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Publication numberUS20040266587 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/845,915
Publication dateDec 30, 2004
Filing dateMay 14, 2004
Priority dateJun 27, 2003
Publication number10845915, 845915, US 2004/0266587 A1, US 2004/266587 A1, US 20040266587 A1, US 20040266587A1, US 2004266587 A1, US 2004266587A1, US-A1-20040266587, US-A1-2004266587, US2004/0266587A1, US2004/266587A1, US20040266587 A1, US20040266587A1, US2004266587 A1, US2004266587A1
InventorsLarry Miller
Original AssigneeMiller Larry D.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Elliptical exercise device with movable pivot axis
US 20040266587 A1
Abstract
An elliptical-type exercise device provides a modified foot action. The device includes a frame, an axle, and an axle retainer for supporting the axle on the frame so that it is rotatable about a pivot axis. The retainer allows the axle to move relative to the frame so as to displace the pivot axis. A first and a second foot link are coupled to the axle so that a first end of each foot link travels in an arcuate path. The device includes a guide which directs the second ends of the foot links in a reciprocal or non-reciprocal path of travel.
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Claims(16)
1. An exercise device comprising:
a frame;
an axle;
an axle retainer for supporting said axle on said frame so that said axle is rotatable about a pivot axis defined therethrough, and so that said axle can move so as to displace the pivot axis relative to the frame;
a first and a second foot link each having a foot engaging portion; and
a first and a second coupling member each associated with a respective one of said foot links for pivotally coupling said foot link to said axle so that a first end of said foot link travels in an arcuate path.
2. The exercise device of claim 1, wherein said first and second coupling members are configured so that the first end of the respective foot link of each coupling member travels in an arcuate path which encompasses the pivot axis.
3. The exercise device of claim 1, wherein said axle retainer comprises a swing link which is pivotally supported on said frame.
4. The exercise device of claim 3, wherein said swing link includes a journal which rotatably supports the axle so that said axle is rotatable about the pivot axis.
5. The exercise device of claim 3, further including a biasing member associated in mechanical communication with said swing link, said biasing member being operative to urge the swing link to a preselected position.
6. The exercise device of claim 9, wherein said biasing member is selected from the group consisting of: springs, elastomeric bodies, hydraulic cylinders, pneumatic cylinders, counterweights, and combinations thereof.
7. The exercise device of claim 1, wherein said axle retainer comprises a journal for rotatably supporting said axle, and at least one resilient member which supports said journal upon said frame.
8. The exercise device of claim 7, wherein said at least one resilient member comprises a member selected from the group consisting of: springs, elastomeric bodies, hydraulic cylinders, pneumatic cylinders, counterweights, and combinations thereof.
9. The exercise device of claim 1, wherein said axle retainer comprises a support block which rotatably supports said axle so that said axle is rotatable about said pivot axis, said retainer further comprising a guide way for slidably supporting said support block so that said support block can move in at least one direction relative to said frame.
10. The exercise device of claim 9, further including at least one biasing member associated with said retainer and being operative to impose a biasing force on the support block so as to urge said support block in a first direction relative to said frame.
11. The exercise device of claim 1, further including a guide operative to engage said foot links and direct a second end of each foot link along a path of travel as the first end of said foot link travels along said arcuate path.
12. The exercise device of claim 11, wherein the frame is configured to be supported on a floor and wherein the guide is configured and operative to direct the second end of each foot link along a path of travel which is inclined relative to said floor.
13. The exercise device of claim 11, wherein said guide is operative to direct said second ends of said foot links in a reciprocal path of travel.
14. The exercise device of claim 11, wherein said guide is operative to direct said second ends of said foot links in a non-reciprocal path of travel.
15. The exercise device of claim 11, wherein said guide includes a first and a second swing arm, each swing arm being operative to engage a respective one of said foot links so as to guide the second end of its respective foot link in said path.
16. In an exercise device of the type comprising:
a frame;
an axle which is rotatable about a pivot axis defined therethrough;
a first and a second foot link, each having a foot engaging portion;
a first and a second coupling member, each associated with a respective one of said foot links for pivotally coupling said foot link to said pivot axis so that said first end of said foot link travels in an arcuate path; and
a guide operative to engage the foot links and direct the second end of each foot link along a path of travel as the first end of the foot link travels along the arcuate path of travel; the improvement comprising:
said axle being movably supported on said frame so that said pivot axis is movable relative to the frame when the first ends of the foot links travel in said arcuate path.
Description
    RELATED APPLICATION
  • [0001]
    This application claims priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/483,377 filed Jun. 27, 2003, entitled “Elliptical Exercise Device with Movable Pivot Axis.”
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    This invention relates generally to exercise equipment. More specifically, the invention relates to elliptical exercise devices. Most specifically, the invention relates to elliptical exercise devices in which at least one pivot axis of the device is movable relative to the frame of the device.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0003]
    Elliptical exercise devices are configured and operable to permit a user's feet to travel in an elliptical path which simulates a natural running and stepping motion which avoids jarring shocks and strains which can damage joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles. The smooth, pleasant action achieved by elliptical exercise devices is conducive to extended aerobic exercise; hence, elliptical exercise devices are in widespread use, and a number of embodiments are known in the art.
  • [0004]
    The basic concept of elliptical exercise devices was first shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,242,343 and 5,383,829. As described therein, an elliptical exercise device generally includes a frame which is configured to support the remainder of the device on a support surface such as a floor or the ground. The device includes a pair of foot links which are elongated members, each having a foot engaging portion. A first end of each foot link is coupled to an axle by means of a coupling member such as a crank arm. The axle is typically supported by the frame and is rotatable about a pivot axis defined therethrough. Rotation of the axle causes the first ends of the foot links to travel in an arcuate path. Depending upon the geometry of the device and the configuration of the coupling members, the arcuate path may or may not encompass the pivot axis. Within the context of this disclosure, an arcuate path is understood to be a closed, curved, path of travel such as a circular path, an oval path, or a more complex closed, at least partially curved, path.
  • [0005]
    The foot links also engage a guide which operates to direct a second end of each foot link in a path of travel which can be reciprocal or non-reciprocal. In the context of this disclosure, a reciprocal path of travel is meant to define any back-and-forth path of travel which is repetitively traversed by the end of the foot link in which the forward path and the rearward path are substantially coincident. The reciprocal path of travel may be linear, curved or a complex combination of linear and curved paths. The devices depicted in the U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,242,343 and 5,383,829 have foot links with ends which travel in a reciprocal path. In the context of this disclosure, a non-reciprocal path of travel is meant to define a back-and-forth motion wherein the end of the foot link follows a first path on a forward stroke, and a second path on a rearward stroke, and wherein the paths are at least partially non-coincident. Devices in which ends of the foot links travel along a non-reciprocal path are shown in pending U.S. patent Ser. No. 10/760,844, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • [0006]
    The combination of arcuate and reciprocal or non-reciprocal travel causes the foot engaging portion of the foot links to travel in an elliptical path. Within the context of this disclosure, an elliptical path of travel is understood to mean a true mathematical ellipse, as well as paths having other ellipsoid shapes such as oval paths, flattened ellipses, curved ellipses, ellipses with flattened or concave portions, and the like. There are a large number of embodiments of elliptical exercise devices which are configured along these general principles. In some instances, there is a need or desire to further modify the foot action achieved by elliptical exercise devices, and toward that end, the present invention provides an exercise device in which the pivot axis associated with the axle is movable relative to the remainder of the device during its operational cycle.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0007]
    There is disclosed herein an exercise device which comprises a frame and an axle, wherein the axle is supported on the frame by an axle retainer so that the axle is rotatable about a pivot axis defined therethrough, and so that the axle can move so as to displace the pivot axis relative to the frame. The exercise device also includes a first and a second foot link each having a foot engaging portion, and a first and a second coupling member, each associated with a respective one of the foot links for pivotably coupling that foot link to the axle so that a first end of the foot link travels in an arcuate path. The device may also include a guide which engages the foot link so as to direct a second end of each foot link along the path of travel as the first end travels in the arcuate path. The guide may be operative to direct the second ends of the foot links in a path of travel which is inclined relative to the floor. In some embodiments, the guide may comprise one or more tracks, and in other embodiments, the guide may comprise a pair of swing arms.
  • [0008]
    In specific embodiments, the axle retainer may comprise a swing link which is pivotally supported on the frame, and the device may also include a biasing member associated in mechanical communication with a swing link. The biasing member is operative to urge the swing link into a preselected position. The biasing member may comprise a spring, elastomeric body, hydraulic cylinder, pneumatic cylinder, counterweight, or other such device. In another embodiment, the axle retainer will include a journal which rotatably supports the axle, and a resilient member which supports the journal upon the frame. In yet another embodiment, the axle retainer may include a support block which rotatably supports the axle, as well as a guide way which slidably supports the block so that the block can move in at least one direction relative to the frame.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0009]
    [0009]FIGS. 1-4 are depictions of some specific embodiments of exercise device structured in accord with the principles of the present invention;
  • [0010]
    [0010]FIG. 5 is a depiction of a portion of an exercise device showing an axle retainer structured in accord with the principles of the present invention; and
  • [0011]
    [0011]FIG. 6 is a depiction of a portion of an exercise device structured in accord with the principles of the present invention showing another embodiment of axle retainer of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0012]
    In accord with the present invention, there is provided an exercise device which includes a frame and an axle. The axle is supported by an axle retainer so that it is rotatable about a pivot axis defined therethrough and so that the axle can move so as to displace its pivot axis relative to the frame. The device also includes a first and a second foot link each having a foot engaging portion, and a first and second coupling member each associated with a respective one of the foot links for pivotally coupling the foot link to the axle so that a first end of the foot link travels along a first path which is arcuate. The exercise device also includes a guide operative to engage the foot links and direct the second end of each foot link along a second path of travel as the first end travels along the first, arcuate path. In accord with these general principles, a number of embodiments of the invention may be implemented.
  • [0013]
    Referring now to FIG. 1, there is shown a first embodiment of exercise device structured in accord with the principles of the present invention. As illustrated therein, the device 10 includes a frame 12. Pivotally affixed to the frame 12 is an axle retainer 14 having an axle 16 rotatably supported therein as for example by a journal or other bearing arrangement. The axle 16 defines and is rotatable about a pivot axis which extends therethrough. In the FIG. 1 embodiment, the axle support 14 comprises a swing link which is capable of pivoting on the frame, and the exercise device includes a pair of biasing springs 18 a, 18 b. These springs are attached to the frame 12 and to the axle retainer 14 and serve to keep the retainer 14 centered at a preselected position. It is to be understood that the springs 18 could be greater or fewer in number, and they can be otherwise disposed. They also could be replaced with elastomeric bodies such as synthetic or natural rubber, or by other biasing devices such as hydraulic cylinders, pneumatic cylinders, or counterweights. It will be appreciated from the drawing that movement of the axle retainer 14 will result in corresponding movement of the axle 16 and the axle axis, relative to the frame. As illustrated, this motion is an up-and-down motion relative to the frame. In the operation of prior art devices, as the axle rotates, the axis is fixed relative to the frame.
  • [0014]
    The device further includes a first and a second foot link 20 a, 20 b, and each foot link includes a foot engaging portion 22 a, 22 b thereupon. A first end of each foot link 22 is coupled to the axle 16 by a coupling member, which in this embodiment comprises a crank arm 24 a, 24 b. Rotation of the axle 16 causes the crank arms 24 to move their respective foot links 22 so that the first ends of the foot links 22 travel in an arcuate path, as defined therein. As illustrated, the arcuate path is a circular path which encompasses the pivot axis. In other embodiments of the invention, the coupling members may be comprised of complex linkages, and in such embodiments, the arcuate path may be non-circular and/or it may not encompass the pivot axis.
  • [0015]
    The FIG. 1 embodiment further includes a guide which comprises a track 26 which engages the first end of each of the foot links 20 and directs them in a reciprocal path. In other embodiments of the invention, the guide may comprise a pair of swing arms or any other mechanical linkage which provides the reciprocal motion. Also, while in the FIG. 1 embodiment, the guide track 26 engages the foot links 20 by means of rollers affixed to the ends of the foot links 20, the guide may otherwise engage the foot links provided that it is operative to direct the second ends in a reciprocal path of travel.
  • [0016]
    In the operation of the device, a user stands on the foot links, with his or her feet placed on the support pads 22. The user pushes down and back on one foot link, and this drives the other forward and up. This causes the first ends of the foot links 20 to move in the arcuate path and the second ends in the reciprocal path thereby providing an elliptical foot motion. In the FIG. 1 embodiment, force applied to the foot links imposes a torque on the axle 16, which causes the axle retainer 14 to move against the biasing force of the springs 18, thereby causing displacement of the pivot axis. When the torque is relieved, the biasing force restores the pivot axis to its centered point. This motion of the pivot axis will modify the foot action achieved by the device.
  • [0017]
    As further illustrated in FIG. 1, a flywheel 28 is coupled to the axle by a pulley (not shown) and a drive belt 29. The flywheel is optional, but provides for a smoother foot motion. Yet other assemblies such as braking devices, speedometers, odometers and the like may be incorporated into the device. Also, the springs 18, or other biasing members, may be configured and disposed so as to allow for adjustment of the biasing force provided thereby. In this manner, the degree of pivot axis motion can be controlled. All of such embodiments are within the scope of the invention.
  • [0018]
    Referring now to FIG. 2, there is shown another version 30 of the exercise device of the present invention. The exercise device 30 of FIG. 2 is configured in a generally similar manner to that of FIG. 1 insofar as it includes foot links 20 a, 20 b, a guide, which comprises a track 26, a frame 12, and an axle retainer 14 which supports an axle 16 defining a pivot axis. In this embodiment, the axle retainer 14 is a swing link which is pivotally mounted on the frame in a generally vertical relationship to the base of the frame so as to allow the pivot axis to move back and forth in a generally horizontal direction. As illustrated, springs 32 a, 32 b bias the axle retainer 14 to a preselected centered position. In other versions of the FIG. 2 apparatus, the axle retainer may be biased by a coil spring disposed at the point where the retainer 14 is supported on the frame, or it may be biased by other devices such as elastomeric bodies, hydraulic cylinders, pneumatic cylinders or other mechanical devices such as counterweights and the like.
  • [0019]
    Referring now to FIG. 3, there is shown yet another embodiment 40 of the present invention. The FIG. 3 embodiment includes a frame 12, foot links 20 a, 20 b and a guide ramp 26 as previously described. The FIG. 3 embodiment also includes an axle retainer 14 pivotally supported on the frame in a manner generally similar to that of FIG. 1. As in the previous embodiments, the axle retainer 14 rotatably supports an axle 16 defining a pivot axis. As in the previous embodiments, the first ends of the foot links 24 a, 24 b are coupled to the axle 16 by crank arms 24 a, 24 b. However, in the FIG. 3 embodiment, one of the crank arms, in this instance crank arm 24 a, is also pivotally coupled to the frame 12 by a control link 42. As the crank arm 24 a rotates about the pivot axis A, the control link 42 will cause the axle retainer 14 to move up and down thereby displacing the pivot axis A accordingly. In some instances, the apparatus 40 may include a second control link associated with the second crank arm 24 b. Other mechanical arrangements may be configured in accord with these general principles. For example, the axle 16 may have a cam associated therewith, and the cam could be utilized to raise and lower the axle retainer. Yet other arrangements will be apparent to one of skill in the art.
  • [0020]
    Referring now to FIG. 4, there is shown yet another embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment 50, the axle retainer includes a support block 52 which rotatably supports the crank axle 16. The axle retainer further includes a guide way 54 which slidably retains the support block 52 so that the support block can move back and forth relative thereto. As illustrated, a pair of biasing springs 56 a, 56 b are disposed in the guide way 54 so as to keep the support block 52 centered at a preselected position.
  • [0021]
    As in the previous embodiments, crank arms 24 a, 24 b are coupled to the axle. Torque imposed on the axle 16 by the crank arms 24 will cause the support block 52 to slide back and forth in the guide way 54 against the biasing force of the springs 56.
  • [0022]
    The FIG. 4 embodiment further differs from the previous embodiments in that the guide which directs the second ends of the foot links is comprised of a pair of swing arms 58 a, 58 b. The swing arms 58 are pivotally mounted on an upright portion of the frame 12, and each engages the second end of a respective foot link and directs it along a reciprocal path of travel. Other guide arrangements may be incorporated in this and other embodiments of the invention.
  • [0023]
    It will be apparent to one of skill in the art that modifications to this device may be readily implemented. For example, the biasing springs 56 may be made adjustable so as to control the amount of displacement of the support block 52 which will occur for a given level of torque. Also, the springs 56 may be replaced by other biasing elements such as elastomeric bodies, hydraulic cylinders, pneumatic cylinders, counterweights and the like. Also, while the guide way 54 is shown as providing for the horizontal travel of the support block 52, the guide way may be otherwise oriented, for example as to permit motion in a vertical plane or in a plane inclined relative to the horizontal or vertical. Also, this embodiment, as is the case with all of the other embodiments of this invention, may be implemented with coupling members and guide members other than those shown herein.
  • [0024]
    For example, the foregoing description has been directed to exercise devices in which the second ends of the foot links traverse a reciprocal path. The invention, as mentioned above, may also be incorporated into devices in which the second ends of the foot links travel in a non-reciprocal path. In such devices, resilient or flexible linkages incorporated into the guide provide the non-reciprocating path of travel and provide a foot motion which follows an elliptical, modified elliptical or non-elliptical path. The structure and function of the present invention, while complementary to, is independent of, the motion provided to the second ends of the foot links by the guide. Consequently, the present invention may be used in conjunction with a number of variously configured exercise devices.
  • [0025]
    Yet other embodiments of the present invention may be implemented. For example, FIG. 5 depicts a portion of a frame 12 having an axle 16 rotatably supported thereupon by a retainer 14 which constitutes a journal bearing which in turn is supported on the frame by a body of elastomeric material 58 disposed therebetween. In this embodiment, the pivot axis A is free to move in multiple directions relative to the frame 12. FIG. 6 depicts a somewhat similar arrangement wherein a frame 12 has an axle 16 rotatably supported thereupon by a retainer 14 which in turn is supported on the frame by a plurality of springs 60 a-h.
  • [0026]
    As was detailed above, various embodiments of exercise devices are known in the prior art; and while the present invention has been described with reference to some specific types of elliptical exercise devices, the principles of the present invention may be readily incorporated into other exercise devices. Therefore, it is to be understood that 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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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7510510 *Jun 15, 2007Mar 31, 2009Cycling & Health Tech Industry R & D CenterHip-abduction stepper exercise apparatus
US7780577Jul 14, 2006Aug 24, 2010Precor IncorporatedPendulous exercise device
US7833133 *Nov 16, 2010Precor IncorporatedEnd of travel stop for an exercise device
US8944966Jun 20, 2013Feb 3, 2015Larry D. Miller TrustVariable stride exercise device
US20080020902 *Jul 14, 2006Jan 24, 2008Arnold Peter JPendulous exercise device
US20080161164 *Dec 28, 2006Jul 3, 2008Precor IncorporatedEnd of travel stop for an exercise device
US20080312044 *Jun 15, 2007Dec 18, 2008Cycling & Health Tech Industry R & D CenterHip-abduction stepper exercise apparatus
US20090197744 *Sep 1, 2006Aug 6, 2009Iwao YamazakiExercise machine
US20150087480 *Sep 26, 2013Mar 26, 2015Leao WangSimple harmonic motion exercise device
Classifications
U.S. Classification482/52, 482/57
International ClassificationA63B71/00, A63B23/04
Cooperative ClassificationA63B22/205, A63B21/02, A63B71/0054, A63B2022/067, A63B22/0664, A63B2022/0611
European ClassificationA63B22/06E