Title:
Hold-up assist device for vertically actuated exercise equipment
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hold-up-assist device allows users to ingress and egress a vertically-actuated exercise apparatus such as a squat machine without the awkward, and perhaps physically daunting, requirement of lifting the upper frame portion. Instead, the support arm with its V-shaped channel on a top contacting surface is swung up to brace the upper frame as the last user completes his squat repetitions. The next user is then able to enter, comfortably raise the upper frame with the shoulders, back and leg muscles, and then swing the assist device to the side by grasping a curved handle that extends toward the user. Thereafter, exercise repetitions proceed.



Inventors:
Franklin, Brian (Oviedo, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/039001
Publication Date:
07/20/2006
Filing Date:
01/18/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/92
International Classes:
A63B21/00; A63B21/008
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DONNELLY, JEROME W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FROST BROWN TODD LLC (Cincinnati, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A device for holding up a vertically actuated exercise apparatus having a lower frame and pivotally attached upper frame, the device comprising: a lower frame attachment engageable to the lower frame; a support arm pivotally attached to the lower frame attachment and longitudinally sized to hold up the upper frame in at least a partially actuated position; a contact surface upwardly presented on the support arm; a proximally extending actuator attached to the support arm for a user to position the contact surface under the upper frame.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein the vertically actuated exercise device includes a resistance generating member extending between the lower and upper frames, the device positioned distally to the resistance member, proximally extending the actuator laterally extending around the resistance generating member.

3. The device of claim 2, wherein the lower attachment and the support arm include a pivot operatively configured to rotate to an acute angle with the vertical axis of the support arm positioned laterally toward the side to which the proximally extending actuator extends.

4. The device of claim 1, wherein the lower frame attachment comprises a top bracket, a lower bracket, and fasteners attachable between the brackets, for providing a retrofit capability to the device for a vertically actuated exercise apparatus.

5. An upwardly actuated exercise apparatus, comprising: a platform; a lower frame attached to the platform; an upper frame pivotally attached to the lower frame; a resistance member connected across the upper and lower frame; and a hold-up assist device, comprising: a lower frame attachment engageable to the lower frame, a support arm pivotally attached to the lower frame attachment and longitudinally sized to hold up the upper frame in at least a partially actuated position, a contact surface upwardly presented on the support arm, and a proximally extending actuator attached to the support arm for a user to position the contact surface under the upper frame.

6. The device of claim 5, wherein the resistance generating member extends proximal to the hold-up assist device, the proximally extending actuator laterally extending around the resistance member.

7. The device of claim 6, wherein the lower attachment and the support arm include a pivot operatively configured to rotate to an acute angle with the vertical axis of the support arm positioned laterally toward the side to which the proximally extending actuator extends.

8. An upwardly actuated exercise apparatus, comprising: a platform; a lower frame attached to the platform; an upper frame pivotally attached to the lower frame; a hydraulic resistance member connected across the upper and lower frame, the hydraulic resistance member comprising an outer sleeve portion and an inner sleeve portion encompassing respectively a first fluid reservoir and a second fluid reservoir coupled by an orifice; wherein the orifice is operably configured to have a user adjustable flow rate including a shut off position holding the upper frame at a current position.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates, in general, to fitness equipment, and in particular to devices that assist a user in accessing a vertically actuated exercise apparatus that tends to slump to a relaxed position when not being actuated by a user.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A revolution in human fitness through exercise has occurred by the proliferation of equipment specialized for specific human motions. Isolation of specific muscle groups allows for safe repetition of exercise motions to increase strength and cardiovascular health. One particular type of exercise equipment is squat machines that are used for lower body exercises. Typical squat machines include a platform upon which a user stands. A front frame is attached to the platform and supports a generally horizontal pivoting frame that terminates with shoulder pads and a head opening for the user. Resistance to vertical actuation of the horizontal pivoting frame is provided by weights, or by pneumatic or hydraulic resistance.

In order to provide a full range of motion for a squat exercise, the generally horizontal pivoting frame of these generally-known squat machines relax to an approximately half height position. Once the user has the pivoting frame supported on his shoulders, he may allow the machine to slump to this position as he lowers to a squatting position. The user is in an advantageous position to use back and leg strength to thereafter raise the pivoting frame to obtain the desired exertion.

However, a disadvantage is that this relaxed position is inconvenient when entering and exiting the squat machine. The user is required to raise and support the pivoting frame with their arms. For most users, upper body strength is far less than their leg strength. Moreover, it may be awkward to lift the pivoting frame from either beside or behind the squat machine.

Consequently, a significant need exists for a vertically actuated exercise apparatus such as a squat machine that is easier to enter and exit.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention overcomes the above-noted and other deficiencies of the prior art by providing a hold-up assist device, either integral to or attachable to a vertically actuated exercise apparatus (e.g., squat machine), which holds up a pivoting frame so that a user may easily ingress and egress the apparatus, yet the hold-up assist device readily moves to a displaced position that allows full vertical actuation to perform exercising.

In one aspect of the invention, a hold-up assist device includes a support arm sized to wedge between a lower frame and the pivoting frame of a vertically actuated exercise apparatus. A lower attachment engages the lower frame and pivotally attaches to the support arm. An upper surface of the support arm is moved under the pivoting frame by an actuation grip that extends proximally from the support arm so that a user may readily position the hold-up assist device. Thereby, a non-intrusive capability may be added to existing squat machines, or incorporated by original equipment manufacturers, that avoids the awkward and sometimes difficult necessity to raise the pivoting frame prior to entering the apparatus.

In another aspect of the invention, a squat machine that employs a resistance damper advantageously incorporates the hold-up assist device as an integral feature. Thereby, newly manufactured exercise machines provide this same advantage.

In yet another aspect of the invention, a squat machine that incorporates a fluidic resistance component attached between an upper pivoting frame and a lower frame advantageously includes a user adjustable orifice that changes a flow rate of the resistance component, and thus the force exerted during exercise repetitions. In particular, the adjustable orifice has an off position that locks the resistance component in an extended position, allowing easy ingress and egress to the squat machine.

These and other objects and advantages of the present invention shall be made apparent from the accompanying drawings and the description thereof.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention, and, together with the general description of the invention given above, and the detailed description of the embodiments given below, serve to explain the principles of the present invention.

FIG. 1 is a right perspective view of a generally-known vertically actuated exercise apparatus having a horizontal pivoting frame depicted in a relaxed position.

FIG. 2 is a right perspective view of the vertically actuated exercise apparatus of FIG. 1 held in an upwardly actuated condition by a hold-up assist device consistent with the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a right perspective view of the hold-up assist device of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a top perspective view of the disassembled hold-up assist device of FIG. 2.

FIG. 5 is a right perspective view of the vertically actuated exercise apparatus of FIG. 2 with the hold-up assist device in a displaced position.

FIG. 6 is a right perspective detail view of the hold-up assist device of FIG. 5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In FIG. 1, a generally-known, vertically-actuated exercise apparatus, depicted as a squat machine 10 is in a relaxed position prior to a user 12 entering to perform squat exercises. The squat machine 10 includes a platform 14 upon which the user 12 stands. A lower frame, depicted as an angled pedestal 16, extends distally and then upwardly and distally away from the platform 14. A generally horizontal pivoting upper frame, depicted as Y-shaped yoke 18, is pivotally attached to the angled pedestal 16 at a buckle 20 (FIG. 4). A proximal end of the Y-shaped yoke 18 terminates in shoulder pads 22.

In the illustrative depiction, a pair of hydraulic dampers 24 similar to automotive shock absorbers are attached between the angled pedestal 16 and the Y-shaped yoke 18 proximally spaced from the buckle 20. Without a user vertically actuating the Y-shaped yoke 18, these hydraulic dampers 24 compress to a relaxed state allowing the shoulder pads 22 to a half-height position as depicted in FIG. 1.

In FIGS. 2-4, a hold-up assist device 30, consistent with the present invention, may be attached to the squat machine 10 and positioned to hold up the Y-shaped yoke 18 (FIG. 2) so that a user may easily ingress or egress the squat machine 10. A support arm 32 is sized when positioned distal and approximately parallel to the hydraulic dampers 24 to hold up the Y-shaped yoke 18. A lower attachment 34, a lower half-cylinder bracket 36 and an upper half-cylinder bracket 38 are attached to each other on their lateral ends by bolts 40 and nuts 42. The upper half-cylinder bracket 38 includes a pivot tongue 44 that, when installed, extends generally upward. A pin hole 46 there through receives a pin 48 held on by a cotter key 50 to hold on the support arm 32, specifically passing through two parallel tangs 52, 54 that extend over each side of the pin hole 46 of the pivot tongue 44. This pivotal attachment allows the hold-up device 30 to pivot to the right. In the illustrative version, the pivot tongue 44 is allowed a limited range of rotation within a bottom slot 56 of the support arm 32 defined between the tangs 52, 54, advantageously canting slightly to the right. Thus, a proximally projecting actuation member, depicted as a curved grip 58, is attached to the support arm 32 extending within easy reach of the user 12 and thus allowing pivoting of the hold-up assist device 30 to the right during exercising, as depicted in FIGS. 5-6. An upper contact surface, depicted as a V-shaped channel 60, is presented upwardly from the support arm 32 to engage the Y-shaped yoke 18.

While the present invention has been illustrated by description of several embodiments and while the illustrative embodiments have been described in considerable detail, it is not the intention of the applicant to restrict or in any way limit the scope of the appended claims to such detail. Additional advantages and modifications may readily appear to those skilled in the art. For example, other squat machines differ in the support structure and the resistive elements (e.g., weights, pneumatic damper, hydraulic damper, spring, torsion bar) but would still benefit from an application of a hold-up assist device consistent with aspects of the present invention.

For example, a squat machine with a hydraulic or pneumatic resistance member such as a hydraulic damper may advantageously include a user adjustable orifice that controls the amount of resistance provided. Further, this adjustable orifice may be completely shut off in order to use the hydraulic damper itself as a hold-up assist device.

As another example, the hold-up assist device may be attached to the upper and lower portions of a hydraulic damper wherein the user flips a catch into contact with the other portion of the hydraulic damper to mechanically lock it in a partially extended state.