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Publication numberUS20030211916 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/417,103
Publication dateNov 13, 2003
Filing dateApr 17, 2003
Priority dateApr 23, 2002
Publication number10417103, 417103, US 2003/0211916 A1, US 2003/211916 A1, US 20030211916 A1, US 20030211916A1, US 2003211916 A1, US 2003211916A1, US-A1-20030211916, US-A1-2003211916, US2003/0211916A1, US2003/211916A1, US20030211916 A1, US20030211916A1, US2003211916 A1, US2003211916A1
InventorsPatrick Capuano
Original AssigneeCapuano Patrick J.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Exercise parameters monitoring, recording and reporting system for free weight, weight stack, and sport-simulation exercise machines
US 20030211916 A1
Abstract
The apparatus enables users of exercise equipment including free weight, weight stack, and/or sport simulation devices to monitor, record, and report personal, group and sub-group exercise results. Bar-coded markings are affixed to free-weights or weight-stacks indicating different weight levels. A bar-code reader is operatively coupled to the equipment to read the bar-code markings and track the weight lifted, frequency of lift and other parameters. Sport-simulation exercise machines record data by internal software. For the group of uses, apparatus provides electronic and/or paper “exercise receipt” reports of exercise routine, progress and fitness achieved and comprise a wireless interface for transmitting the data to a user-controlled personal data storage device, or a central storage device. A display is provided. Apparatus may record nutritional data from bar-codes of food products. Apparatus flexibility of use and reporting methods enables apparatus to function in advertising and fundraising methods of use.
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Claims(8)
I claim:
1. An apparatus to enable a user or users of free weight, weight stack, and/or electronic and non-electronic sport simulation exercise machines to monitor, record and report personal, group and sub-group exercise results according to a range of user-selected parameters comprising:
(A) at least one exercise machine;
(B) computer-readable exercise data for at least one exerciser exercising or having exercised on the at least one exercise machine;
(C) a data transfer system for transferring the computer-readable exercise data
(D) permanent and/or removable/transferable bar-code symbols indicating weight intensity, frequency, certain exercise means and methods
(E) an exercise start/progression bar-code reader
(F) an exercise peak-lift bar-code reader
(G) an exercise data interpreter-transmitter IE-CPU
(H) portable and transferable bar-code symbol encoded and adhesive-backed weight indicators which may be affixed to weights or weight plates,
(I) Bar-code symbol readable exercise progress indicator,
(J) Bar-coded membership card 17 for in-facility use, which may be a permanent card or a paper print-out for daily users,
(K) Bar-coded wall-chart list of weight and exercise options,
(L) print-out device linked to the exercise device by any applicable means included wired and wirelessly by any number of means.
(M) exercise start bar-code reader
(N) weight plates and weight selection pin,
(O) exercise progression bar-code readers,
(P) Bar-code symbol encoded exercise peak-lift indicator;
(Q) means for data to be encoded into a bar-code available to user, and/or transferred to a user's personal digital assistant or self-contained and invention-specific data storage device which may be a smart card, magnetic swipe card, “touch” card, or plug-in/plug-out module which a user may carry and use with different machines;
(R) at least one of the above items incorporated as original equipment or afterwards attached to electronic and non-electronic exercise devices such as treadmills, exercise bicycles, rowers, cross-country ski machines, step-machines and the like
(S) Means to scan bar-codes from food products into system to track food, nutritional and diet intake.
(T) Personal coding method to maintain user privacy over exercise and diet data
(U) Personal coding method to enable user or users to share, compare, contrast and manipulate data with selected others in a group or sub-group;
2. The exercise apparatus system of claim 1, including an advertising message.
3. The exercise apparatus system of claim 1, including at least two exercisers who are dispersed geographically and/or date/time-wise.
4. The exercise apparatus system of claim 1, including fundraising for a designated charity or cause.
5. The exercise apparatus system of claim 4, wherein payment is made by one or more of the group consisting of: exercisers; advertisers; and sponsors.
6. The exercise apparatus system of claim 1, wherein the data transfer system is wireless.
7. The exercise apparatus system of claim 1, wherein exercise data from a plurality of exercisers are subjected to computer manipulation.
8. The exercise apparatus system of claim 7, wherein the computer manipulation is to select data for exercisers meeting at least one criterion selected from the group consisting of residence, age, gender, school affiliation, work affiliation, team affiliation and family.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of Invention

[0002] This invention relates generally to improvements in the monitoring, tracking, recording, updating and obtaining feedback of physical exercise-related information based on the reading of machine-readable coded markings on adhesive-backed papers affixed to free-weight, weight-stack, and electronic exercise machines and physical conditioning systems.

[0003] 2. The Prior Art

[0004] For many years humans have utilized a wide variety of devices for obtaining opportunities for physical exercise, physical rehabilitation of injured or under-utilized body components, and maintenance of already-obtained physical fitness. In recent years, one very common system is the free-weight systems by which users slide portable weights on bars for lifting; the amount of weight resistance exercise depends on the number and weight of each weight plate slid onto the bar. Another very common system is the non-portable weight-stack system by which users press up and/or pull down on bars which run along guides and by which lifting or pulling down move the weights—via a pulley-type system—which themselves run along guides; the amount of weight resistance exercise depends on the number and weight of each weight plate chosen added by the user via a pin-selection device. A third system is the electronic sport simulation device which simulates an activity which normally occurs in a larger setting, such as rowing machines, jogging or running machines, cross-country ski machines, and the like.

[0005] While these systems have provided a reasonably effective form of manipulating weights or movable devices to gain the benefit of physical exercise, a major shortcoming of these devices is that they have generally not been in a form permitting the user to monitor, track, record, update and obtain feedback on that exercise. Another shortcoming is that these systems generally are not able to store exercise information and history of all users of a device over time.

[0006] In very recent years patents have been issued on devices which permit users to track exercise performed on weight-stack machines and electronic simulation devices such as jogging machines, rowing machines, stair-steppers, cross-country ski machines and the like. These systems also have many crucial shortcomings. One major shortcoming is that the devices are not usable with free-weight systems, one of the most common forms of exercise equipment, and one of the least expensive and so widely accessible. Another shortcoming is that the prior art is cumbersome to attach to the devices and absorb a good deal of space, thus requiring large space to employ. This is important when a user does not have much free space in a home, and is important to an exercise facility operator which must forego obtaining other exercise equipment in order to make room for the prior art; these limits may affect the customer base of the facility.

[0007] Another shortcoming is that the devices are not portable and are in fact functionally permanent. This shortcoming indicates that once installed a user who might later decide to change to a different exerciser system may choose not to because it would require them also to discard the tracking system and/or enter the difficult task of removal and reinstallation. This is an added shortcoming if the new exercise system does not accommodate the prior art. This creates a loss for the user—whether an individual or facility. This also creates a societal loss in economic activity because the user or facility may forego needed purchases and so forestall advances in the technology.

[0008] Another shortcoming is that the prior art does not permit completely easy and user-controlled uploading and downloading of exercise events and records. The prior art requires users to interface with one form or another of central processing device which stores and controls access to a users exercise data. Another shortcoming of the prior art is that it does not permit users any means to instantly enter exercise data from non-networked devices.

[0009] Another shortcoming is that weight-stack machines and electronic sport simulation devices are relatively expensive and base models will generally not be equipped with the exercise tracking, monitoring, recording, reporting and uploading/downloading systems. Thus, users on the lower economic levels who may be able to afford only a base model of device or a simple set of free-weights will not be able to benefit by the prior art. This will inhibit advances in the technology.

[0010] Another shortcoming of the prior art is it does not at all or easily accommodate input of a user's daily-intake food and nutritional data.

[0011] An additional shortcoming of the prior art is that it is more applicable to beginner exercise-device users and users engaged in exercise for physical rehabilitation and less for users who are well-accustomed to exercise. In this way, the prior art intends to teach a user about the very basics of exercise and to regulate the motions of a user to a speed, frequency and intensity visually directed by the device display. This kind of regulation will not appeal to users who are well-accustomed to using exercise machines of any type, and will certainly not appeal to users who want to exercise hard and fast and at their own fluctuating pace.

[0012] Another shortcoming is that the prior art does not accommodate intra- or inter-facility competitions held at the same or different times; prior art for recording these competitions is manual recordation. Another short-coming of the prior art is that it does not permit individual or group users of home-based exercise apparatus to participate in exercise competitions or encouragement activities such as “Be the first to ride 100 miles on our exercise bikes this summer!” A related shortcoming is that the prior art does not accommodate fund-raising activities and broad-benefits of revenue generation.

[0013] Another shortcoming of the prior art is that the electrical power requirements for operation inhibit wireless use for either data transmission or powered use. This limitation restricts placement and movement of exercise apparatus equipped with the prior art and so further limit ease of use and flexibility for facility or individual home-based users.

[0014] It is an object of the present invention to address all these shortcomings. It is an object of the present invention to provide the user with a system for monitoring, tracking, recording, updating, uploading and downloading and obtaining feedback on any number of exercises and exercise sessions and storing the data from these exercises and exercise sessions over time. Another object of the current invention is to provide a method for the user to do this either through a facility-owned and -managed data storage system, or a data storage system directly managed by the user and so protecting the user's personal and private information.

[0015] It is another object of the current invention to provide a very flexible system for monitoring, tracking, recording, updating, uploading and downloading and obtaining feedback on any number of exercises and exercise sessions and storing the data for exercises and exercise sessions over time. It is an object of the current invention that the system is usable with free weights, weight stack machines, and electronic sport simulation devices. It is a further object of the current invention that it is usable with exercise apparatus in a facility or in a consumer's own home. It is another object to permit input of a user's daily-intake food and nutritional data.

[0016] It is another object of the current invention that it is easy to install and remove and so is easily transferable as users and facilities upgrade their exercise equipment. A benefit of this is also that a user or facility can easily remove older versions of the current invention in favor of more current models as they become available. This will promote advancement in the technology and user-flexibility. Ease of technology advancement promotes production-cost reductions and so makes the device more broadly available.

[0017] Another object of the current invention is to permit users to personally upload and download data directly from a personal storage source, such as a PDA or encoded paper, thus ensuring privacy for those users who desire it when using exercise apparatus at a facility. Such privacy is certainly valuable to many users of facility equipment.

[0018] A further object of the current invention is that it is usable by all levels of exerciser, including beginner, intermediate and advanced. The current invention permits users at all levels to set form themselves their pace, frequency and speed, both inter- and intra-exercise session, without external regulation or direction.

[0019] It is an object of the current invention to accommodate and promote intra- and inter-facility competitions, and also to permit individual or groups of home-based users to participate fully in competitions. As any of these competitions may be sponsored and/or organized by facilities, corporations, individuals or groups of individuals, and/or non-profit organizations, broader access to competitions will promote revenue generation and fund-raising activities, as well as increased use of the inventions.

[0020] It is another object of the present invention to provide a discrete display in the area of the exercise apparatus. It is another object of the present invention to provide for wireless transmission of exercise data and to provide battery-operable functionality for the exercise hardware, thus promoting ease of installation and movement of equipment equipped with the current invention, all promoting ease of use for the facility or individual.

[0021] These together with other objects and advantages of the invention which will become apparent are to be found in the details of construction and operation as more fully described, delineated and claimed herein below, reference being had to the accompanying drawings forming a part thereof, wherein like numerals refer to like parts throughout.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0022] An apparatus to enable a user or users of free weight, weight stack, and/or electronic sport simulation exercise machines to monitor, track, record, update, upload and download exercise programs, and obtain feedback of physical exercise-related information is described. The apparatus comprises an enclosure adapted for attachment to, inclusion in or placement near to the free weights, weight stack machine or electronic sport-simulation machine. A display is also described which may be located in the vicinity of the free weights, weight stack machine or electronic sport-simulation exercise machine. Means for determining or sensing the user's exercise exertion, whether various parameters regarding movement, frequency, and total weight of the weights moved in the case of free weights or weight stack machines, or total exercise time, program and exertion in the case of electronic sport-simulation machines, is also described.

[0023] In the case of free weight and weight stack machines, a means for detecting electronically movement of weights, frequency and speed of lift and other parameters detailed below is operationally coupled to the free weight, weight stack, or sport simulation device. Means for transmitting the data obtained from the detector mechanism to various storage media are also described, which means include wireless and non-wireless means. Descriptions of means for storing, reporting and manipulating the data are also provided, which means include facility-operated storing, reporting and manipulating means and personal user-owned storage, reporting and manipulating means. The interface means may also transmit data to the display for real-time or after-time visual confirmation of the data from the physical exercise session.

[0024] The movement and frequency detection means comprises at one point an electronic device capable of reading and interpreting data encoded into universal product code markings, which bar-code reader is located near the point where weight-lifting commences. At another point there are coupled to the weights of the free weight or weight stack machine, adhesive-backed papers comprising universal product code (bar-coded) markings describing each weight and the total weight represented by that bar-coded marking. The apparatus also comprises one or more additional electronic bar-code readers near the point on the machine where weight-lifting is completed and this or these bar-code readers will detect completion of the stages of lift. When the weight-stack is returned to the starting position, the first bar-code reader will record this event. The electronic bar-code reader/interpreter will be capable of determining and recording time-duration for each stage of each lift.

[0025] For an apparatus usable with free weights, the electronic bar-code reader/interpreter comprises a hand-held portable electronic device capable of reading bar-code symbols and an interpreter either contained within the bar-code reader mechanism or separately portable and linked to the bar-code reader by wireless or non-wireless mode. A user will manually reactivate the bar-code reader to read the weight lifting data and transfer that data to the interpreter. This system will also comprise a device which can electronically detect the up-and-down motion of the free-weights.

[0026] For an electronic sport-simulation exercise machine, the machine may comprise a bar-code reader/interpreter/receipt printer as part of original equipment, or operationally coupled as after-market additions. The bar-code reader and interpreter shall be constructed to receive data from the internal electronics of the machine and shall also comprise a “receipt-producing” mechanism. At the conclusion of the exercise program, the machine invites the user to elect either to have the exercise data transmitted to a nearby storage media or (for extra privacy) to have the apparatus print and produce a paper “exercise receipt”. If so elected, the “exercise receipt” will depicts in bar-code symbols the various parameters of the user's just-completed exercise program. The user may take this private exercise receipt home or to a separate bar-code reader for inclusion in a personal database. As well, the user may hold onto the exercise receipt, and have any bar-code reader-equipped similar electronic exercise machine read it and reproduce the exact exercise program. If the user has lost the receipt, the user need only print off a reproduction of the receipt from a personal computer or the facility computer.

[0027] For the group of these methods, all also comprise a means for transmitting exercise data reports from a current session wirelessly directly to one or more versions of a personal data assistant, or PDA device. For the group of these methods, all also comprise a means for receiving program parameters and data from such a device in order to reproduce an earlier exercise session. For the group of these methods, all also comprise a means for printing reports, either at a centrally accessible printer or a personal printer device, which reports will have printed on them coupons and advertisements from sponsors as part of advertising and fund-raising mechanisms. For the group of all these methods, the data may be manipulated in many ways to the service, enjoyment and benefit of users and others, as described in more detail below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0028]FIG. 1 is a schematic of the preferred embodiment of the invention applicable to use in conjunction with free weights.

[0029]FIG. 2 is a schematic of the preferred embodiment of the invention applicable to use in conjunction with weight stack machines.

[0030]FIG. 3 is a schematic of the preferred embodiment of the invention applicable to use with electronic sport-simulation machines.

[0031]FIG. 4 is a mechanical outline of the various components of the present invention and their spatial relationship as applicable to use in conjunction with free weights.

[0032]FIG. 5 is a mechanical outline of the various components of the present invention and their spatial relationship as applicable to use in conjunction with a weight stack machine.

[0033]FIG. 6 is a mechanical outline of the various components of the present invention and their spatial relationship as applicable to use in conjunction with electronic sport-simulation exercise machines.

[0034]FIG. 7 is a flow chart depicting a user's use of the present invention whether the exercise apparatus is maintained at a facility or the user's home.

[0035]FIG. 8 depicts team exercise and competition use of the present invention.

[0036]FIG. 9 is a flow chart depicting use of the present invention in conjunction with advertising activities.

[0037]FIG. 10 is a flow chart depicting use of the present invention in conjunction with fund-raising activities.

[0038]FIG. 11 depicts how paper and electronic pages can be used to enhance advertising and fundraising activities.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0039] The present invention is best understood by reference to the figures wherein all like parts are designated with like numerals throughout.

[0040]FIG. 1 depicts use of the preferred embodiment of the present invention is association with exercise devices as original equipment or attached after-market to free-weight exercise equipment such as the interchangeable weights, barbells, and dumbbells used with such exercises as bench presses, curls, squats, rows and the like. The devices will electronically record, recall and report (in both hard-copy and electronically) a user's exercise regimen on these machines, as described below.

[0041] In FIG. 1, regarding free-weight utilization, exercise device 10 comprises exercise start/progression bar-code reader 11, exercise data interpreter-transmitter IE-CPU 14, bar-coded symbol encoded and adhesive-backed weight indicators 15 affixed to weights 12, and bar-coded symbol encoded exercise progress indicator 16. In another preferred embodiment, the weight indicators 15 may be affixed as original equipment. Exercise device 10 also comprises bar-coded membership card 17 for in-facility use, which in another preferred embodiment may be a permanent card or a paper print-out for daily users. Exercise device 10 also comprises a bar-code-embedded wall-chart list of weight and exercise options 18. Exercise device 10 also includes an optional print-out device 19 local to the exercise device.

[0042] In use, the user approaches exercise station 10 and, if in-facility, passes bar-coded encoded membership card 17 in front of start/progression bar-code reader 11 to commence the exercise session; out-of-facility and daily users may optionally use bar-code reader 11 to “read” a bar-coded symbol on the wall chart 18 indicating the start/stop of the routine. User adds the appropriate weights to the weightlifting bar and uses the start/progression bar-code reader 11 to record from the wall-chart 18 the total weight and the weight routine to be performed. When the routine has been performed, the user may “read” with the bar-code reader 11 off the wall-chart 18 any further exercise routines, such as “3 repetitions of bench press at 150 pounds,” or “4 repetitions of right arm curl at 20 pounds.” When the routine is concluded, the user passes their bar-coded encoded membership card 17 in front of the start/progression bar-code reader 11 again to record the end of the session for that user; out-of-facility and daily users may optionally scan a bar-coded symbol on the wall-chart 18 to signal the end of the routine. Exercise device 10 also comprises a bar-coded coded wall-chart list of weight and exercise options 18. If there is a local printer 19, it will print out an “exercise receipt” 19R with a bar-coded symbol, readable exercise summary and, as applicable, a coupon for a sponsor's product.

[0043] All of this data receipt, transfer, transmittal and display is managed by the Individual Exercise Central Processing Unit (IE-CPU) 14. The IE-CPU 14 is comprised of components that will store and transmit to a central computer 14B the data provided by use of the exercise apparatus. The IE-CPU will also be connected to a display 13 component able to present the user with a real-time display in red-light display, LCD screen, or the like.

[0044] In another preferred embodiment, the IE-CPU 14 shall be comprised of components which are able to monitor, track, record, report and recall the exercise regimens of a variety of simultaneous users in a family, fitness club, medical facility, military post, university fitness center, or other similarly situated organization or institution. In such cases, the IE-CPU 14 will interact with the membership card 17 so the proper information is recalled and the exercise is recorded to the proper user.

[0045] The IECPU 14 may come in a variety of preferred embodiments which permit data transfer to the user via any commercially and technologically appropriate mechanism. These will likely change as technology advances. Currently, these may include but are not limited to mechanisms such as “plug in” transfer to a smart-card chip; “swipe” transfer to a card bearing a magnetic strip; infra-red beam transfer to either an exercise-equipment dedicated device or a third-party hand-held computer such as a Palm or Handspring; radio-wave, fire-wire or hard-wire transmission to a “Collating CPU” 14A which may gather all the data recorded by all exercise equipment in a fitness room or facility.

[0046] Also comprised within the preferred embodiment, a collating CPU 14B gathers the data recorded by all nearby IE-CPUs 14—including exercise-recording, physiology-recording, and nutrition-recording—and may report that data via a variety or mechanisms. These will likely change as technology advances. Currently, these may include but are not limited to mechanisms such as “plug in” transfer to a smart-card chip; “swipe” transfer to a card bearing a magnetic strip; infra-red beam transfer to either an exercise-equipment dedicated device or a third-party hand-held computer such as a Palm or Handspring; radio-wave, fire-wire or hard-wire transmission to a nearby personal computer for further transfer to a paper printout, CD-ROM, floppy disk, e-mail to user, or Internet site. The Internet site may be operated by the facility, user, or other perhaps corporate sponsor or advertiser or charity running specialty fund-raising programs.

[0047] In any facility, there can be a series of these “bar-code reader stations” placed around the free weight exercise area to accommodate all users. It is, of course, intended that the preferred embodiment permit one “bar-code reader station” at each free-weight exercise device so there is no waiting.

[0048] As regards a preferred embodiment for the user membership cards 17, the preferred embodiment will use an appropriate technology mechanism to identify a certain user to the particular IE-CPU 14. This will ensure that IE-CPU 14 recalls the proper information for this user and that this user's exercise regimen or physiological data (in the case of weight scales, body-fat and muscle composition monitors, etc.) is recorded to the proper user's record. In another preferred embodiment, one in which users wish to be more secure with their own data such personal data will not be held on a central storage facility but maintained only by the user.

[0049] In one preferred embodiment, membership cards 14 may serve a dual purpose as user identifier as well as information recording receiver. These mechanisms will likely change as technology advances. Currently, these may include but are not limited to identifier mechanisms such as a “plug in” smart-card chip; a “swipe” card bearing a magnetic strip; infra-red beam identification transfer via either an exercise-equipment dedicated device or a third-party hand-held computer such as a Palm or Handspring; radio-wave, fire-wire or hard-wire identification from a dedicated device, third party device; key-pad PIN identification; personal bar-coded identification using traditional methods or radio-wave offered by certain companies; or “touch” cards such as used by certain gasoline stations or others.

[0050] The preferred embodiment for the IE-CPU 14 also comprises exercise parameter measurement components which record the variables of each work-out, including duration, periodic intensity, periodic incline (treadmills); speed; user weight; distance; calories burned per hour; calories burned actual; mph; environment (temperature, humidity, etc.); heart-rate; etc.

[0051]FIG. 2 depicts use of the preferred embodiment of the present invention associated with weight stack machines. This preferred embodiment comprises components which are included as original equipment or are attached to weight stack machines. This preferred embodiment will electronically record, recall and report (in both hard-copy and electronically) a user's exercise regimen on these machines.

[0052] In FIG. 2, regarding weight-stack machine utilization, exercise device 20 comprises exercise start bar-code reader 11, weight plates 21 and weight selection pin 21-P, exercise progression bar-code readers 22, exercise data interpreter-transmitter IE-CPU 14, bar-coded symbol encoded and adhesive backed weight indicators 15 affixed to the weight plates 21, and bar-coded symbol encoded exercise peak-lift indicator 26. In another preferred embodiment, the weight indicators 15 may be attached as original equipment. Exercise device 20 also comprises bar-coded coded membership card 17 for in-facility use, which may be a permanent card or a paper print-out for daily users. Exercise device 20 also includes an optional print-out device 19 local to the exercise device.

[0053] In use, the user approaches weight stack exercise device 20 and, if in-facility, passes bar-coded encoded membership card 17 in front of start/progression bar-code reader 11 to commence the exercise session; out-of-facility and daily users may optionally use bar-code reader 11 to “read” a daily-issued paper sheet or a bar-coded symbol on a wall chart 18 indicating the start/stop of the routine. User slides the weight selection pin 21-P to set the weight stack machine 20 to lift the appropriate amount of weight. User then slides the start bar-code reader 11, or optionally moves only the electronic eye 11A of the bar-code reader along a guide bar 101 to the weights 21 affixed with bar-code encoded weight indicators 15. Bar-code reader 11 emits a “beep” indicating it has recorded the start weight and is ready to record the exercise routine. User exercises as normal. Optional progression bar-code readers 22 record the weights passing upwards and downwards, and exercise peak-lift indicator 26 reads when the weights have risen to their terminal height. Progression bar-code readers 22 and peak-lift bar-code reader 26 ensure user has completed a lift. Interpreter 14 records the series of lifts as a single repetition. User may pause and commence again at will at the same weight, or move the start-bar-code reader 11 or start-bar-code reader eye 11A to a new start weight, and the process may be repeated.

[0054] Optionally, when the routine has been performed, the user may “read” with the bar-code reader 11 off the wall-chart 18 any further exercise routines, such as “3 repetitions of bench press at 150 pounds,” or “4 repetitions of right arm curl at 20 pounds.” When the routine is concluded, the user passes their bar-coded encoded membership card 17 or daily use card 17 in front of the start bar-code reader 11 again to record the end of the session for that user; out-of-facility and daily users may optionally scan a bar-code symbol on the wall-chart 18 to signal the end of the routine. If there is a local printer 19, it will print out an “exercise receipt” 19R with a bar-coded symbol, readable exercise summary and, as applicable, a coupon for a sponsor's product.

[0055] In any facility, there can be a series of these “bar-code reader stations” placed around the weight-stack machine exercise area to accommodate all users. It is, of course, intended that the preferred embodiment permit one “bar-code reader station” at each free-weight exercise device so there is no waiting and the recording is made in conjunction with the exercise routine.

[0056]FIG. 3 depicts use of the present invention associated with electronic exercise-simulation machines. This use comprises components which are incorporated as original equipment or afterwards attached to electronic exercise devices such as electronics-regulated treadmills, exercise bicycles, rowers, cross-country ski machines, step machines and the like. The present invention will electronically record, recall and report (in both hard-copy and electronically) a user's exercise regimen on these machines.

[0057] In FIG. 3, exercise device 30 comprises external exercise start bar-code reader 11 and internal exercise data interpreter-transmitter IE-CPU 14, bar-coded coded membership card 17 for in-facility use, which may be a permanent card or a paper print-out for daily users. Exercise device 30 also includes an optional print-out device 19 local to the exercise device.

[0058] In use, the user approaches exercise device 30 and passes bar-coded encoded membership card 17 in front of bar-code reader 11 to commence the exercise session; out-of-facility and daily users may optionally use bar-code reader 11 to “read” a daily-issued paper sheet or key in the start of the routine on keypad embedded in the device 30. User performs the routine as they wish, and at the conclusion presses a “stop” button on the device 30. After device 30 records the “stop” command, interpreter IE-CPU 14 within device 30 records the use and either sends the workout to a central processor, or instantly prints out via local printer 19, an “exercise receipt” 19R with a bar-coded symbol, readable exercise summary and, as applicable, a coupon for a sponsor's product. The bar-coded symbol on the “exercise receipt” 19R can also be “read” by the machine at a later date o automatically conduct the same program for the user. This also provides flexibility for the user, as any user may give this receipt, or electronically send this receipt, to any friend and thus share with friends an enjoyable program. And such friend could then take the receipt or receipt replica to any similarly equipped facility to enjoy or try out the same program.

[0059] In any facility, there can be a series of “bar-code reader stations” placed around the electronic sport-simulated exercise machine area to accommodate all users. It is, of course, intended that the preferred embodiment permit one “bar-code reader station” at each free-weight exercise device so there is no waiting and the recording is made in conjunction with the exercise routine. This “bar-code reader stations” could be used in facilities where they have not yet invested in equipment with the bar-code readers internally so facility customers can at least keep track of their exercise routines electronically.

[0060] A preferred embodiment of the present invention comprises components which are able to be attached, either by OEM or after-market, to non-electronic exercise bikes such as are used in “spinning” classes, Pilates equipment, and the like. In these cases, and especially in the case of multi-user spinning classes, the devices will be able to record and report exercise data from all current users, for both individual and group comparison. A single printer device, located at the spinning room or the facility front desk, provide hard copy results.

[0061] For the group of uses, the preferred embodiments of the present invention will enable users to monitor, track, report, upload and download, and obtain feedback on the full range of exercises and exercise results factors comprising frequency of exercise each week or each day; weight amounts/repetitions/lift times for resistance exercise machines and free weights; resistance/incline/duration for running, walking, cycling, rowing, and stair-stepping machines.

[0062] For the group of uses, the preferred embodiments of the present invention will also enable users to monitor, record, report and recall physiological factors of exercise including body weight, body fat, muscle-mass, muscle measurements, metabolism, food and drink intake, nutritional value of food and drink, and the like. As the devices will be able to share all data, the devices will be able to produce charts which help users; for all the above the devices will be able to record, recall and report a number of recent exercise occurrences; exercise regimens for particular events will be reportable both in hard-copy, including bar-coded results, by printing out to a printer and electronically by transfer to a computer hard drive, floppy disk, CD-ROM, Internet web-site, personal digital assistant. Such flexibility will enable users to retain, share and compare the data with others in their social exercise group.

[0063] For institutional end-users which operate fitness facilities such as universities, healthclub chains, hotels, civilian government offices and military bases, businesses professional and other amateur sports organizations and the like, the flexibility of these devices will enable the institutions to monitor an track exercise progress of employees as necessary and also create exercise games and competitions which can include as participants exercisers from as many of the different branch outlets as the institution wishes. Thus these devices are a tool for building community, team identity, and the like.

[0064] Such flexibility will enable users to monitor all exercise and health benefits even if away from the main exercise center because of work travel, vacation and the like when the consumer has access to a facility equipped with such machines. Where such machines are not available, the user can enter data manually. It is hoped that these devices will encourage users to utilize nutritional experts on-line. Through all these uses, it is hoped the devices will encourage users to exercise regularly and eat more healthfully.

[0065]FIG. 4 details the mechanical implementation of the present invention as utilized in association with free weights. An exercise start/progression bar-code reader 11 shall be positioned nearby the weight-sets or attached to a convenient section of a free-weight exercise brace such as a bench-press bench 100, seat 101 or upright bars 102. The bar-code reader 11 may also be affixed to a convenient wall. The exercise data interpreter transmitter IE-CPU 14 shall be set adjacent to the bar-code reader 11. The wall-chart list of weight and exercise options 18 shall also be placed convenient to the weight-use area and the bar-code reader 11 and the print-out device 19. The bar-coded symbol-encoded bar-code weight indicators 15 shall be affixed to the weights usable with free weight exercise systems, which are located in the free weight exercise area of the facility or home. These may be affixed to the weight plates using appropriate adhesive or other coupling device as appropriate.

[0066]FIG. 5 details the mechanical implementation of the present invention as utilized in association with weight stack machines. An exercise start bar-code reader 11 is affixed to vertical guide-poles 101 adjacent to the weight stack. The bar-coded symbol-encoded bar-code weight indicators 15 shall be affixed to the weight plates 21 usable with weight-stack exercise systems. These may be affixed to the weight plates using appropriate adhesive or other coupling device as appropriate. The indicators 15 are affixed so as to be readable by the bar-code reader 11, which a user raises up or down along the vertical guide-poles 101 so the “eye” of reader 11A records the proper weight. In another preferred embodiment, the “eye” of the reader 11A can be separate from the body of the reader but connected to the reader by a flexible cable. In this embodiment, a user would shift only the “eye” of the reader 11A to focus on the correct bar-coded weight tab 15, and leave the main body of the reader 11 in a secure place.

[0067] Also as in FIG. 5, a user will shift the weight selection pin 21-P up or down the weight stack to link into the correct number of weights to be lifted. In another preferred embodiment of the present invention, the weight selection pin 21-P and the bar-code reader “eye” 11A may be combined into a single device, such that as the user shifts the weight-lifting pin 21-P, the user also shifts the reader “eye” 11A. As weight is lifted, bar-coded indicators 15 pass by optional exercise progression bar-code readers 22 and optional exercise peak-lift indicator 26. The exercise data interpreter-transmitter IE-CPU 14 shall be located at place near the base of the weight-stack machine or other location convenient for users. Bar-coded membership card 17 for in-facility use, which may be a permanent card or a paper print-out for daily users. The optional print-out device 19 may be local to the exercise device. One preferred embodiment of the present invention would have the print-out device incorporated as a part of the IE-CPU 14.

[0068]FIG. 6 details the mechanical implementation of the present invention as utilized in association with electronic sport-simulation exercise machines and non-electronic bike, spinning and other machines. An externally-available exercise start bar-code reader 11 is located on the front or top or other convenient location of a machine. An internal exercise data interpreter-transmitter IE-CPU 14 receives data from the system or a user-supplied bar-coded “exercise program receipt.” 19R. A user may also supply a bar-coded membership card 17 which will enable the device to “call-up” the user's favorite programs from a central facility. In one preferred embodiment the card 17 has an embedded data storage feature—such as smart-cards, magnetic strip cards and the like, the users exercise program preferences may be uploaded from the card. There is also be an optional print-out device 19 local to the exercise machine.

[0069] Also as in FIG. 6, user performs the routine as they wish, and at the conclusion presses a “stop” button on the device 30. After device 30 records the “stop” command, interpreter 14 within device 30 records the use and either sends the exercise program and result report to a central processor 14B, or instantly prints out via local printer 19, an “exercise receipt” 19R with a bar-code symbol and a worded program summary. The printer device will also produce a coupon for a sponsor's product. The bar-code symbol on the “exercise receipt” 19R can also be “read” by this or a similarly equipped machine at a later date to automatically conduct the same program for the user. This also provides flexibility for the user, as any user may give this receipt 19R, or electronically send this receipt 19R, to any friend and thus share with friends an enjoyable program. And such friend could then take the receipt or receipt 19R replica to any similarly equipped facility to enjoy or try out the same program.

[0070]FIG. 7 is a simplified flow chart illustration of a method of operation of a user's use of the present invention whether the exercise apparatus is maintained at a facility or the user's home. Use is as follows: User approaches the exercise device; User activates the apparatus with an ID card or paper; the User exercises; the User records the weight intensity and lift frequency with apparatus; User completes the workout, exits and moves to another machine; User completes the new workout, exits, and moves to another machine; the User completes all exercise and may print exercises and results, transfer data, share data, get coupons, share the program, transfer data to a PDA, cell-phone, e-mail or other destination.

[0071]FIG. 8 is a simplified pictorial illustration of the method of team exercise and competition use of the present invention in a single location or multiple locations, at the same time or different times. Users A-H represent examples of a method of using the present invention to conduct group exercise and competitions, and how the present invention permits participation across time and distance. In addition, the organizer of the group or competition can be located anywhere, much as a listserv moderator is not bound to any physical location.

[0072] Also in the preferred embodiment, users may form exercise groups, organizations and institutions may form friendly competitions to build institutional identity, and because of the internet, various users need not participate at the same time or place. As noted in FIG. 8, the preferred embodiment permits users to be in the same place, other places, same city with a different club, the same club in a different city, another state and another time, odd-hour exercisers, independent exercisers, and different branches of the same organizations.

[0073]FIG. 9 is a simplified flow chart illustration of a method of operation of the present invention in conjunction with advertising activities. In this preferred embodiment, a corporate sponsor will offer compensate for the opportunity to place advertisements and coupons on the “exercise receipt” print-outs and web-site pages. As well, advertisers will offer to pay compensation for user e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Users will be asked to agree to this in exchange for gym membership fees remaining low.

[0074] In this preferred embodiment, a corporate wholesale or retail entity determines that the universe of users of the present invention represents a good target demographic. The corporate entity pays a fee for the right to place advertisements for its products on exercise receipts 19R, web-pages and other print-outs. In another preferred embodiment, many advertisements will contain coupons of interest to target users, much as grocery stores issue “check-out” coupons. Corporate entities may also sponsor local, regional, national, and/or international competitions such as depicted on FIG. 8 and conduct advertising activities in connection with these events.

[0075]FIG. 10 is a simplified flow chart illustration of a method of operation of the present invention depicting use of the present invention in conjunction with fund-raising activities. In this preferred embodiment, which may be used in conjunction with the methods of use according to the preferred embodiments illustrated in FIG. 8 and FIG. 9, a charitable entity will organize a “competition” to take place in a single or across multiple locations, with exercise reports from the various exercise events being compared online in a central database. In this preferred embodiment, the competitors might pay an entrance fee or obtain pledges from personal sponsors. In this preferred embodiment, competitors need not “compete” all at the same time, nor even live in the same location where the main sponsor is located, but only agree to complete the competition by a certain time, thus enjoying the same flexibility of time, schedule and competition selection that online educational courses offer to students.

[0076] In another preferred embodiment, a charitable organization 501 c 3 entity will offer compensation for the opportunity to place information about the entity on the “exercise receipt” print-outs and web-site pages. As well, charitable organizations will offer to pay compensation for user e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Users will be asked to agree to this in exchange for gym membership fees remaining low.

[0077] In another preferred embodiment, a charitable organization 501 c 3 entity determines that the universe of users of the present invention represents a good target demographic. The charitable entity pays a fee for the right to place information about its services on exercise receipts 19R, web-pages and other print-outs. In another preferred embodiment, many receipts will contain coupons of interest to target users, much as grocery stores issue “check-out” coupons. Corporate entities may also sponsor local, regional, national, and/or international competitions such as depicted on FIG. 8 and conduct fundraising activities in connection with these events.

[0078]FIG. 11 is a simplified pictorial illustration of the method by which the preferred embodiment of the present invention can be used to enhance advertising and fundraising activities. In these preferred embodiments, the “exercise receipt” includes advertisements such as “MAKE YOUR NEXT WORK-OUT EASIER. POWER-UP WITH SPORTS-DRINK 5000.” Another advertisement with coupon may read “MAKE YOUR NEXT WORK-OUT EASIER. POWER-UP WITH SPORTS-DRINK 5000. PRESENT THIS COUPON TO YOUR LOCAL RETAILER AND GET $1.00 OFF THE PRICE OF TWO (2) SIX-PACKS.” Another placement for fundraising purposes might read “NEXT TIME, POWER UP AND COOL DOWN WITH SPORTS-DRINK 5000. PRESENT THIS COUPON TO YOUR RETAILER AND YOU GET $1 OFF TWO (2) SIX-PACKS AND THE AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION WILL RECEIVE $0.25!!”

[0079] Another preferred embodiment of the present invention will comprise one or more an Internet web sites. This Internet site will be a vehicle for individuals, groups, clubs, universities, and other organizations and institutions of all types to host, promote and design games/competitions for selves or members. Users may also log-on to the web-site to “watch” a self-selected workout competition animated by the system for visual effect. The preferred embodiment will also comprise a space to compare exercise and results from the entire universe of individuals and groups using the devices.

[0080] The preferred embodiment will also comprise a bulletin board for individual and institutional users to compare notes, and for non-chain facilities to build links with other such institutions. The preferred embodiment will also comprise sites for selling other fitness products, and sites for advertisers to host, promote and conduct games, competitions and contests. In addition, the preferred embodiment will comprise a space for non-profits to host, promote and conduct games, competitions and such for fund-raising, and a vehicle, with e-mail and phone services, to enable individuals and smaller groups access to qualified nutritionists and physical fitness experts.

[0081] For the group of uses, another preferred embodiment may comprise coding methods contained within or other than bar-coding for monitoring, tracking, recording and reporting a user's exercise use. Also, for the group of uses, another preferred embodiment comprises methods of use such that a user can record and track food and nutritional intake data for inclusion in any reports and evaluations of food, fitness and exercise levels.

[0082] The present invention can be used in many situations, such as:

[0083] 1. For individual exercise monitoring;

[0084] 2. For group exercise monitoring and intra- and inter-group comparisons;

[0085] 3. For intra- and inter-organizational competitions such as may be had between employees of same or different corporations or same or different departments of same or different corporations whether in the same location or not; fraternities at the same or different colleges; sororities at the same or different colleges; sports teams and clubs at the same or different colleges; informal groupings between colleges of the same or different athletic conferences; and/or north-south or east-west geographic orientations;

[0086] 4. For high school, collegiate, semi-professional and professional sports clubs and organizations to track and monitor the off-season exercise fitness and exercise fitness routines of their player personnel, such as that of football teams, baseball teams, soccer teams, swim teams, basketball teams, hockey teams, field hockey teams, track teams, and all other sports teams and franchises, both during the regular season and importantly during the off-season when athletes are not under team supervision;

[0087] 5. For businesses to reduce absenteeism due to ill health, employee incentives can be offered to employees who exercise and whose exercise and progress is monitored and tracked with the present invention;

[0088] 6. For physicians and physical therapists to track progress of patients;

[0089] 7. For individuals to form exercise groups with friends and acquaintances without regard to geographic location and compare fitness routines and progress;

[0090] 8. For corporations to sponsor exercise events and competitions to increase market visibility and revenues;

[0091] 9. For non-profit organizations to sponsor exercise-related fund-raising events;

[0092] 10. For building communities of exercise aficionados who may have not known each other before but who can make links through the connections forged through similar exercise regimes;

[0093] 11. For soldiers in disparate military bases to engage in friendly competitions such as those described above.

[0094] 12. All of the above, and others not detailed here, permitting all users to manipulate data in a database to compare and contrast own data with that of others similarly situated by location, age, gender, exercise frequency, exercise style and means, and many others not detailed here.

[0095] 13. The present apparatus may be coupled with exercise devices as original equipment or as removable and transferable after-market attachments.

[0096] 14. In another preferred embodiment, the device may also record and track food intake and so nutritional value of foods, which may be especially valuable for use with certain athletes and patients.

[0097] The present invention may be embodied with equivalent parts performing equivalent functions without departing from its purpose and essential characteristic. Therefore, the described implementation is to be considered only as illustrative of the invention and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is therefore indicated in the claims below to their full legal extent.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification482/8, 482/901
International ClassificationA63B24/00, A63B69/00, A63B21/072, A63B22/00, A63B21/062, G06F19/00
Cooperative ClassificationG06F19/3481, A63B21/062, A63B2225/50, A63B21/072, A63B2225/15, A63B69/00, A63B24/00, A63B22/00
European ClassificationA63B21/072, A63B21/062, A63B24/00