CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/552,081, filed on Mar. 10, 2004.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to exercise and fitness, and, more particularly, to a prompt-based exercise apparatus, system, and method.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Existing training, fitness, recreation, and rehabilitation equipment, systems, and exercises provide exercise, recreation, or rehabilitation to users. Often, such equipment, systems, and exercises target certain regions of the body, or certain muscle groups. For example, a sit up bench may help the user target the muscle groups in the abdominal region of the user. This is particularly important for exercises, equipment, and systems targeting body regions in need of rehabilitation. For example, a user suffering from a back injury may target the muscles in the lower back for strengthening. In general, and in such rehabilitation cases in particular, it may be very detrimental if an exercise is performed incorrectly. If an exercise is performed incorrectly, the wrong region of the body may be targeted by the exercise and damage to the body of the user may result. Additionally, incorrectly targeting exercising can eliminate or curtail the desired results of an exercise. The elimination of the benefits of a given exercise may be particularly undesirable in the case of, for example, rehabilitation.
However, existing exercises, equipment and systems do not provide a mechanism to allow a user to make certain that the correct body region is targeted. Without medical training, and without guidance as to how a targeted exercise should feel, a user may lack understanding of the intended result of the exercise. Further, even if the user understands the intended result of an exercise, a user may lack “muscle memory” to properly perform an exercise until that exercise has been repeatedly performed. As such, even users having an understanding of the intended result of an exercise, and the damage that can be done from improper performance of the exercise, may nonetheless lack initial muscle memory, and hence may learn to perform the exercise improperly. Damage to the body often is the result, even for experienced exercisers and for medically trained exercisers.
Experienced and inexperienced exercisers may avoid body damage or curtailing of desired exercise results by receiving guidance on regions of the body. This guidance may allow those exercisers to properly target certain exercises to the desired region of the body. Such guidance typically includes extensive medical training, exercise training classes, educational sessions, or the like. Additionally, guidance may come from the person teaching an exercise to the exerciser, such as wherein a personal trainer places a hand on the specific region of the user, or points to a specific region of the user, to be targeted by a given exercise and says “you should feel it here”.
However, it is not generally desirable to give extensive medical or educational training to exercisers, as such training is time-consuming for both teacher and learner, and as such is inefficient. Further, exercisers may find it offensive or irritating to frequently have a body part touched or pointed to by an exercise professional.
Thus, the need exists for an exercise, apparatus, system, and method that allows a user to efficiently learn to focus an exercise to a properly targeted region of the body, as assessed by a competent medical and exercise professional.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention includes an exercise system, apparatus, and method. The system and apparatus include at least one prompt physically associated with a user, wherein each prompt is directly corresponded to a target area of the user, and at least one instruction, wherein each instruction is associated with at least one prompt, and wherein taking action on the prompt in accordance with the instruction impacts the target area. The system and apparatus may additionally include one or more props for association with the prompts in an exercise to effect the target area.
The exercise method includes physically associating at least one prompt with an exerciser, directly corresponding each of said at least one prompt is to a target on the exerciser, and allowing for instruction to the exerciser, wherein the instruction is associated with at least one prompt, and wherein an action on the prompt in accordance with the instruction impacts the target.
Thus, the present invention provides an exercise, apparatus, system, and method that allows a user to efficiently learn to focus an exercise to a properly targeted region of the body, as assessed by a competent medical and exercise professional.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
The various features of the present invention and its embodiments will now be described in greater detail with reference to the drawings of an embodiment of the present invention, and various related components, wherein like reference numerals designate like elements, and wherein:
FIG. 1 is a prompt key that correlates prompts to parts of the body;
FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of a body of an exerciser having associated therewith one or more prompts corresponded to at least one exercise to be performed by the user;
FIGS. 2A-2G illustrate aspects of the present invention;
FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram illustrating an exemplary exercise in accordance with an aspect of the present invention;
FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram illustrating an exemplary exercise in accordance with an aspect of the present invention;
FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram illustrating an exemplary exercise in accordance with an aspect of the present invention;
FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram illustrating an exemplary exercise in accordance with an aspect of the present invention;
FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram illustrating an exemplary exercise in accordance with an aspect of the present invention;
FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram illustrating an exemplary exercise in accordance with an aspect of the present invention;
FIG. 9 is a schematic diagram illustrating an exemplary exercise in accordance with an aspect of the present invention;
FIG. 10 is a schematic diagram illustrating an exemplary exercise in accordance with an aspect of the present invention;
FIG. 11 is a schematic diagram illustrating an exemplary exercise in accordance with an aspect of the present invention; and
FIG. 12 is a schematic diagram illustrating an exemplary exercise in accordance with an aspect of the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
It is to be understood that the figures and descriptions of the present invention have been simplified to illustrate elements that are relevant for a clear understanding of the present invention, while eliminating, for purposes of clarity, many other elements found in typical exercise and fitness applications. Those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that other elements are desirable and/or required in order to implement the present invention. But because such elements are well known in the art, and because they do not facilitate a better understanding of the present invention, a discussion of such elements is not provided herein. The disclosure herein is directed to all such variations and modifications to the applications, networks, and systems disclosed herein and as will be known, or apparent, to those skilled in the art.
FIG. 1 is a prompt key that correlates prompts to parts of the body, which prompt references are illustratively used hereinbelow. Of course, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the present invention is not limited to the type or number of prompts illustratively used hereinthroughout.
FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of a body of an exerciser 20 having associated, such as physically associated, therewith one or more prompts 1, 3, 5, corresponded to at least one exercise to be performed by the user, and to at least one body part 1, 3, 5 of the user. The user may be any exerciser performing at least one exercise intended to target at least one of the body areas 1, 3, 5, or targets, corresponded to the at least one prompt 1, 3, 5. The user may perform the at least one exercise in association with one or more items of exercise equipment, or in accordance with one or more exercise routines, or in accordance with an exercise routine system or equipment system. The user 20 may use the exercises, equipment and systems to target body areas for rehabilitation, relaxation, muscle-building, fitness, toning, or for any other reason known to those skilled in the art. In the present invention, users 20 may include youths, adults, and older adults. Users 20 may engage in youth fitness, general fitness, body-building, special or adaptive fitness, older adult fitness and wellness, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and the like.
The one or more prompts 1-20 increase a user's comprehension of the parts of the body as the intended targets for an exercise. The prompts may be associated with exercise instructions 40. The instructions 40 may be spoken by an instructor, written and presented to the user, audibly presented by an automated or manual system, or visibly presented by an automated or manual system. For example, instructions may be visibly presented to the user by scrolling or otherwise presenting text or pictures via a display on the equipment used in the exercise, or on a unit mounted within the fitness facility. Instructions may be included on or in live demonstration, videos, DVDs, CDs, computer-readable media, and the like. Further, instructions may be visually presented by, for example, associating matching prompts on one or more fitness props to the prompts associated with the user.
A fitness prop 60, as used herein, includes any item that may be associated with an exercise. Fitness props 60, as illustrated in FIGS. 2A-2G may include exercise equipment, a mat (FIG. 2A) with or without a mat carrying case (such as a sticky mat or yoga style mat of a suitable size, with or without background color), a ball 60 with or without a stabilizing ball stand (such as an inflatable exercise ball of a given size, such as 55 cm, 65 cm, or 75 cm), a towel of a suitable size, a poster, as in FIG. 2B (such as a wall mounted poster), or clothing, such as a shirt, as in FIG. 2C (such as a t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, crew shirt, or the like, of a preferably breathable fabric, such as cotton/lycra, in varying sizes, such as S-XXXL), sweatshirt or sweatpants in varying sizes, as in FIG. 2D, jacket (such as long sleeve, with a breathable fabric, such as cotton, and such as with drawstring waist, in varying sizes), shorts, as in FIG. 2E, pant, or tights in varying sizes, such as S-XXXL, or by waist, inseam, or dress size, or velcroed cloth, for example. The matching prompt 1 a, 3 a, 5 a on a prop 60 may be matched to the one or more prompts 1, 3, 5 associated with the user. The use of props 60 may, for example, aid an exerciser 20 in effecting areas of the body the user is unable to see, such as the upper back, gluteus, or hamstrings, for example.
The prompts may include colors, symbols, textures, music, or electrical impulses, such as lights or sounds, for example. Prompts have a greater recognizability to a user than the mere name of a muscle group, pointing by a trainer, or like prior art methodologies. Prompts may be fastened by fasteners known in the art for association with the user or with a prop, such as by dying for cloth or fabric, placing sleeves, such as nylon sleeves as in FIG. 2F, having prompts thereon over limbs, velcroing to fabric (such as velcroing color-coded patches directly to or over a user's clothing, or velcroing a strap around clothing as in FIG. 2G), snapping using snap tabs, temporary skin colorations, paint, or the like, as will be apparent to those skilled in the art.
The prompts correlate with one or more muscle groups or regions of the body effected by an exercise or series of exercises, and do not typically correlate solely with motions. The effects on the body part correspondent to the prompt may include flexing, tensing, or relaxing the body part. Effects may also include covering a body part correspondent to a first prompt from within view of a user in favor of a body part correspondent to another prompt, such as to insure proper form. In an embodiment, the instructions 40 may focus on one or more prompts as exercise targets, with or without any reference to the medical terminology for related regions or muscle groups. For example, an instructor may give the instruction “tense blue, and relax red”, which will be much more readily understandable to an average user than “tense bicep, and relax tricep”. Further, the instructor may give the instruction “cross red over blue to hide blue from view”, rather than instructing to “cross right leg over left leg”.
In an embodiment, the exerciser is prompted to focus on one or more targets correlated to the prompts for a given exercise. A given exercise may include pilates, yoga, weight training, calisthenics, kick boxing, core training, plyometrics, cardiovascular exercise, cross training, stability ball training, aquatic training, or the like, as will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Prompts, with or without the use of props, and with the use of instructions, increase the impact of exercise by focusing on proper form, and decrease the probability of injury.
Matching prompts on props 60 may be used in conjunction with the prompts associated with the user. For example, an instruction may tell the user, “pull the red handle until you feel the resistance start to burn in the red area of your arms.” Matching prompts on props may be used to insure proper alignment, or the like. For example, when the feet of the user are properly aligned on a leg press, one or both of the prompt on the user's feet and the matching prompt on the leg press may light up, or buzz. Multiple prompts, and multiple matching prompts on props, may be used.
In a series of embodiments, discussed hereinbelow, and with respect to FIGS. 1 and 2, are several exemplary exercise routines. The embodiments described are exemplary only, and it will be apparent that other exercises, prompt types, and prop types may be used in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram illustrating a Reclined Squats exercise in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. Recline Squats may be performed by lowering the hips toward the floor while pressing the low back to the front of a prop 60 in the form of a ball. The feet may be planted on the floor, and the knees may be bent to less than a 90-degree angle. The user may initiate a rocking motion by extending the body supine over the top of the ball while straightening the legs, then bending the knees once again, and returning to the starting position.
During Recline Squats, the user is to focus, such as in accordance with instructions, on prompts 6, 7, 8, and 14 for muscle contraction. The user is to focus on prompts 4, 5 and 12 controlled for stability. By focusing on prompts 6, 7, 8 and 14, the intensity of the Recline Squat is increased. By directing attention to prompts 4, 5 and 12, stability is easier to achieve and maintain throughout the exercise. The ball prop may include matching prompts to allow for user focus on the desired prompts.
FIG. 3 also illustrates Table Top Hip Drops in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. Table Top Hip Drops may be performed by rolling the body forward into a supine position, and stopping with the shoulders resting on a prop 60, such as a ball, to support the weight of the upper body. The knees may be bent to a 90-degree angle with feet resting on the floor, hip distance apart. The hips may be lifted to horizontal level, then bent toward the floor and lifted again, while keeping the ball motionless. During Table Top Hip Drops, the user may focus on prompts 6, 8, 14 and 15, in accordance with instructions, for range of motion. By focusing on these prompts, the user can increase the intensity of contractions throughout the exercise. By focusing on prompts 4, 7, the user will be able to increase the intensity of the exercise by increasing the awareness of the abdominals and quadriceps, therefore eliciting greater muscle response, range of motion and flexibility. The ball prop may include matching prompts to allow for user focus on the desired prompts.
FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram illustrating Dips in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. Dips may be performed by sitting upright on a ball prop, hands placed on the ball next to hips. While pressing hands down into the ball, the hips lift from the surface of the ball. During Dips, the user may focus on prompts 10, 11, 12 and 13 for contraction. Prompt 9 should not be contracted. By raising awareness of prompt 9, improper form and potential injury can be avoided, as prompt 9 is often incorrectly utilized during this exercise. By drawing attention to prompt 10, prompt 9 can be minimized in activity. Also, attention may placed on prompts 7, 15 to increase support and stability throughout the exercise.
FIG. 4 also illustrates Roll Aways in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. Roll Aways may be performed by, while kneeling on the floor, placing a stability ball prop directly in front of the thighs. The fists may rest on the ball, close to the thighs. The ball may then be pushed away from the thighs through direct force of the arms, extending the body straight from the elbows to the knees. The ball may then be pulled back toward the body while the arms are extended, until the user is resting on clenched fists. Prompt 9 should remain extended, not contracted, but is often incorrectly contracted during Roll Aways. Effort and attention should be placed on prompts 1, 10 and 13 to reduce stress on prompt 9. Attention should also be placed on prompts 4, 12, 14 and 15 to stabilize the exercise.
FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram illustrating Caboose Kickers in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. Caboose Kickers may be performed by lying prone over a stability ball prop, with belly on the ball, hands and feet on the floor. The emphasis of the exercise is on prompts 14, 15 and 16 for contraction and range of motion. Extra emphasis may be placed on prompts 14, 15 and 16, increasing the intensity of the contraction through range of motion. Attention may be focused on prompts 4 and 12 to increase stability while decreasing the opportunity for pain or injury. For example, if there is any flexion or motion in prompt 12, there is an increased likelihood of injury to the low back. Therefore, attention may be called to prompt 4 to increase contraction, thus increasing awareness and limiting mobility in prompt 12.
FIG. 5 also illustrates Push Ups in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. Push Ups may be performed while lying prone over a ball prop, hands on floor, legs on the ball, with body suspended. The arms may be bent and extended through range of motion. By drawing attention to prompts 1, 2 and 11, the user may learn where to exert the force to move through one rep. Prompt 4 should be contracted, but typically is ignored during this exercise. Instruction to contract prompt 4 with prompt 7 increases stability, increases effectiveness, and decreases the opportunity for injury.
FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram illustrating Swans in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. Swans may be performed by lying prone on a ball prop and separating the feet hip distance apart. The arms may be extended straight over the head, move out to 90-degrees from the body, rotate hands, then continue moving arms back until parallel with the hips. The Swan is a relatively simple exercise to perform, but without proper emphasis on the upper back, one could potentially injure the low back. Prompts 1, 9, 10 and 13 correspond to the primary movers in the upper back, and prompts 12 and 14 correspond to the lower body stabilizers.
FIG. 4 also illustrates Hip Thrusts in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. Hip Thrusts may be performed by lying supine on the floor, feet flat on the top of a ball prop, knees bent. The user may press feet into the ball and lift hips from the floor while squeezing the gluteus. The user may focus on the contraction in prompts 6, 8, 14 and 15, while keeping prompt 16 relaxed to prevent cramping. The user may also pay close attention to prompt 12 to avoid undue strain to the low back.
FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram illustrating Suspension Bridges in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. Suspension Bridges may be performed by sitting on the floor, legs extended straight, heels over the top of a ball prop, hands on the floor next to the hips. While pressing the hands down into the floor, the hips may be lifted until straight, body parallel to the floor, then slowly returned to the starting position. May be drawn to prompts 9, 101, 11, 12 and 13 to initiate this exercise. The user may use prompts 4, 14 and 15 to lift and stabilize the hips before returning to the starting position.
FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram illustrating Pikes in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. May be performed by lying prone over a ball prop. Once stable, the user may roll the body forward, until parallel with the floor, with hands on the floor, knees fully extended and while resting on the ball. While contracting prompts 4 and 7, the legs may be pressed down into the ball and the hips lifted. The feet will slide forward until meeting the ball, shoelaces down. Attention should be focused on prompts 4 and 7. Focus may also be placed on prompts 9, 10 and 11 to stabilize the exercise as the user moves to an inverted position. While the user is in an inverted position, there is a decreased ability to view the surrounding area or look to an instruction provider. The prompts can be quickly referenced by the user to ensure proper form and balance are maintained, even without seeing the instruction provider.
FIG. 8 also illustrates Dorothys in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. Dorothys may be performed by lying prone, belly on a ball prop. The arms may be straight, aligned perpendicularly to the floor, with hands supporting the body weight. The legs may be extended straight, parallel to the floor and completely unsupported. The legs may then move in and out from center, creating a tapping motion at the heels. The motion may be executed while contracting prompts 6 and 8 to control the motion, prompt 7 to keep the legs straight, and prompts 14 and 15 to maintain proper alignment. Prompt 4 remains contracted and in contact with the ball, thus decreasing stress on prompt 12.
FIG. 9 is a schematic diagram illustrating Protractors in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. Protractors may be performed by sitting upright on the ball, feet flat on the floor. One leg may be lifted from the floor and extended straight, parallel to the floor. While maintaining balance, that leg is lifted and lowered while continuing to remain straight. By bringing attention to prompt 7, the user is able to maintain the contraction in the quadriceps, keeping the leg straight. The user may also focus attention on prompts 4 and 12 to keep the body upright and stabilized throughout the range of motion. Less apparent to the user would be the involvement of prompts 9, 10, 12 and 13. These prompts must be fully engaged to improve posture on the ball, thus increasing stability.
FIG. 9 also illustrates Retractors in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. Retractors may be performed in combination with Protractors. The user may be sitting upright on the ball prop, leg extended straight and parallel to the floor. The leg moves side to side in a small sweeping motion, from the midline out and back again. Attention is drawn to prompts 5, 6, and 8, in addition to prompts 4 and 7 in the Protractors. The present invention clearly differentiates the contractions of the various regions of the thigh without confusing the user with the similarly named muscle groups, namely “Abductors”, “Adductors” and “Abdominals”, in such confusingly similar exercises.
FIG. 9 also illustrates Reverse Planks in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. Reverse Planks may be performed by sitting upright on a ball prop, legs extended straight to the floor, feet flat. The user may place the hands on the ball, just outside of the hips. While pressing the hands down, the user may lift the hips until the hips and the arms are fully extended, and thus not bent. Attention may be focused on the back to prompts 9, 10, 13 and 14, as well as prompts 1 and 11 in the shoulder and upper arm. Prompt 9 should be pulled away from the ears, and prompt 2 should be pronounced in the chest, not collapsed or hidden.
FIG. 10 is a schematic diagram illustrating Iron Crosses in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. Iron Crosses may be initiated by kneeling on the floor, ball prop to one side. One knee remains on the floor, and the body may extend sideways across the ball, while straightening the top leg fully. The user may engage in a series of exercises, initiated by raising and lowering of the top leg. Throughout range of motion, the top leg should remain parallel to the floor, with the instep of the foot also remaining parallel to the floor. Prompt 6 should remain on the top of the leg throughout the exercise, as if prompt 6 rolls backward or forward, proper form is being compromised and the exercise decreases in effectiveness. To remain stable on the ball, attention is also on prompts 4 and 5.
FIG. 11 is a schematic diagram illustrating Cross Overs in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. Cross Overs may be performed in combination with Iron Crosses. The user remains lying on the side, the lower leg is extended straight, and the top leg is bent and placed on the floor behind the lower leg. The straightened lower leg is lifted parallel to the floor, parallel to the other leg. Throughout the range of motion, prompt 8 should be on top, but often prompt 7 will roll to the top, negating the effectiveness of the exercise.
FIG. 11 also illustrates a Hip Lift in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. The Hip Lift may be performed by lying supine on the floor, legs extended to a 90-degree angle in the air, and a ball prop between the lower portion of the legs at prompt 16. While contracting prompt 4, the hips are lifted off the mat and slowly lowered. Attention should be placed on prompt 8 to increase the intensity of the exercise, but prompt 12 should always maintain contact with the floor to decrease the likelihood of injury.
FIG. 12 is a schematic diagram illustrating an aspect of the present invention. Props used may include a ball prop and a towel prop. The exercise may be performed while lying prone over a towel prop, hand prompts 110 on matching towel prompts 110 a, leg prompts as discussed hereinabove on matching ball prompts, with body suspended. The arms may be bent and extended through range of motion.
If not otherwise stated herein, it may be assumed that all components and/or processes described heretofore may, if appropriate, be considered to be interchangeable with similar components and/or processes disclosed elsewhere in the specification. It should be appreciated that the systems and methods of the present invention may be configured and conducted as appropriate for any context at hand. The embodiments described hereinabove are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. All changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims hereinbelow are to be embraced within the scope thereof.