- FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This is a continuation-in-part of a co-pending Design Application filed Sep. 18, 1998, serial number not yet assigned, the disclosure of which is expressly incorporated herein by reference.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to exercise devices, and more particularly, exercise devices for developing and improving balance and coordination.
To excel in sports, it is necessary for one to possess not only strength and stamina, but balance and coordination as well. Indeed, virtually every sport places demands on its participants to move and contort the body in ways in which it is generally not accustomed. Perhaps the most challenging of these movements include proper rotation of the body (i.e., rotation of the shoulders, back and torso relative to the legs), as well as the shift in weight from one leg to another that must accompany such movement in anticipation of or in reaction to a given event. For example, a baseball player making a swinging motion with a bat in response to a pitch, a golfer making a swing, or a tennis player hitting either a serve, forehand or backhand shot must properly rotate and balance the body during such action. Further examples can be found in the sports of skiing and surfing which require participants to properly rotate and balance the body so that the center of gravity of the person is properly maintained in response to the size and contour of a slope or wave.
Notwithstanding the demands placed upon the athletes who participate in the aforementioned sports, as well as numerous others, there is currently lacking in the art any type of exercise device that develops and improves the coordination and balance. In this regard, most exercise devices currently available are directed toward either developing strength and/or cardiovascular endurance. With respect to the former, such exercise devices typically comprise either free weights or weight machines that target certain muscles or muscle groups sought to be strengthened. The latter group, namely cardiovascular exercise group, typically comprise stationary machines such as treadmills, stair climbers, rowing machines, and stationary bicycles. While generally effective at facilitating the development of cardiovascular endurance by increasing the heart rate, lung capacity, etc., such devices are generally linear in nature and cause the user thereof to engage in a single repetitious activity oriented toward making a forward motion. In this regard, none of the aforementioned classes of cardiovascular exercise equipment place any emphasis on rotational movement, let alone develop the balance and coordination that typically must accompany such movement.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Accordingly, there is a need in the art for an exercise device that, in addition to developing strength and cardiovascular endurance, further develops and increases balance and coordination. There is further a need in the art for an exercise device that, in addition to developing balance and coordination, facilitates the practice of rotational movement of the legs, hips, back and shoulders, and increases the range of motion accompanying such movement. Still further, there is need for such a device that is easy to use, space efficient, of simple/durable construction, and is relatively inexpensive to manufacture.
The present invention specifically addresses and alleviates the above-identified deficiencies in the art. In this regard, the present invention is directed to an exercise device for developing balance and coordination that further facilitates the practice of rotational movements. According to a preferred embodiment, the invention comprises a generally planar base member positionable upon a flat surface. A first platform surface is rotatably mounted upon the base such that the first platform surface is allowed to freely rotate about a first axis. Formed upon the first platform surface are second and third platform surfaces. Both the second and third platform surfaces that are respectively rotatably mounted upon the first platform surface and are free to rotate about a dedicated axis are adapted to receive a respective one of a pair of feet.
In use, the user stands upon the device such that one foot is received upon the second platform surface and the respective other placed upon the third platform surface. As the user shifts his or her weight, the exercise device will consequently impart a gyroscopic effect to the user insofar as the first platform surface will rotate about a first axis while the second and third platform surfaces will rotate about separate dedicated axes. As a result, the user is thus able to practice rotational movements while at the same time developing balance and coordination. In further refinements of the present invention, a layer of compressible foam may be interposed between the base and the first platform surface to impart an additional rocking motion to the user standing upon the device. There may likewise be provided one or more handle members formed across the base to enable the user to steady him/herself during usage of the device, as well as facilitate the user's ability to get off and on the device. Further refinements include adding an anchor member to one or more of the rotational platform surfaces to enable the same to remain stationary, as may be desired. Additionally, each respective platform surface may be designed to have a selectively limited range of motion such that any given platform surface rotates a fixed number of degrees. As per conventional exercise devices, the device of the present invention may further be coupled with a timer or calorimeter to enable the user to keep track of the duration of a given workout, as well as the number of calories expended during such workout.
It is therefore the object of the present invention to provide an exercise device for developing and improving balance and coordination.
Another object of the present invention is to provide an exercise device for developing balance and coordination that further facilitates the practice of rotational movement of the legs, hips, back and shoulders.
Another object of the present invention is to provide an exercise device for developing balance and coordination that further increases strength and endurance.
Another object of the present invention is to provide an exercise device for developing coordination and balance that is of simple construction and is safe and easy to use.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Still further objects of the present invention are to provide an exercise device for facilitating the development of balance and coordination that is space efficient, durable, increases flexibility and range of motion, and is relatively inexpensive to manufacture.
These, as well as other features of the present invention, will become more apparent upon reference to the drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exercise device constructed in accordance to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an individual standing upon the exercise device pictured in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a partial cross-sectional view taken lines 3-3 of FIG. 1;
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of the base and platform portions of the exercise device depicted in FIG. 1.
The detailed description set forth below in connection with the appended drawings is intended merely as a description of the presently preferred embodiment of the invention, and is not intended to represent the only form in which the present invention may be constructed or utilized. The description sets forth the function and sequence of steps for construction and implementation of the invention in connection with the illustrated embodiment. It is to be understood, however, that the same or equivalent functions and sequences may be accomplished by different embodiments that are also intended to be encompassed within the spirit and scope of the invention.
Referring now to the drawings, initially to FIG. 1, there is shown as exercise device 10 constructed according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. The exercise device 10 is specifically designed and configured to facilitate the development and improvement of coordination and balance, as well as develop the user's ability to make rotational movements with the legs, hips, back and shoulders. The device 10 is further effective in strengthening muscles of the legs, back, and shoulders and further provides excellent cardiovascular conditioning.
As illustrated, the exercise device 10 comprises a base 12 positionable upon a planar surface. The base 12 preferably comprises a base panel 14 designed to directly come into contact with the ground. Optionally formed upon the base panel 14 is a layer of deformable or compressible foam 16 which, as discussed more fully below, further enables the exercise device 10 of the present invention to impart a tilting or rocking sensation to the individual utilizing the device. Formed on top of the foam layer 16 is a second panel member 18 upon which is mounted a first platform surface 20. The first platform surface 20 is rotatably mounted upon the base 12 and is specifically designed to rotate in a circular pathway A along vertical axis X. To secure the first platform surface 20 in position relative to the base 12, an anchor or registry pin 22 is provided that releasably secures the first platform surface 20 to the base 12. As discussed more fully below, such anchoring device 22 facilitates the ability of a user to step on and off the device 10.
Formed upon the first platform surface 20 are second and third platform surfaces 24, 26. As illustrated, the second and third platform surfaces 24, 26 are rotatably mounted upon the first platform surface 20 and are free to rotate about dedicated axes. Specifically, second platform surface 24 is free to rotate in circular pathway B about axis Y while third platform surface 26 is free to rotate in circular pathway C about axis Z. The device 10 may further optionally include handle members 28, 30 that are fixed to the base 12 and extend above and across platform surfaces 20, 24, 26. The handle members 28, 30 may further be formed to cross one another such that the same may be joined via bolt 32. As will be recognized by those skilled in the art, such handle members 28, 30 facilitate the ability of a user to mount and dismount the exercise device 10, as well as provide means to steady the user during utilization of the exercise device 10.
Referring now to FIG. 2, there is shown an individual 34 mounted upon the exercise device 10 of the present invention. As shown, both of the user's feet 36, 38 are received upon respective ones of the second and third platform surfaces 24, 26. Specifically, foot 36 is received upon second platform surface 24 while the respective other foot 38 is received upon third platform surface 26. When mounted upon the device 10 in the manner shown, the user 34 is thus able to rotate each respective foot 36, 38 about axes Y and Z, respectively. As a result, the user 34 is able to practice rotational movement in the feet and legs, as well as develop the coordination and balance necessary to practice such rotational movements in unison. Advantageously, however, in addition to the rotational movements made by each respective foot 36, 38 about circular pathways B and C provided by second and third platform surfaces 24, 26, respectively, the rotational movement provided by the first platform surface 20 about circular pathway A further imparts a gyroscopic effect to the user which further promotes and facilitates the practice of rotational movement of the torso, back and shoulders. In this regard, the gyroscopic effect produced by the combination of rotational movements produced by the first, second and third platform surfaces 20, 24, 26 not only challenge the user's 34 ability to make rotational movements but further discipline the user 34 to concentrate and develop a sense of balance. In this regard, such gyroscopic effect requires that the user 34 continuously shift his or her weight and maintain the body's center of gravity in a manner consistent with the rotational movements made by the respective platform surfaces 20, 24, 26.
To further enhance the ability of the device 10 of the present invention to promote and develop balance and coordination, there is preferably provided a layer of deformable or compressible foam 16 interposed between the upper and lower base panels 14, 18 of base 12. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, such foam layer 16 will enable the platform surfaces 20, 24, 26 formed thereon to tilt and sway as the user makes rotational movements upon the device 10. As a result, the platform surfaces 20, 24, 26 will shift both vertically and horizontally, as shown by vertical deviation D and horizontal deviation E, which as a result will place further demands on the user to develop the balance and coordination necessary to remain properly oriented upon the device 10. As will be further appreciated, such tilting movement imparted by the foam layer 16 will cause the user to make rotational movements that are necessary in any of a variety of sports requiring the user to contort and twist rapidly in response to a given event or condition. In this regard, such tilting movement is especially well suited to facilitate a skier's ability to handle downhill slopes or a surfer's ability to maneuver a surfboard in a wave.
With respect to the ability of the respective platform surfaces 20, 24, 26 to impart the gyroscopic effect to a user utilizing such device, there is shown in FIG. 3 the structure by which the same may be accomplished. As illustrated, the first platform surface 20 is preferably attached to the base 12 via a shaft or locking member 42 axially aligned with the axis X about which the first platform surface 20 rotates. Axially disposed about locking member 42 and interposed between the base 12 and upper platform surface 20 is a ball bearing rotation plate 44 having a plurality of ball bearings formed therein to allow for rotational movement. Such rotation plate, such as 44, are well-known to those skilled in the art, and are more commonly referred to as “lazy-Susans”.
Such rotational plates are further utilized to permit and facilitate rotational movement of the second and third platform surfaces 24, 26, more clearly seen in FIG. 4. As illustrated, a dedicated rotation plate 46 is interposed between the second platform surface 24 and the first platform surface 20. Although not shown, fastening means will be provided that secure the second platform surface 24 to the first platform surface 20 with the rotation plate 46 being interposed therebetween, similar to the arrangement between first platform surface 20 with base 12, which may incorporate the axial alignment and registry of a fastening member 56 formed upon the underside of the first platform surface 20 which extends through an aperture 44 a formed upon rotation plate 44 and is received with a fixation apparatus 42, the latter being formed upon the upper surface of base 12, and more particularly the second or upper base panel 18 thereof.
Similarly, third platform surface 26 will be affixed to the first platform surface 20 such that rotation plate 48 will be interposed therebetween and so connected to the third and first platform surfaces 26, 20 such that the third platform surface 26 is free to rotate in circular pathway C along axis Z, as depicted in FIG. 1.
With respect to the attachment of handles 28, 30, the same are preferably affixed via bolts 52, to the base 12 at apertures 50 formed therewithin. The handle members 28, 30 are preferably affixed to the exercise device so the same may be easily grasped by a user during use of such device. It is further contemplated that such handles must necessarily be attached to the base 12 or otherwise affixed in a manner such that the same remain stationary relative to the rotational gyroscopic motions of the respective platform surfaces 20, 24, 26. In this regard, it should be recognized that such handle members 28, 30 must necessarily remain in stable position to enable user to mount and dismount the device, as well as provide means for steadying the user during operation of the device. It should be further recognized, however, that such handle members 28, 30 are optional and that users who have more highly advanced coordination and balance may utilize the exercise device of the present invention without the need for such apparatus.
As a further optional safety device, as discussed above, the exercise device of the present invention may be provided with an anchoring device 22 which maintains the first platform surface 20 in fixed position relative to the base 12. As illustrated in FIG. 4, such registry pin or anchor 22 is insertable through an aperture 54 formed upon the first platform surface 20, which may extend through and be aligned with an aperture 58 formed upon the upper portion of the base 12. When so aligned, the anchor 22 will prevent the first platform surface 20 from rotating in the circular pathway A as depicted in FIG. 1. As will be appreciated, such locking mechanism may be necessary to facilitate a user's ability to mount and dismount the exercise device. Once a user is on the device, such pin 22 may be removed to permit the first platform surface 20 to freely rotate in the aforementioned manner.
It will be readily understood and appreciated that the exercise device described herein as shown in the drawings may find widespread application not only in sports training and development, but may also be utilized for physical rehabilitation. In this regard, the device 10 of the present invention may be utilized in any application where it may be necessary to strengthen and develop those muscles or muscle groups necessary for normal movement and to prevent muscles or muscle groups from degenerating. Along these lines, it should be expressly understood that the exercise device of the present invention may be modified or adapted for any such purpose. For example, the range of motion for each of the platform surfaces 20, 24, 26 may be selectively limited such that any or all such platform surfaces 20, 24, 26 have a limited degree of motion. In this regard, each of the platform surfaces 20, 24, 26 may have adjustment means formed thereon that enable the user to selectively limit the number of degrees by which each respective platform surface 20, 24, 26 may rotate.
The exercise device of the present invention may further include such conventional apparatus as a timer or calorimeter to enable the user to time his or her workout as well as monitor the progress made (i.e., calories consumed) during such workout.
Accordingly, it is understood that the exemplary exercise device described herein and shown in the drawings represents only a presently preferred embodiment of the present invention and that various modifications and additions may be made to such embodiment without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.