Title:
GRIPPING APPARATUS FOR AN EXERCISE BAR
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A gripping apparatus for an exercise bar grip surface. The apparatus including an elongate flexible strap and a tubular member. The strap including a retention member for removeably securing to a wrist of a user. The strap including an extension portion, where the extension portion extends away from the retention member. The tubular member mounts on the exercise bar grip surface. The tubular member having a longitudinal length, wherein the tubular member is open at opposed ends of the longitudinal length. The tubular member having an inner passage defined by at least one wall. The tubular member including a cut passing through the wall and extending across the longitudinal length. A portion of the strap is secured to the tubular member, whereby an amount of the extension portion between the retention member and the tubular member is selectively adjustable.



Inventors:
Fishman, Michael N. (Great Neck, NY, US)
Application Number:
12/435202
Publication Date:
11/05/2009
Filing Date:
05/04/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B71/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060084554Portable ankle range of motion rehabilitation deviceApril, 2006Bement
20070149368KNEE REHABILITATION DEVICEJune, 2007Koch
20020137606Portable resistance exercise machineSeptember, 2002Willis et al.
20040242378Passive shock absorber for treadmillDecember, 2004Pan et al.
20090069159Folding mechanism of a treadmillMarch, 2009Wang
20030096676Multiple-purpose step climberMay, 2003Chen
20080161163Supplemental resistance assembly for resisting motion of an exercise deviceJuly, 2008Stewart et al.
20040033867Exercise barFebruary, 2004Katami
20090270231FOOT EXERCISER AND ASSOCIATED METHODSOctober, 2009Hall et al.
20060172861Small-size trampolineAugust, 2006Wang et al.
20070105693Control mechanism of an electric treadmillMay, 2007Wang



Primary Examiner:
GINSBERG, OREN ISAAC
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MICHAEL N. FISHMAN (GREAT NECK, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A gripping apparatus for an exercise bar grip surface, the apparatus comprising: a tubular member including a thickness and a longitudinal length, the thickness defined by the distance between an outer surface of the tubular member and an inner surface of the tubular member, the inner surface having an inner tubular width suitable for substantially surrounding the exercise bar grip surface, wherein a cut extends across the entire longitudinal length for removeably securing the member to the exercise bar grip surface, wherein the cut includes opposed inner walls extending from the outer surface to the inner surface, wherein the distance between the opposed walls is substantially less than the inner tubular width, wherein the tubular member is formed of an elastic material such that the cut can be forced apart from a closed position to an open position by a user in order to removeably secure the tubular member on the exercise bar, the material being biased to return the cut to the closed position when no longer forced apart, wherein at least one strap aperture extends into the thickness, the at least one strap aperture being disposed remote from the cut.

2. The gripping apparatus of claim 1, wherein the tubular member has a generally circular cross-sectional shape perpendicular to the longitudinal length.

3. The gripping apparatus of claim 1, wherein the tubular member has a non-circular shape perpendicular to the longitudinal length.

4. The gripping apparatus of claim 1, wherein the tubular member includes more than one tubular layer, wherein upon installation on the exercise bar an inner surface of a first layer engages the exercise bar, wherein at least one second layer is removeably secured to and substantially surrounds the first layer.

5. The gripping apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: an elongate flexible strap, the strap extending into the strap aperture.

6. The gripping apparatus of claim 5, wherein the strap includes a retention member for securing to a wrist of the user.

7. The gripping apparatus of claim 6, wherein a size of the retention member is adjustable for customizing to a user.

8. The gripping apparatus of claim 6, wherein the strap position is adjustable relative to the tubular member, wherein a distance between the tubular member and the retention member is selectively adjustable.

9. A gripping apparatus for an exercise bar grip surface, the apparatus comprising: an elongate flexible strap, the strap including a retention member for removeably securing to a wrist of a user, the strap including an extension portion, the extension portion extending away from the retention member; and a tubular member for mounting on the exercise bar grip surface, the tubular member having a longitudinal length, wherein the tubular member is open at opposed ends of the longitudinal length, the tubular member having an inner passage defined by at least one wall, the tubular member including a cut passing through the wall and extending across the longitudinal length, wherein a portion of the strap is secured to the tubular member, whereby an amount of the extension portion between the retention member and the tubular member is selectively adjustable.

10. The gripping apparatus of claim 9, wherein the retention member includes a loop for receiving the wrist.

11. The gripping apparatus of claim 9, wherein retention member includes an adjustable wrist band for snuggly securing to the wrist.

12. The gripping apparatus of claim 9, wherein the tubular member includes a strap aperture, wherein at least a portion of the strap extension portion passes through the strap aperture.

13. The gripping apparatus of claim 9, wherein the cut forms a gap in the tubular member, wherein opposed inner walls of the tubular member form the gap, the opposed inner walls being spaced apart from one another.

14. The gripping apparatus of claim 13, wherein the tubular member inner passage includes a width sized for mounting on the exercise bar, the distance between opposed walls being substantially smaller than the inner passage width.

15. The gripping apparatus of claim 9, wherein the tubular member has a generally circular cross-sectional shape perpendicular to the longitudinal length.

16. The gripping apparatus of claim 9, wherein the tubular member includes an outer surface forming a first cross-sectional shape perpendicular to the longitudinal length, the tubular member including an inner surface having a second cross-sectional shape perpendicular to the longitudinal length, wherein the first and second cross-sectional shapes are substantially different shapes.

17. A method of performing exercise using a gripping apparatus on an exercise bar grip surface, the method comprising: placing a first end of an elongate strap on a wrist, the strap extending from the first end to an opposed second end, the strap adjustably secured to a tubular member disposed between the first and second ends, the tubular member having a longitudinal length, wherein the tubular member is open at opposed ends of the longitudinal length, the tubular member having an inner passage defined by at least one wall, the tubular member including a cut passing through the wall and extending across the longitudinal length, wherein the strap passes through an aperture in the at least one wall; applying the tubular member to the exercise bar by passing a portion of the exercise bar through the cut, thereby placing the exercise bar portion substantially inside the tubular member inner passage; wrapping a first extension portion of the strap around an outer portion of the tubular member; and gripping the wrapped first extension portion while moving the exercise bar.

18. The method of claim 17, further comprising: adjusting the position of the tubular member with respect to the strap by sliding the strap through the tubular member aperture.

19. The method of claim 17, further comprising: securing a second extension portion of the strap to a wrist band, the wrist band fixedly secured to the strap first end, the second extension portion being disposed along the strap length closer to the second end.

20. The method of claim 17, further comprising: securing the strap second end to a central portion of the wrist disposed between the first end and the tubular member.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority to provisional patent Application Ser. No. 61/050,025, filed May 2, 2008. This earlier filed provisional application is incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The disclosed technologies relate to weight lifting and fitness exercise. In particular, disclosed is a gripping apparatus for an exercise bar for improving a user's grip on and interaction with an exercise bar.

BACKGROUND

Lifting straps are often used to assist a user in exercising and particularly weight lifting. Such straps allow the user to concentrate on aspects of the exercise relating to the user's body and muscle movements, rather than those aspects involved in maintaining one's grip on the exercise bar. Maintaining one's grip on an exercise bar can be a challenge when the weight being lifted or moved approaches or exceeds the user's grip strength. Such lifting straps generally include a strap with a loop that is placed around the user's wrist. The rest of the strap extending away from the loop is then tightly wrapped directly around the exercise bar. The user then grips the wrapped portion of the strap, enabling the user's wrist and arm to relieve some of the effort otherwise needed to hold the weight.

Additionally, exercise bars are typically formed in a fixed cylindrical form. Whether as a unitary bar upon which weights are secured, the grip portion of a dumbbell or a grip handle for weight lifting, such exercise bar have a fixed grip circumference. Thus, even though the size and strength of individual users various drastically, they are all forced to conform to a fixed size exercise bar. Also, individual users are unable to vary the size, circumference or even nature of a grip surface in order to alter an exercise. For example, a thicker bar will require a different grip than a thinner bar.

Accordingly, it would be desirable to provide a gripping apparatus for an exercise bar and a method of using same in order to assist a user in maintaining a grip on an exercise bar while allowing the user to alter the fixed circumference of the grip surface, as well as overcoming other shortcomings of the prior art.

SUMMARY

One aspect of the disclosed technologies relates to a gripping apparatus for an exercise bar grip surface. The apparatus including a tubular member including a thickness and a longitudinal length. The thickness defined by the distance between an outer surface of the tubular member and an inner surface of the tubular member. The inner surface having an inner tubular width suitable for substantially surrounding the exercise bar grip surface, wherein a cut extends across the entire longitudinal length for removeably securing the member to the exercise bar grip surface. The cut includes opposed inner walls extending from the outer surface to the inner surface, wherein the distance between the opposed walls is substantially less than the inner tubular width. The tubular member is formed of an elastic material such that the cut can be forced apart from a closed position to an open position by a user in order to removeably secure the tubular member on the exercise bar. The material being biased to return the cut to the closed position when no longer forced apart. Also, at least one strap aperture extends into or through the thickness, the at least one strap aperture being disposed remote from the cut.

In accordance with another aspect of the disclosed technologies the tubular member can have a generally circular cross-sectional shape perpendicular to the longitudinal length. Also, the tubular member can have a non-circular shape perpendicular to the longitudinal length. Further, the tubular member can include more than one tubular layer, wherein upon installation on the exercise bar an inner surface of a first layer engages the exercise bar, wherein at least one second layer is removeably secured to and substantially surrounds the first layer.

In accordance with another aspect of the disclosed technologies the gripping apparatus can include an elongate flexible strap, wherein the strap extends into or through the strap aperture. The strap can include a retention member for securing to a wrist of the user. A size of the retention member can be adjustable for customizing to a user. The strap position can be adjustable relative to the tubular member, wherein a distance between the tubular member and the retention member is selectively adjustable.

Another aspect of the disclosed technologies relates to a gripping apparatus for an exercise bar grip surface, the apparatus including an elongate flexible strap and a tubular member. The elongate flexible strap including a retention member for removeably securing to a wrist of a user. The strap including an extension portion, wherein the extension portion extends away from the retention member. The tubular member can be mounted on the exercise bar grip surface. The tubular member having a longitudinal length, wherein the tubular member is open at opposed ends of the longitudinal length. The tubular member having an inner passage defined by at least one wall. The tubular member including a cut passing through the wall and extending across the longitudinal length. A portion of the strap is secured to the tubular member, whereby an amount of the extension portion between the retention member and the tubular member is selectively adjustable.

In accordance with another aspect of the disclosed technologies the retention member can include a loop for receiving the wrist. The retention member can include an adjustable wrist band for snuggly securing to the wrist. The tubular member can include a strap aperture, wherein at least a portion of the strap extension portion passes through the strap aperture. The cut can form a gap in the tubular member, wherein opposed inner walls of the tubular member form the gap, the opposed inner walls being spaced apart from one another. The tubular member inner passage can include a width sized for mounting on the exercise bar, the distance between opposed walls being substantially smaller than the inner passage width. The tubular member can have a generally circular cross-sectional shape perpendicular to the longitudinal length. Also, the tubular member can include an outer surface forming a first cross-sectional shape perpendicular to the longitudinal length. Further, the tubular member can include an inner surface having a second cross-sectional shape perpendicular to the longitudinal length, wherein the first and second cross-sectional shapes are substantially different shapes.

Yet another aspect of the disclosed technologies relates to a method of performing exercise using a gripping apparatus on an exercise bar grip surface. The method includes placing a first end of an elongate strap on a wrist. The strap extending from the first end to an opposed second end. The strap adjustably secured to a tubular member disposed between the first and second ends. Also, the tubular member having a longitudinal length, wherein the tubular member is open at opposed ends of the longitudinal length. The tubular member having an inner passage defined by at least one wall, the tubular member including a cut passing through the wall and extending across the longitudinal length, wherein the strap passes through an aperture in the at least one wall. The method also including applying the tubular member to the exercise bar by passing a portion of the exercise bar through the cut, thereby placing the exercise bar portion substantially inside the tubular member inner passage. The method also including wrapping a first extension portion of the strap around an outer portion of the tubular member. Also, the method also including gripping the wrapped first extension portion while moving the exercise bar.

In accordance with another aspect of the disclosed technologies the method can further include adjusting the position of the tubular member with respect to the strap by sliding the strap through the tubular member aperture. Also, the method can include securing a second extension portion of the strap to a wrist band, where the wrist band is fixedly secured to the strap first end. The second extension portion being disposed along the strap length closer to the second end. Further, the method can include securing the strap second end to a central portion of the wrist disposed between the first end and the tubular member.

These and other objectives, features, and advantages of this invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of illustrative embodiments thereof, which is to be read in connection with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates an isometric view of a gripping apparatus in accordance with an aspect of the disclosed technologies.

FIG. 2 illustrates a side cut-away view of the gripping apparatus of FIG. 1, with a strap ended folded back over onto the strap, in accordance with an aspect of the disclosed technologies.

FIG. 3 illustrates the gripping apparatus of FIG. 2 mounted on an exercise bar, with the tubular member reversed in accordance with an aspect of the disclosed technologies.

FIG. 4 illustrates a top view of an alternative gripping apparatus placed on a user's wrist, in accordance with an aspect of the disclosed technologies.

FIG. 5 illustrates an isometric view of the gripping apparatus of FIG. 4, secured on a user's wrist and mounted on an exercise bar in accordance with another aspect of the disclosed technologies.

FIG. 6 illustrates an isometric view of an alternative tubular member in accordance with an aspect of the disclosed technologies.

FIG. 7 illustrates a side view of a multilayer tubular member in accordance with an aspect of the disclosed technologies.

FIG. 8 illustrates an isometric view of an alternative tubular member in accordance with an aspect of the disclosed technologies.

FIG. 9 illustrates an isometric view of an alternative tubular member in accordance with an aspect of the disclosed technologies.

FIG. 10 illustrates a side view of an alternative tubular member mounted on an exercise bar in accordance with an aspect of the disclosed technologies.

FIG. 11 illustrates a side view of another alternative tubular member mounted on an exercise bar in accordance with an aspect of the disclosed technologies.

FIG. 12 illustrates a side view of another tubular member in accordance with an aspect of the disclosed technologies.

FIG. 13 illustrates a side view of another tubular member in accordance with an aspect of the disclosed technologies.

FIG. 14 illustrates a side view of another tubular member in accordance with an aspect of the disclosed technologies.

FIG. 15 illustrates a side view of yet another alternative tubular member mounted on an exercise bar in accordance with an aspect of the disclosed technologies

FIG. 16 illustrates a side view of another tubular member in accordance with an aspect of the disclosed technologies.

FIG. 17 illustrates a side view of the tubular member of FIG. 16 mounted on an exercise bar in accordance with an aspect of the disclosed technologies.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention is a gripping apparatus for an exercise bar used in weight lifting and fitness exercise. The gripping apparatus disclosed herein will assist a user in maintaining a grip on an exercise bar. Also, the gripping apparatus disclosed herein allows a user to alter aspects of the grip for performing and altering an exercise with an exercise bar.

FIGS. 1 and 2 show an embodiment of a gripping apparatus 10 prior to placement on a user and prior to installation on an exercise bar. The gripping apparatus 10 includes a tubular member 100 and an elongate flexible strap 200. It should be noted that the tubular member 100, by itself, is also a gripping apparatus in accordance with the invention herein. The elongate flexible strap 200 passes through at least one aperture in the tubular member providing a coupling between a user's wrist, the tubular member and the weight carried thereon (i.e., the exercise bar).

The tubular member 100 in accordance with the disclosed technologies is generally formed as an elongate hollow member. A tubular member as referred to herein means any elongate hollow body having a longitudinal length from end to end and apertures at opposed ends into the inner hollow region. A tubular member is not limited to a cylindrical member. The tubular member is preferably sized to accommodate an intended exercise bar and sized to accommodate either a broad range of users or a particular more common sized user. For example, the length of the tubular member 100 can be approximately 4⅜ inches, which accommodates a contemporary dumbbell. However, it should be understood that the tubular member 100 can be made longer or shorter to accommodate different bars and/or different applications. As a further example, the tubular member can have an outer diameter 102 of 2 inches and an inner diameter 104 of 1 inch, which dimensions also accommodate typical barbells, dumbbells and cable grips that have a 1 inch grip bar diameter. This provides for a ½ inch thickness for the tubular member 100. Alternatively, this thickness could be made greater or smaller, depending on the application or desires of the user. For example, a thinner grip thickness might be helpful for users with smaller hands and/or users wanting a smaller grip configuration. By altering or adjusting the grip thickness, from that of the standard exercise bar, a user can target different muscles during an exercise.

The tubular member 100 is intended to be placed over a portion of an exercise bar that would otherwise be handled or engaged by a user directly or engaged by the user through the use of a lifting strap. Also, the tubular member 100 while keeping itself firmly secured to the exercise bar, should also be easily removable by a user without the need for tools. Thus, using only his or her hand(s), without the need for tools, the user should be able to pull the tubular member off the exercise bar. In this way, it can be re-used on another exercise bar as part of a next exercise, stored or removed for a period until that exercise bar is used again. The tubular member 100 can be easy to clean and can withstand the wear of numerous exercise intervals. Also, the tubular member 100 is preferably made from a durable, elastic, mildew resistant and somewhat yielding material that is comfortable for a user to grip. For example the tubular member 100 can be made of neoprene rubber or similar strong elastic materials. It should be understood that the tubular member 100 can be made from other materials, in order to provide a softer or firmer grip as desired. Additionally, the tubular member 100 can be made from a layered or non-homogenous construction in order to alter the weight, durability, firmness or other characteristics.

The inner diameter 104 of the tubular member 100 can be designed to match or loosely accommodate the outer diameter and shape of the exercise bar on which it is placed, or at least the gripping portion/surface thereof. The tubular member 100 is generally mounted onto an exercise bar by separating the tubular member at cut 130 and wrapping the tubular member around the exercise bar. In this way, the tubular member is applied to the exercise bar by passing a portion of the exercise bar through the cut 130 until the exercise bar is seated inside the hollow region of the tubular member 100. The material of the tubular member 100 is preferably flexible enough to allow it to be expanded to accommodate the thickness of the bar on which it is being installed. Also, the cut 130 allows the tubular member 100 to easily be removed from the exercise bar.

The cut 130 can be formed as a slit or gap that passes completely through the material of the tubular member 100 and extends across the entire tubular member from one end to the other. When the cut is formed as a gap, there is a separation X between opposed longitudinal edges n the tubular member 100. When the cut is formed as a slit, the separation X is reduced to zero, the opposed longitudinal edges touch one another. The size of the separation X can be altered to achieve varied design considerations.

The strap 200 is formed as an elongate flexible band extending from a loose end 201 along its length to a wrist engagement end 209. An extent of the strap can be formed of one or more fabrics, as are known in contemporary lifting straps for weight lifting and exercise. The wrist engagement end 209 can include a retention member 214 in the form of a loop. The retention member 214 receives a user's wrist by slipping the user's hand through the loop. Such a loop can be formed by simply folding the strap 200 back over on itself and sewing or otherwise fastening an end of the strap to a more central portion 216. In the embodiment shown, the strap 200 is further provided with Velcro® elements 212, 218 so the loose end 201 of the strap can be folded back and secured to the strap 200 after passing through the tubular member 100. In this way, a portion 203 of the strap runs along a portion of the outer surface of the tubular member 100 for securing the mating Velcro® elements 212, 218. Alternatively, a traditional belt buckle, clip or other type of fastening means could be used in place of Velcro®. Also, the loose end need not have any fastening means and be simply wrapped around the outer surface of the tubular member 100 and held by a user.

As shown in FIG. 2, the strap 200 passes through a strap aperture 140. The strap aperture 140 is shown disposed directly opposite the cut 130, however these openings need not be 180 degrees apart, relative to such a side view. The strap aperture 140 can be formed as a further slit or cut in tubular member 100. However, in contrast to the cut 130, the strap aperture 140 should not extend across the entire length of the tubular member 100. Rather, strap aperture 140 is preferably sized to accommodate the thickness and width of the portion of strap 200 intended to pass therethrough. At minimum, the strap aperture 140 can be a tight slit, wherein the somewhat yielding material of the tubular member allows the strap 200 to forced therethrough. Having a tight fit of the strap 200 in strap aperture 140 provides the advantage that the tubular member 100 will not easily move along, fall off or separate from the strap 200. A tight fit between the strap aperture 140 and the strap 200 allows both the tubular member 100 and the strap 200 to be adjustably secured relative to one another.

FIG. 3 illustrates that the strap 200 can be fed through the tubular member 100 in the opposite direction. In this configuration, the strap aperture 140 faces the retention member 214. Also, FIG. 3 shows how tubular member 100 can accommodate both the strap 200 as well as an exercise bar 15. Accordingly, a portion 205 of the strap is made to run between an outer surface of the exercise bar 15 and an inner surface of the tubular member 100. As a further alternative, the inner surface of the tubular member 100 can include a groove or recess for receiving portion 205 of the strap, allowing the inside shape of the tubular member 100 to more accurately match the outer shape of the exercise bar 15.

As yet a further alternative embodiment, the tubular member 100 could be formed with an additional internal passage that runs inside the thickness of the outer wall of tubular member 100 and connects cut 130 with strap aperture 140. In this way, the strap portion 205 is fed through that additional passage and kept separate from the exercise bar. With reference to FIG. 3, such an additional internal passage could be formed in the upper and/or lower halves of the tubular member 100. Also, the strap portion 205 would be fixedly secured or pre-molded inside such an additional internal passage. In an embodiment where the strap 200 is fixedly secured to the tubular member 100, it could be advantageous to provide a means for adjusting the position of the retention member 214 relative to the tubular member 100. Thus, the strap central portion 216 could alternatively include a buckle or adjustable retention mechanism, rather than having a fixed non-adjustable retention member 214.

FIG. 4 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the gripping apparatus 10 placed on the wrist 2 of a user. Once again the tubular member 100 includes a cut 130 and strap aperture 140. Also, FIG. 4 more clearly illustrates the internal hollow passage 125 extending from both ends through the entire tubular member 100. Additionally, this embodiment includes a wrist band 220 attached to the strap 200 for securing the gripping apparatus 10 to the user's wrist 2. The wrist band 220 is formed as a split loop that overlaps on itself for adjusting its size to accommodate wrists of various sizes. The wrist band 200 can be provided with a padding or protective layer 222 that is comfortable to a user's skin, as this protective layer 222 directly engages the user's wrist. The size of the wrist band 200 can be changed by adjusting the amount of band strap 224 extending beyond buckle 225. The loose end 229 along with any excess band strap 224 can then be folded back over the buckle 225 and secured to the wrist band 200 with alternative mating Velcro® elements 226, 228. by in size to accommodate different users. Alternatively, buckle 225 could be in the form of another type of fastening means, such as snap fasteners or a traditional belt buckle, with strap 224 having apertures for a pivotal buckle pin that would be added to buckle 225.

FIG. 5 shows the gripping apparatus in accordance with the disclosed technologies in use during an exercise. Accordingly, the strap 200 is placed on the user's wrist 2; particularly the protective layer 222 of the wrist band 220. The strap 200 passing through the tubular member 100, which is in turn mounted on an exercise bar 15. The loose end 210 of strap 200 is folded back toward the user's wrist 2 and can be further secured under the Velcro® secured end 229 of the band strap.

FIG. 6 illustrates a further alternative embodiment of the tubular member 100. As shown the tubular member 100 can be formed with a cut 130 have a bigger separation X′. Additionally, FIG. 6 illustrates yet another aspect of the disclosed technologies with regard to the strap aperture. In particular, more than one strap aperture 141, 142, 143 can be provided. Also, even if a single strap aperture were provided, it need not be centrally located along the longitudinal length of the tubular member 100. Also, the strap apertures 141, 142, 143 can be located at different circumferential positions along the internal surface. In fact, it can be advantageous not to align the strap apertures 141, 142, 143 along their length in order to avoid easily splitting the tubular after moderate use.

In accordance with an aspect of the disclosed technologies, the tubular member 100 can alternatively be used on an exercise bar without the strap 200. Also, as yet a further alternative, the tubular member can be used by itself as a squeezing or gripping exercise. In this way, without the use of an exercise bar or the strap 200, the user simply squeezes the tubular member 100 as an exercise in and of itself. The outer surface of the tubular member 100 preferably provides a mildly yielding surface for the user to engage. For example, a soft rubber surface is gentler on a user's hand than the hard metal surface of a contemporary exercise bar. By using a tubular member 100, the user can avoid having to wear gloves when working out. Also, the outer surface can be provided with patterns, pictures, logos, text and/or names. Alternatively, the outer surface can include advertisements or other information. Additionally, while the inner and outer surfaces of the tubular member 100 can be made smooth, they can alternatively be provided with a more textured or porous surface to resist slippage or relative rotation.

FIG. 7 shows a side view of yet a further tubular member 100 that is formed by overlapping layers of thinner tubular members 111, 112, 113. It should be understood that while three layers of tubular members 111, 112, 113 are shown, two or more such layers can be used as desired by a user. The use of multiple layers allows a user to adapt the tubular member 100 to a desired diameter suitable to the size of the user's hand or even to alter the effect of the exercise on the user. Thus, having a user grip a small diameter outer surface during an exercise can target muscles differently than having that user grip a larger diameter outer surface.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 7 the tubular members 111, 112, 113 are each formed with a cut gap Y1, Y2, Y3 respectively. As shown, it is advantageous to provide varying cut gaps Y1, Y2, Y3 in order to more easily separate one tubular member layer 111, 112, 113 from another. Alternatively, the dimensions of the tubular member layers 111, 112, 113 can be formed such that cut gaps Y1, Y2, Y3 are all equal or substantially equal to one another. Additionally, the individual tubular members 111, 112, 113 need not be formed having the same thickness, materials or texturing. For example, outer layer 113 can be formed of a more pliable/flexible foam or gel-like material, while inner layers 111, 112 can be formed of more rigid materials. Also, the inner layer 111 along with the outer layer 113 can be formed of pliable/flexible materials, while having the middle layer 112 formed of more rigid material to maintain the form of the overall tubular member 100.

FIG. 8 shows an further alternative tubular member 100 with outer diameter 102 and inner diameter 104. As with other embodiments, the cut 130 includes a gap or separation X formed by opposed inner walls 132, 134 being separated from one another. Also, the separation X extends along the tubular member 100 from one end 101 to another 109. The embodiment shown in While such a gap x can be of varying sizes, the tubular member 100 should be designed to remain securely on the exercise bar when in use. However, while the tubular member should not easily slip off when performing exercises, it should be removable from the exercise bar without a great deal of effort by a user.

FIG. 8 further illustrates that an outer surface 110 can include mildly recessed gripping grooves 115. Such grooves 115 can be engaged by a user's fingers while gripping the tubular member 100. Further, the grooves 115 can included a more textured surface than the outer surface 110 for helping a user maintain a grip. Also, a single wider groove could be provided that is adapted to accommodate the portion of the wrist strap that extends across the outer surface of the tubular member.

FIG. 9 shows yet a further embodiment of a tubular member 100 with an outer surface 110 that contains additional gripping elements 116. Gripping elements 116 extend longitudinally across the extent of outer surface 110. Such gripping elements 116 can be formed by small grooves in the outer surface 110. Alternatively, gripping elements 116 can be formed as a protruding ridge that extends across the outer surface 110. Also, as yet a further alternative, the gripping elements 116 can be formed by forming alternating grooves and ridges around the circumference of the outer surface 110. It should be understood that gripping elements 116 can also be formed to extend across only a portion of the longitudinal length of outer surface 110. Also, separate regions of gripping elements 116 can be formed in the outer surface, such as the regions of grooves 115 illustrated with regard to tubular member in FIG. 8. Further still, the grooves and/or protrusions forming the gripping elements 116 can be non-symmetrically spaced around the outer or inner surfaces of the tubular member. Also, the gripping elements 116 can comprise anything from a single extending ridge or protrusion to a greater plurality as shown in the illustrations. Yet further still, each groove/protrusion can be deeper or extend outwardly further, respectively. Also, the grooves and/or ridges can vary in size, depth, height and width.

The tubular member 100 also includes an inner surface 120 provided with gripping elements, similar to gripping elements 116, in order to limit or resist relative movement with the exercise bar 15 or strap 200 once the user is ready to exercise with the apparatus 10. Alternatively, the inner surface of the tubular members 100 in the various embodiments shown can be provided with a porous or gripping surface to make sure it holds onto the exercise bar and to ensure that the tubular member remains in place. As a further alternative, the inside surfaces of the tubular members 100 can be formed with a relatively high coefficient of friction, a mild tackiness or even be provided with adhesives to ensure that they remain in place relative to the exercise bar. A high coefficient of friction as referred to herein refers to a level friction that generally prevents relative movement between two surfaces under normal handling and exercising conditions. Preferably, the adhesives are mild enough to allow the tubular member to be removed after being installed and used for the intended exercise.

FIGS. 10 and 11 show a further embodiment of the disclosed technologies. The tubular member 150 is formed with a square cross-section. In this way, outer surface 151 is formed as a generally planar surface. Rather than having a diameter, the tubular member 150 has dimensions suited to the exercise bar 15 for which it is intended. In FIG. 10, the distance between opposed inner planar surfaces is substantially similar to the outer diameter of the exercise bar 15. Also, while cut 153 is shown with a gap, it should be understood that alternatively either no gap can be formed by the cut or a larger gap can be formed if desired. FIG. 11 shows an alternative where tubular member 150 is formed slightly smaller than that shown in FIG. 6, such that upon installation on exercise bar 15, the outer surface 154 is somewhat distorted or bulges/undulates. When the distance between opposed inner surfaces of the exercise tubular member 150 are smaller than the outer diameter of the exercise bar 15, the inner surfaces 152 somewhat conform to the shape of the bar, thus slightly drawing-in the outer corners of the otherwise square shape. The distortions or bulges in outer surface 154 can further assist the user in maintaining a firm grip, similar to the gripping elements described above. Also, forming the bulges and mildly protruding corners using the configuration shown in FIG. 11 can reduce manufacturing costs, as compared to the texturing and/or surfaces described with regard other embodiments. A relatively simple cross-sectional shape, once installed distorts into a more form-fitting contoured shape with protrusions that assist the user to grip the outer surface.

FIGS. 10 and 11 further illustrate how the tubular member 500, as with the other embodiments herein, will substantially surround a grip surface of the exercise bar 15. As noted herein, the gap 153 shown can be formed larger or smaller than that shown and can be eliminated as shown in FIG. 16. In substantially surrounding the grip surface, the tubular member wraps around enough of the circumference of the exercise bar 15 in order to remain secured thereon. Accordingly, a larger gap can be used with a more rigid tubular member composition, while a more flexible or elastic composition may require a relatively smaller gap in order to remain secured on the bar while in use. Nonetheless, the gap should be substantially smaller than the inside diameter or width of the tubular member in order to remain secured on the exercise bar.

FIGS. 12-15 show side views of further alternative tubular members in accordance with the disclosed technologies. FIG. 12 shown tubular member 160 formed with an octagonal cross-sectional shape. FIG. 13 shown tubular member 162 formed with a hexagonal cross-sectional shape. FIG. 14 shown tubular member 164 formed with a triangular cross-sectional shape. FIG. 15 shown grip sleeve 166 formed with an elliptical cross-sectional shape. As a further alternative to grip sleeve 166, the cut 130 could be disposed 90 degrees from that shown. In this way added internal space 156 is provided to accommodate the strap 200 that will pass therethrough. It should be understood that while various cross-sectional shapes are illustrated and noted herein, the tubular member in accordance with the disclosed technologies is not limited to those recited shapes. The cross-sectional shapes can be other known geometric shapes, for example a star, rectangle, polygon etc. Also, the cross-sectional shape need not be a uniform or symmetrical shape.

It should be further understood, that a tubular member can alternatively be formed having an outer surface form having a non-cylindrical shape, but with a generally cylindrical inner shape. For example, FIG. 16 shows a tubular member 168 with an outer surface 110 that forms a hexagonal cross-sectional shape, yet has an inner surface 120 that has a circular cross-sectional shape. Similarly, outer tubular member 113, shown in FIG. 7, could alternatively be formed with a non-cylindrical outer form.

As referred to herein, the “cross-sectional shape” refers to a form included in a cross-section of the tubular member. The shape can refer to the outer surface and/or the inner surface of the tubular member. In several embodiments the outer and inner surfaces have a similar cross-sectional shape having different sizes. However, as shown in FIGS. 16 and 17, the tubular member can include a different cross-sectional shape related to its outer surface from the cross-sectional shape associated with the inner surface.

As shown in FIGS. 10 and 15, the tubular members can be designed to have a loose fit on the exercise bar 15. As more particularly shown in FIG. 15, by varying the internal gap 156 between the inner tubular member surfaces and the bar 15, the tubular member can be made to have a loose fit on the bar 15. It may be desirable for the tubular member to slip or rotate relative to the bar 15, while remaining secured thereon. Such slippage can also be facilitated by providing a smooth or low friction inner surface on the inside of the tubular member. A low coefficient of friction as referred to herein refers to a level friction that generally promotes or facilitates relative movement between two surfaces under normal handling and exercising conditions.

The inner diameter or form of the tubular member can be designed to match or closely match the outer diameter and shape of the exercise bar on which it is placed. Alternatively, it can be useful for the inner diameter of the tubular member to be slightly smaller than the anticipated outer diameter of the exercise bar, in order to ensure a tight fit. As shown in FIGS. 16 and 17, the tubular member 168 is formed with a closed cut 130 in the form of a slit. Thus, in a relaxed position the two opposed walls within the cut 130 engage one another. Also, the tubular member 168 has an internal diameter D1. As shown in FIG. 17, once the tubular member 168 is mounted onto the exercise bar 15, having a wider diameter D2, the cut 130 separates and forms a gap Y. Providing a gap can be useful to avoid a user pinching their own skin while gripping the device.

The gripping apparatus of the present invention has many advantages for user's of exercise bars. By easily installing and removing the tubular member, a user can ensure a more sanitary exercise environment. Additionally, a user can maintain a better grip on an otherwise heavy, smooth or hard to hold exercise bar. Also, without having to use gloves a user can keep his or her hand relatively cool while still ensuring a soft surface for engaging an exercise bar. Further, a user can alter an exercise by changing the tubular member dimensions. The use of the gripping apparatus as described herein can allow a user to alter the range of motion or even target different muscles during an exercise.

While various embodiments of the present invention are specifically illustrated and/or described herein, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to those precise embodiments and that various other changes and modifications may be affected herein by one skilled in the art without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention, and that it is intended to claim all such changes and modifications that fall within the scope of the invention.