fasteners such as screws are made of PCV plastic. It is to be appreciated, however, that other materials, such as metal (e.g., aluminum), carbon fiber or other composites, or even wood, may be used. Also, other types of gripping materials may be used such as polyurethane, vinyl and the like, or even cloth tapes.

It is to be appreciated that as an alternative to a rotating or gyrating arm unit, a stationary arm unit may be provided that has a hollow interior defining a circular path around (an extension of) the longitudinal axis of the main body to receive a substantially freely moving weight to which motion is imparted upon rotation the main body, as described hereinbelow.

The centrifugal force exercise apparatus embodying the invention may be used as follows for building the core muscles and muscles of the hands, arm, chest, and shoulder. Proper usage includes holding the device 10 out from the body at a safe distance by extending the arm(s), generally while bending slightly at the elbows for comfort. Users should stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, and back fairly straight. A user holds the apparatus in the middle of the main body 12 with one hand or two hands (with the fingers of one hand overlapping fingers of the other), vertically or horizontally. The user begins by making small circular motions with their arms to start the end weights (the arm units 14 in the illustrated embodiment) rotating or gyrating either clock-wise or counter-clockwise. While the user's arms are rotating and controlling the gyration of the device, the rotator cuff muscles attached to the shoulder contract quickly and reciprocally to allow the forearm and wrist to continue the circular motion. The inner shaft 22 rotates and spins freely within the outer tube 24 as seen in FIG. 2. The deltoid muscle at the upper arm near the shoulder stabilizes that upper area of the arm. The forearm flexor and extensor muscles are exercised and used in a stabilizing manner, while the device is gripped with the hand. The biceps and triceps muscles are also exercised and used in a stabilizing manner. The pectoralis, abdominal and back musculature as well as periscapular musculature are exercised and used in a stabilizing manner too.

When the device or apparatus is used as indicated above, muscles on the front and back of the trunk, front and back of the shoulder, and both sides of the arm are reciprocally and dynamically exercised by the resistance created by centrifugal forces from the gyrating weights of the arm units. All exercises also give some strengthening to the leg muscles because of the natural contraction and relaxation that occurs when keeping the body stable while rotating the device. The CORE muscles may be isometrically contracted to enhance the effectiveness of the exercise. The forearm, bicep, tricep, deltoid, rotator cuff, scapular and leg muscles also benefit from isometric contraction.

As will be appreciated, the one or two handed rotary motion can be imparted to the device while it is held horizontally, vertically, or at an angle; to the side, to the front, overhead, or in between; and in place or while being swept through an arc. The most common exercises involve holding the apparatus out in front or to the side (vertically or horizontally) at about abdominal level using a one-hand or two-hand grip. Those positions give the most exercise to the CORE muscles of the abdomen, and lower and mid-back. The forearm, bicep, tricep, deltoid, rotator cuff and scapular muscles are also exercised. One armed exercises to the side or raised in front give more primary exercise to the forearm, bicep, tricep, deltoid, rotator cuff, scapular and chest muscles. The user can also vary the rotation speed at any given time while holding the apparatus it in place or throughout a range of motion.

In-place exercise can be done holding the device vertically with one or two hands in front (while spinning or gyrating), to the side or above the head and unlimited positions between. Range of motion exercises include holding with one or two hands and moving the device from front to side; side to side; up and down in front or at the side; up high on one side and down diagonally across the front to down low on the opposite side of the body; and unlimited ranges of motion in between. The apparatus can also be held horizontally with one or two hands in front various stationary positions high or low and various ranges of motions up and down and side to side. All exercises can be varied by changing the direction of rotation of the arm units (counter-clockwise versus clockwise), by changing hands or which hand grips the apparatus first for two-hand grip exercises, or by lifting one leg which is an excellent balance and coordination builder.

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