Title:
ASSISTED-EXERCISE APPARATUS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An assisted-exercise apparatus may include a user support, weight, and rocker frame interconnecting said user support and weight. The rocker frame may include a lower and upper section, the lower section having a weight pin and the upper section having a padded user support. One or more weights may be placed on the weight pin, providing downward force on the weight pin and, through the fulcrum of the rocker frame, corresponding upward force on the user support. To use the apparatus, the user may place his or her feet substantially in-line with the fulcrum between the lower section and upper section, places his or her hips on top of the pad, and performs assisted push-ups. The ratio of the lengths and the angle between the upper and lower longitudinal segments may be adjustable to accommodate a certain user height.



Inventors:
Macdonald, Glenn (Ottawa, CA)
Application Number:
12/510559
Publication Date:
01/28/2010
Filing Date:
07/28/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/141
International Classes:
A63B21/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HWANG, VICTOR KENNY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz LLP (New York, NY, US)
Claims:
1. An apparatus to assist in exercising, the apparatus comprising: a user support; a weight pin; and a rocker frame; wherein said rocker frame connects the user support and the weight pin.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the rocker frame has a fulcrum.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the distance between the user support and the fulcrum is adjustable.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the distance between the weight and the fulcrum is adjustable.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the rocker frame is foldable.

6. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein an angle of the fulcrum is adjustable.

7. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein an external frame supports the rocker frame.

8. An apparatus to assist in exercising, the apparatus comprising: i. a user support having one or more longitudinal segments connected to an upper transverse segment; ii. one or more weight arm terminating in a weight pin; and iii. a rocker frame having two rocker arms connected by a lower transverse segment; wherein the rocker frame connects the user support with the one or more weight arms.

9. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein the two rocker arms have a fulcrum.

10. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein the distance between the user support and the fulcrum is adjustable.

11. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein the distance between the one or more weight arms and the fulcrum is adjustable.

12. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein an external frame supports the rocker frame.

Description:

PRIOR APPLICATION DATA

The present invention claims the benefit of prior U.S. provisional application No. 60/084,083, filed on Jul. 28, 2008, entitled “Assisted-Exercise Apparatus”, incorporated by reference herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates generally to exercise devices and in particular to devices that assist the user in performing an exercise.

BACKGROUND

Humans have been effectively using the body's weight as a resistance in muscle training for many years. Push-ups, sit-ups and back extensions are among the most effective exercises because they benefit a host of different muscles including the back, shoulders, abdominals, legs and arms, as well as connective tissue and stabilizer muscles, rather than merely strengthening a muscle in isolation. Indeed, weight training using the body's own weight has become very popular of late due to its effectiveness in providing resistance while reducing the possibility of injury, as compared to weight-training systems using external resistance. Weight training in this form can benefit overall health, improve posture and muscle tone, and reduce the cost of working out compared to other comparable alternatives.

While weight training using the body's weight as resistance provides a number of benefits, it is not accessible to all as many cannot lift their own body weight with the required form to take advantage of these benefits. This may be due to the fact that the person is carrying more weight, is out of shape, or is simply unaccustomed to such movement. The person may also be recovering from injury, in a period of convalescence, or may be physically disabled.

In addressing this problem, various proposed solutions have been put forth in the prior art. For instance, U.S. Pat. No. 5,042,796 discloses an apparatus for assisting a push-up wherein a vest is secured about an individual, with a rope connected between said vest and a counter-weight by means of a pulley system. However, the device is mounted to the ceiling, which creates challenges for someone who is physically-disabled or recovering from injury. Furthermore, the weight may not be adjusted during the weight-lifting, and the weight set hangs dangerously above the user while in use. The vest also restricts the breathing of the user while the machine is in use.

Another proposed solution, U.S. Pat. No. 7,060,014 discloses a device for assisting a push-up wherein the user lays prone on a body support platform, and a variable resistance helps the user with a push-up or provides greater resistance. Although this aids the user in performing a push-up, the proposed solution is expensive and complex to build and takes a significant amount of space. As well, it is limited to one exercise and the weight may not be adjusted while the device is in use. Moreover, the placement of the back and leg straps produce much-reduced points of contact for pulling the device back up on the upstroke of the push-up. In effect, the weight that the user is pushing up is taken by the user's lower back, which is physiologically not an optimal weight-bearing location. The device, supporting the body in a rigid form, does not permit the user to take advantage of the full-body benefits of the push-up, that is, strengthening for the back and stomach muscles, also known as the “core”, and limits the benefit to the pectorals and shoulders.

Yet another proposed solution, U.S. Pat. No. 5,421,800 discloses a unit that aids in performing a push-up by supporting the chest of the user by means of springs. However, this solution is mechanically complex, and may not be adjusted in the course of a workout, in that the springs need to be added or removed to change the resistance. An alternative solution, U.S. Patent Application No. 2002/0098959 A1 discloses a device that aids in the performance of a push-up by placing a counter-weight and structure opposite to a user-supporting arm. The device is costly to build, and the user-supporting arm is reliant on bearings and rollers to reduce friction, which require maintenance. Additionally, the pad pushes on the pectoral muscles at the same time that those muscles are contracting, causing discomfort and reducing the benefit to the core muscles. There is little ability to vary the exercise, which is practically limited to a push-up

U.S. Pat. No. 5,330,408 discloses an apparatus for maximizing push-ups, in that the weight may be reduced at the end of the work-out, which incorporates a footrest and torso-support platform, and two handles attached with a variable resistance. In this invention, the user is not, in fact, performing a push-up using his or her own weight, rather the resistance comes from a resistive assembly. The rest of the body is supported and therefore does not receive the associated benefits of back and abdominal strengthening associated with the push-up. Finally, its benefit is limited to one exercise, and it cannot be used for sit-ups or back extensions.

The solutions proposed in the prior art have generally been costly to manufacture, overly complex and limiting in the range of exercises that may be performed, often being targeted to only one specific motion. Furthermore, they do not permit a physiotherapist or personal trainer to vary the resistance in the course of the exercise to provide the maximum benefit to the user.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide an assisted-exercise apparatus consisting of a user support, weight, and rocker frame interconnecting said user support and weight. The rocker frame consists of a lower and upper section. The lower section consists of a lower frame made of metal or fiberglass, and is made up of two lower longitudinal segments and one lower transverse segment, welded together. At the center of the lower transverse segment is mounted a weight pin. One or more weights may be placed on the weight pin in order to provide varying degrees of assistance.

The upper section consists of an upper frame also made of metal or fiberglass, and is made up of two upper longitudinal segments and one upper transverse segment welded together. The user support is formed by a pad mounted around the upper transverse segment. The lower and upper sections are connected by means of an adjustable hinge on each side, which allows the user to adjust the angle to accommodate their body shape, to perform various exercises, or to fold for storage. In another embodiment, there is no hinge, but rather the longitudinal segments of the lower and upper frames are one piece, bent in substantially the middle at approximately a 35° angle. In other embodiments the upper longitudinal segments may telescope so as to be adjustable in length to fit different users. The ratio of the lengths and the angle between the upper and lower longitudinal segments may vary with the intended height of the user.

To use the apparatus, the user places his or her feet substantially in-line with the hinge or bend between the lower frame and upper frame, and places his or her hips on top of the pad. Assistance transferred to the waist of the user gives the greatest benefit for the push-up because it does not change the form of the exercise, therefore benefits the back and abdominals as well as the pectorals and shoulder muscles. The user may adjust the weights on the weight pin to provide the assistance that is desired—the greater the weight on the weight pin, the greater the upforce on the upper transverse bar and pad, and the greater the assistance the user receives. A personal trainer may assist a user in adjusting the weight while the user is exercising.

The hinge angle may be adjustable, with an operational range between 0° relative to the lower section, to practically 180° relative to the lower section, a range which may be adjusted by the user according to the ability of the user and the exercise desired to be performed. The upper section may be rotated through 180° so that it lies within the lower section, so as to exhibit a low profile for storage or portability. When the hinge has been moved into a desirable angle, a locking mechanism may be engaged. The locking mechanism may consist in one embodiment of overlapping lower and upper flanges affixed to the lower and upper hinge sleeves, respectively, each having teeth facing each other, which mesh and lock when pressed together. The hinge pin may be tightened and loosened by means of a screw mechanism, such that when it is loosened the teeth unmesh and the hinge angle may be adjusted, and when tightened the teeth mesh and maintain a certain hinge angle. The apparatus may be at a fixed angle instead, with the frame bent to form a fulcrum on which the frame is able to rock.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

It will now be convenient to describe the invention with particular reference to one embodiment of the present invention. It will be appreciated that the diagrams relate to one embodiment of the present invention only and are not to be taken as limiting the invention.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the assisted-exercise apparatus, according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side view of the assisted-exercise apparatus, shown in use, according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a side view of the assisted-exercise apparatus, displaying the range of adjustment of the upper section, according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a detail side view of the hinge of the assisted-exercise apparatus, according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the assisted-exercise apparatus, according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a front view of the assisted-exercise apparatus, according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a side view of the assisted-exercise apparatus, according to one embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 8 is a top plan view of the assisted-exercise apparatus, according to one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

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

With reference to FIG. 1 and according to one embodiment of the present invention, the assisted-exercise apparatus consists of a user support, weight, and a rocker frame interconnecting said user support and weight. The invention may take the shape of a rectangle, such as the present embodiment, or a triangle or a “T”, or any other shape not enumerated here, without deviating from the scope of the invention.

The frame consists of a lower section and upper section. The lower section consists of a lower frame 10 made of metal, fiberglass, or plastic tubing, or another rigid material familiar to one skilled in the art, which is sufficiently robust to support applied weights without substantial flexing or bending. This lower frame 10 is made up of two lower longitudinal segments 20 and one lower transverse segment 30, welded together. To the middle of the lower transverse segment 30 is mounted a weight pin 40. The weight pin 40 may be welded or affixed to the lower transverse segment 30 in other ways known to a person skilled in the art. One or more weights 50 may be placed on the weight pin 40 in order to provide varying degrees of assistance. In another embodiment, the weight may be slid on a rail, such that it may be moved closer or further from the fulcrum of the apparatus, provide respectively less or more resistance. In a further embodiment, the weight pin 40 is replaced by a weight tray, within which dumbbells may be placed to increase resistance. The upper section consists of an upper frame 60 also made of metal, fiberglass or plastic tubing. This upper frame 60 is made up of two upper longitudinal segments 70 and one upper transverse segment 80, welded together. The both lower and upper frame corners have rubber padding 90 to prevent damage to a floor. The frame may be reinforced by one or more transverse segments along its length, or constructed of one piece of metal.

Around the upper transverse segment 80, a pad 100 for supporting the hips or other body parts is removably mounted to form the user support. The lower and upper sections are connected by means of an adjustable lockable hinge 110 on each side, which allows the user to adjust the angle to accommodate their body shape, to perform various exercises, or to fold for storage. In another embodiment, there is no hinge, and the upper and lower longitudinal segments 20 and 70 on each side are one piece, bent in substantially the middle. In this last embodiment, an angle of approximately 35° would accommodate the majority of people and would be the standard angle for a bend in the middle of the longitudinal segments of the assisted-exercise apparatus. The angle may range between approximately 15° to 45°, depending on the height of the user. The ratio of the lengths of, and the angle between, the upper and lower longitudinal segments may vary with the intended height of the user.

The length of the lower longitudinal segments 20 is sufficient to produce a torque and transfer said torque to the upper longitudinal segments 70 by means of the locked hinge 110 resulting in an upforce on the upper transverse segment 80 and pad 100.

With reference to FIG. 2 and according to one embodiment of the present invention, the assisted-exercise apparatus is shown in use. The user places his or her feet substantially in-line with the hinge 110, and places his or her hips on top of the pad 100. In order to fit many different body sizes, in some embodiments the upper longitudinal segments 70 are adjustable in length. The user may adjust the weight 50 on the weight pin 40 to provide the level of assistance that is desired—the greater the weight on the weight pin 40, the greater the upforce on the upper transverse segment 80 and pad 100, and the greater the assistance the user receives. Assistance transferred to the waist of the user gives the greatest benefit for the push-up because it maintains good form for the exercise, therefore benefits the back and abdominals as well as the pectorals and shoulder muscles.

With reference to FIG. 3 and according to one embodiment of the present invention, the invention is shown incorporating a hinge 110 on each side between the upper and lower sections. The range of movement of the hinge is shown, and it is lockable in one of a number of discrete positions in the range through which it moves. The operational range is between 0° relative to the lower section, to practically 180° relative to the lower section, a range which may be adjusted by the user according to the ability of the user and the exercise desired to be performed. For storage the upper section may be rotated through 180° so that it lies within the lower section, so as to exhibit a low profile. In another embodiment the hinge travels through 360° and is again lockable in various discrete positions. In a further embodiment, the hinge may be lockable not merely in discrete positions, but anywhere within the range through which the hinge moves. In another embodiment, the hinge may not be present at all, instead the angle of the apparatus would be created by a bend in the frame itself. The angle in this last embodiment would be fixed.

With further reference to FIG. 3 and according to one embodiment of the present invention, the upper longitudinal segments 70 are adjustably telescoping with a locking mechanism 120 to maintain a desired length. In this case each upper longitudinal segment 70 is composed of a first and second segment 130 and 140, the second slightly smaller in diameter than the first such that it fits within, and may slide relative to, the first segment. The frame is constructed in such a way that the first and second segments 130 and 140 are unable to twist within one another, for instance by using square or oval tubing for the frame segments. The locking mechanism 120 may consist of a twist-lock mechanism such as an internal cam friction device, or a series of holes in both first and second segments with a spring-button locking pin which may be placed through holes in both segments such that they no longer telescope. Other telescoping and locking methods would be known to a person skilled in the art, and may be used without deviating from the scope of the invention.

With reference to FIG. 4 and according to one embodiment of the present invention, the hinge 110 on each side of the apparatus consists of a lower hinge sleeve 150 fastened to the lower longitudinal segment 20, and an upper hinge sleeve 160 fastened to the upper longitudinal segment 70. The lower and upper hinge sleeves 150 and 160 fit within one another to form a barrel 170, through which hinge pin 180 is fastened. The barrel 170 and hinge pin 180 freely rotate around one another, and permit varying angles to be achieved between the lower and upper frames 10 and 60. The lower and upper hinge sleeves 150 and 160 each contain complementary teeth 190 which mesh together at discrete points. The hinge pin 180 is adjustable, so that it may be loosened to permit the lower and upper hinge sleeves 150 and 160 to rotate relative to each other, and may be tightened to engage and lock the complementary teeth 190 and fix the hinge angle. By loosening the hinge pin 180, adjusting the angle between the lower and upper frames 10 and 60, and tightening the hinge pin 180, the user may adjust the angle of the apparatus. A person skilled in the art would appreciate that there are many types of adjustable hinge that may be used without deviating from the scope of the invention.

With reference to FIGS. 5-8 and according to one embodiment of the present invention, the frame is a rocker frame, consisting of two rocker arms 200 affixed to each other by means of a lower transverse segment 30. Each rocker arm 20 is bent at its junction with the lower transverse segment 30, in such a way that it permits a rocking action of the apparatus, along the rocker frame's fulcrum. To the center of the lower transverse segment 30 is affixed a weight arm 220, which extends to an upturned vertical weight pin 40. One of the rocker arms 200 extends in the opposite direction of the weight arm 220 to form the user support, which consists of an upper longitudinal segment 70 to which is affixed a lock bar 230 by means of welds or bolts. The lock bar 230 extends further from the upper longitudinal segment 70, and because it is a smaller diameter, fits partially within the upper longitudinal segment 70 to be fixed there. The user support further consists of an upper transverse segment 80, which is affixed to a sleeve 240. The sleeve 240 is slidingly engaged with, and may be locked to, the lock bar 230 by means of a locking mechanism 120. The locking mechanism 120 may be of various types, however the locking mechanism 120 shown here is a screw clamp-type locking mechanism. A person skilled in the art would know that the adjustable sleeve and locking mechanism may be replaced by a telescoping mechanism, or may be fixed and not adjustable, without deviating from the scope of the invention.

In another embodiment (not shown), there is a second upper longitudinal segment and lock bar extending from the second rocker arm on the other side of the user support, also affixed to the upper transverse segment by means of a second sleeve. In yet a further embodiment, there may be more than one weight arm, and the weight arms may be formed as a horseshoe.

The upper transverse segment is the portion on which the user applies force in order to perform the exercise. It may be wrapped in a pad (not shown) in order to reduce the impact on the human body. In the course of using the apparatus, weights may be added on to the weight pin 40 to increase the resistance for the user. A person skilled in the art would appreciate that the parts of the frame may be welded together or bolted, or any number of other fastening means may be employed, while still remaining within the scope of the invention.

The apparatus may be contained within an external frame, wherein it would be capable of essentially the same movement, however the resistance would be in the form of a pulley or belt attached to a stack of weight plates, the resistance being user adjustable.

Many modifications and other embodiments of the invention will come to the mind of a person skilled in the art having the benefit of the teachings presented in the foregoing description and associated drawings. Therefore, it is understood that the invention is not to be limited to the specific embodiment disclosed, and that modifications and embodiments are intended to be included within the scope of the appended claims.