Title:
Vertical total body exercise apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A stationary frame with two vertically positioned rotary cycles, each independent of the other, for a user exercising hands and feet simultaneously in free, upright position. A special combination of stiff, heavy-duty resistance devices, to include extension springs and wheel and roller braking devices, combined with shock absorbers. A spring loaded foot pedal mechanism that provides resistance only to the power stroke of the foot pedal rotation, and springs the pedal back freely on the return stroke. A cam and shock absorber assembly that provides extra tension to the power stroke of the hand pedal rotation. A pivoting frame that allows two hand operating positions.



Inventors:
Holloway, Herman Eugene (Fort Valley, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/119610
Publication Date:
11/09/2006
Filing Date:
05/03/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B22/12
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GINSBERG, OREN ISAAC
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Herman Eugene Holloway (Fort Valley, GA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. The use of vertical cycle positioning, combined with a stiff, heavy-duty, multi-source resistance as the means to the achievement of body suspension of a user during the course of machine exercise, in an apparatus of the class that exercises in rotary motion both hands and feet simultaneously in upright position without a seat or strap, or any of the usual elements of body support and leverage.

2. In an exercise apparatus of the class set forth in claim 1, the use of a multi-phase pedal rotation that concentrates extra resistance into a power phase, or power stroke, then alternately releases resistance during a free return stroke, for both the foot and hand pedaling mechanisms: a. a spring-loaded foot pedal mechanism that divides each said foot pedal rotation into four phases, providing exercise resistance to only one of the phases, the said power phase, and springs the pedal back freely over the remaining phases, the said free return stroke, allowing a user to concentrate only on pushing the foot pedals, and not having the difficult task of pushing and pulling all in the same rotation; b. a cam and shock absorber assembly that provides extra needed resistance to only the said power phase of the hand pedal rotation, and releases during the said return phase.

3. In an exercise apparatus of the class set forth in claim 1, a pivoting frame that allows two hand-cycling positions, a lower position at chest level, and an upper position at over-head level, with the use of gas cylinder lifts to facilitate the lifting and lowering of the frame.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

Not Applicable.

REFERENCE TO SEQUENCE LISTING

Not Applicable.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to exercise devices; more particularly, to the subclass of stationary bikes that provide exercise for the top and the lower halves of the body simultaneously, with the user in free-standing, vertical position.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Despite a flurry of new exercise devices, there is still a particular need of another class of exerciser, one that will stand the test of time. New and exciting machine exercise concepts have appeared on the world scene yearly since the start of the fitness boom in nineteen eighty-four. Many machines capture the public's imagination as they seek to simulate popular activities, such as, rowing, stair-climbing, skiing and the like. Unfortunately, we see many of these come and go. Interestingly, the three that have triumphantly held the foreground, the Elite Three, have held their position from the start, going back before the fitness boom ever started: these are the stationary bike, the treadmill, and the weightlifting apparatus. That we should see the rise of another staple in exercise equipment, to stand along side the elite three, is well over due. But perhaps we should not look so much to exciting concepts of simulation, but to existing subclasses that have not yet reached full potential. This inventor believes that the subclass that shall be referred to as “total body”, that is, machines that exercise both the upper and lower body simultaneously, has great potential for rising to great status. Everyone wants more from exercise equipment. The biggest complaint is boredom. More body involvement is a logical direction to take.

The Total Body class of exercise equipment is quite diverse although limited in the skill with which it is represented. There are many different modes of operation. There are total body exercisers with reciprocating motion, rotary motion, oscillating motion and so on. There are those that you sit on, stand on, and lie on. And there is even a total body exerciser that positions the user at a forty-five degree angle; U.S. Pat. No. 4,688,791, by Long. The present invention more specifically relates to rotary exercisers that you stand on, the vertical rotary exercisers; such as, U.S. Pat. No. 1,820,372, by Blomquist; U.S. Pat. No. 4,693,468, by Kurlytis; U.S. Pat. No. 4,902,002, by Huang; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,342,262, by Hansen. Ironically, this total body class of exercise equipment shows the greatest need for improvement, despite the fact that it has the best potential for greatness. The fact of this can be directly attributed to the challenges of standing freely on an exerciser working both hands and feet at the same time. A lot of problems arise. Prior art has not completely met the challenge. For example, Huang's “Exercise Apparatus”, lacking resistance or anything to work against, will be cumbersome at best. Blomquist, Kurlytis and Hansen's embodiments do have resistance, but show little awareness of the problems that needed resistance brings along with it. Once the resistance is there, coupled with body weight, there is a problem of getting the pedals back up on the back stroke. This is not a big problem if one is sitting on the exerciser; but standing is totally different. Inventor R. J. Decloux showed awareness of this problem; U.S. Pat. No. 4,477,072. His solution is adequate, though complex. He uses an array of gears, clutches, a cam, and electrical charges to fast return the pedals to user operating position in each pedaling cycle. Hansen, one of the before mentioned inventors, may have been partially aware of this problem, as suggested in his use of a modified pedal member that fits on the user like a shoe. Apparently, the shoe helps the user bring the pedal back up the back side of the pedaling cycle, forcing the user to use both pushing and pulling in each rotation of the pedal. This could be difficult for the user, and very halting in motion. There is something to be said, though, for certain equipment in this same field in which the hand cranks and foot pedals are made in tandem; such as, Blomquist's and Long's (if Long can be considered in this field in view of the fact that his embodiment is short of vertical). The hands, in this case, are able to help the feet to some extent get through the difficult phase of the pedaling cycle. But there is still discomfort for the user, as Blomquist himself hinted, “inasmuch as the pedals and cranks are synchronized in their action through the gearing above described, a sort of twisting and turning or weaving of the entire body results which brings into play practically all muscles of the body.” My contention, as the present invention will teach, is that the truest exercise is stress-free, and totally natural to the way that the body functions. Our muscle configuration best lends itself to a split pattern of rotation. Each rotation should have a one-directional power stroke, followed by a free return stroke. This is best illustrated in free style swimming. We see that the power stroke is applied in the water and the return stoke is out of the water, so that there is no drag in the return. We also see this in walking. This pattern is seen in most physical activity; it is neglected, though, in prior art of this field.

And there are other problems of bringing both hands and feet together in a vertical, free standing exerciser. One such problem is body support. Having no seat or strap for support presents a major problem, not fully addressed in this field. Another problem is leverage. The lack of a true fulcrum is a problem not addressed in this field. Co-ordination can be a problem; although, not so much when the mechanisms operate in tandem. The present invention, however, will deal with co-ordination in a unique way. Finally, we see in prior art a lack of user body extension. We see the standard bicycle size crank mechanisms that tend to bring the body extremities into a narrow center of gravity. Taggett's U.S. Pat. No. 6,533,708 B2 does, however, provide extension for the hand pedals, but not for the foot pedals. Of course, Taggett's is primarily a sitting apparatus that can be optionally used free-standing.

Some of these are not huge problems, but as we know, the slightest problem presented to a user could mean user avoidance of the exerciser. Any difficulty in exercise equipment is bad; challenge, of course, is good. They are not the same. Challenge is what machine exercise is all about, but it should be placed where the user can comfortably get to it. Put in the wrong place and it becomes difficulty. Thus, I conclude that prior art in the total body class of exercise equipment has not fully addressed all of the functionality and quality control issues that could bring this class of equipment up to the level that it deserves. The present invention seeks to address these issues.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This total body exerciser functions to suspend the user bodily in space, as the user, using rotary motion, exercises both hands and feet simultaneously in free, upright position. There is no seat or strap or any of the usual elements of support and leverage. The actual resistance is used for body support and for leverage, aside from being used as exercise. The user is in essence riding the resistance, similarly to what is seen in swimming. This is accomplished by the vertical positioning of the two rotary cycles, effectively wedging the user in between; and, by a special combination of stiff, heavy-duty resistance devices, creating the pedal effect of moving platforms. These devices include extension springs and wheel and roller braking devices, combined with shock absorbers.

The counterpoising of the two resistances and the stiff quality of the resistance are largely responsible for carrying the weight of the user. But the user is not given a free ride. The user's torque is equally responsible for carrying his weight, making for an extra vigorous, relatively short-lived exercise. The task is only made easier by the built-in leverage potential of the apparatus: because the user must use one set of resistance against another set of resistance, pressing each away from the other, the resistance itself becomes the fulcrum.

The springs give a lively tension to the foot pedals, but would be too lively if not for the shock absorbers. The shock absorbers slow or deaden the action, and add greatly to the feel of harnessing a natural force, such as the great forces of water and air, and add to the power that is needed to carry the weight of an adult human body. The wheel and roller braking devices supplement the resistance and help equalize pedal movement, and they are the only adjustable resistance devices on the apparatus.

The springs serve a dual purpose with the foot pedal mechanism. As the springs are caused to extend outward by the movement of the foot pedal, the springs provide tension only to the part of the pedaling cycle going away from the user, referred to as the power stroke; then, as they compress, or spring back, the springs provide lift to the pedal coming back toward the user, the free return stroke. This is crucial to the functionality and to the comfort ability of the apparatus, as it allows the user to concentrate his efforts only on pushing the pedals, and not having the difficult task of pushing and pulling all in the same rotation.

The hand pedaling mechanism like the foot pedaling mechanism requires extra tension concentrated in a power stroke. The extra tension is provided by a cam and shock absorber assembly mounted with the hand pedaling mechanism on the right forward end of the pivoting frame.

The pivoting frame gives the user the choice of raising or lowering the hand pedals between two operating positions. The lower position is at chest level and the upper position is at over-head level. Two gas cylinder lifts provide help to the user in lifting the pivoting frame, like an automobile hatchback. The frame then catches in the upper position so that the user does not need to use his or her strength to hold it up during exercise. A simple tug is all that is necessary to start the frame on a gradual descent, again with the help of the gas cylinder lifts. The lifting and lowering of the pivoting frame do not necessarily interrupt the continued pedaling action.

The main object of this invention is to provide a truly total body exercise that immerses the whole body into a sea of powerful yet yielding resistance, just body against resistance without the support of a seat or strap.

Another object of this invention is to solve the functionality and quality control problems we see in the prior art. The unique difficulties of pedal rotation are solved in the present invention. Leverage and body support problems are solved in the basic nature of the present invention. Coordination is built into the very nature of this apparatus: since the two mechanisms are independent of one another, the user himself must bring the two in tandem. The user simply must know the starting position; that is, the position of pushing the pedals away from the body, hands and feet, at the same time. Once correctly started, both cycles remain in the same rotation. Finally, body extension, very lacking in prior art, is a mark of the present invention. The hand and foot pedals are spread for lateral extension of the user's body. And the pedals have longer cranks for more vertical extension of the body. These solutions to problems all go to the objectives of functionality, quality and comfort ability, and perhaps even recreational quality of the present invention.

A final, even broader object of this invention is to bring total body from subclass to the level of being in a class of its own.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the apparatus.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the apparatus. Also shown in phantom lines is the upper hand operating position of the pivoting frame.

FIG. 3 is an isometric view of the spring loaded foot pedal mechanism. The housing and pedals are removed to better show the operational parts of the mechanism.

FIG. 4 is a diagram of the cycle rotation of the foot pedals.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

(FIG. 1) The stationary frame consists of a base 26 and a pivoting frame 60. The supporting members of the base 26 that surround and cradle the housing 10 are two vertical support members 25, two diagonal support members 13, and two cross support members 6, all joined by weldment. These pieces are made from heavy gauge steel tubing, but of the narrowest width possible. The considerations here are strength and, at the same time, minimizing the total distance between the pedals. Although lateral extension of the foot pedals is one of the virtues of the present invention, there is still a fear of going too wide given the necessary width of the housing 10.

The base 26 is supported on two transverse members 14, made from tubing of thinner gauge and wider width, to further serve as a sleeve for the insertion of two floor members 15 of heavy gauge that are fixed in place by set screws 8 respectively. The floor members 15 are preferably plated to resist scratch since they are removable. On their ends are four rubber tips 16.

Standard bicycle hubs 5A and 5B (the latter not seen) are welded underneath the location where support members 13 and 6 join. A flange (not shown in this view) on hubs 5A and 5B provides attachment to the lower half of the housing 10 on the front end. The back end of the lower half of the housing 10 is attached to the cross support members 6. The top half of the housing 10 is removable. The hubs 5A and 5B contain standard bicycle hardware and bearings (not shown). Journal in the bearings are axles 4A and 4B (the latter not shown). On the axles are cranks 2 and 12, keyed by pins 3. These are foot-long cranks to provide vertical body extension for the user. On the ends of the cranks are standard bicycle pedals 1 and 11 with rubber safety straps 7.

Elevating from the base 26, supported on either side by vertical support members 25 and by four spacers 23, also joined by weldment, is a single vertical support column 24. This column is made from wide tubing of thin gauge. The column 24 contains a telegraphic member 61 that should be plated for scratch resistance and a compression spring (not shown) that helps in lifting the telegraphic member 61 for the purpose of height adjustment. Knobs 56 are used to secure the proper setting.

Surmounted on the telegraphic member 61 is the pivoting frame 60. The frame is made from thin gauge tubing of a considerable width, and formed in a U shape. It is attached to the telegraphic member 61 by way of a yoke 64 welded to the frame 60. A bolt 67 is placed through bores in the yoke 64 and the telegraphic member 61 and tightened to allow the pivoting up and down of the pivoting frame 60. The frame extends outward like out-stretched arms, and is on a downward slant approximately twenty-seven degrees, held in position by a stop 65, cut from solid round stock or steel tubing and welded to the yoke 64, and resting against the telegraphic member 61. There are two gas cylinder lifts 62A and 62B (the latter not seen) attached to the telegraphic member 61 in threaded bores 68 and to the yoke 64 at the threaded connector 63.

Mounted on the forward end of the pivoting frame is the hand pedaling crank 31. The ends of the crank are attached through bores in the bossed ends of the axles 33 and 43 with set crews 32. The axles are bossed on one end in order to key the axles on the sleeve type bearings (not shown) in the arm of the pivoting frame 60. Handle grips 20 and 30 are fit on sleeve type bearings (not seen) and keyed in place with wire clips 22 on either side. The handles are laterally extended to just beyond the shoulders of the average user.

(FIG. 2) The vertical alignment of the two rotary cycles is one of the essentials to the functionality of the apparatus. It is not, however, necessary for the two cycles to align on center one directly above the other. The two cycles are actually off-set such that the hand cycle 75 is a little in front of the user and the foot cycle 76 is directly underneath the user. This alignment does place the power strokes 111A and 111B one directly above the other. It is important that the hand grips 20 and 30 and the foot pedals 1 and 11 come in vertical alignment during their respective power stroke. This alignment is significant in that it provides the most leverage for the user in this position. This alignment further provides for body support and body containment. Even in a weightless environment such as out-of-space, body containment is still well served in this configuration without the need of a strap or any containment device.

For proper height adjustment, the user simply moves the telegraphic member 61 up or down such that the hand grip 20 or 30 comes to mid-chest level; that is, of course, when the pivoting frame 60 is in lower hand operating position 72 and the user is standing on a foot pedal positioned at the bottom of rotation 74. A simpler, faster alternative method of adjusting height (not seen on this embodiment) would be to use stick-on labels or markings directly on the telegraphic member 61 to indicate various user heights. In that way, the user can make the proper height adjustment before ever getting on the apparatus.

(FIG. 3) The other essential to the functionality of the apparatus is the quality and degree of resistance used. In order to provide exercise, body support and leverage, the resistance must be relatively stiff and at the same time yielding. This quality is provided by a combination of sources. The primary source for the foot pedal mechanism is extension springs, four in all. The two large springs 94A and 94B carry the maximum pounds of pressure for their size. They are attached, on one end, to the frame 82 on welded studs (not shown) and on the other end to the carriages 95A and 95B by way of welded brackets 104A and 104B. The two smaller, narrower springs 93A and 93B supplement the total pounds of pressure needed and fill the narrow space on the other side of the carriages 95A and 95B. They also help stabilize the movement of the carriages. These smaller springs are attached on one end to the carriages 95A and 95B on welded studs 102A and 102B, and on the other end to welded studs on the housing 10 at the locations 92A and 92B (the latter not shown).

A supplementary source of resistance is a wheel and roller braking device located in the front compartment of the frame 82. This device is common to many other exercise apparatuses. The wheel 86 is on the axle 4C (the axle not seen). The roller 87 and the knob 96 are assembled on appendages (not seen) welded to the frame 82. A shock absorber 90 is attached at one end to a bracket 91 located on the floor of the housing 10, and on the other end to the carriage 95A by way of a welded, slotted bracket 101. The connector 100, placed through the end of the shock absorber shaft and through the slotted bracket 101, is a bolt and wheel device that allows the carriage 95A to move undampened during certain phases of rotation. One shock absorber is all that is necessary in this arrangement. It dampens both ways, on extension and compression of the shaft, doing work for both sides of the foot pedal mechanism, as the mechanism operates in tandem.

On the rear compartment of the frame 82, the carriages 95A and 95B are translatably supported on four sheaves 103. And on the other end, the carriages 95A and 95B are linked to axle shanks 84A and 84B and 85A and 85B. The right side shanks 84A and 85A are one hundred-eighty degrees out of phase with the left side shanks 84B and 85B; therefore, in this view, the shanks on the left side cannot be seen. The outside axles 4A and 4B each have one shank and are supported on bearings within flanged hubs 5A and 5B. The center axle 4C has two shanks, and is supported within two flanged bearings 83A and 83B (the latter not seen); attachments to the frame 82 and the housing 10 are provided through bores in the flanges.

The primary objective of the foot pedal mechanism is to convert the rotary motion of axles 4A, 4B, and 4C to the oscillating motion of the carriages 95A and 95B, thereby providing for the lateral extension of the springs 93A and B and 94A and B and the shock absorber 90. In a very broad sense, one could say that this mechanism basically alternates between the building of spring tension and the releasing of that tension. A closer look reveals four distinct phases of each pedal rotation. Remarkably, although there is some tension throughout the process, tension from the wheel and roller braking device, and the springs are installed with a degree of tension, the bulk of the total resistance is concentrated in only one of the four phases of rotation, as we shall see through plotting the movement of the pedals in a single rotation. (FIG. 3 and FIG. 4) Even when the mechanism is in a state of rest, the cranks 2 and 12 settle in horizontal position, which happens to be the starting position of rotation 110. This is due to the equalizing effect of both sets of springs having been installed under pressure. Now, as the user applies torque to the pedal 1 at the starting position 110, the right side springs 93A and 94A extend, and now the shock absorber 90 has started to dampen by extension, as the pedal 1 goes through the power stroke 111. The springs 93A and 94A and the shock absorber 90 reach maximum extension at the end of the first phase of rotation 112A. With the pedal 1 now at the bottom of rotation 74, here starts the free return stroke 113. The springs 93A and 94A, as they compress or spring back, are now powering the pedal 1 through the second phase of rotation 112B. The shock absorber 90 is dormant through phase two, with its shaft still extended, and the connector 100 is now shifting freely within the slot 101 by the movement of the carriage 95A. The third phase of rotation 112C is still in free return for the pedal 1 because the user's torque on the pedal 11 is now powering the rotation in pedal 11's own power stroke 111. The shock absorber 90 is now dampening on compression for the pedal 11. The last phase of rotation 112D is yet another free return for the pedal 1 because the rotation now is powered by the compression of the left side springs 93B and 94B for the pedal 11. The shock absorber 90 is dormant through this phase, with its shaft fully retracted. This completes one full rotation bringing pedal 1 back to starting position 110. We see that the user only applies torque in the power stroke 111, which, for each pedal, consists of only one quarter of the total pedal rotation.

(Back to FIG. 1) The resistance for the hand operating mechanism is a lot simpler and less intense than that of the foot pedaling mechanism. There is no need of springs since the hand mechanism does not bear the weight of the user as with the foot mechanism and far less resistance is required since the upper body of the user is not as strong as the lower body. Similarities in the two mechanisms, however, do persist in the four phases of rotation, as will soon be discussed.

A wheel and roller braking device, pretty much the same as on the foot pedal mechanism, is mounted on the right arm of the pivoting frame 60. This is a device commonly seen on other exercise apparatuses. It will not hurt here, however, to explain how it works. The wheel 40 is fit on the axle 43 with a keyway and a key 41. A wire clip 42 keeps the wheel from sliding off. The roller 50 is mounted on the open end of a unshaped yoke 45. The yoke 45 is mounted to the arm of the pivoting frame 60 with a bolt 44. At the closed end of the yoke 45 is a bore (not seen) into which the hooked end of the rod 47 is placed. The rod is translatably mounted through a bore in a welded plate 48. A knob 51 is screwed on the threaded end of the rod 47. A compression spring 49 under the knob 51 adds stabilizing pressure. The user simply turns the knob 51 one way or the other to tighten or loosen the pressure of the roller 50 against the wheel 40.

Located on that same arm of the pivoting frame 60 are the cam 57 and the shock absorber 52. The cam 57 is an elliptically shaped steel plate. It is centered and welded on to the bossed end of axle 43. The threaded body of the shock absorber 52 is screwed into the threaded bracket 53 that is welded to the arm of the pivoting frame 60. Once the unit is adjusted to position, a nut 54 locks the unit in place. The shock absorber 52 only dampens on compression of the shaft. A spring 55 returns the shaft to its extended position.

The cam and shock absorber assembly provides the four phases of the hand pedal rotation. The cam 57 is in constant contact with the shaft of the shock absorber 52. The spring 55 exerts a little pressure on the cam 57 even while the mechanism is in a state of rest. This tends to automatically settle the crank 31 into a starting position. Now, as the grip 20 is pressed upward through the power stroke by the user's torque, one of the elongated ends of the cam 57 compresses the shaft of the shock absorber 52. The shaft is released in phase two after the long end of the cam 57 passes through. The grip 30 now approaches starting position, and the process is repeated in the last two phases, completing one full rotation of the crank 31.

(FIG. 2) The pivoting frame 60 allows two hand operating positions, the lower hand operating position 72 and the upper hand operating position 73 (in phantom lines). The user can switch from one position to the other simply by lifting or lowering the frame 60. No extra adjustments are necessary; not even the interruption of the pedaling action is necessary. The two gas cylinder lifts 62A and 62B (the latter not seen) help the user in lifting and lowering the pivoting frame 60. The lowering of the frame could be slowed somewhat by the cylinder lifts. The lifts further help in holding the frame in the upper position. Additional help in holding the pivoting frame 60 in upper hand operating position 73 is provided by a catch 66A and 66B (the latter not seen) consisting of a protuberance or bulge in the metal on either side of the telegraphic member 61.