|Publication number||US20040259692 A1|
|Application number||US 10/843,788|
|Publication date||Dec 23, 2004|
|Filing date||May 11, 2004|
|Priority date||Jun 17, 2003|
|Also published as||WO2005000416A2, WO2005000416A3|
|Publication number||10843788, 843788, US 2004/0259692 A1, US 2004/259692 A1, US 20040259692 A1, US 20040259692A1, US 2004259692 A1, US 2004259692A1, US-A1-20040259692, US-A1-2004259692, US2004/0259692A1, US2004/259692A1, US20040259692 A1, US20040259692A1, US2004259692 A1, US2004259692A1|
|Inventors||Matthew Martin, Edward Behan, Robert Bisesti, Donald Gronachan|
|Original Assignee||Martin Matthew R., Behan Edward B., Robert Bisesti, Gronachan Donald B.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (10), Referenced by (12), Classifications (16), Legal Events (1)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
 This is a continuation-in-part of Ser. No. 10/462,952, filed Jun. 17, 2003, now abandoned.
 The present invention relates to an exerciser whose foot supports that move in opposite direction from each other yet each follows a smooth orbital oblong path of motion that closely approximates a person's natural gait, that is, without imposing sudden, abrupt forces as the foot supports change direction of orbital oblong travel (when changing from moving forwards to backwards and vice versa). Also, the exerciser may have arms that move in opposite directions from each other each along a reciprocating path of travel and are coupled in a manner to prevent both the arms and foot supports from becoming locked at the same time in their respective “dead spots”, which lie at the ends of their respective paths of travel. Weights or springs may also be positioned to help keep the foot supports from remaining stuck in the locked position at their dead spots. A grab bar is also provided to be grasped by the user to assist in entering or leaving a seat.
 Conventional stepper recumbent exercisers or trainers require a defined stop and change of direction to complete a pedal cycle. The constant stopping and changing of direction results in a high impact workout for the body. Further, an easy to use grab bar is not available on conventional recumbent trainers. It is desired to provide a trainer that instead allows the user to travel through a continuous orbital path, such as an elliptical pattern, without having to abruptly stop to change direction and to result in a zero impact work out for the entire body.
 While devising the present invention, the inventors recognized that semi recumbent devices whose foot supports travel in a substantially horizontal ellipse have inherent difficulties completing the elliptical pattern because of naturally occurring “dead spots” at the ends of their oblong path of travel. This can result in the foot supports and arms becoming locked up where no motion is possible. It would therefore be desired to provide a semi-recumbent exerciser that prevents the foot supports and arms from remaining in such “dead spots”.
 On many conventional bicycle type ergometers, the pedals or crank arms are not linked directly to the loading device. There is an overrunning clutch such that the user can stop pedaling immediately and not have to slow down the inertia of the system. The clutch is usually placed as close to the crank arms as possible to minimize the rotational inertia the user has to stop. With such an arrangement, the user does not get any resistance in reverse so they will know they are pedaling backwards. Not all loading devices, however, can be rotated both directions. It would be desirable to provide one that does while preventing foot supports and arms from remaining locked in dead spots at the ends of their respective paths of travel.
 One aspect of the invention resides in an exerciser whose foot supports have a portion that is directed to follow an oblong orbital path of motion that is defined by an oblong dimension arranged so that one of the end positions of the oblong dimension is between the other of the end positions of the oblong dimension and a seat where a user sits to place feet on the foot supports.
 Another aspect of the invention resides in an exerciser link having a member with two end portions and with an extension projecting from the member. A foot support is attached to the extension and has a portion that follows an oblong orbital path of motion as the one of the two end portions of the member effects an orbital motion and a further of the two end portions of the member effects a reciprocating motion. The oblong orbital path of motion is defined by an oblong dimension between two end positions.
 A further aspect of the invention resides in a leg link, an arm link, two pivot connections spaced from each other and secured to a frame, and a connection link that connects the leg link and the arm link by being pivotally connected to each and to one of the two pivot connections, the arm link being pivotally connected to the other of the two pivot connections.
 An additional aspect of the invention resides in structure that urges or enables the urging of foot supports out of dead spots at ends of an oblong orbital path of motion in the event the foot supports are paused while at their dead spot positions.
 For a better understanding of the present invention, reference is made to the following description and accompanying drawings, while the scope of the invention is set forth in the appended claims:
FIG. 1 is an overall view of the exerciser in accordance with the invention but with decorative covers removed.
FIG. 2 is an illustration of a path of a toe end, center and heel end of a foot support as it reciprocates back and forth.
FIG. 3 is a schematic representation of an alternate spring-loaded link to control a pivoting motion of a foot plate.
FIG. 4 is a partial cut away view showing a shape of a front extrusion guide and an interface to the wheels.
FIGS. 5 and 6 are partial cutaway views showing a mechanism for applying a spring force to lower link arms.
FIG. 7 is a schematic representation of a further embodiment of the present invention that shows structure useful to move the foot supports out of dead spots.
 The contents of Ser. No. 10/462,952 are incorporated by reference. Specifically, its description concerning adjustable handgrips, foot pedal straps to allow the user to pull, seat functions of rolling, front/back locking and rotation locking, heart rate pickups, step through access, the entire inner drive train from the crank arms to the alternator, inclusive of all components and rotation directions, the way the user can apply forces to get out of dead spots, and the different ways of applying on over running clutch.
 The invention of the present application differs from that described in Ser. No. 10/462,952 in particular with respect to the following aspects: There is a change in the way the arm and leg assemblies are linked to each other by a connecting link in that the functions of upper and lower links of the connecting link are reversed. The pivoting of the foot supports is to be controlled by a controlling link. This controlling link changes a shape of the path the heel end and toe end of the foot support follow to a natural motion for a user pedaling in a semi recumbent position. This can be a solid link or incorporate spring loading to allow some user controlled motion of the foot support. There is no over running clutch in the drive train. The front extrusion guides have a shape that is changed to not allow any sliding of the wheels in the extrusion guides. The manner in which a spring force is applied to ends of the leg link is further refined to optimize the way the forces cause the leg link to keep rotating through the dead spots.
 For convenience, the specification refers to foot supports 2, but it is understood that they may be identified instead as foot plates or pedals. For purposes of construing the claims, the foot support is not confined just to the structure of the component identified by reference 2, but may be any type of conventional foot support, foot plate or pedal. Further, the foot support may be a collective assembly of components that includes a region where the foot is placed, such as an assembly that includes the structure identified by reference number 2 in combination with the foot support bracket 23.
 As in the exerciser of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/462,952, right leg link includes a right lower linkage member that has first end 14 rotationally mounted to the right crank arm 18 and a second end 15 with wheels 16 rotationally mounted thereon (see FIG. 1). The right crank arm 18 is connected to the axle 19. The wheels 16 roll in the right extruded from guide 17, which is mounted to the frame 7 in a position substantially, lower than the axle 19.
FIG. 1 shows the right extruded front guide shown partially cut away. The right crank arm 18 rotates with the axel 19 such that the first end 14 of the right lower linkage member 13 rotates in a circular path 21. The second end 15 of the right lower linkage member 13 moves in a reciprocating linear path 22 following the rolling wheels 16 in the front extruded guide 17. The right leg link also has a right lower linkage member extension 10 that is a rigid part of the right lower linkage member 13 and located between the first and second end. The right foot support 2 is rotationally mounted to the right lower linkage member extension 10 though pivot point 20 such that the foot support 2 is located substantially above the lower linkage member and between the first and second ends.
 The right upper arm 1 is linked to the right foot support 2 such that they move in opposite directions. That is, the opposite motion of the upper arms is achieved through linkage components on the same side as the foot support 2, but is not dependent on the motion of the opposite foot support. The right linkage arm 5 is rotationally fastened to the frame 7 through pivot point 6. The right upper arm 1 is rotationally fastened to the frame 7 at pivot point 8 The bottom link 9 is solid and rotationally fastened to the bottom of the right linkage arm 5 and the right lower linkage member extension 10. The top link 11 is rotationally fastened to the top of the right linkage arm 5 and the right upper arm 1.
 As the user pushes the right foot support 2 forward as shown, the bottom link 9 will move the bottom of the right linkage arm 5 forward. The right linkage arm 5 rotates about pivot point 6 such that the top of the right linkage arm 5 moves back. The top link 11 pushes the right upper arm 1 back. The right upper arm rotates about pivot point 8 such that the right hand grip 12 moves back towards the user.
 The forward motion of the right foot support 2 results in the backwards movement of right hand grip 12 without being linked to the left side components. This results in the natural forward motion of the foot with the backward motion of the hand on the same side- As the cycle of the right foot support 2 continues to a backwards motion, the right hand grip 12 will start a forward motion. The user can direct force into the handgrip, footplate or both to cause the motion. The length and connection points of the various components causes the movement of the handgrip to be substantially the same as the movement of the foot support. Since such movements are substantially the same, it feels natural to the user. The same motions occur on the left side of the exerciser, connected to and 180 degrees out of phase with the right through the axle 19. As a consequence, there is substantially a 1:1 arm to leg motion to realize a natural arm swing rhythm. Such contrasts, for instance, with conventional semi-recumbent exercisers that cause the legs to travel by a distance to complete a cycle that is a multiple number of times greater than the distance traveled by the arms to complete the cycle and thus the legs move faster than the arms to travel the greater distance. Such conventional semi-recumbent exercisers so not have a substantially 1:1 arm to leg motion, but rather have a 1:(2-3) arm to leg motion.
 The right foot support 2 is not allowed to rotate freely with respect to the right lower linkage arm extension 10. The right foot support bracket 23 is rigidly connected to the right foot support 2. The right foot support link 24 is rotationally mounted to the right foot support bracket 23 at one end and rotationally mounted to the right linkage arm 5 at the other end. As the right lower linkage member 13 and associated, linked components proceed through the movements described, the movements of the right linkage arm 5 transmitted through the foot support link 24 and right foot support bracket 23 to the right foot support 2 cause the portions of the foot support 2 to move through the paths shown in FIG. 2. Shown are the paths of the foot support toe end 25, center 26 and heel end 27. The motion of the foot support while following these paths feels comfortable to the user of the exerciser while seated in a semi recumbent position.
 Turning to FIGS. 1 and 2, the paths of the portions of the foot support were generated by plotting the location of the foot support points as the right crank arm 18 moves through 360 degrees of rotation. The points plotted represent rotation of 10-degree increments. The points labeled A represent the foot pedal or foot support points when the wheels 16 and second end 15 of right lower linkage member 13 are at the furthest forward point of the reciprocating motion in front extruded guide 17. The points labeled B represent the foot support points when the crank arm 18 is rotated 10 degrees further. Note that during this initial period when the lower linkage member starts to move back, the toe end of the foot support is dropping faster than the heel end.
 The toe end of the foot supports each travel along a path whose geometry intersects itself to define two oblong, orbital paths that share a common end point of their respective oblong dimensions. The other end of the respective oblong dimensions are at different elevations. The oblong, orbital path with the higher other end has a steeper curvature than the other of the oblong, orbital paths, thereby resulting in faster rising or lowering (as applicable) movement than along the other of the two oblong, orbital paths. As the foot supports travel in one of a forward direction and a backward direction, the toe lowers initially faster to where the orbital paths intersect than it does after passing this intersection. As the foot supports travel in the other of the forward direction and the backward direction, they rise faster after passing where the orbital paths intersect than before. As the toe follows the oblong, orbital path in either the forward or reverse direction, a portion of the path being followed may be considered arcuate or curved.
 The center of the foot supports each travel along a path whose geometry is substantially oblong, orbital and longitudinally symmetric, e.g., substantially elliptical and forming a nearly perfect ellipse. If this path is considered to define two longitudinal paths, then each is arcuate or curved.
 The heel end of the foot supports each travel along a path whose geometry is substantially oblong, orbital and longitudinally asymmetric. The geometry may be that of two longitudinal portions, but with one having a steeper curvature than the other. This steeper curvature signifies rising or lowering (as applicable) faster than along the other longitudinal portion. The top longitudinal portion may be considered as being arcuate. The other is straighter yet inclined.
 As can be appreciated from FIG. 2, the toe, center and heel portions of the foot support travel in different geometric patterns with respect to each other. Within the scope of the invention, these geometric patterns can be further varied by altering the location where the foot support bracket 23 attaches to the foot support link 24, such as by shortening or lengthening the foot support link 24 if the foot support bracket 23 is to be attached to an end of the foot support link 24 as shown. Preferably, such an alteration still results in the geometric patterns followed by the heel, center and toe portions of the foot supports to differ from each other yet keeping the center following a substantially elliptical orbital pattern. The location of connection of the pivot 20 with the right lower linkage member extension 10 may need to be moved to compensate for the different geometric patterns followed by the heel and toe portions while keeping the center following a substantially elliptical path. Likewise, the location of the connection of the pivot with the left lower linkage may need to be moved.
FIG. 3 shows an alternate embodiment controlling the motion of the foot support using a sliding, spring-loaded link. One end of a modified foot pedal link 29 is rotationally mounted to the right linkage arm 5 and the other end has a rigidly mounted shaft 30. The shaft runs through a collar 31 such that it is free to slide on the shaft 30. The collar 31 is rotationally mounted to the foot pedal bracket 23 at pivot point 43. Two compression springs 33 are mounted around the shaft 30 such that one exerts force against the bottom of the collar 31 and the top of the modified foot pedal link 29 while the other exerts a force against the top of the collar 31 and the end stop 32. The length of the shaft 30 and modified foot pedal link are such that the springs hold the collar and pivot point 43 in the same position as when it was rigidly linked.
 The effect is the same that the non-sliding foot support link 24 has, causing the points on the foot support to trace the exact same paths shown in FIG. 2. In the position shown, the foot support 2 can be rotated in the direction shown by the user about pivot point 20 such that the collar 31 slides up or down the shaft 30, further compressing either compression spring 33. In this way the user can rotate the foot support a small amount against spring force to accommodate individual preferences in foot rotation as the user pedals the machine.
 The contents of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 101462,952 described how an over riding clutch can be used to either prevent the device from being pedaled backward or prevent the user from feeling any resistance when pedaling backward. In the present embodiment, there is no over running clutch so the drive train is directly connected to the alternator. This maximizes the inertia of the drive train and also allows the user to pedal backward and still get the same resistance as pedaling forward. The alternator works just as well when rotated in either direction.
FIG. 4 shows how the rolling wheels 16 are guided in the front extruded guide 17. The problem with guiding multiple rolling wheels in tracks that can see forces in multiple directions is that at times the top edge of a wheel can come into contact with the track at the same time as the bottom. This causes the wheel to slide against both surfaces instead of rolling. This leads to squeaking and wear. The front extruded guide 17 has one rounded track 34 and three other flat surfaces 35 that can contact the wheels 16.
 If upward or sideways forces are applied to the lower linkage member 13 the wheel would shift upwards or sideways. The wheels contact one of the flat surfaces 35 such that only the top or bottom of the wheels would contact at any one time so the wheels continue to roll with no sliding.
FIGS. 5 and 6 illustrate an improved method of applying force to the lower linkage member 13 to move the mechanism through the dead spot. A lever arm 36 is rotationally mounted to a bracket 37 thru pivot point 42. The bracket 37 is rigidly mounted to the extruded front guide 17. The lever arm 36 has a wheel 38 rotationally mounted to the first end end. A spring 39 presses the second end of the lever arm 36 against an end stop 40 such that the lever arm can rotate no further. The wheels 16 will roll in the forward direction shown, the lower linkage member 13 following with them as the user pedals the device. The ramp 41 is rigidly attached to the second end of the lower linkage arm 13. As the lower linkage member 13 moves forward, the ramp 4 begins to engage the wheel 38.
FIG. 6 shows the lower linkage member 13 in the furthest forward position which is where the dead spot occurs. The wheel 38 has rolled further up the ramp 41 lifting the first end of the lever arm 36 and lowering the second end compressing the spring 39 further. This action applies a force F1 through the wheel 38 to the ramp 41 to push the second end of the lower linkage member 13 down. This force causes the lower linkage arm to move thru its motion to keep the mechanism moving through this motion. The ramp 41 is shaped to keep the direction of the force F1 downward to keep the motion of the lower linkage member moving forward thru its motion the entire time the wheel 16 is engaged with the ramp 41.
 The function of the spring 39 may be replaced by other structures and arrangements that impart forces to any of the movable components of the exerciser to push the foot supports or arms out of the dead spots. The forces may be applied in almost any spot of the exerciser and may come from rubber bumpers (having elastic and resilient properties), other types of compression or extension springs, compressible or expandable foams, electric motors, and weights. Any of these may be applied to the components of the drive train such as the crank arm and linkage member, and/or be applied to the foot supports or arms. In addition, an electric charge may be generated by a resistance mechanism to create a torque that rotates the drive train forward or back and thus move the foot supports 2 out of the dead spots. Even the geometry of the exerciser as concerns the spatial relationship between the position of the foot supports 2 and the track 34 help get the foot supports out of the dead spots, i.e., the foot supports 2 are higher in elevation over the track 34 as opposed to being at the same level of elevation.
FIG. 7 illustrates structure useful in moving the foot supports out of dead spots. The function of the compression spring 51 that exerts force F1 and how the lower linkage member 13 is moved to direct the foot supports 2 out of the dead spots is described in pending patent application Ser. No. 10/462,952 whose contents are incorporated by reference. The weight 52 is affixed to the crank arm 18 and the resultant force F2 are also described as moving the lower linkage member 13 to direct the foot supports 2 to move out of the dead spots.
 In addition, the compression spring 53, if compressed by the lower linkage member 13 as shown, exerts a force F3 that also tends to push the lower linkage member 13 forward or back and thus move the foot supports 2 out of the dead spots.
 Also, an extension spring 54, if stretched by the lower linkage member 13, exerts a force F3 that tends to pull the lower linkage member 13 forward or back and thus move the foot supports 2 out of the dead spots.
 If the resistance mechanism 55 were an electric motor or generator, then an electric charge may be momentarily applied to create a torque to rotate the drive train forward or back to also move the lower linkage member and thus the foot supports out of the dead spots. The resistance mechanism 55 may be any type of conventional variable energy absorber that provides resistance. A suitable candidate may be an alternator and electronic controls arranged to provide different kinds of resistance in response to movement of the foot supports. The resistance may be isokinetic where speed is held at a constant rate, constant force where torque required to rotate the alternator is held constant, and constant power where torque to rotate said alternator is varied according to speed to produce a constant work rate or power.
 With the semi recumbent exerciser of the present invention, the foot supports never disengage the resistance. The foot plates do not change direction and return on the same path. They never stop and reverse- they go out on one path and return on another path to keep up a continuous motion, always engaging resistance.
 Such contrasts with changing pedal direction with conventional steppers. Steppers involve a change in direction of the pedals along one path where the user has to slow down, disengage the resistance mechanism, stop, reverse direction, accelerate back up to speed and re-engage the resistance. It takes extra force to slow down and speed back up. An impact occurs when the resistance is re-engaged as the user's acceleration abruptly changes to more constant speed. (In motion equations the change in acceleration is the second derivative of velocity and called “jerk”). This is generally accomplished using overrunning clutches that allow the user to slow down parts of the drive train while the resistance part runs faster.
 Sometimes when speeding back up the user's velocity can exceed the resistance mechanisms velocity briefly while the clutch engages, and then the user has to be de-accelerated to the running speed invoking an even larger force to be applied. By one path, what is meant is that the pedals generally return along the same path they go out on in these type of reversing mechanisms. Such differs from an embodiment of the semi recumbent exerciser of the present invention in which continuous motion is accomplished by going out on one path and returning on another.
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|International Classification||A63B23/035, A63B22/18, A63B23/04|
|Cooperative Classification||A63B22/001, A63B22/0664, A63B2022/067, A63B22/0007, A63B2208/0238, A63B2230/06, A63B2071/025, A63B2022/0017, A63B22/0046|
|European Classification||A63B22/00A6, A63B22/00A4, A63B22/06E|
|Nov 30, 2004||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: BIODEX MEDICAL SYSTEMS, INC., NEW YORK
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MARTIN, MATTHEW R.;BEHAN, EDWARD B.;BISESTI, ROBERT;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:015414/0586
Effective date: 20040430