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Publication numberUS20050049117 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/927,735
Publication dateMar 3, 2005
Filing dateAug 27, 2004
Priority dateAug 29, 2003
Publication number10927735, 927735, US 2005/0049117 A1, US 2005/049117 A1, US 20050049117 A1, US 20050049117A1, US 2005049117 A1, US 2005049117A1, US-A1-20050049117, US-A1-2005049117, US2005/0049117A1, US2005/049117A1, US20050049117 A1, US20050049117A1, US2005049117 A1, US2005049117A1
InventorsRobert Rodgers
Original AssigneeRodgers Robert E.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Striding simulators
US 20050049117 A1
Abstract
An exercise apparatus may include a frame that remains substantially stationary during use. The apparatus may include movable members that move relative to a portion of the frame. Foot members may be coupled to the movable members. Arm links may be coupled to the movable members. A drive system may be coupled to the frame. An apparatus may include a linkage assembly directly attached to the drive system and to the arm links.
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Claims(60)
1. An exercise apparatus, comprising:
a frame, wherein the frame is configured such that at least a portion of the apparatus remains substantially stationary during use;
a left movable member configured to move relative to at least a portion of the frame;
a right movable member configured to move relative to at least a portion of the frame;
a left foot member coupled to the left movable member;
a right foot member coupled to the right movable member;
a left arm link coupled to the left movable member;
a right arm link coupled to the right movable member;
a drive system coupled to the frame; and
a linkage assembly directly attached to the drive system and to the left and right arm links.
2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the linkage assembly comprises one or more members directly attaching the left and right arm links to the drive system.
3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the left and right foot members are coupled to foot suspension systems.
4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the drive system comprises at least one pulley, at least one belt, and at least one crank.
5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the left and right movable members are configured to move relative to a fixed point on the frame.
6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the left and right movable members are configured to move along rails on at least a portion of the frame.
7. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the left and right movable members comprise rear ends, and wherein the rear ends of each of the left and right movable members are configured to move in a reciprocating motion.
8. An exercise apparatus, comprising:
a frame, wherein the frame is configured such that at least a portion of the apparatus remains substantially stationary during use;
a left movable member configured to move relative to at least a portion of the frame;
a right movable member configured to move relative to at least a portion of the frame;
a left foot member coupled to the left movable member;
a right foot member coupled to the right movable member;
a left arm link coupled to the left movable member;
a right arm link coupled to the right movable member; and
a belt system comprising a belt and at least one brake/inertia device, wherein the belt system is coupled to the left and right movable members.
9. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the left and right foot members are coupled to foot suspension systems.
10. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the belt system is configured to provide inertial forces to a user during use of the apparatus.
11. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the belt system is configured to store at least some energy provided by a user during use and to provide at least a portion of the stored energy back to the user during use of the apparatus.
12. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the belt system is directly attached to the left and right movable members.
13. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the belt system is directly attached to axles on the left and right movable members.
14. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the belt system comprises one or more pulleys and at least one belt.
15. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the belt system comprises one or more pulleys and at least one belt, and wherein the pulleys are coupled to clutches.
16. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the left and right movable members are configured to move along rails on at least a portion of the frame.
17. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the left and right movable members comprise rear ends, and wherein the rear ends of each of the left and right movable members are configured to move in a reciprocating motion.
18. An exercise apparatus, comprising:
a frame, wherein the frame is configured such that at least a portion of the apparatus remains substantially stationary during use;
a left movable member configured to move relative to at least a portion of the frame;
a right movable member configured to move relative to at least a portion of the frame;
a left foot member coupled to the left movable member;
a right foot member coupled to the right movable member;
a left arm link coupled to the left movable member;
a right arm link coupled to the right movable member;
a drive system coupled to the frame; and
a linkage assembly coupled to the drive system and to the left and right arm links, wherein the linkage assembly comprises a user adjustable slider assembly configured to allow the user to adjust the user's stride length during use of the apparatus.
19. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein the linkage assembly is directly attached to the drive system and to the left and right arm links.
20. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein the linkage assembly comprises one or more members directly attaching the left and right arm links to the drive system.
21. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein the user adjustable slider assembly is configured to allow the user to adjust the user's stride length by varying a position of the slider assembly in the linkage assembly.
22. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein the user adjustable slider assembly comprises a device for varying a position of the slider assembly.
23. The apparatus of claim 22, wherein the device comprises a servomotor.
24. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein the left and right foot members are coupled to foot suspension systems.
25. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein the drive system comprises at least one pulley, at least one belt, and at least one crank.
26. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein the left and right movable members are configured to move relative to a fixed point on the frame.
27. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein the left and right movable members are configured to move along rails on at least a portion of the frame.
28. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein the left and right movable members comprise rear ends, and wherein the rear ends of each of the left and right movable members are configured to move in a reciprocating motion.
29. An exercise apparatus, comprising:
a frame, wherein the frame is configured such that at least a portion of the apparatus remains substantially stationary during use;
a left movable member configured to move relative to at least a portion of the frame;
a right movable member configured to move relative to at least a portion of the frame;
a left foot member coupled to the left movable member;
a right foot member coupled to the right movable member;
a left arm link coupled to the left movable member;
a right arm link coupled to the right movable member;
a drive system coupled to the frame; and
a linkage assembly coupled to the drive system and to the left and right arm links, wherein a length in the linkage assembly can be adjusted by a user of the apparatus to vary the angle of rotation of the left and/or right arm links.
30. The apparatus of claim 29, wherein the linkage assembly is directly attached to the drive system and to the left and right arm links.
31. The apparatus of claim 29, wherein the linkage assembly comprises one or more members directly attaching the left and right arm links to the drive system.
32. The apparatus of claim 29, wherein the linkage assembly is configured to allow the user to adjust the user's stride length by changing the length in the linkage assembly using a user adjustable slider assembly and varying the angle of rotation of the left and right arm links.
33. The apparatus of claim 29, wherein the linkage assembly comprises a device for adjusting the length in the linkage assembly.
34. The apparatus of claim 33, wherein the device comprises a servomotor.
35. The apparatus of claim 29, wherein the left and right foot members are coupled to foot suspension systems.
36. The apparatus of claim 29, wherein the drive system comprises at least one pulley, at least one belt, and at least one crank.
37. The apparatus of claim 29, wherein the left and right movable members are configured to move relative to a fixed point on the frame.
38. The apparatus of claim 29, wherein the left and right movable members are configured to move along rails on at least a portion of the frame.
39. The apparatus of claim 29, wherein the left and right movable members comprise rear ends, and wherein the rear ends of each of the left and right movable members are configured to move in a reciprocating motion.
40. An exercise apparatus, comprising:
a frame, wherein the frame is configured such that at least a portion of the apparatus remains substantially stationary during use;
a left movable member configured to move relative to at least a portion of the frame;
a right movable member configured to move relative to at least a portion of the frame;
a left foot member coupled to the left movable member;
a right foot member coupled to the right movable member;
a left arm link coupled to the left movable member;
a right arm link coupled to the right movable member;
a drive system coupled to the frame; and
a linkage assembly comprising left and right linkage assemblies, wherein the left linkage assembly is directly attached to the drive system at a first left end of the linkage assembly and directly attached to the left arm link at a second left end of the linkage assembly, wherein the right linkage assembly is directly attached to the drive system at a first right end of the linkage assembly and directly attached to the right arm link at a second right end of the linkage assembly, and wherein the linkage assembly comprises at least one device configured to allow variation in a length of the linkage assembly between at least one first end of the linkage assembly and at least one second end of the linkage assembly during use of the apparatus.
41. The apparatus of claim 40, wherein at least one of the devices allows instantaneous variation in the length of the linkage assembly to allow a user to instantaneously vary the user's stride length during use of the apparatus.
42. The apparatus of claim 40, wherein variation in the length of the linkage assembly allows a user to vary the user's stride length during use of the apparatus.
43. The apparatus of claim 40, wherein at least one of the devices configured to allow variation in the length of the linkage assembly comprises a lever arm coupling between two members of the linkage assembly and a spring coupled between one of the members and the lever arm.
44. The apparatus of claim 40, wherein at least one of the devices configured to allow variation in the length of the linkage assembly comprises at least one variable length linkage assembly member and a resistive element coupled to the variable length member.
45. The apparatus of claim 40, wherein the left and right foot members are coupled to foot suspension systems.
46. The apparatus of claim 40, wherein the drive system comprises at least one pulley, at least one belt, and at least one crank.
47. The apparatus of claim 40, wherein the left and right movable members are configured to move relative to a fixed point on the frame.
48. The apparatus of claim 40, wherein the left and right movable members are configured to move along rails on at least a portion of the frame.
49. The apparatus of claim 40, wherein the left and right movable members comprise rear ends, and wherein the rear ends of each of the left and right movable members are configured to move in a reciprocating motion.
50. The apparatus of claim 40, wherein the left movable member and the right movable member are cross coupled so that the left movable member moves in opposition to the right movable member.
51. An exercise apparatus, comprising:
a frame, wherein the frame is configured such that at least a portion of the apparatus remains substantially stationary during use;
a left movable member configured to move relative to at least a portion of the frame;
a right movable member configured to move relative to at least a portion of the frame;
a left foot member coupled to the left movable member;
a right foot member coupled to the right movable member;
a left arm link coupled to the left movable member;
a right arm link coupled to the right movable member;
a drive system coupled to the frame; and
a linkage assembly coupled to the drive system and the left and right arm links, wherein the linkage assembly is configured to provide a varying resistive force to allow a user of the apparatus to vary the user's stride length during use of the apparatus.
52. The apparatus of claim 5 1, wherein the linkage assembly is configured to allow the user to instantaneously vary the user's stride length during use of the apparatus.
53. The apparatus of claim 5 1, wherein the varying resistive force in the linkage assembly is provided by a lever arm coupled between at least two members of the linkage assembly and a spring coupled between one of the members and the lever arm.
54. The apparatus of claim 5 1, wherein the linkage assembly comprises one or more members, and wherein the varying resistive force in the linkage assembly is provided by at least one of the linkage assembly members configured to vary its length and a resistive element coupled to the varied length member.
55. The apparatus of claim 5 1, wherein the left and right foot members are coupled to foot suspension systems.
56. The apparatus of claim 5 1, wherein the drive system comprises at least one pulley, at least one belt, and at least one crank.
57. The apparatus of claim 5 1, wherein the left and right movable members are configured to move relative to a fixed point on the frame.
58. The apparatus of claim 5 1, wherein the left and right movable members are configured to move along rails on at least a portion of the frame.
59. The apparatus of claim 5 1, wherein the left and right movable members comprise rear ends, and wherein the rear ends of each of the left and right movable members are configured to move in a reciprocating motion.
60. The apparatus of claim 51, wherein the left movable member and the right movable member are cross coupled so that the left movable member moves in opposition to the right movable member.
Description
PRIORITY CLAIM

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/499,199 entitled “Variable Striding Simulator” to Robert E. Rodgers, Jr., filed on Aug. 29, 2003.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to an exercise apparatus. Certain embodiments relate to exercise apparatus that may allow exercise such as simulated climbing, walking, striding, and/or jogging.

2. Description of Related Art

Exercise devices have been in use for years. Some typical exercise devices that simulate walking or jogging include cross country ski machines, stair climbing machines, elliptical motion machines, and pendulum motion machines.

In many exercise apparatus, the user's foot is constrained during exercise to patterns that may not accurately represent the typical path and/or position of a foot during walking and/or jogging. For example, cross country ski machines may not allow a user to lift the front of his/her foot above a flat plane defined by the top of the pedal or footpad. Elliptical machines may constrain a user's foot to the mechanically defined elliptical path of the footpads or foot pedals. An ellipse, however, may not completely replicate a striding motion, particularly near a front of the elliptical path. Pendulum motion machines may cause a user's foot to move through a small radius of curvature that may not satisfactorily simulate a striding motion. Many such exercise apparatus may require a user to “learn” a path of motion for the individual exercise apparatus that is not natural to the user.

In addition, many exercise apparatus require a user to exert some force other than force required in the normal exercise activity to operate the system. For example, a user may have to exert additional force to accelerate a pedal or footpad back to a system speed. Application of such force during simulated activity may be unnatural and not representative of actual walking, striding, or jogging.

Some exercise apparatus have been developed that utilize the inertia in moving components of the apparatus to accelerate a user's foot during use of the apparatus. U.S. Pat. No. 6,626,802 to Rodgers, Jr. and published U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/611,497 to Rodgers, Jr., which are incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein, disclose exercise apparatus that provide for an enabling reciprocating motion of the user's legs or feet while the user remains generally stationary. The exercise apparatus includes an inertia drive assembly that may accelerate foot carriage assemblies as the carriage assemblies initially advance rearwardly or forwardly along rails.

SUMMARY

In an embodiment, an exercise apparatus may include a frame. The frame may include at least a portion that remains substantially stationary during use. The apparatus may include a left movable member and a right movable member that move relative to at least a portion of the frame. A left foot member and a right foot member may be coupled to the left movable member and the right movable member, respectively. A left arm link and a right arm link may be coupled to the left movable member and the right movable member, respectively. A drive system may be coupled to the frame. In certain embodiments, an apparatus may include a linkage assembly directly attached to the drive system and to the left and right arm links.

In some embodiments, an apparatus may include a belt system. The belt system may include a belt and at least one pulley. The belt system may be coupled to the left and right movable members. The belt and pulley system may provide inertial forces to a user during use of the apparatus.

In certain embodiments, the left and right foot members may be coupled to foot suspension systems. In some embodiments, the movable members may move along rails on at least a portion of the frame.

In some embodiments, a linkage assembly may include a user adjustable slider assembly. The user adjustable slider assembly may allow a user of the apparatus to adjust the user's stride length during use of the apparatus. In some embodiments, a user adjustable slider assembly may include a motor (e.g., a servomotor) for varying a position of the slider assembly. In some embodiments, a length in the linkage assembly can be adjusted by a user of the apparatus to vary the angle of rotation of the left and right arm links. The length in the linkage assembly may be adjusted using a user adjustable slider assembly.

In certain embodiments, a linkage assembly may include left and right linkage assemblies. The left and right linkage assemblies may be directly attached to the drive system at a first left end and a first right end of the linkage assembly and directly attached to the left and right arm links at a second left end and a second right end of the linkage assembly. The left linkage assembly may be directly attached to the drive system at a first left end of the linkage assembly and directly attached to the left arm link at a second left end of the linkage assembly. The right linkage assembly may be directly attached to the drive system at a first right end of the linkage assembly and directly attached to the right arm link at a second right end of the linkage assembly.

The linkage assembly may include a device that allows variation in a length of the linkage assembly between the first left end and the second left end, or between the first right end and the second right end, of the linkage assembly during use of the apparatus. In some embodiments, the device may allow instantaneous variation in the length of the linkage assembly. Variation in the length of the linkage assembly may allow variation in a user's stride length during use of the apparatus. In some embodiments, a linkage assembly may provide a varying resistive force to allow a user of the apparatus to vary stride length during use of the apparatus.

In some embodiments, the device may include a lever arm coupled between two members in the linkage assembly. The device may also include a spring coupled between one of the members and the lever arm. In some embodiments, the device may include a variable length member and a resistive element coupled to the variable length member.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Advantages of the present invention may become apparent to those skilled in the art with the benefit of the following detailed description and upon reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 depicts a side view of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus.

FIG. 2 depicts an embodiment of a linkage assembly and drive system for an exercise apparatus.

FIGS. 3 and 4 depict an embodiment of a foot member and movable member configuration.

FIG. 5 depicts an embodiment of a footpad and a movable member.

FIG. 6 depicts an embodiment of a footpad directly mounted on a movable member.

FIG. 7 depicts an embodiment of a walking pattern.

FIG. 8 depicts a side view of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus.

FIG. 9 depicts an embodiment of an isometric loop formed by a belt.

FIG. 10 depicts an embodiment of an isometric loop formed by a belt.

FIG. 11 depicts a representation of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus.

FIG. 12 depicts a representation of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus.

FIG. 13 depicts a representation of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus.

FIG. 14 depicts a representation of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus.

FIG. 15 depicts a representation of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus.

FIG. 16 depicts a representation of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus.

FIG. 17 depicts a representation of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus.

FIG. 18 depicts a representation of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus.

FIG. 19 depicts an embodiment of an exercise apparatus with an adjustable linkage assembly.

FIG. 20 depicts a representation of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus.

FIG. 21 depicts a representation of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus.

FIG. 22 depicts a representation of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus.

FIG. 23 depicts a representation of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus.

FIG. 24 depicts an embodiment of an exercise apparatus with an instantaneously variable linkage assembly.

FIG. 25 depicts an embodiment for operation of a pivoting end.

FIG. 26 depicts an embodiment of an exercise apparatus with an instantaneously variable length linkage assembly.

FIG. 27 depicts an embodiment of an exercise apparatus with an instantaneously variable length linkage assembly.

FIG. 28 depicts a representation of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus.

FIG. 29 depicts a representation of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus.

FIG. 30 depicts a representation of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus.

FIG. 31 depicts a representation of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus.

While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments thereof are shown by way of example in the drawings and may herein be described in detail. The drawings may not be to scale. It should be understood, however, that the drawings and detailed description thereto are not intended to limit the invention to the particular form disclosed, but on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the context of this patent, the term “coupled” means either a direct connection or an indirect connection (e.g., one or more intervening connections) between one or more objects or components. The phrase “directly attached” means a direct connection between objects or components.

FIG. 1 depicts a side view of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus. Frame 100 may include a basic supporting framework and an upper stalk. Frame 100 may be any structure that provides support for one or more components of an exercise apparatus. In certain embodiments, all or a portion of frame 100 may remain substantially stationary during use. For example, all or a portion of frame 100 may remain substantially stationary relative to a floor on which the exercise apparatus is used. “Stationary” generally means that an object (or a portion of the object) has little or no movement during use. For example, an exercise apparatus would be “stationary” if the apparatus is operated in one location (in contrast to a movable exercise apparatus such as an ordinary bicycle), even if the apparatus wobbles or vibrates during use.

In an embodiment, rails 102 may be coupled to and/or supported by frame 100. In some embodiments, frame 100 may perform the function of rails 102. In FIG. 1, both right and left sides of the linkage system are shown. The right and left sides of the apparatus may be used for the right and left feet of a user, correspondingly. The right and left sides of the apparatus may be mirror images along a vertical plane oriented along the center of the machine as viewed from above. In other embodiments depicted herein, only the left or right side of the apparatus may be shown. It is to be understood that in embodiments in which only one side of the apparatus is depicted, the other side may be a mirror image of the depicted side.

Left and right movable members 104 may be supported at the rear by wheels 106. Wheels 106 may translate in rails 102. In certain embodiments, left and right movable members 104 may be movable members that move in a back and forth motion (i.e., one member moves forward as the other member moves backward in a reciprocating motion). In some embodiments, movable members 104 may be movable members that move in a closed path (e.g., an asymmetrical path). The path or motion (e.g., reciprocating motion or closed path motion) of movable members 104 may be determined during the process of designing an exercise apparatus (e.g., by a designer of the exercise apparatus). For example, a designer of an exercise apparatus may design the linkage geometry of the exercise apparatus to provide a determined path of motion of movable members 104.

The forward portions of movable members 104 may be pivotally coupled to arm links 108. Arm links 108 may be designed so that the upper portions can be used as grasping members (e.g., handles). Arm links 108 may be pivotally coupled to and supported by frame 100 at point 110. In an embodiment, arm links 108 are pivotally coupled to crank links 112. In certain embodiments, arm links 108 may be directly attached (e.g., pivotally coupled and directly attached) to crank links 112. Crank links 112 may be pivotally coupled to crank members 114. In certain embodiments, crank links 112 may be directly attached to crank members 114. Crank members 114 may drive pulley device 116, which in turn may drive brake/inertia device 118 using belt 120.

In certain embodiments, crank links 112 may be directly attached to arm links 108 and to a drive system. A “drive system” may include, in a generic case, crank member 114 coupled (either directly attached or indirectly attached) to pulley device 116. In some embodiments, a drive system may include brake/inertia device 118 and/or belt 120. In some embodiments, a drive system may be formed from other types of devices that generally convert reciprocation or motion of a member to rotation. For example, a drive system may include a ring (e.g., a metal ring) supported by one or more rollers. In certain embodiments, a crank drive may include one or more intermediate components between the crank member and the pulley (e.g., an axle or connectors). In certain embodiments, a drive system may be directly attached to frame 100. In some embodiments, a drive system may be indirectly coupled to frame 100 with one or more components coupling the drive system to the frame.

A brake/inertia device (e.g., brake/inertia device 118) may provide a load to affect the intensity of a cardiovascular workout. A brake/inertia device may include an energy-storing member (e.g., a flywheel) that is coupled to a linkage or crank system to increase inertia of the system. In some embodiments, a brake/inertia device may provide for a variable load. In some embodiments, a brake/inertia device may store energy provided by a user during a portion of an exercise motion and then may provide at least a portion of such stored energy back to the user during another portion of the exercise motion.

Foot members 122 may be pivotally coupled to movable members 104. Foot members 122 may have footpads 124 or any other surface on which a user may stand. Footpad 124 is typically any surface or location on which a user's foot resides during use of an exercise apparatus (e.g., the footpad may be a pad or a pedal on which the user's foot resides during use). In some embodiments, footpad 124 may be a portion of foot member 122.

In certain embodiments, suspension links 126 and 128 may be pivotally coupled to foot members 122 and to movable members 104. Suspension links 126 and 128 may be pivotally coupled at point 130. One end of spring 132 may be coupled to suspension links 126 and 128 at point 130. The second end of spring 132 may be coupled to movable member 104.

Operation of suspension links 126 and 128 and spring 132 may be understood by comparing depictions, as shown in FIG. 1, of the right and left foot members 122, the right and left suspension links 126 and 128, and the right and left springs 132 (i.e., comparing depictions of the right and left foot member assemblies). As shown in FIG. 1, in the left foot member assembly, spring 132 is applying force to suspension links 126 and 128 so that foot member 122 is forced upward relative to movable member 104. When a user of the apparatus applies force to foot member 122, suspension links 126 and 128 may act to extend spring 132, thus providing a resistive force to support the user. One advantage of a foot member assembly with suspension links 126 and 128 and spring 132 is that foot member 122 may feel progressively stiffer to a user as the user moves the foot member downward. Foot member 122 may essentially be supported by a non-linear resistive force provided by suspension links 126 and 128 and spring 132 in which the resistive force becomes greater (i.e., foot member 122 may feel stiffer to a user) as the foot member nears a horizontal position. Such a foot member assembly may provide similar footpad positions at the end or beginning of a stride for users with varying body weights and/or applied forces. Thus, such a designed exercise apparatus may be used by a wide variety of users.

In some embodiments, a foot member assembly may include a shock absorber. A shock absorber may be coupled to the same coupling points as spring 132. For example, a shock absorber may be coupled at point 130 and to movable member 104. A shock absorber may be coupled adjacent to spring 132 or may be located inside the spring.

As shown in FIG. 1, movable member 104 may be bent. In some embodiments, however, movable member 104 may be straight, curved, and/or include a bend. In certain embodiments, movable member 104 is made of a solid or unitary construction. In some embodiments, movable member 104 may include multiple components coupled or fastened to achieve a desired performance. Similarly, foot members 122 and arm links 108 may be straight, bent, or curved. Foot members 122 and arm links 108 may be unitary or may include multiple components.

In an embodiment, a user ascends the exercise apparatus, stands on footpads 124 and initiates a walking or striding motion. The right and left foot member assemblies support the weight of the user. The weight of the user on footpads 124 combined with motion of the footpads and foot members 122 causes motion of movable members 104 and arm links 108. This motion in turn causes the rotation of crank members 114, pulley device 116, and/or brake/inertia device 118. Foot members 122 move with the user's feet, and the foot member assemblies may accommodate the path and pattern of the user's feet. An example of a path for a user's foot is shown by path 134 in FIG. 1. Path 134 represents motion of a user's toe during use of the exercise apparatus. The shape and/or height of path 134 may be determined by how much a user's heel rises during motion of the user's foot. In some embodiments, a shape of path 134 may resemble a teardrop. A user may apply more force to foot member 122 to reduce the height of the teardrop in path 134 or may apply less force to the foot member to increase the height of the path or teardrop. The path of the user's foot may accurately simulate a walking, striding, and/or jogging motion.

FIG. 2 depicts an embodiment of a linkage assembly and drive system for an exercise apparatus. A linkage assembly may include one or more other components such as links, connectors, and/or additional members that couple to and/or provide coupling between a drive system and one or more arm links 108. In some embodiments, a linkage assembly may include one link (e.g., crank link 112 shown in FIG. 1).

In an embodiment, as shown in FIG. 2, linkage assembly 136 may include crank links 112 and lever arms 138. Linkage assembly 136 may be directly attached to arm links 108 and to crank members 114. Lever arms 138 may be pivotally coupled to crank links 112. In certain embodiments, lever arms 138 may be rigidly attached to arm links 108. Rigidly attaching arm links 108 and lever arms 138 may cause the arm links and the lever arms to rotate in unison during use. In some embodiments, lever arms 138 may be coupled to arm links 108 using a tube or other member to offset the lever arms from the arm links. In certain embodiments, a drive system (e.g., the drive system depicted in FIG. 2) may be enclosed within a cover or a shroud to protect one or more components of the drive system. Longer crank links 112, as shown in FIG. 2, may reduce variations in the angular velocity that occur during use of an exercise apparatus.

FIGS. 3 and 4 depict an embodiment of a foot member and movable member configuration. Foot member 122 may have a curved shape as shown in FIG. 3. The curved portion of foot member 122 may engage suspension belt 140. Each end of suspension belt 140 may be coupled to movable member 104. In an embodiment, as foot member 122 moves downward, suspension belt 140 may be stretched. The profile of the curved portion of foot member 122 may cause a greater rate of stretch in suspension belt 140 as the foot member moves downward. FIG. 4 depicts suspension belt 140 stretched by foot member 122 in a downward position. Thus, suspension belt 140 may provide a nonlinear resistive force to foot member 122 and a user may feel a stiffer resistance as the foot member moves downward. Friction between suspension belt 140 and foot member 122 may provide damping force and/or shock absorption for movement of a user's foot. In some embodiments, suspension belt 140 may be coupled to a spring or to a rocker arm that is coupled to a spring.

FIGS. 5 and 6 depict embodiments of a footpad and a movable member configuration, in which footpad 124 is coupled to movable member 104 without an intervening foot member. In FIG. 5, footpad 124 is coupled to movable member 104 such that the footpad may pivot. Allowing footpad 124 to pivot (e.g., freely pivot) relative to movable member 104 allows a user's foot to freely articulate during rearward and forward motion of the foot.

FIG. 6 depicts an embodiment of footpad 124 directly mounted on movable member 104. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 6, a user's foot may move in a reciprocating motion such that the user's heel steadily rises relative to the user's toe, or the user's toe steadily falls relative to the user's heel as the user's foot moves rearward. Such reciprocating motion may more accurately simulate a walking pattern in which a user's heel strikes the ground at the front of a stride, the ball of the user's foot lowers to the ground, and the user's heel lifts at the end of the stride, as depicted in FIG. 7.

In an embodiment in which footpad 124 is directly mounted on movable member 104, as shown in FIG. 6, a radius of curvature of the footpad (line 142) may be lengthened and be moved rearward relative to the radius of curvature of arm link 108 (line 144). These radii may give rise to a desired foot motion during use of the apparatus. In certain embodiments, the larger radius of curvature of a footpad (line 142) may provide a more accurate simulation of walking. Also, arm links 108 may be positioned in front of the user, which allows for a narrower width for the apparatus. In certain embodiments, similar advantages may be available due to the relative radii of curvature of a footpad and an arm link. For example, in the embodiment depicted in FIG. 1, similar advantages are available since the footpad is fully extended downward during the weight-bearing portion of a stride.

FIG. 8 depicts a side view of an embodiment of an exercise apparatus. In the embodiment of FIG. 8, the foot member assemblies and arm links 108 operate similarly to those in the embodiment depicted in FIG. 1. As shown in FIG. 8, belt 146 may be attached to axle 148 of wheel 106. Belt 146 may wrap around pulley 150. Pulley 150 may be a unidirectional pulley. Pulley 150 may be coupled to (e.g., mounted on) drive shaft 152. An overrunning clutch may be used to couple pulley 150 to drive shaft 152. Belt 146 may wrap over the top of pulley 150 and wrap around idler 154. Near the back of the apparatus, belt 146 may wrap around idler 156.

Belt 146 may form a continuous loop, as shown in FIG. 9. In certain embodiments, pulleys 150 may be mounted on overrunning clutches. Mounting pulleys 150 on overrunning clutches allows unidirectional rotation of shaft 152 and brake/inertia device 118 due to the alternating linear motion of belt 146. In some embodiments, drive shaft 152 may be vertically oriented, as shown in FIG. 10. In certain embodiments, vertically oriented drive shaft 152 may allow more efficient packaging of mechanical components.

As indicated by the dashed lines in FIG. 8, the vertical stalk of frame 100 may be designed to fold down for storage and/or shipment. Rotating joint 158 may be locked within locking knob 160 in a vertically oriented position. Locking knob 160 may be disengaged to allow the vertical stalk of frame 100 to be rotated downward toward a position indicated by the dashed lines. Such a design of the vertical stalk of frame 100 may also be included in other embodiments of exercise apparatus (e.g., the embodiment depicted in FIG. 1).

FIGS. 11-18 depict schematic representations of various embodiments of exercise apparatus that may allow motion of a user's feet similar to motion allowed by the embodiments depicted in FIGS. 1 and 8 (e.g., reciprocating motion). Several embodiments are depicted herein as schematics to simplify discussion of pertinent features. Such depictions may not include one or more features that may be present in a fully functioning exercise apparatus. For example, only the right side foot member, footpad, movable member, arm link, and/or other selected components of the apparatus may be shown. In some embodiments, no pulley, belt, and/or brake/inertia system may be shown. In some embodiments, no right and left side cross coupling system may be shown. In some embodiments, one or more members in an apparatus may be straight, may be curved, may be unitary, or may be composed of multiple pieces.

FIG. 11 depicts a representation of the basic embodiment of the exercise apparatus depicted in FIGS. 1 and 8. FIG. 12 depicts a representation of embodiments in which movable member 104 is non-straight and/or wheel 106 may be located at any position along the movable member. FIG. 13 depicts a representation of embodiments in which rail 102 may be non-straight.

FIG. 14 depicts a representation of embodiments in which movable member 104 may include more than one piece. The pieces of movable member 104 may be pivotally coupled. In some embodiments, more than one wheel 106 may be located on movable member 104.

FIG. 15 depicts a representation of embodiments in which reciprocating motion may be accomplished without the use of a wheel and a rail. In certain embodiments, arm link 108 may include more than one piece (e.g., multiple links) that may perform the function of the arm link, as shown in FIGS. 15, 17, and 18. A drive system may be coupled to one or more of the multiple links used to function as an arm link.

FIG. 16 depicts a representation of embodiments in which arm link 108 may be actuated by a system other than a pivotal coupling at point 110. As depicted in FIG. 16, arm link 108 may be allowed to slide within pivoting collar 162.

FIG. 17 depicts a representation of embodiments in which footpad 124 is rigidly mounted to movable member 104. In certain embodiments, progressive stiffness suspension system 164 may be included in the exercise apparatus. FIG. 18 depicts a representation of embodiments in which desired suspension system operations may be achieved with sliding elements 166.

In certain embodiments, a linkage assembly may include one or more adjustable components. Including adjustable components in a linkage assembly may allow for adjustment or variation of a user's stride length. Allowing adjustment or variation of a user's stride length in an exercise apparatus may provide an exercise apparatus that can accommodate a wider range of body weights and/or physical characteristics (e.g., a user's height or stride length). Allowing variable stride length may allow the path of the user's foot more accurately simulate a walking, striding, and/or jogging motion.

FIG. 19 depicts an embodiment of an exercise apparatus with an adjustable linkage assembly. In an embodiment, linkage assembly 136 may include lever arms 138, crank links 112, slider assembly 168, servomotor 170, and lead screw 172. Lever arms 138 may be pivotally coupled to crank links 112. In certain embodiments, lever arms 138 may be pivotally coupled to crank links 112 through slider assembly 168. Crank links 112 may be pivotally coupled to crank members 114. Crank members 114 may drive pulley device 116, which in turn may drive brake/inertia device 118 using belt 120.

During use of the apparatus, slider assembly 168 may move with lever arm 138 at a fixed position along the lever arm. In some embodiments, slider assembly 168 may be movable back and forth along lever arm 138. The moving or repositioning of slider assembly 168 allows the slider assembly to be selectively positioned along the length of lever arm 138 such that the stride length for a user may be varied. For example, if slider assembly 168 is moved away from point 110 along lever arm 138, the angle of rotation of arm link 108 induced by the rotation of crank member 114 is reduced. This reduction of the angle of rotation of arm link 108 results in a reduced stride length for the user.

Sliding motion of slider assembly 168 may be controllable, for example, by use of servomotor 170 and lead screw 172. In certain embodiments, servomotor 170 may be electrically coupled to controller 174. Controller 174 may include controls to adjust the location of slider assembly 168 using servomotor 170. Controller 174 may include a display for the user of the apparatus. A user may adjust the stride length of the apparatus by using controller 174 to activate servomotor 170. Activation of servomotor 170 rotates lead screw 172, which repositions slider assembly 168 and adjusts the stride length.

In some embodiments, a position of slider assembly 168 along lever arm 138 may be manually repositioned. For example, a user may move slider assembly 168 and lock the slider assembly in place using a retractable pin or a threaded knob to adjust the stride length of the apparatus.

FIGS. 20-23 depict schematic representations of various embodiments of exercise apparatus that may allow adjustable stride length similarly to the embodiment depicted in FIG. 19. For simplicity, only lever arm 138 of linkage assembly 136 is shown in FIGS. 20-23.

In certain embodiments, a user may be allowed to “instantaneously” or “dynamically” adjust his/hers stride length. The user may essentially be allowed to instantaneously or dynamically change his/her stride length by imparting variable forces to foot members 122 or footpads 124. The user may selectively impart forces (e.g., at a beginning or an end of a stride) that vary the stride length and allow more accurate simulation of a walking, striding, and/or jogging motion.

FIG. 24 depicts an embodiment of an exercise apparatus with an instantaneously variable length linkage assembly. In an embodiment, linkage assembly 136 may include lever arms 138, crank links 112, pivoting ends 176, and spring 178. Lever arms 138 may be pivotally coupled to crank links 112. In certain embodiments, lever arms 138 may include pivoting ends 176. Pivoting ends 176 may be pivotally coupled to crank links 112. Pivoting end 176 may be an extension of lever arm 138. Pivoting end 176 may operate to control an effective length of lever arm 138. Effective length 179 of lever arm 138 may be a length of the lever arm from point 110 to a point at the intersection of the longitudinal axis of the lever arm and the longitudinal axis of crank link 112.

Crank links 112 may be pivotally coupled to crank members 114. Crank members 114 may drive pulley device 116, which in turn may drive brake/inertia device 118 using belt 120.

FIG. 25 depicts an embodiment for operation of pivoting end 176. Pivoting end 176 may be coupled to lever arm 138 at point 180. Spring 178 may be coupled to lever arm 138 and pivoting end 176 such that the spring creates a resistive force opposing rotation of the pivoting end about point 180.

In certain embodiments, a user's stride length may be instantaneously varied by the user applying force to the apparatus through arm links 108 and/or foot members 122. As the user applies force to the apparatus through arm links 108 and/or foot members 122, pivoting end 176 may deflect (e.g., instantaneously or dynamically deflect) relative to lever arm 138. As pivoting end 176 moves (e.g., rotates), the pivoting end may change effective length 179 of lever arm 138, as shown in FIG. 25. Thus a length of linkage assembly 136 may be varied as the user applies force to the apparatus. Deflection of pivoting end 176 may allow a position of foot member 122 to vary from a position the foot member would have if lever arm 138 was a rigid member without a pivoting end. Thus, a user's stride length may be varied even though a diameter of crank members 114 is predetermined and fixed. In certain embodiments, spring 178 may provide a resistive force that varies as pivoting end 176 is deflected.

In some embodiments, instantaneous deflection of pivoting ends 176 may occur when inertial forces act on the apparatus. For example, as movable member 104 is decelerated at the end of either its forward or rearward motion, the inertial (e.g., deceleration) force may be transmitted through pivoting end 176. With the transmitted deceleration force, pivoting end 176 may deflect and result in a lengthened stride for the user due to a change in the length of linkage assembly 136. Inertial forces increase as the operating speed of the apparatus increases. Thus, a user's stride length may increase with operating speed of the apparatus.

In some embodiments, right and left side linkage systems (e.g., foot members 122, arm links 108, and/or movable members 104) may be cross coupled so that they move in direct and constant opposition to one another. This movement may be accomplished with a continuous belt or cable loop, as shown in FIG. 24. Belt 182 may be a continuous loop supported and constrained by idler pulleys 184. Idler pulleys 184 may be located at either end of frame 100. Belt 182 may be coupled to movable members 104 at points 186. In certain embodiments, belt 182 is configured in a continuous loop coupled to the right side foot member and the left side foot member, thus causing the right and left foot members to move in direct and constant opposition to one another. The geometry of a linkage system (which may include foot members 122, wheels 106, movable members 104, crank members 114, and/or arm links 108) may be such that the belt system (including belt 182 and idler pulleys 184) must accommodate either a change in pitch length or a change in distance between idler pulley centers. If the change in pitch length is slight, the change may be accommodated by belt stretch. In some embodiments, one of the idler pulleys may be mounted using a spring tensioning system so that the distance between idler pulley centers may increase or decrease slightly during linkage system operation while maintaining tension in the belt system.

FIGS. 26 and 27 depict embodiments of exercise apparatus with instantaneously variable length linkage assemblies. In certain embodiments, linkage assembly 136 may include crank links 112 and/or lever arms 138. In the embodiment of FIG. 26, crank link 112 may be pivotally coupled directly to arm link 108 at point 188. In the embodiment of FIG. 27, lever arm 138 may be rigid and pivotally coupled to crank link 112. In certain embodiments (e.g., the embodiments depicted in FIGS. 26 and 27), crank link 112 may be a telescoping member that is variable in length. A change in length of crank link 112 changes a length of linkage assembly 136. Telescoping movement of crank link 112 may be resisted by element 190. Element 190 may be a spring element, a damper element, or a combination spring/damper element. Element 190 may provide a resistive force that varies as the length of crank link 112 changes. The telescoping movement of crank link 112 may allow variable stride length due to user applied forces and/or inertial forces as described above.

FIGS. 28-31 depict schematic representations of various embodiments of exercise apparatus that may provide instantaneously variable stride length as in the embodiments depicted in FIGS. 24, 26, and 27. For simplicity, only lever arm 138 of linkage assembly 136 is shown in FIGS. 28-31.

In this patent, certain U.S. patents, U.S. patent applications, and other materials (e.g., articles) have been incorporated by reference. The text of such U.S. patents, U.S. patent applications, and other materials is, however, only incorporated by reference to the extent that no conflict exists between such text and the other statements and drawings set forth herein. In the event of such conflict, then any such conflicting text in such incorporated by reference U.S. patents, U.S. patent applications, and other materials is specifically not incorporated by reference in this patent.

Further modifications and alternative embodiments of various aspects of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art in view of this description. Accordingly, this description is to be construed as illustrative only and is for the purpose of teaching those skilled in the art the general manner of carrying out the invention. It is to be understood that the forms of the invention shown and described herein are to be taken as the presently preferred embodiments. Elements and materials may be substituted for those illustrated and described herein, parts and processes may be reversed, and certain features of the invention may be utilized independently, all as would be apparent to one skilled in the art after having the benefit of this description of the invention. Changes may be made in the elements described herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as described in the following claims.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification482/52, 482/57
International ClassificationA63B23/04, A63B22/04, A63B23/035
Cooperative ClassificationA63B21/02, A63B2022/0017, A63B21/225, A63B22/001, A63B22/0046, A63B22/0664, A63B2022/0676
European ClassificationA63B22/00A6, A63B22/06E