Title:
Independent and separately actuated combination fitness machine
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An exercise apparatus combining a stationary bike and upper body extremity hand cycle, includes an upper hand crank assembly rotatable under a resistance load for upper body conditioning and a lower foot crank assembly rotatable under a resistance load for lower body conditioning. The upper hand crank assembly and lower foot crank assembly are independently connected to the resistance load through respective upper and lower driving belts. Either an upper clutch or lower clutch, communicating with the upper or lower crank assemblies respectively, selectively engages the driving belts to drive the resistance load. The upper and lower crank assemblies are independent of each other, and each is operable to separately engage the resistance load to transfer the resistance load to the respective upper hand crank assembly or lower foot crank assembly.



Inventors:
Houghton, Andrew David (Hollywood, FL, US)
Keen, Eric Albert (Manhattan, KS, US)
Application Number:
11/113308
Publication Date:
01/05/2006
Filing Date:
04/25/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B22/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, TAM M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Andrew D. Houghton (Hollywood, FL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An exercise apparatus combining a stationary bike and upper body extremity hand cycle, comprising: an upper hand crank assembly rotatable under a resistance load for upper body conditioning; a lower foot crank assembly rotatable under the resistance load for lower body conditioning; a resistance means for providing the resistance load, wherein the upper hand crank assembly and lower foot crank assembly are independently connected to the resistance means through respective upper and lower driving belts; an upper clutch selectively engaging with the upper hand crank assembly upon rotation of the upper hand crank assembly, whereby the selective engagement of the upper clutch provides a first driving force to the resistance means via the upper driving belt; and a lower clutch selectively engaging with the lower foot crank assembly upon rotation of the lower foot crank assembly, whereby the selective engagement of the lower clutch provides a second driving force to the resistance means via the lower driving belt, whereby the first and second driving forces are independent of each other, and wherein each is operable to separately engage the resistance means to transfer the resistance load to the respective upper hand crank assembly or lower foot crank assembly.

2. The exercise apparatus of claim 1, wherein the upper hand crank assembly and lower foot crank assembly are rotatable in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction to selectively engage the resistance means.

3. The exercise apparatus of claim 2, wherein the upper and lower clutches are mechanical clutches that engage the resistance means by centrifugal force caused by rotation of the upper hand crank assembly or lower foot crank assembly, respectively.

4. The exercise apparatus of claim 3, wherein the resistance means comprises a permanent magnet alternator.

5. The exercise apparatus of claim 2, wherein the upper hand crank assembly comprises, a cam having a central axis; an axle penetrating the cam through a point that is offset a designated distance from the central axis; first and second adjustable elongated arms connected at a first end to each respective distal end of the axle; a follower roller positioned at a second end of each rotating arm, the follower roller contacting an outer circumference of the cam; a pedal means connected at the second end of the respective rotating arms, the pedal means following an elliptical path upon rotation while the follower roller follows a circumferential path around the cam.

6. The exercise apparatus of claim 2, wherein the lower foot crank assembly comprises, a cam having a central axis; an axle penetrating the cam through a point that is offset a designated distance from the central axis; first and second adjustable elongated arms connected at a first end to each respective distal end of the axle; a follower roller positioned at a second end of each rotating arm, the follower roller contacting an outer circumference of the cam; a pedal means connected at the second end of the respective rotating arms, the pedal means following an elliptical path upon rotation while the follower roller follows a circumferential path around the cam.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/565,547 filed Apr. 27, 2004, entitled “Independent and Separately Actuated Combination Fitness Machine”, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to cardiovascular fitness equipment, and more particularly, to a combination stationary upper body extremity exercise hand cycle and stationary bicycle where the rotation of the upper and lower cranks is independent of each other, and where each crank is capable of separately and independently driving a resistance load.

2. Description of the Related Art

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans. More so than others, the millions of people with mobility impairments are at a higher risk due to lack of access to cardiovascular exercise. Historically, people with disabilities have fewer opportunities for cardiovascular workouts in a local or national fitness chain due to the lack of availability of proper equipment, especially for combination stationary bikes and upper body extremity (UBE) hand cycles.

While most fitness centers have stationary bikes, very few have UBE hand cycles, or combination stationary bikes and UBE hand cycles. These are mostly found at rehabilitation centers. For the person with lower body immobility, the stationary bike is useless and access to a hand cycle is limited. For the person with upper body immobility, the stationary bike is usable, but there is no way to exercise the upper body.

While combination UBE and stationary bikes exist, they do have certain drawbacks. First, they are generally more expensive pieces of exercise equipment. Many mobility-impaired persons cannot afford a combination stationary bike/UBE home model because of the prohibitive cost. As more data confirms the link between heart disease and chronic immobility due to disability, affordable accessible in-home workout equipment is critical to the health and quality of life of the disabled population.

Another drawback for existing combination UBE/stationary bikes is the crankshafts for the upper UBE handgrips and the lower foot pedals spin in unison. Therefore, a person who merely wants to exercise the lower body using the stationary bike portion is confronted with a spinning hand cycle at eye level during the exercise. Conversely, a person who merely wants to exercise the upper body using the hand cycle portion is confronted with spinning foot pedals that may inadvertently contact the lower body and cause injury.

Therefore, a need exists for a combination stationary upper body extremity exercise hand cycle and stationary bicycle that is suitable for distribution to private and commercial customers, and has independently actuated upper and lower cranks to drive a single resistance load.

While people with disabilities are the primary beneficiary, it is designed to meet the needs of people with and without disabilities. Its multifunctional use as an upper and lower body strengthening and cardiovascular machine provides other advantages described herein.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

To overcome these and other disadvantages of the prior art, it is an object of the present invention to provide an exercise apparatus combining a stationary bike and upper body extremity hand cycle, comprising an upper hand crank assembly rotatable under a resistance load for upper body conditioning and a lower foot crank assembly rotatable under a resistance load for lower body conditioning. The upper hand crank assembly and lower foot crank assembly are independently connected to a resistance means through respective upper and lower driving belts. Upper and lower clutch assemblies provide the driving force from the respective crank assemblies to the resistance means. The first and second driving forces are independent of each other, and each is operable to separately engage the resistance means to provide the resistance load to the respective upper hand crank assembly or lower foot crank assembly.

The invention will allow people with mobility impairments such as spinal cord injury, temporary disabilities and stroke to achieve a cardiovascular workout either from their wheelchair, via a wheelchair tie down feature, or via a prefabricated adjustable level seat.

Since the foot cranks work independently of the hand cranks, this feature enables industries such as hotels with in-house gyms to purchase one piece of equipment that meets the needs of customers with and without disabilities. The invention is designed for economical manufacturing, while satisfying the dual purpose of both an upper body extremity (UBE) machine and that of a stationary bicycle.

The upper hand crank assembly and lower foot crank assembly are rotatable in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction to selectively engage the resistance means.

The invention will change the way consumers view the upper body extremity machine; from being solely used by or for people with disabilities to a valuable exercise tool that can be used by all to maintain and improve upper and lower body strength and cardiovascular fitness. The invention may be manufactured with Braille features for the sight impaired and custom knobs for those with limited hand function.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

The above objects and other advantages of the present invention will become more apparent by describing in detail the preferred embodiments thereof with reference to the attached drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of an embodiment of a pedal assembly of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a completed perspective view of the pedal assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is side view, cut away, of an embodiment of the main mechanical components of the present invention, including the upper and lower cranks, belts, resistance means, and their interconnections;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a mechanical clutch assembly at each of the upper and lower cranks; and

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view of an embodiment of the entire combination UBE/stationary bike.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The present invention will now be described more fully with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which preferred embodiments of the invention are shown. The invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as being limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the concept of the invention to those skilled in the art.

Referring to FIG. 1, there is provided an exploded perspective view of the pedal assembly 10 usable with the hand pedals or foot pedals of the disclosed embodiments. FIG. 2 is the perspective view of the configured pedal assembly of FIG. 1.

In FIGS. 1 and 2, the large disk acts as a cam 12 and the smaller disk, acting as a follower roller 14, is connected to each rotating arm 16, and follows a path defined by the outer circumference of the cam 12. Note that the follower roller 14 does not follow a path defined by an inside or integral channel formed within the cam 12, resulting in a more efficient manufacturing process.

The follower roller 14 is free to turn with respect to each rotating arm 16. The center of the cam 12 is offset from the axle 22, defining the pivot point of the rotating arms 16, by an offset amount 18 required by good human ergonomics. This offset amount 18 results in the pedals 20 following an elliptical path, as described further below, considered optimum for human ergonomics. One or ordinary skill in the art could readily configure this offset amount 18 to ensure good human ergonomics.

The pedal post and cylindrical outer portion 17 of the rotating arm 16 are rigidly connected but the pedal 20 is free to rotate relative to the arm 16. In FIGS. 1 and 2, the pedal 20 is depicted as a typical foot pedal, which would be usable to exercise the lower body. One of ordinary skill in the art will realize the pedal 20 could be configured as a handgrip that would be typical of a hand cycle grip and usable to exercise the upper body.

The cylindrical outer portion 17 of the rotating arm 16 slides within the rectangular inner portion 19 of the rotating arm 16, and the follower roller 14 is held in contact with the cam 12 via an internal coiled extension spring 21. The internal coiled spring 21 supplies sufficient force to maintain contact between the follower roller 14 and the cam 12 when the operator is applying force to the pedals 20.

The rectangular inner portion 19 of the rotating arm 16 contains a square hole 23 that indexes onto a square shoulder 24 on each end of the axle 22 and thus the pedals 20 can be offset from each other in increments of 90 degrees, although more or less angular offset is contemplated by changing the configuration of the hole 23 and shoulder 24 accordingly. In FIGS. 1 and 2, a pedal offset of 90 degrees is shown.

While the resulting motion of the pedals 20 is circular about the axle 22, the overall motion experienced by the operator is elliptical since the radial length of the rotating arm 16 varies due to the spring-loaded 21 sliding interaction between the rotating arm 16, follower roller 14, and the circumference of the cam 12. Therefore, the amount of force exerted by the operator is varied throughout the arc of rotation and results in a more ergonomic motion. However, as shown in FIG. 4, the pedal assembly axis of rotation may be co-extensive with the cam axis to provide purely circular motion.

As shown in FIG. 3, exercise machine users can begin the exercise by turning either the upper 40 or a lower 10 set of cranks. In this embodiment, the rotation of the cranks 10 and 40 is independent of each other as described further below. Therefore, the machine can be started, and complete operation of the machine is possible with either set of cranks 10 and 40 turning in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction.

When either crank 10 or 40 is rotated in either direction, the rotating crank turns a resistance means, for example, a permanent magnet alternator 50, through connections of a series of one of two belts 70a or 70b (one for each crank 10 or 40), and a third belt 70c between an idler shaft 60 and the alternator 50. The invention is not limited to a specific resistance means, and other equivalent resistance means are contemplated within the scope of this invention. The belt drives increase the operator's pedal speed by a ratio of 49 times, although other ratios are contemplated within the scope of this invention. All three belts 70a, 70b and 70c spin when the operator is pedaling either the upper crank 40 or lower crank 10, however, two centrifugal mechanical clutches 80 as shown in FIG. 4 (one at each upper and lower pedal shaft) prevent both sets of pedals from spinning together. The clutches 80 automatically engage, through centrifugal force, upon the user beginning rotation in either direction on either set of cranks. Other conventional clutches are contemplated within the scope of the present invention, so long as independent operation and actuation is maintained. FIG. 5 is an exploded view of the entire exercise apparatus 200, and is incorporated to depict the interaction of the constituent parts and to provide greater orientation clarity.

The alternator 50 begins generating a quantity of electricity exactly regulated electronically (with various modes described further below) to match the resistance the operator has requested through the input panel 90 as shown in FIG. 3. Thus, no additional power needs to be dissipated through heat, thereby generating the right amount of power at all times. The quantity of electricity is generated regardless of the direction of pedal rotation—either clockwise or counter-clockwise. The bidirectional electromagnetic resistance is capable of variable resistance in the range of about 0-3000 watts power resistance.

The resistance is supplied through an electromagnet that transfers force directly to the spinning flywheel containing the permanent magnets of the alternator. User-created programs are stored for a period of time via a rechargeable battery contained within the unit. Memory retention will be dependant on available power. If the exercise machine is unused for an extended period of time, the battery may drain causing a loss of programmed values. Otherwise memory retention will be indefinite. This battery supplies enough power to supply the electronics memory and not the unit itself. However, the generative power operation allows operation independent of a power source, since the battery power can be used to start the machine, and the user will provide the operating power through regeneration. Normally turning either of the cranks in either direction as described previously starts the machine.

Electronically, the “resistance-power produced” ratio is varied to supply several different kinds of workouts to the user. The invention may incorporate an easy-to-read display, which includes a heart rate control program and computer controlled isokinetic modes. A Braille front display may also be incorporated and may include user-friendly button entry to simplify its use.

The exercise machine is capable of several operating modes, including (i) Manual—manual operation of resistance level; (ii) Heart Rate—manual setting of target heart rate and the control unit will adjust resistance level to maintain targeted heart rate; (iii) Workload Control—manual setting of resistance level in watts and the control unit will maintain a constant resistance load independent of speed; (iv) Isokinetic—manual setting of maximum RPM and the control until will adjust resistance level to prevent user from exceeding maximum RPM setting; (v) Random—control unit randomly varies resistance and length of time at each level; or (vi) Geographic Profiles—control unit varies resistance and length of time at each level in multiple pre-programmed profiles with multiple levels of intensity at each to simulate various geographical profiles (hill climb/descent, etc.)

Embodiments of the present invention may also include the following features, attributes, and capabilities to appeal to all users: (i) step through seating makes getting on and off the exercise machine quick and easy. As shown in FIG. 3, the installed seating system 100 adjusts vertically 102, and slides horizontally along a track 104 on the base of the machine with reclining seats as well; (ii) bi-directional resistance allows a user to exercise reciprocal muscle groups, which is ideal for overall balance of exercise and therapy settings; (iii) isokinetic mode for resistance and strength training; (iv) workout dependent or independent of pedal speed; (v) electromagnetic brake provides resistance for quiet operation, 0-3000 watts; (vi) adjustable crank arms provide the ability to add or reduce range of motion. Range settings are at 6″, 7″ and 8″ for example, although other ranges are contemplated. Either side crank can be reversed so the unit's crank arms work in unison. Similar to a rotary rowing motion, both forward and reverse motions are accommodated. This is ideal for medical situations where torso rotation is undesirable. It is also more natural for wheelchair racers or hand cyclists. The multiple position angles of the crank arms allow 180-degree radial-opposed orientation, or zero-degree radial-opposed alignment; (vii) height adjustable and reclining seat is ideal for therapy protocol and maintaining balance; (viii) no minimum RPM, making it ideal for rehabilitation and deconditioned users; (ix) wheelchair tie downs are adjustable straps with clips on each end. They attach to the wheelchair and the front and rear of the exercise cycle. The wheelchair straps secure the front and rear of a chair at four points, for example, on the base of the machine that will be fastened by nylon adjustable straps. The machine is designed to accommodate this securing mechanism by adding this as an optional feature without making additional modifications aftermarket. Any number of wheelchair tie-downs is contemplated; (x) assist gloves in a variety of sizes with a Velcro looping system to keep the hands fixed to the crank arms; and (xi) a heart rate transmitter w/chest strap used as an option for monitoring the heart rate.

While the present invention has been described in detail with reference to the preferred embodiments thereof, it should be understood to those skilled in the art that various changes, substitutions and alterations can be made hereto without departing from the scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.