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Publication numberUS20040157706 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/760,844
Publication dateAug 12, 2004
Filing dateJan 20, 2004
Priority dateFeb 6, 2003
Publication number10760844, 760844, US 2004/0157706 A1, US 2004/157706 A1, US 20040157706 A1, US 20040157706A1, US 2004157706 A1, US 2004157706A1, US-A1-20040157706, US-A1-2004157706, US2004/0157706A1, US2004/157706A1, US20040157706 A1, US20040157706A1, US2004157706 A1, US2004157706A1
InventorsLarry Miller
Original AssigneeMiller Larry D.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Non-reciprocating exercise device
US 20040157706 A1
Abstract
An exercise device includes a first and a second foot link configured to receive a user's foot. A coupling member directs a first end of each of the foot links in an arcuate path, and a guide directs a second end of each foot link in a back and forth path of travel. The device includes an active support which is operable to displace the back and forth path of travel of the second ends of the foot link so that that path of travel is non-reciprocal.
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Claims(16)
1. An exercise device comprising:
a frame member;
a first and a second foot link, each foot link being configured to receive and retain a user's foot thereupon;
a coupling member associated with a first end of each of said first and second foot links, said coupling member being operable to direct said first end of each foot link in an arcuate path;
a guide which is in mechanical communication with the second ends of said first and second foot links, said guide being operable to direct said second ends in a back and forth path of travel; and
an active support which is in mechanical communication with the guide, said active support being operable to displace the back and forth path of travel of said second ends of said first and second foot links so that said back and forth path of travel is non-reciprocal.
2. The exercise device of claim 1, wherein said active support includes a resilient member.
3. The exercise device of claim 2, wherein said resilient member is selected from the group consisting of: a spring, a body of elastomeric material, a body of flexible material, a hydraulic cylinder, a pneumatic cylinder, and combinations thereof.
4. The exercise device of claim 2, wherein said guide includes at least one track member which engages the second ends of said foot links, and wherein said track member is resiliently supported upon said frame by said resilient member.
5. The exercise device of claim 2, wherein the guide includes a first and a second swing arm which are supported upon said frame, each swing arm being associated with a respective foot link.
6. The exercise device of claim 5, wherein said swing arms are resiliently supported on said frame by said active support.
7. The exercise device of claim 5, wherein each of said foot links is resiliently supported relative to its respective swing arm by a respective resilient member.
8. The exercise device of claim 1, wherein said active support comprises a mechanical assembly.
9. The exercise device of claim 8, wherein said guide includes a track which engages the second end of at least one of said foot links, and wherein said mechanical assembly comprises a displacement mechanism for vertically displacing at least a portion of said track as the first end of said at least one foot link travels in said arcuate path.
10. The exercise of device of claim 8, wherein said guide includes a first and a second swing arm, each swing arm being operable to engage the second end of a respective foot link, wherein said mechanical assembly is operable to mechanically displace the second end of each of said foot links in a vertical direction as the first ends thereof travel in said arcuate path.
11. The exercise device of claim 1, wherein said guide includes a first and a second track, each track being operable to engage a second end of a respective one of said first and second foot links; and wherein said active support supports said tracks on said frame so that said tracks are moveable relative thereto.
12. The exercise device of claim 11, wherein said active support interconnects said tracks so that the motion of said tracks relative to said frame is complementary.
13. The exercise device of claim 11, wherein said active support includes an adjustable friction assembly.
14. The exercise device of claim 1, wherein said frame member has a pivot axis defined thereupon and wherein said coupling member is in mechanical communication with said pivot axis.
15. The exercise device of claim 14, wherein said coupling member is operable to direct said first end each foot length in an arcuate path about said pivot axis.
16. An exercise device comprising:
a frame member;
a first and a second foot link, each foot link being configured to receive and retain a user's foot thereupon;
a coupling member in mechanical communication with a first end of each of said first end second foot links, said coupling member being operable to direct said first end of each foot link in an arcuate path;
a guide in mechanical communication with at least one resilient member and with a second end of each of said first and second foot links, said guide being operable to direct said second end of each of said foot links in a non-reciprocating back and forth path of travel wherein the second end of each of said foot links follows a first path on a forward stroke and a second path on a rearward stroke, which paths are non-coincident for at least a portion of their length.
Description
    RELATED APPLICATION
  • [0001]
    This application claims priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 60/445,675 filed Feb. 6, 2003, and entitled “Non-Reciprocating Exercise Device.”
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    This invention relates generally to exercise equipment. More specifically, this invention relates to exercise equipment that duplicates a running and stepping motion.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0003]
    Regular aerobic exercise is known to be a significant factor in achieving and maintaining health. In some instances aerobic exercise is accomplished by running, swimming, walking and the like. In other instances, persons rely upon mechanical equipment to facilitate aerobic exercise. Elliptical exercise devices comprise one very popular and effective class of aerobic exercise apparatus. Such devices are shown, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,242,343 and 5,383,829. Elliptical exercise devices simulate a natural running and walking motion, and are so called because they direct a user's foot in a path of travel that is generally elliptical.
  • [0004]
    Elliptical exercise devices of the type described in the patents referred to hereinabove include a pair of foot supporting members, or foot links, which travel in a compound motion that produces a beneficial, elliptical foot motion. Toward that end, the foot links are supported so that a first end of each foot link travels in an arcuate path about a pivot axis while a second end of each foot link travels in a reciprocal path. As is known in the art, the arcuate path comprises a closed curved path such as a circular path, an oval path or a more irregularly shaped path. The reciprocal path is characterized in that it is a repetitive path in which the second end of each foot link traverses the same path on a forward and a backward stroke. The reciprocal path may be straight or curved, or of a more complex shape, and it may be disposed so as to run parallel to a horizontal surface, or it may be inclined, in part or in whole, relative to a horizontal surface.
  • [0005]
    While devices of this type provide a very natural path of foot travel which is conducive to exercise, it has been found, in accord with the present invention, that yet other combinations of motions can produce a beneficial and comfortable path of foot travel which is also conducive to exercise efforts. As will be described in greater detail hereinbelow, the exercise devices of the present invention utilize a combination of arcuate and non-reciprocal motion to achieve a beneficial foot action. These and other details of the invention will be explained hereinbelow.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0006]
    Disclosed herein is an exercise device which includes a frame member, a first and a second foot link, each of which is configured to receive and retain a user's foot thereupon, and a coupling member which is associated with the first end of each of the first and second foot links, and which is operable to direct those first ends in an arcuate path. The device further includes a guide which is in mechanical communication with the second ends of the first and second foot links, and which is operable to direct those second ends in a back and forth path of travel. The device further includes an active support which is in mechanical communication with the guide. The active support is operable to displace the back and forth path of travel of the second ends of the first and second foot links so that that back and forth path of travel is non-reciprocal. The active support may include a resilient member such as a spring, a body of elastomeric material, a hydraulic cylinder, a pneumatic cylinder or the like.
  • [0007]
    In some instances, the guide includes at least one track member which engages the second ends of the foot links, and the active support may be operable to move the tracks or to move the foot links relative to the tracks. In other instances, the guide may include swing arms which provide for the back and forth path of travel of the ends of the foot links. The active support may move the swing arms relative to the frame, or may provide for motion of the foot links relative to the swing arms.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0008]
    [0008]FIG. 1 is a schematic depiction of a generalized exercise device of the present invention illustrating the non-reciprocal path of travel achieved thereby;
  • [0009]
    [0009]FIG. 2A shows one specific embodiment of exercise device structured in accord with the principles of the present invention;
  • [0010]
    [0010]FIG. 2B shows one embodiment of active support in accord with the present invention;
  • [0011]
    [0011]FIG. 2C shows another embodiment of active support in accord with the present invention;
  • [0012]
    [0012]FIG. 3 shows another embodiment of the exercise device of the present invention;
  • [0013]
    [0013]FIG. 4 illustrates yet another embodiment of the exercise device of the present invention in which the active support is a mechanical assembly;
  • [0014]
    [0014]FIG. 5 shows another embodiment of the device of the present invention having an active support which is a mechanical assembly;
  • [0015]
    [0015]FIG. 6A is a side view of a portion of another embodiment of exercise device of the present invention;
  • [0016]
    [0016]FIG. 6B is a front view of a portion of the device of FIG. 6A;
  • [0017]
    [0017]FIG. 7A shows the side view of another embodiment of exercise device of the present invention;
  • [0018]
    [0018]FIG. 7B is a front view of a portion of the device of FIG. 7A;
  • [0019]
    [0019]FIG. 8A is a side view of yet another embodiment of device of the present invention; and
  • [0020]
    [0020]FIG. 8B is a front view of the active support of the FIG. 8A embodiment.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0021]
    In accord with the present invention, an exercise device includes a pair of foot links, which are typically supported on a frame, so that a first end of each foot link travels in an arcuate path, as defined above. A second end of each foot link is directed by a guide member so as to travel in a back and forth path. The exercise device of the present invention includes an active support which displaceably supports the guide and/or foot links so as to displace the back and forth path of travel so that that path is non-reciprocal. As is understood herein, a non-reciprocal path is a path of travel which is contrasted to a reciprocal path insofar as the forward and reverse portions of the path are at least partially non-coincident. That is to say, the second end of each foot link in the device of the present invention travels along a first path on a forward stroke, and a second path on a rearward stroke, and these paths are configured so that they do not coincide in whole; although it is to be understood that portions of the forward and reverse paths may coincide without causing the entire path to be reciprocal. A non-reciprocal path is contrasted to an arcuate path insofar as the non-reciprocal path does not define a smooth curve but includes at least one sharp inflection point at which the path of travel reverses.
  • [0022]
    There are a number of embodiments of the present invention in which the non-reciprocal path of travel may be achieved. For example, in some instances, the second ends of the foot links may be engaged by tracks or rails. According to the principles of the present invention, the active support can include a resilient member which allows either the tracks or rails, or the foot links themselves, to move in a vertical direction (relative to a surface on which the device rests), as they traverse a back and forth motion. This can be accomplished by resiliently mounting the tracks onto the frame of an exercise device or by including a resilient coupling by which the foot links engage the tracks or rails. In other embodiments of the present invention, the guide may include swing arms which direct the second ends of each foot link in a repetitive path of travel, and these swing arms can provide for vertical displacement of the second ends of the foot links as they traverse their back and forth path. This can again be accomplished by means of an active support which includes a resilient body that either couples the swing arms to the frame of the device and/or by a resilient member which couples the foot links to the swing arms. The resilient members may comprise springs, elastomeric bodies, hydraulic or pneumatic cylinders, or bodies of a resilient material such as a flexible polymer. In yet other instances, a mechanical linkage may be employed as an active support to displace the second ends of the foot links in a vertical direction and thereby provide for the non-reciprocal path of travel. The mechanical linkages may be driven by the arcuate motion of the first ends of the foot links.
  • [0023]
    Depicted herein are a number of embodiments of the present invention, and it is to be understood that yet other embodiments may be implemented in accord with the teaching presented herein.
  • [0024]
    Referring now to FIG. 1, there is shown a schematic depiction of a generalized exercise apparatus in accord with the principles of the present invention. As is shown in FIG. 1, the device includes a pair of foot links 12, 14 that are configured to receive and retain a user's foot thereupon. The foot links are supported by the remainder of the apparatus (not shown herein) so that a first end of each foot link travels about a pivot axis X in an arcuate path. As described above, the arcuate path is a closed curved path, and may comprise a circular path, an oval path, or an irregular path. In accord with the principles of the present invention, the apparatus is configured so that the first end of each foot link 12, 14 travels in a non-reciprocating path, as is indicated by the dotted line Y. This non-reciprocating path is characterized in that the forward and rearward segments thereof are non-coincident. The non-reciprocating path of the present invention is further characterized in that it includes at least one inflection point at which the direction of travel reverses. In the FIG. 1 drawing, the non-reciprocating path Y includes two inflection points A and B, although it is to be understood that a non-reciprocating path of the present invention may only include one inflection point. It is the presence of the inflection points which distinguishes the non-reciprocating path from closed, curved, arcuate paths of the type traversed by the first ends of the foot links 12, 14. As described above, the combination of arcuate and non-reciprocating travel provides a beneficial path of travel for a user's foot retained upon the foot links 12, 14.
  • [0025]
    Referring now to FIG. 2A, there is shown one specific embodiment of a device in accord with the principles of the present invention. Shown in FIG. 2 is a device 20 that includes a frame 22 that is configured to rest upon a support surface such as a floor. The device includes two foot links 12, 14 as previously described. The first ends of the foot links 12 and 14 are coupled to a pair of crank arms, and visible in the drawing is a crank arm 24 which joins the first link 14 to a bearing 26 supported by the frame 22 at the pivot axis X. A similar crank arm 25 is associated with the other foot link 12. As is known in the art, devices of this type may include a flywheel associated with the crank arms for smoothing the action of the mechanism. In this embodiment, a guide assembly directs the second ends of the foot links 12, 14 in the nonreciprocating path of travel. The guide assembly includes a first and a second arm link 30, 32 supported by the frame. Each arm link 30, 32 engages a second end of a respective foot link 12, 14 via a resilient member 34, 36. The resilient member may comprise a strip of flexible metal, a polymeric body, a composite body such as a polymer/fiber composite or the like. This resilient coupling allows for some degree of vertical movement of the second ends of the foot links in response to the user's weight, and to force exerted on the foot link by a user in the use of the apparatus. This flex causes the path of travel of the second ends of the foot links to be along a non-reciprocating path.
  • [0026]
    In other embodiments of the present invention, various other resilient bodies such as springs, elastomeric materials such as natural or synthetic rubber and the like may also be employed in a similar manner. For example, and as is shown at FIG. 2B, the arm links may comprise telescoping multi-part bodies 30′ having internal springs 38 which allow for the up and down motion of the second ends of the associated foot links, which provides the non-reciprocating path.
  • [0027]
    [0027]FIG. 2C shows another type of active support which may be included in the FIG. 2A embodiment. As is shown in this figure, a foot link 14 is supported on a swing arm 30 by a combination of a spring 39 and a support link 37. In some instances, the support link 37 may be eliminated, and the spring 39 will provide support for the foot link 14.
  • [0028]
    Referring now to FIG. 3, there is shown yet another embodiment of the present invention. As in the previous embodiments, a pair of foot links 12, 14 are supported so that first ends thereof travel in an arcuate path while second ends travel in a non-reciprocating path. In this specific embodiment, the second ends of the foot links 12, 14 are directed in the non-reciprocating path by a guide assembly which includes a pair of tracks 42, 44 which are supported by a frame 22 so that one end of each track is pivotally supported at a track pivot 46. The opposite end of each track is resiliently supported upon the frame by means of a spring 48, 50. These springs 48, 50 allow for vertical movement of a portion of the track. In use, the operator's weight and stride compress the springs 48, 50 allowing for a downward motion of the track. When pressure is relieved, the spring biases the track back in an upward direction, and this combination produces the non-coincident back and forth travel characteristic of the non-reciprocal path. As illustrated, the springs operate in compression; however, in yet other embodiments, the springs may operate in tension, in which instance they will serve to suspend the tracks 42, 44 from the frame 22. In yet other embodiments, the springs may be substituted for by hydraulic or pneumatic cylinders, elastomeric bodies, resilient bodies or the like. As is known in the art, the springs or other resilient bodies may be made adjustable, so as to allow for control of the non-reciprocal path.
  • [0029]
    While the foregoing embodiment shows the non-reciprocal motion being provided for by resilient bodies, mechanical linkages may also function to provide the non-reciprocal path of travel. Referring now to FIG. 4, there is shown a schematic depiction of a portion of yet another embodiment of the present invention. In the FIG. 4 embodiment, only a single foot link 14 is shown for sake of clarity. As shown, a foot link 14 is disposed so that a first end travels in an arcuate path as described hereinabove. And in that regard, the depicted embodiment includes a crank arm 24 as in the previous embodiments. Also shown is a flywheel 28; although, as noted previously, this member is optional.
  • [0030]
    In the FIG. 4 embodiment the guide assembly includes a track member 44 that is supported upon the frame 22 of the device. In this embodiment, the rearward end of the track is coupled to a crank arm 50 that is in mechanical communication with the flywheel 28. As shown, for example, the rearward end of track 44 is engaged by a relatively short crank arm 50 which is driven by a first sprocket wheel 52 which in turn is engaged by a drive chain 54 which is driven by a second sprocket wheel 56 associated with the flywheel 28. In this manner, as the flywheel 28 rotates, the drive train comprised of the second sprocket wheel 56, chain 54 and first sprocket wheel 52 causes the crank arm 50 to move the rearward end of the track 44 in an arcuate path which results in, among other things, vertical displacement of that track 44, which in turn imparts a non-reciprocating path of travel to the second end of the foot link 14 associated with that track 44. A similar arrangement provides for the vertical displacement of the other track and foot link (not shown).
  • [0031]
    Yet other mechanical drives may be employed as active supports which provide for the non-reciprocating path. For example, FIG. 5 depicts yet another embodiment of apparatus 60 structured in accord with the principles of the present invention. As in the previous embodiments, this embodiment includes a pair of foot links 12, 14 supported upon the frame 22 of the apparatus so that the first ends thereof travel in an arcuate path as previously described. In this embodiment, the guide assembly includes a pair of swing arms 62, 64 which are pivotally supported upon the frame. Each swing arm 62, 64 engages and supports a respective foot link 12, 14 through a pivoting support link 66, 68. As will be noted, each support link 66 is pivotally affixed to a respective arm link 62, 64 at a point on the support link between the ends thereof. Furthermore, a first end of each support link is pivotally affixed to a second end of its respective foot link, and the other end of each support link engages a control rod 70, 72 which in turn engages a coupling member such as a crank arm 74 which in turn is driven by the action of the flywheel associated with the rear pivot assembly as, for example, through a sprocket and chain assembly (not shown) of the type discussed in regard to FIG. 4. Such driving action can likewise be accomplished by belts, hydraulic drives or the like. Alternatively, the crank mechanism can be driven by the kinetic energy of the foot links and arm links acting through appropriate control members. In any instance, the action of the coupling member causes the control rods 70 and 72 to reciprocate their respective support links 66, 68 which in turn imparts vertical motion to the ends of the foot links 12, 14 so as to provide the nonreciprocal path.
  • [0032]
    [0032]FIGS. 6A and 6B illustrate yet another embodiment of the present invention. Specifically, FIG. 6A shows a portion of an exercise device 80, in accord with the present invention. As in the previous embodiments, the device 80 includes a first and a second foot link 12 and 14, and a frame 22. The second end of each foot link engages a respective track 42, 44 as generally described above, and as in the FIG. 3 embodiment, each track 42, 44 is pivotally supported on the frame 22 of the device, at a track pivot 46 as previously described. In this embodiment, each track 42, 44 is also supported at its front end by a pivot arm 84, which in turn is supported by a pivot post 82.
  • [0033]
    Referring now to FIG. 6B, there is shown a front view of a portion of the device of FIG. 6A, better illustrating the pivot post 82 and pivot arm 84 as configured to support the front ends of the two tracks 42, 44. As will be seen from FIG. 6B, the pivot arm 84 allows for the complementary, reciprocal, vertical displacement of the tracks 42, 44. In the use of the device 80, a user's forward foot motion, associated with the forward motion of a foot link, for example foot link 12, causes that foot link to move toward the front of its respective track, for example track 42, while the corresponding foot link, for example foot link 14, is in a rearward position. This forward motion causes the pivot arm 84 to vertically displace the other track. As is shown in FIG. 6B, track 42 is in a lower position and track 44 is in an upper position. When the device cycles and the foot links reverse position, the linkage will provide for the opposite vertical displacement of the tracks. As will be appreciated, this vertical displacement produces the non-reciprocal motion of the present invention. The degree of displacement may be controlled by controlling the degree of friction experienced by the pivot arm 84 as it moves in the pivot support 82. This degree of friction may be made adjustable as is known in the art.
  • [0034]
    A somewhat similar arrangement may be implemented in exercise devices in which the guide comprises a pair of swing arms. One such embodiment is shown in FIGS. 7A and 7B. Shown in FIG. 7A is an exercise device 90 having a pair of foot links 12, 14 with first ends thereof coupled to crank arms 24, 25 so as to provide for arcuate motion thereof. The second ends of the foot links 12, 14 are coupled to swing arms 30, 32 as previously described. In this embodiment, the swing arms 30, 32 are supported on the frame 22 of the exercise device by an active support which comprises a mechanical assembly wherein a pair of rocker arms 92, 94 support the corresponding arm links 30, 32 on the frame 22. As will be seen from FIG. 7A, these rocker arms 92, 94 provide for vertical displacement of the swing arms 30, 32. In this embodiment, the rocker arms 92, 94 are also coupled to a pivot bar 96 which is supported on the frame 22. In this regard, FIG. 7B is a front view of a portion of the device 90 of FIG. 7A showing the arrangement of the rocker arms 92, 94 and the pivot bar 96 as supported on the frame 22.
  • [0035]
    As in the previous embodiment, forward motion of one of the foot links acts through its associated rocker arm and through the pivot bar 96 to vertically displace the other rocker arm and associated arm link. In this manner, the back and forth motion of the second ends of the foot links 12, 14 provided by the swing arms 30, 32 is vertically displaced to provide the non-reciprocal motion of the present invention.
  • [0036]
    [0036]FIGS. 8A and 8B depict yet another embodiment of exercise device of the present invention. Specifically shown in FIG. 8A is an exercise device 100 which has first and second foot links 12, 14 coupled to crank arms 24, 25 as previously described. As in the previous embodiments, the second ends of the foot links 12, 14 engage respective tracks 42, 44; and as in the FIG. 3 and FIG. 6 embodiment, the tracks are pivotally supported on the frame 22 of the device by a track pivot 46 so that the opposite ends of the tracks 42, 44 may be vertically displaceable.
  • [0037]
    In the FIG. 8A embodiment, the second ends of the tracks 42, 44 are coupled to a piston assembly 102, which is best shown in FIG. 8B. As will be seen from FIG. 8B, the piston assembly 102 includes a first piston 104 which is connected to a first one of the tracks 42, and a second piston 106 which is connected to the other of the tracks 44. It is to be understood that the pistons 104, 106 may be filled with a gas or with a liquid. In the illustrated embodiment, the pistons 104, 106 are interconnected by fluid flow lines 108, 110. In this manner, the action of one piston 104 will be complementary with the action of the other piston 106 so that when one piston is extended, the other will be contracted. This will provide for corresponding motion of the two tracks 42, 44. As in the previous embodiments, forward motion of one foot link will act on the fluid in the pistons 104, 106 to produce corresponding motion in the other foot link. It is to be understood that the FIG. 8 embodiment need not operative to provide for such coupled motion. The two pistons 104, 106 need not be coupled, and the vertical motion of the two tracks may be independent of one another, in which instance the pistons will act in a manner analogous to the springs in the FIG. 3 embodiment.
  • [0038]
    Yet other modifications and variations of the foregoing may be implemented. For example, in all descriptions and depictions, the exercise device is oriented so that the user faces away from the ends of the foot link having the arcuate motion. However, in some instances, the device may be oppositely configured, as for example as is shown in FIG. 6 of U.S. Pat. No. 5,242,343. It is to be understood that such reverse configuration devices may be structured in accord with the principles of the present invention. In yet other embodiments of this invention, the active support may be powered, as for example by an electric motor. Also, other arrangements of parts and linkages for achieving the non-reciprocal motion will be apparent to those of skill in the art in view of the teaching presented herein. The foregoing drawings, discussion and description are illustrative of specific embodiments of the invention, but are not meant to be limitations upon the practice thereof. It is the following claims, including all equivalents, which define the scope of the invention.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification482/52, 482/57, 482/62
International ClassificationA63B23/04, A63B23/035
Cooperative ClassificationA63B2022/067, A63B22/0017, A63B22/0664, A63B22/001
European ClassificationA63B22/00A6, A63B22/06E