Title:
CONTINOUS TENSIONING SYSTEM FOR FITNESS APPARATUS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fitness apparatus including a frame, at least one resistance member operatively mounted on the frame, and at least one user interface member. A cable and pulley system operatively connects between the at least one resistant member and the at least one interface member. Floating pulleys engage with the a cable of the cable and pulley system. Biasing elements are enagaged between the frame and the floating pulleys, so that the biasing element applies a generally perpendicular force to the cable and removes the slack in the cable and pulley system.



Inventors:
Stuckey, Michael L. (Olney, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/558250
Publication Date:
06/14/2007
Filing Date:
11/09/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/99, 482/94
International Classes:
A63B21/06; A63B21/062
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Primary Examiner:
GANESAN, SUNDHARA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard, PC (St. Louis, MO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A tensioning system for a fitness apparatus having a frame and a cable and pulley assembly, comprising: at least one floating pulley operatively engaged with at least one cable of the cable and pulley assembly; and at least one biasing element operatively connected between the at least one floating pulley and the frame for applying a tensioning force to the at least one cable.

2. The tensioning system of claim 1, wherein the biasing element forces the at least one floating pulley and at least one cable away from a natural travel path.

3. The tensioning system of claim 1 wherein the generally perpendicular force acts substantially along the longitudinal axis of the at least one biasing element.

4. The tensioning device of claim 1, wherein the cable and pulley device include a first cable and a second cable, further comprising: a double floating pulley operatively engaged between the first cable and the second cable; a pair of pulleys operatively engaged with the first cable; a pair of braces connected between the double floating pulley and the respective pair of pulleys; and a biasing element connected between the pair of braces, said biasing element configured to apply a biasing force to each of said braces, whereby a tensioning force is applied to at least said first cable.

5. The tensioning device of claim 1, wherein the cable and pulley device include a first cable and a second cable, further comprising: a double floating pulley operatively engaged between the first cable and the second cable; a pair of pulleys operatively engaged with the first cable; a pair of braces connected between the double floating pulley and the respective of pulleys; and at least two biasing element connected between the pair of braces and a common junction, said biasing elements configured to apply a biasing force to each of said braces, whereby a tensioning force is applied to at least said first cable.

6. The tensioning device of claim 5, further comprising: a third biasing element connected between the frame and said common junction.

7. The tensioning device of claim 1, wherein the cable and pulley device include a first cable and a second cable, further comprising: a double floating pulley operatively engaged between the first cable and the second cable; a pair of pulleys operatively engaged with the first cable; a pair of braces connected between the double floating pulley and the respective pair of pulleys; and a pair of biasing elements, a first biasing element in said pair connected between a first brace in said pair of braces and the double floating pulley, and a second biasing element in said pair connected between a second brace in said pair of braces and the double floating pulley, whereby said biasing elements are configured to apply a biasing force to each of said braces and a tensioning force is applied to at least said first cable.

8. The tensioning device of claim 1, further comprising: at least two pulleys operatively engaged with at least one cable of the cable and pulley assembly; and a rigid member connected between the at least two pulleys.

9. A fitness apparatus, comprising: a frame; at least one resistance member operatively mounted on the frame; at least one interface member; a cable and pulley system operatively connected between the at least one resistance member and the at least one interface member, said cable and pulley system having at least one cable; at least one floating pulley engaged with said at least one cable; and at least one biasing element engaged between said frame and said at least one floating pulley, wherein the biasing element applies a tensioning force to said at least one cable.

10. The tensioning system of claim 9, wherein said biasing element is configured to displace said at least one floating pulley and said at least one cable from a natural travel path between said at least one resistance member and said at least one interface member.

11. The tensioning system of claim 9 wherein said tensioning force acts substantially along the longitudinal axis of the at least one biasing element.

12. The tensioning device of claim 9, further comprising: a first cable; a second cable; a double floating pulley operatively engaged between the first cable and the second cable; a pair of floating pulleys operatively engaged with the first cable; a pair of braces connected between the double floating pulley and the respective floating pulleys; and a biasing element connected between the pair of braces, said biasing element configured to apply a biasing force to each of said braces in said pair of braces, whereby a tensioning force is applied to at least said first cable.

13. The tensioning device of claim 9, further comprising: a first cable; a second cable; a double floating pulley operatively engaged between the first cable and the second cable; a pair of floating pulleys operatively engaged with the first cable; a pair of braces connected between the double floating pulley and the respective pair of floating pulleys; and at least two biasing element connected between the pair of braces and a common junction, said biasing elements configured to apply a biasing force to each of said braces in said pair of braces, whereby a tensioning force is applied to at least said first cable.

14. The tensioning device of claim 13, further comprising: a third biasing element connected between the frame and the common junction.

15. The tensioning device of claim 9, further comprising: a first cable; a second cable; a double floating pulley operatively engaged between the first cable and the second cable; a pair of floating pulleys operatively engaged with the first cable; a pair of braces connected between the double floating pulley and the respective pair of floating pulleys; and at least one biasing element connected between the pair of braces and the double floating pulley, said biasing element is configured to apply a biasing force to each of said braces, whereby a tensioning force is applied to at least said first cable.

16. The tensioning device of claim 9, further comprising: at least two pulleys operatively engaged with at least one cable of the cable and pulley assembly; and a rigid member connected between the at least two pulleys.

17. A fitness apparatus, comprising: a frame; at least one resistance member operatively mounted to said frame; at least one interface member; a cable and pulley system operatively connected between said at least one resistance member and said at least one interface member, said cable and pulley system having at least one cable; at least one floating pulley engaged with said at least one cable; and a means for biasing said at least one pulley in a generally perpendicular direction from a longitudinal axis of said cable to apply a tensioning force to said cable.

18. A method for maintaining cable tension in a fitness apparatus having at least one cable operatively coupling at least one interface member with at least one resistance member mounted on a frame, comprising: applying a generally perpendicular biasing force to the at least one cable, said biasing force displacing said at least one cable from a travel path to maintain a tension in the at least one cable.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is related to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/597,554 filed Dec. 8, 2005 from which priority is claimed, and is hereby incorporated by reference.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a fitness apparatus, and more particularly, to a tensioning system for a fitness apparatus.

Many fitness apparatus use various arrangements of cable and pulley systems to provide weight training exercises. Generally, a cable is engaged at one end with a resistance member, such as a weight stack, and engaged with a user interface, such as a bar, at the other end. The length of the cable is engaged with a set of pulleys, which allow the cable to efficiently transmit resistance from the resistance member to the user interface. In operation, the user engages the user interface to repeatedly raise and lower the resistance member by way of the cable and pulley system.

It is desirable that the cable and pulley system move smoothly and provide a substantially constant resistance to the user interface over the full range of motion. However, frequent use of fitness apparatus and the high forces placed of the cable causes the cable to stretch, which adversely affects the performance of the fitness apparatus by introducing slack into the cable and pulley system. As a result, the stretched cable will not work effectively over the full range of motion of the interface. The user may have to engage and move the interface a distance before the cable and pulley system begin transmitting the resistance to the interface, sometimes referred to as a “dead-spot”. If allowed to stretch enough, the cable can become loose enough that it disengages from the pulleys. Routine maintenance must be performed on such fitness apparatus to reduce slack in the cable and pulley system as the cable continues to stretch.

Therefore, what is needed is a device that maintains tension on the cable and pulley system to compensate for cable stretch.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the accompanying drawings which form part of the specification:

FIG. 1 is a side elevation view of a fitness apparatus, which is provided with a tensioning system constructed in accordance with and embodying the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front elevation view of the fitness apparatus;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged perspective view of the tensioning system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged perspective view of a first alternate embodiment of the tensioning system;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged perspective view of a second alternate embodiment of the tensioning system; and

FIG. 6 is an enlarged perspective view of a third alternate embodiment of the tensioning system;

FIG. 7 is an enlarged perspective view of a fourth alternate embodiment of the tensioning system; and

FIG. 8 is a partial enlarged side view of the fitness apparatus with a fifth alternate embodiment of the tensioning system.

Corresponding reference numerals indicate corresponding parts throughout the several figures of the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following detailed description illustrates the invention by way of example and not by way of limitation. The description clearly enables one skilled in the art to make and use the invention, describes several embodiments, adaptations, variations, alternatives, and uses of the invention, including what is presently believed to be the best mode of carrying out the invention. Additionally, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangements of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.

As shown in FIGS. 1-3, an embodiment of the present invention, generally referred to as a fitness apparatus 10, is shown having a tensioning system 12. The fitness apparatus 10 includes a frame 14 for supporting a resistance member 16, such as weights, and a cable and pulley system 18 that connects between the resistance member 16 and first and second interface members 22 and 24. A user can select a desired resistance of the resistance member 16, such as by selecting the desired weight (ie. 20lb, 40 lb, etc.), and engage either the first interface member 22 or second interface members 24 to perform various fitness exercises. For various reasons, there may be some slack or looseness present in the cable and pulley system 18, such as stretching in the cables 26 and 28 due to repeated use. The tensioning system 12 mounts to the frame 14 and engages the cable and pulley system 18 to apply a biasing force to maintain proper tension and eliminate any slack in the cable and pulley system 18 (FIG. 3).

The frame 14 includes a base 30 with a first leg 32 extending upwardly from a rear portion of the base 30 in a generally vertical orientation and a second leg 34 extending upwardly from about a middle portion of the base 30 in a generally vertical orientation (FIG. 1). An arcuately-shaped upper portion of the second leg 34 extends generally rearward to connect to an upper portion of the first leg 32 for additional support. A seating arm 36 extends generally forward from a lower portion of the second leg 34 in a generally horizontal orientation to support a seat 38. The seating arm 36 should be positioned at an appropriate height for seating, preferably about one third of the height of the second leg 34. A backrest 39 is attached to the second leg 34 at a location above and corresponding to the seat 38.

The resistance member 16 operatively connects to the frame 14 with a bushing 40 that slidably couples with the first leg 32. In this way, the bushing 40 and resistance member 16 can slide up and down along the first leg 32. However, any other appropriate means for connecting the resistance member 16 to the frame 14 can be used, such as bearings. Support posts 42 extend outwardly from the bushing 40, which are capable of receiving and supporting the resistance member 16. The resistance member 16, shown as weights, can be added or removed incrementally so that the user can select a desired resistance.

The first interface member 22 is a lever arm having a proximate end 44 that is pivotally attached to a distal end 46 of the seating arm 36. The cable and pulley system 18 attaches to a distal end 48 of the first interface member 22, thereby operatively connecting the resistance member 16 to the first interface member 22. Thus, the first interface member 22 can be engaged by the user to perform leg exercises by pivoting the first interface member 22 upwardly and downwardly with his or her legs, thereby raising and lowering the resistance member 16 via the cable and pulley system 18.

A cross member 50 attaches to the upper portion of the second leg 34 and is positioned in a generally horizontal position to support the second interface members 24, shown in FIGS. 1-2 as handle straps, and the cable and pulley system 18. The cable and pulley system 18 attaches to each second interface member 24, thereby operatively connecting the resistance member 16 to the second interface members 24. Thus, the second interface members 24 can be engaged by the user to perform various exercises, such as arm exercises, by pulling and releasing the second interface members 24, thereby raising and lowering the resistance member 14 via the cable and pulley system 18. While the first and second interface members 22 and 24 as shown in the present embodiment, respectively as a lever arm and handle straps, they can also comprise any appropriate type of cable attachment member, including, but not limited to bars, ropes, grips, and the like.

The cable and pulley system 18 includes various guide pulleys positioned to guide a first cable 26 and second cable 28 during operation of the fitness apparatus 10 (FIG. 1). Two upper pulleys 52 are positioned respectively at the upper portion of the first leg 32 and the upper portion of the second leg 34. Four lower pulleys 54 are positioned along the base 30. A guide pulley 56 is positioned at each end of the cross member 50 (FIG. 2), such as with a hook. A double-floating pulley 58 operatively connects the first cable 26 to the second cable 28 (FIG. 1). The first cable ends 60 attach respectively to the resistance member 16 and the first interface member 22, such as with a snap-hook, with the length of the first cable 26 engaging the upper pulleys 52 and lower pulleys 54. The second cable ends 62 attach to the second interface members 24, such as with a snap-hook, with the length of the second cable 28 engaging the guide pulleys 56 and a double floating pulley 58. Cable stops 64 attach to the second cable 28 proximate to the second cable ends 62 to prevent the second cable ends 62 from being drawn through and disengaging from the guide pulleys 56.

The double floating pulley 58 includes a top pulley 66 and a bottom pulley 68 connected by a bracket 70 and positioned generally perpendicular to each other along a longitudinal axis (FIG. 3). The bottom pulley 68 engages the first cable 26 and the top pulley 66 engages the second cable 28, so that the double floating pulley 58 is suspended therebetween. In this way, the second cable 28 is operatively connected and to the resistance member 16 via the first cable 26.

The tensioning system 12 includes a pair of floating pulleys 72 operatively engaged with the second cable 28, and connected to the frame 14 with biasing members 74, such as a helical tension spring, and a bracket 76 (FIG. 3). The biasing members 74 are shown in FIG. 3 as helical tension springs, but can be any other type of biasing member, such as, a compression spring, a torsion spring, a volute spring, a conical spring, a gas spring, a spiral spring, a wire form, an elastic band, and the like. In addition, various biasing members 74 can be used to increase or decrease the biasing force. Each floating pulley 72 is pivotally mounted, such as with a fastener 78, within a generally C-shaped housing 80. The housing 80 includes a tab 82 with a hole 84 for connecting to the biasing member 74, such as with a pin 86. When assembled, the second cable 28 is disposed between the pulley 72 and the housing 80. In this way, the housing 80 helps maintain engagement of the second cable 28 with the pulley 72 by shielding the area of engagement from interference by foreign objects.

The tensioning system 12 maintains tension on the second cable 28 by applying a generally perpendicular force to the second cable 28 along the longitudinal axis of the biasing member 74. This forces the second cable 28 away from its natural travel path (shown as the dotted line in FIG. 3) between the double floating pulley 58 and the guide pulleys 56, which effectively makes the travel path of the second cable 28 longer and removes slack. The tension maintained on the second cable 28 is continuous during both operation and non-operation of the apparatus 10. In this way, the tensioning system 12 automatically adjusts the travel path of the second cable 28 as it stretches. Therefore, no manual adjustment of the apparatus 10 is needed to compensate for the stretching of the second cable 28.

FIG. 4 illustrates a first alternate embodiment of the tensioning system 112, which include includes a pair of floating pulleys 172 operatively engaged with the second cable 28, and pivotally connected to the top pulley 66 of the double floating pulley 58 with a pair of braces 176. A biasing member 174, such as a helical compression spring, connects between the braces 176, such as with a fastener, at about the mid-point of each brace 176 and applies an outwardly extending force along the longitudinal axis of the biasing member 174 to the braces 176. The biasing member 174 is shown in FIG. 4 as a helical compression spring, but can be any other type of biasing member, such as, a torsion spring, a volute spring, a conical spring, a gas spring, a spiral spring, a wire form, an elastic band, and the like. The biasing member 174 can attach to other locations along the braces 176 to increase or decrease the force to the braces 176. In addition, various biasing members 174 can be used to increase or decrease the biasing force. Each floating pulley 172 is pivotally mounted, such as with a fastener 178, within a generally C-shaped housing 180. When assembled, the second cable 28 is disposed between the pulley 174 and the housing 180. In this way, the housing 180 helps maintain engagement of the second cable 28 with the pulley 174 by shielding the area of engagement from interference by foreign objects.

The tensioning system 112 maintains tension on the second cable 28 by applying a generally perpendicular force to the second cable 28 along the longitudinal axis of the biasing member 174. This forces the second cable 28 away from its natural travel path between the double floating pulley 58 and the guide pulleys 56, which effectively makes the travel path of the second cable 28 longer and removes slack.

FIG. 5 illustrates a second alternate embodiment of the tensioning system 212, which include includes a pair of floating pulleys 272 operatively engaged with the second cable 28, and pivotally connected to the top pulley 66 of the double floating pulley 58 with a pair of braces 276. Three biasing members 274, such as a helical tension spring, connect between the ends of the braces 276 and a common junction 282. The biasing members 274 apply an inwardly extending force towards the common junction 282 to the braces 276. The biasing members 274 are shown in FIG. 5 as a helical compression spring, but can be any other type of biasing member, such as, a torsion spring, a volute spring, a conical spring, a gas spring, a spiral spring, a wire form, an elastic band, and the like. The biasing members 274 can attach to other locations along the braces 276 to increase or decrease the force to the braces 276. In addition, various biasing members 274 can be used to increase or decrease the biasing force. Each floating pulley 272 is pivotally mounted, such as with a fastener 278, within a generally C-shaped housing 280. When assembled, the second cable 28 is disposed between the pulley 272 and the housing 280. In this way, the housing 280 helps maintain engagement of the second cable 28 with the pulley 272 by shielding the area of engagement from interference by foreign objects.

The tensioning system 212 maintains tension on the second cable 28 by applying a generally perpendicular force to the second cable 28 along towards the common junction 282. This forces the second cable 28 away from its natural travel path between the double floating pulley 58 and the guide pulleys 56, which effectively makes the travel path of the second cable 28 longer and removes slack.

FIG. 6 illustrates a third alternate embodiment of the tensioning system 312, which include includes a pair of floating pulleys 372 operatively engaged with the second cable 28, and pivotally connected to the top pulley 66 of the double floating pulley 58 with a pair of braces 376. Three biasing members 374, such as a helical tension spring, connect from a common junction 382 to a respective pulley 372 and the frame 14, such as with a bracket 377. The biasing members 374 apply an inwardly extending force towards the common junction 382 to the braces 376. The biasing members 374 are shown in FIG. 6 as a helical tension spring, but can be any other type of biasing member, such as, a torsion spring, a volute spring, a conical spring, a gas spring, a spiral spring, a wire form, an elastic band, and the like. The biasing members 374 can attach to other locations along the braces 376 to increase or decrease the force to the braces 376. In addition, various biasing members 374 can be used to increase or decrease the biasing force. Each floating pulley 372 is pivotally mounted, such as with a fastener 378, within a generally C-shaped housing 380. When assembled, the second cable 28 is disposed between the pulley 372 and the housing 380. In this way, the housing 380 helps maintain engagement of the second cable 28 with the pulley 372 by shielding the area of engagement from interference by foreign objects.

The tensioning system 312 maintains tension on the second cable 28 by applying a generally perpendicular force to the second cable 28 towards the common junction 382. This forces the second cable 28 away from its natural travel path between the double floating pulley 372 and the guide pulleys 56, which effectively makes the travel path of the second cable 28 longer and removes slack.

FIG. 7 illustrates a fourth alternate embodiment of the tensioning system 412, which include includes a pair of floating pulleys 472 operatively engaged with the second cable 28, and pivotally connected to the top pulley 66 of the double floating pulley 58 with a pair of braces 476. Two biasing members 474, such as a helical compression spring, connect from about the mid-point of each brace 476, such as with a fastener, to the lower pulley 68 of the double floating pulley 58. The biasing members 474 apply an outwardly extending force along the longitudinal axis of the biasing member 474 to the braces 476. The biasing members 474 are shown in FIG. 7 as a helical tension spring, but can be any other type of biasing member, such as, a torsion spring, a volute spring, a conical spring, a gas spring, a spiral spring, a wire form, an elastic band, and the like. The biasing members 374 can attach to other locations along the braces 376 to increase or decrease the force to the braces 376. In addition, various biasing members 474 can be used to increase or decrease the biasing force. Each floating pulley 472 is pivotally mounted, such as with a fastener 478, within a generally C-shaped housing 480. When assembled, the second cable 28 is disposed between the pulley 472 and the housing 480. In this way, the housing 480 helps maintain engagement of the second cable 28 with the pulley 472 by shielding the area of engagement from interference by foreign objects.

The tensioning system 412 maintains tension on the second cable 28 by applying a generally perpendicular force to the second cable 28 along the longitudinal axis of the biasing member 474. This forces the second cable 28 away from its natural travel path between the double floating pulley 58 and the guide pulleys 56, which effectively makes the travel path of the second cable 28 longer and removes slack.

FIG. 8 illustrates a fifth alternate embodiment of the tensioning system 512, which include includes a first floating pulley 590 and second floating pulley 592 operatively engaged with the first cable 26, and connected to the frame 14. A biasing member 594, such as a helical compression spring, connects from the frame 14, such as with a fastener, to the first pulley 590. The second pulley 592 is connected to the first pulley 590 with a rigid member 596, such as a bracket. In an alternate embodiment, the rigid member 596 can be replaced with a biasing member. The biasing member 594 applies a force to the first and second pulley 590 and 592 along the longitudinal axis of the biasing member 594 towards the frame 14. The biasing member 594 is shown in FIG. 8 as a helical tension spring, but can be any other type of biasing member, such as, a torsion spring, a volute spring, a conical spring, a gas spring, a spiral spring, a wire form, an elastic band, and the like. In addition, various biasing members 574 can be used to increase or decrease the biasing force. Each floating pulley 590 and 592 is pivotally mounted, such as with a fastener 578, within a generally C-shaped housing 580. When assembled, the first cable 26 is disposed between the pulley 590 and 592 and respective housing 580. In this way, the housing 580 helps maintain engagement of the first cable 26 with the pulleys 590 and 592 by shielding the area of engagement from interference by foreign objects.

The tensioning system 512 maintains tension on the first cable 26 by applying a generally perpendicular force to the first cable 26 along the longitudinal axis of the biasing member 594. This forces the first cable 26 away from its natural travel path between the upper pulley 52 and the lower pulleys 54, which effectively makes the travel path of the first cable 26 longer and removes slack.

It will be understood that changes can be made in the above constructions without departing from the scope of the invention, and it is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense. For example, the present invention may be utilized to provide biased cable tension in various types of fitness apparatus having a cable and pulley mechanisms by suitable selection and placement of biasing elements to apply generally perpendicular loads to the selected cables. Alternate embodiments can have fitness apparatus with more or less engagement members, including a single engagement member. The frame can have other arrangements, including more or less legs to support the cable and pulley assembly and associated resistance members. In addition, any number of arrangements of the pulleys can be used, including more or less pulleys, and more or less cables.





 
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