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Publication numberUS20060128540 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/292,601
Publication dateJun 15, 2006
Filing dateDec 2, 2005
Priority dateDec 10, 2004
Also published asWO2006063345A2, WO2006063345A3
Publication number11292601, 292601, US 2006/0128540 A1, US 2006/128540 A1, US 20060128540 A1, US 20060128540A1, US 2006128540 A1, US 2006128540A1, US-A1-20060128540, US-A1-2006128540, US2006/0128540A1, US2006/128540A1, US20060128540 A1, US20060128540A1, US2006128540 A1, US2006128540A1
InventorsVincent Engle
Original AssigneeEngle Vincent K
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus for circuit and other fitness training
US 20060128540 A1
Abstract
An exercise apparatus that provides easily and quickly adjustable resistive forces during a wide variety of fitness-related activities. The apparatus comprises a housing having an internal space wherein multiple resilient members, such as elastic cords or stretchable bands, are fully contained while in a rest state; an attachment point where each resilient member is securely affixed to the housing; and an aperture located substantially opposite the attachment point, through which resilient members are accessible, and to which a handle assembly is removably attached. A user may selectably attach the handle assembly to one or several resilient members in order to select the desired resistive force. Because resilient members are fully contained within the housing when in a rest state, the resilient members exert a resistive force immediately upon being extended from the aperture in the housing.
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Claims(24)
1. An exercise apparatus comprising
A three-dimensional housing having an interior and an exterior;
A means for resisting a first force, said means for resisting lying substantially within said interior of said housing and being capable of exerting a selectably adjustable second force in opposition to said first force; and
A means for grasping said means for resisting, said means for grasping being accessible from said exterior of said housing.
2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said means for resisting said first force comprises multiple resilient members.
3. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising multiple means for resisting forces exerted at different points on said exterior of said housing.
4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said housing further comprises a removably attachable housing component selected from the group consisting of a riser, a wedge, and a backrest.
5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said housing comprises a first housing component and a second housing component, said first housing component being fixedly attached to said second housing component.
6. An exercise apparatus comprising
A three dimensional housing having an interior and an exterior;
Multiple resilient members,
each one of said multiple resilient members comprising a first end and a second end,
said first end of each one of said multiple resilient members being affixed to an attachment point on said housing and
said second ends of all of said multiple resilient members lying substantially adjacent to one another at a grasping point on said housing; and
A means for grasping said multiple resilient members wherein said means for grasping is selectably attachable to one, multiple, or all of said second ends of said multiple resilient members at said grasping point, said grasping point being accessible from said exterior of said housing.
7. The apparatus of claim 6 in which said resilient members do not all provide an equal amount of resistant force.
8. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein the relative amount of said resistant force of said resilient members is indicated at a location that is visible from said exterior of said housing.
9. The apparatus of claim 6 wherein the length of said resilient member when in a rest state is substantially equal to the distance between said attachment point and said grasping point.
10. The apparatus of claim 6 in which said second ends of said resilient members further comprise a stop, and said grasping point is substantially adjacent to a resting place for each one of said resilient members, said stop engaging said resting place so as to substantially prevent said resilient member from being displaced substantially from said grasping point towards said interior of said housing.
11. The apparatus of claim 6 wherein said grasping point comprises an aperture in said housing, said aperture further comprising a roller that substantially reduces frictional resistance between said resilient member and said housing when said second end of said resilient member is extended through said aperture.
12. The apparatus of claim 6 in which said means for grasping comprises a handle assembly comprising an optional attachment ring, a snap ring, and a handle selected from the group consisting of a loop of flexible material, a rigid handhold and one or more pieces of flexible material, a rigid handhold suitable for gripping with one hand, and a rigid bar suitable for gripping with two hands.
13. The apparatus of claim 6 wherein said housing further comprises a substantially polygonal shape in the plane upon which said housing rests and sides extending substantially perpendicular to the plane upon which said housing rests.
14. The apparatus of claim 13 wherein said housing further comprises a handle suitable for lifting said apparatus.
15. The apparatus of claim 6 wherein said housing further comprises a removably attachable housing component selected from the group consisting of a riser, a wedge, and a backrest.
16. The apparatus of claim 6 wherein said housing comprises a first housing component and a second housing component, said first housing component being fixedly attached to said second housing component.
17. An exercise apparatus comprising:
A three dimensional housing comprising an interior, an exterior, a top surface, and sides, said sides comprising two short sides and two long sides;
Multiple resistance sets, each of said resistance sets comprising
Multiple resilient members,
each one of said multiple resilient members comprising a first end and a second end,
said first end of each one of said multiple resilient members being affixed to an attachment point on said housing and
said second ends of all of said multiple resilient members lying substantially adjacent to one another at a grasping point located in one of said sides of said housing,
said multiple resilient members being substantially below said top surface of said housing between said attachment points and said grasping point, and
each one of said multiple resilient members having a rest-state length that is substantially equal to the distance between said attachment point and said grasping point;
Each one of said multiple resistance sets lying substantially parallel to one of said sides in said housing; and
A means for grasping said second ends of said multiple resilient members of each of said multiple resistance sets, wherein said means for grasping is selectably attachable to one, multiple, or all of said second ends of said multiple resilient members at said grasping point, said grasping point being accessible from said exterior of said housing.
18. The apparatus of claim 17 wherein said resilient members do not all provide an equal amount of resistant force.
19. The apparatus of claim 18 wherein the relative amount of said resistant force is indicated at a location that is visible from said exterior of said housing.
20. The apparatus of claim 17 wherein said second ends of said resilient members further comprise a stop, and said grasping point is substantially adjacent to a resting place for each one of said resilient members, said stop engaging said resting place so as to substantially prevent said resilient member from being displaced from said grasping point towards said interior of said housing.
21. The apparatus of claim 17 wherein said grasping point comprises an aperture in said housing, said aperture further comprising a roller that substantially reduces frictional resistance between said resilient member and said housing when said second end of said resilient member is extended through said aperture.
22. The apparatus of claim 17 in which said means for grasping for each one of said multiple resistance sets comprises an optional attachment ring, a snap ring, and a handle selected from the group consisting of a loop of flexible material, a rigid handhold and one or more pieces of flexible material, a rigid handhold suitable for gripping with one hand, and a rigid bar suitable for gripping with two hands.
23. The apparatus of claim 17 wherein said housing further comprises a removably attachable housing component selected from the group consisting of a riser, a wedge, and a backrest.
24. The apparatus of claim 17 wherein said housing comprises a first housing component and a second housing component, said first housing component being fixedly attached to said second housing component.
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to United States provisional applications Ser. No. 60/635,105, filed Dec. 10, 2004, and Ser. No. 60/662,405, filed Mar. 16, 2005.

FIELD OF INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to exercise equipment, and more particularly to an item of exercise equipment which may be used alone for a series of circuit training exercises which depend upon selectively and sequentially using one or more of a plurality of resistive components anchored at one side of a three-dimensional housing and displaced therefrom through the housing to be accessed through a slot at an opposite side of the housing.

DESCRIPTION OF RELATED ART

Much of contemporary fitness exercising combines resistance strength training simultaneously with aerobic conditioning. Combining aerobic and anaerobic conditioning elements stimulates participants' cardiovascular, muscular, and skeletal systems, providing measurable results in a short period of time. This form of exercise is commonly referred to as circuit training. Developed in the 1950's, circuit training has been used to train individuals ranging from those interested in weight loss to Olympic athletes. In short, circuit training is considered by those trained in fitness arts to permit individuals to achieve maximum results in minimum time.

Traditionally, circuit training is conducted on several pieces of equipment, sometimes referred to as stations. However, it is considered advantageous for individuals to perform substantially all circuit training exercises on one piece of equipment to eliminate delays associated with changing equipment or waiting for equipment at another station to be available in a location where multiple individuals are exercising. Performing a total body conditioning program involves engaging in a planned body conditioning program and enhancing weight loss and toning while simultaneously maintaining elevated heart rates to benefit the cardiovascular system.

The wide variety of circuit training exercises includes the following:

    • Leg exercises including lunges, step-back lunges, squats, inner and outer thigh building, the glute press, extensions, curls and dead lifts.
    • Back exercises including bent single arm row, low back extensions, seated row, mid row, and single cross over pulls.
    • Chest exercises including bench presses (one and two arm), flies, seated incline press, seated incline flies, and incline and decline push-ups.
    • Shoulder exercises including an upright row, a seated military press, cross-overs, and lateral shoulder raises.
    • Biceps/triceps exercises including standing bicep curls, alternating curls, reverse French curls, triceps kick backs, seated triceps extensions, and lying triceps extensions.
    • Abdominal exercises including lying crunches, knee crunches, and leg lifts.

A user typically wishes to perform a wide variety of exercises in rapid succession in order to maintain high levels of respiration and cardiovascular activity between exercises. It is therefore readily apparent that it is advantageous to perform all exercises on the same piece of equipment.

Various forms of multipurpose exercise equipment are known in the art. As an example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,245,001 to Matt Siaperas (“Siaperas”) discloses an apparatus based upon a boxlike main body. The top surface of the body is hinged transversely to create a storage container and an adjustable section is fixed at various angles in relation to the main body by using a pivotal adjustment arm extending from the bottom of the boxlike body. Siaperas teaches a plurality of clip rings affixed about the outside of the body and attached through sturdy extensions to resistive elements used in exercise procedures. The resistive elements are generally elastic.

A similar apparatus is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,220,994 to Christine A. Rich (“Rich”). Rich teaches a platform on which a user can sit, stand, lie, or kneel while performing a wide variety of exercises by exerting force on one or more resistive elements that are attached to the sides of the platform.

Other apparatuses in the prior art teach that part of a resistive element can be enclosed in the apparatus itself. U.S. Pat. No. 3,687,450 to William A. Schollmeyer (“Schollmeyer”) and U.S. Pat. No. 3,893,667 to Owen D. Snyder and Crammer W. Wilson (“Owen”) both teach a boxlike housing in which resistive elements are contained so that a user may place himself or herself on the housing and grasp the resistive elements where they extend through an aperture in the housing. A wide variety of exercises can be performed by assuming different positions relative to the housing and grasping different of the resistive elements positioned within the housing and extending through apertures therein.

Each of these prior art devices teaches use of a single resistive element at a given location on the housing of an apparatus. Some of the resistive elements used springs with ropes; others are resilient members. Siaperas teaches that resistive elements can have different resistances, but nothing in the prior art teaches an adjustable resistive force; nor does any invention in the prior art teach a technique for providing, at a single location on the apparatus, a resistive force that can be easily selected or adjusted by a user.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In summary, this invention discloses an apparatus that allows continuously and selectively exercising through a predetermined training cycle on a single apparatus where the resistive force provided by components of the apparatus can be rapidly and easily selected and adjusted by a user. This is done by providing a separate resistive force at multiple locations on the apparatus, each one being capable of providing an adjustable resistant force, as selected by a user. The apparatus itself is suitable in structure for use in a variety of exercising postures.

As an example, a training cycle may be devised such that each muscle group is exercised during a complete circuit. Such a training cycle may be followed by a cardio interlude and flexibility training cycle. Combining flexibility and strength training using the same piece of equipment reduces the risk of injury and leads to improved results. Systematically moving from one muscle group to the next, without the delays required to move between different pieces of exercise equipment, allows one muscle group to recover while another muscle group is engaged. An apparatus constructed according to the present invention thus permits a variety of exercises to be performed, with thirty seconds or less of rest between each exercise. This allows heart rates to be maintained in a zone that promotes cardiovascular fitness; heart rates do not fall as they would during the time needed to change the configuration of prior art exercise equipment or move to different equipment before starting the next training cycle.

Basic to one form of the instant invention is a three-dimensional box or shell (the “Housing”) having a top surface. The Housing may optionally have a material affixed to the top surface that provides a non-skid and/or padded surface to enhance safety and comfort during exercise.

The Housing can be constructed of a single piece of material, or of multiple pieces of material that are then assembled together. Manufacturing cost and ease of assembly are two important but non-limiting factors to be considered when selecting the material and construction manner for the Housing. In the present embodiment, the Housing comprises a top portion and a bottom portion, each formed from a molded thermoplastic.

The preferred shape of the Housing includes an open bottom and sides which provide stable support for the top when disposed on a planar surface. Generally, each side has at least one location where one or more elastic cords or other resilient members (herein the “band” or “bands”) may be securely affixed, and from which the bands are displaced for access outside the Housing through an opening on an opposing side of the Housing. Generally, each band has a “Rest State” length, which is the length of the band when no force is being applied by a user of the present invention; and a variable “Stretched State” length, evident when a user of the invention exerts a force on a band, the maximum Stretched State being considerably longer than the Rest State. Preferably, the Rest State length of each band closely approximates the distance between the point at which that band is securely affixed to the Housing and where it exits from the opposite side of the Housing.

When the bands have material characteristics which emulate the force and distance characteristics of a spring, the relationship of an applied stretching force (f) to the Stretched State length (x) may be represented as follows:
f=k*x
where k is the spring constant of the material. Increased force is required to increase the length of an elastic material; the ideal materials for use in the present invention are those that retain elasticity over a relatively wide range of lengths. For example, if bands are made from medical tubing, the ratio of Rest State length to the maximum value of the Stretched State length is approximately 1:6.

When a band has a Rest State length equal to the distance between opposing openings in the sides of the Housing, the band provides immediate retarding force as a user stretches the band from its Rest State length.

The present invention may include a plurality of bands placed along parallel pathways within the Housing and exiting the Housing through the same opening. These bands may have either similar or different spring constants.

A means for grasping the end of the band is attached to the end of each band at the point where it exits the Housing, opposite the side where it is securely affixed to the Housing. In a preferred embodiment, the means for grasping the end of the band comprises a combination of a ring attached to the end of the band, a carabineer, and a ring attached to a handle. Using the carabineer, the handle can thus be attached to a single band, or to multiple bands, so that the bands available at a single opening in the Housing could provide a wide variety of retarding pull forces when the handle to which the bands are attached is displaced by a user of the invention. This arrangement permits a wide variety of exercises for persons having varying degrees of strength. Further, providing a Rest State length for each band that is approximately equal to the distance between the point where the band is securely affixed to the Housing and the opening through which the band exits the Housing allows exercises to be completed which require that pull resistance begin at or very near the opening out of which a band issues. This permits exercises that include a full range of motion.

The means for grasping the ends of bands may include a rigid bar suitable for grasping by a single hand, typically attached via a loop of flexible material. The means for grasping may also comprise a longer rigid bar, suitable for grasping by two hands, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 6. The means for grasping may also comprise soft or flexible material alone, suitable for looping over a portion of a user's body such as a foot, or forearm, in order to permit exercising a broad range of muscles and muscle groups. As a further example, the means for grasping may comprise a larger loop of flexible material, suitable to encompass a user's entire torso, in order to exercise back or abdominal muscles. Padding may be added to any of these types of handles to increase comfort, particularly when the handle is to be manipulated by a portion of the user's body that could be easily bruised, such as the top portion of a foot.

Thus affixed with multiple bands that may have a variety of spring constants, an apparatus made according to the instant invention provides an ideal device for completing a broad-based physical fitness training regimen. A user can complete a training cycle wherein each muscle group may be exercised during a given circuit, followed by a cardio interlude and flexibility training period. Systematically exercising one muscle group and then another allows muscles to recover during the time that another muscle group is engaged. Thirty seconds or less of rest between each exercise allows heart rates to be maintained in an optimal zone for cardiovascular training.

The present invention also permits training regimes that include core, stabilizing muscular systems. Training that utilizes free-form exercise movements demands core strength in order to stabilize the user's position while performing exercises. Exercises that involve a full range of motion, as permitted by the present invention, allow the body to move in natural ranges of motion that reduce the risk of injury, involve less restrictive movements, and are more bio-mechanically sound.

Exercise patterns or sequences may be designed around the present invention to incorporate muscles throughout the entire body. Muscles are generally divided into the following seven groups: legs, back, chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and abdominals. Exercises centered upon these seven muscle groups, which encompass the entire body, are typically arranged in sequences that begin with the largest muscle groups and continue to the smallest. This sequence allows appropriate time for rest and recovery of each muscle group prior to the next sequence being performed. It is essential to have adequate rest between each sequence in order to achieve maximum results.

Most circuit training equipment in use today uses hydraulic or frictional techniques that do not easily allow for variation in resistance, and further provide only one exercise per station. An apparatus designed according to the present invention allows a user to perform a variety of exercises on a single piece of equipment that are typically performed on many different machines. This is possible because the present invention permits very rapid changes from one exercise to the next, and further provides, in a preferred embodiment, for rapid selection between multiple levels of resistance by selecting which one or more available bands are engaged by the means for grasping the bands when performing a particular exercise. A user may select an appropriate set of bands, and thus the desired resistance level, easily and quickly so that the effectiveness and range of motion provided during each exercise is maximized.

Accordingly, it is a primary object of the present invention to provide an apparatus with which a person may perform a wide variety of cycle training exercises without having to move from one apparatus to another.

It is another object to provide an apparatus that comprises a Housing that affords an internal space wherein a plurality of resilient members may be fully contained while in a rest state; a site for each resistant member to be securely affixed to the Housing, and an opening opposite the site through which each resistant member is accessible at one end for use.

It is a further object to provide at least one means for grasping each accessible end of a band, whereby each band may be displaced away from the Housing and such displacement afford a resistance associated with the elasticity and resilience of the band as the means for grasping the band is displaced away from the Housing.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a Housing having an upper surface that provides a platform on which a user may exert force or bodily weight during use in order to stabilize the Housing during cycle training exercises.

These and other objects and features of the present invention will be apparent from the detailed description and by reference to accompanying Figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a perspective of one embodiment of an apparatus made according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the housing component of the apparatus seen in FIG. 1.

FIG. 2A shows a method of connecting the two components that form the housing in a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3A shows one end of the housing shown in FIG. 2, illustrating where resilient members are placed.

FIG. 3B shows another method of connecting the two components that form the housing in a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3C shows a cross sectional view illustrating the channel in which a resilient member lies.

FIG. 4 shows one end of the apparatus shown in FIG. 1, with multiple resilient members installed and a handle assembly attached to a resilient member.

FIG. 5 shows the apparatus of FIG. 1 in an inverted position, with the bottom of the housing visible as well as the point at which the resilient members are affixed to the Housing.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view illustrating use of an embodiment of the present invention, wherein a user is performing a selected exercise while standing on the apparatus and stretching multiple resilient members upward.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view illustrating use of an embodiment of the present invention, wherein a user is performing a selected exercise while lying on the apparatus and stretching upward two resilient members located on either side of the apparatus.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS

Reference is now made to the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1-7 wherein like numerals are used to designate like parts throughout.

An apparatus made according to the present invention comprises a three-dimensional, substantially hollow housing 10 and a means for resisting a force exerted by a user while performing exercises. In a preferred embodiment, this means for resisting a force comprises one or more resilient members or stretchable bands (hereinafter referred to as “bands”), each generally numbered 30. In the descriptions that follow, the term proximal refers to the end of a band that is closest to the user of an apparatus made according to the instant invention. The term distal refers to the other end of a band, which is securely and fixedly connected to housing 10, as hereinafter described.

Housing 10, as seen in FIGS. 2 and 3, comprises, in a preferred embodiment, a top portion 50 and a bottom portion 52. Top portion 50 and bottom portion 52 are securely, fixedly connected during a manufacturing process using mechanical means. In one embodiment, shown in FIGS. 1, 2, and 2A, top portion 50 is affixed to bottom portion 52 by a fastener 56 placed through a hole located in a bottom flange in each of the four corners of top portion 50, and extending into corresponding holes located in bottom portion 52, where each fastener 56 is secured. By disengaging and re-engaging the fastener 56, top portion 50 and bottom portion 52 can be separated and rejoined as needed to perform maintenance. Screws and jack nuts are used together as a fastener in one embodiment.

In another embodiment, a protrusion on top portion 50 mates with depression 150 on bottom portion 52 to assist in lining up top portion 50 with bottom portion 52 during assembly. Depression 150 is visible in FIG. 3B. The mating of the protrusion and the depression prevent top portion 50 and bottom portion 52 from shifting horizontally relative to one another, even when subjected to significant forces by an active user of the apparatus. Further, in this embodiment, a “dog bone” connector is used to permanently, fixedly attach top portion 50 and bottom portion 52. The dog bone connector 152 includes two substantially cylindrical ends connected by a thinner central portion. Multiple such dog bone connectors 152 snap into matching slots in top portion 50 and bottom portion 52 and thus securely hold together the components of the housing. One of these dog bone connectors 152 is visible in FIG. 3B after having been snapped into a receiving notch on bottom portion 52. A corresponding receiving notch of substantially the same shape is positioned at a corresponding location on top portion 50. Top portion 50 and bottom portion 52 can be separated by a user exerting a direct pulling force on either component; a user can then reattached the components by snapping them back together so that dogbone connector 152 reengages. But during normal or aggressive use of the apparatus disclosed herein, top portion 50 and bottom portion 52 remain firmed affixed to one another.

Other methods of connecting top portion 50 and bottom portion 52 are also possible and are included within the scope of the present invention. By using a two-part construction for the housing, less complex and less expensive molding techniques may be used that do not require hydraulics or sliders during formation of housing 10. Though a preferred embodiment uses a two-part construction formed of molded plastic components, other manufacturing techniques, materials, or shapes for the housing are also possible. These alternatives might encompass more than two components to construct housing 10, or might permit housing 10 to be fashioned from a single piece of various types of rigid or semi-rigid material, such as fiberglass, metal, composites, or wood.

As shown in the accompanying figures, a preferred embodiment of the present invention is substantially horizontal. Other embodiments of the present invention provide for additional housing components that can be affixed to housing 10; these additional housing components can include, without limitation, a riser that increases the height of the apparatus, allowing use by individuals whose physical capacities make it difficult to use an apparatus located close to the ground; further embodiments include a wedge-shaped component which raises one end of either housing 10 or of a user disposed on housing 10. Such a wedge could be elevated at the user's option by a means such as a lift bar, screw jack, additional riser component, or by other means. A further embodiment contemplates the addition of a housing component that is substantially perpendicular to the plane of top portion 50 and bottom portion 52, yet adjustable at different angles to suit a user, so as to form a backrest on the end of the apparatus. Such additional housing components may be manufactured as an integral part of the apparatus, permanently fixed in place, or as removably attachable components that may be moved into place at a user's option; such a component may also be added onto the apparatus during use, at the user's option.

In a preferred embodiment, top portion 50 of housing 10 includes pad 20 that is fixedly attached to top portion 50. In a preferred embodiment, pad 20 is made of a soft plastic or rubber-like material that provides both skid-resistance and cushioning to the user while using the apparatus during an exercise regime. Pad 20 ideally extends for nearly the full length and width of housing 10, but could also be restricted to smaller areas, or additional pad material added, as might be deemed appropriate for various users or uses. The dimensions of pad 20 would also be appropriately altered in cases where other shapes were chosen for housing 10, such as oval, square, circular, or other polygonal formations. In a preferred embodiment, small pads are also affixed to the bottom of the apparatus to form “feet” that prevent movement or slippage during use when the apparatus is placed on a surface such as a hardwood or tile floor.

Though placed in a planar position upon a floor as described in the present embodiment, other embodiments of the present invention include positioning upon or forming a bench or ledge in a position raised above the floor. This is particularly useful when embodiments of the present invention are used that include wedges, back rests, or other accessories to permit users having a variety of physical capacities (or incapacities) and fitness needs to make use of the apparatus.

In a preferred embodiment, housing 10 comprises a series of openings, generally numbered 40, disposed along the sides of housing 10. Two openings 40 are provided along each long side of housing 10; one opening 40 is provided on each short side of housing 10. Each opening 40 includes, along its bottom portion, one or more parking slots 42. A variety of sizes may be used for bands 30 as part of the present embodiment, as hereinafter discussed; each parking slot 42 has a width that is approximately the diameter of the largest band 30 that is contemplated for use with the apparatus. When bands 30 of varying diameters are used, the width of all parking slots 42 may be equal, or the width of each may vary to more closely approximate the diameter of individual bands 30, as manufacturing requirements dictate. Parking slots 42 are formed as channels, as is apparent in FIG. 2, running from the outer perimeter of housing 10, substantially perpendicular to that perimeter, towards the interior of housing 10. In a preferred embodiment, the channel portion of parking slots 42 is sloped slightly downward in order to provide for more secure positioning of bands 30, as hereinafter described. Further, in a preferred embodiment, the space within opening 40 that is located between adjacent parking slots 42 is blocked sufficiently to prevent a first band 30 that lies in a first parking slot 42 from crossing into the portion of opening 40 occupied by a second band 30 that typically lies in an adjacent second parking slot 42 as a user grasps and extends multiple adjacent bands 30. Preventing such movement of a first band 30 into the space typically occupied by a second band 30 prevents tangling or binding of bands 30 during use. In a preferred embodiment, this is accomplished by forming generally rounded, downward-extending portions within top portion 50, such that these downward extending portions 43 occupy the space between adjacent parking slots. Similarly, upward-extending portions 43 can be formed within bottom portion 52 at locations between each adjacent parking slot 42. Finally, in a preferred embodiment, a downward-extending portion 43 formed as part of top portion 50 and an upward-extending portion 43 formed as part of bottom portion 52 are sized so as to act together to block movement of a band 30 outside of the channel defined by a parking slot 42 located within an opening 40. This is visible in FIG. 3A and in FIG. 3C, though this optional feature is not shown in other figures.

Each opening 40 also includes, in its top portion, a roller 110 that is fixedly attached to top portion 50, but that is able to rotate freely about its horizontal axis. Below each opening 40 are one or more attachment slots 126, located within the bottom of housing 10 and aligned substantially vertically with parking slots 42. Located transversely across attachment slots 126 is horizontal bar 125, visible in FIG. 5. The bar is fixedly, removably attached to housing 10 via indentations 127 formed in housing 10 and located adjacent to the outermost of each group of attachment slots 126, such that horizontal bar 125 may be snapped into place and removed again by exerting a prying force underneath the horizontal bar 125. The indentations 127 are formed, however, so that when even a substantial force is exerted on horizontal bar 125 by one or more bands 30 during operation of the apparatus, horizontal bar 125 will not detach itself from housing 10 because it presses against housing 10 in a manner that it cannot come loose from indentations 127. Only by a user exerting a prying force in a direction opposite that exerted by bands 30 during operation can horizontal bar 125 be removed.

At approximately the middle point on one or both of the longer sides of housing 10 is located opening 54. Opening 54 comprises smooth sides and a narrower space at its entrance than at its interior. Opening 54 is deep enough to admit a person's hand, which, once inserted and bent slightly, becomes too wide to exit the narrower entrance of opening 54. Thus opening 54 operates as a handle for easily lifting the apparatus to move it from place to place when not in use. With openings 54 disposed on both sides of a preferred embodiment, the entire apparatus can be lifted by one hand, from either side, and can further be carried by placing a hand in each of the two openings 54 and holding the apparatus close to the body during carriage.

Each band 30 comprises stop ring 136, stop 68, a length of resilient material, and attachment ring 124. Stop ring 136 and attachment ring 124 are permanently affixed to the two ends of the length of resilient material—stop ring 136 at the proximal end and attachment ring 124 at the distal end. The resilient material used may be any stretchable or deformable material that meets manufacturing requirements such as durability and cost. Examples include, but are not limited to, medical tubing, rubber or latex bands, and bungee cord. Stop 68 typically encircles the resilient material so as to form an area of greater diameter than the resilient material when in a rest state. When multiple bands 30 having different diameters are used as part of a preferred embodiment of the apparatus, stop 68 is typically formed and placed on a resilient material so as to form an area of diameter that is greater than the width of the band having the resilient material of the greatest diameter. This corresponds to the nature of parking slots 42, as previously disclosed, being formed to correspond to the widest of bands 30 that are contemplated for use with the apparatus. Accordingly, stops 68 are formed and attached to the resilient material so that when stop 68, located on the proximal end of band 30, is placed on the exterior of parking slot 42, stop 68 prevents the proximal end of the resilient material from moving through parking slot 42 towards the interior of housing 10.

Onto each band 30 may be attached a means for grasping the proximal end of band 30 at the point of stop ring 136. In a preferred embodiment, this means for grasping comprises handle assembly 58, which comprises handle 60, strap 62, handle ring 64, and snap ring 66. FIG. 4 shows the proximal end of three bands 30 as assembled in housing 10, with handle assembly 58 attached to the proximal end of the middle band 30. The handle portion of handle assembly 58 may be any of many forms, selected to provide appropriate modes of exercise. Non-limiting examples include a loop of flexible material suitable, for example, for looping around a foot or forearm; a rigid handhold and one or more pieces of flexible material, as shown at 62 in FIG. 4; a rigid handhold suitable for gripping with one hand; and a rigid bar suitable for gripping with two hands, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 6. Handles may be constructed of any suitable material having the characteristics related to strength, manufacturing cost, comfort, and other factors that may be preferred by a user. In a preferred embodiment, handles are constructed of a thermoplastic. Other materials that may be suitable for construction of handles include, among others, many types of thermoplastic resins, thermoset plastics, metals, fiberglass, wood, and composites.

The configuration shown in FIG. 4 illustrates, in a preferred embodiment, the following important characteristic of the present invention: The resistive force provided by the apparatus can be easily adjusted because multiple bands 30 are provided at a single location on housing 10. At that location, a user can easily and quickly attach snap ring 66 to one, two, or three of the adjacent stop rings 136, depending on the resistive force that the user wishes the apparatus to provide at that point. Additional flexibility in selecting a resistive force is provided to users in a preferred embodiment by manufacturing the apparatus to have bands 30 having different resistive forces. The different resistive forces may be indicated visually at a point adjacent to the proximal end of bands 30. In a preferred embodiment, each stop 68 further comprises a colored outer portion indicating relative spring constant. Other embodiments could use numeric or other visual indicators placed either on the proximal end of each band 30, or on housing 10 adjacent to the location of the proximal end of each band 30.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, having six openings 40 in housing 10, as previously disclosed, resistive forces for each band 30 are selected to provide an optimal configuration for fitness training of the general public. In a preferred embodiment, bands 30 provided on the short sides of housing 10 have a relatively greater resistive force, suitable for exercises involving large muscle groups such as the abdomen, back, or legs; bands 30 provided on the long sides of housing 10 have a relatively lesser resistive force, suitable for exercises involving smaller muscle groups such as the arms.

Further, bands 30 provided at openings 40 on the long sides of housing 10 are coordinated to provide a high degree of choice to users in selecting a resistive force appropriate for their fitness needs. Specifically, in a preferred embodiment, three bands 30 capable of exerting three different resistive forces are placed in an opening 40 on the long side of housing 10. An identical configuration of resistive forces is provided by the three bands 30 at the corresponding opening 40 on the opposite long side of housing 10. By connecting snap ring 66 to one, two, or three of the bands 30, a user can select up to seven different resistance levels. A similar set of bands 30 is provided at the other two openings on the long side of housing 10, but these bands 30 are capable in a preferred embodiment of exerting greater resistive forces. Accordingly, a user of the apparatus may select which set of handle assemblies 58 to use in order to have immediately available a resistive force appropriate to the fitness needs of that individual.

Other embodiments of the present invention comprise different numbers of openings 40, which number might correspond with different shapes of housing 10. In addition, each opening 40 could comprise a different number of bands 30, rather than the three bands 30 used at each opening 40 in a preferred embodiment. All openings 40 could comprise the same number of bands 30, or the number of bands 30 could vary at different openings 40 in the same apparatus. Finally, the resistive force provided by each band 30 could be selected to achieve different goals than in a preferred embodiment. For example, if an apparatus were constructed for use in an environment where rehabilitation or elder care was the goal, rather than strength or cardiovascular training for the general public, bands 30 could be selected having resistive forces that were generally less than in another preferred embodiment. Other embodiments might provide a greater resistive force for all bands 30, or might arrange the different resistive forces among all bands 30, taken together, in a different configuration, based upon perceived needs of users. All these and other variations are comprised within the present invention.

Housing 10 and the multiple bands 30 used in a preferred embodiment of the present invention are evident in FIG. 5, which shows housing 10 turned upside down so that the bottom side of bottom portion 52 is visible. The proximal ends of three bands 30 are shown in the bottom part of FIG. 5, with stop 68 and stop ring 136 visible at the end of each band 30. In the top part of FIG. 5, the distal ends of three different bands 30 are also visible. Horizontal bar 125 has been placed through attachment rings 124 that are affixed to the distal end of each band 30. Horizontal bar 125 is fixedly attached to housing 10 by snapping it into indentations 127 located adjacent to the outermost attachment slots 126. Other methods of removably, securely attaching the distal end of a band 30 to housing 10 may be used, including a post and ring, permanent attachment, or otherwise.

The distal end of each band 30 is fixedly connected to horizontal bar 125 located adjacent to a set of attachment slots 126. Each attachment slot 126 is formed as a channel that extends from the exterior of housing 10 towards the interior of housing 10. By positioning each band in a separate attachment slot 126 that forms a channel separate from other attachment slots for adjacent bands 30, horizontal bar 125 is fully supported at multiple points along its length. With this support, the stress on horizontal bar at any single point is greatly reduced. Accordingly, in a preferred embodiment, horizontal bar 125 is constructed of plastic, yet is able to withstand significant forces as bands 30 are extended during use of the apparatus, thus causing attachment rings 124 to exert force on horizontal bar 125. Also in a preferred embodiment, the channels formed by attachment slots 126 slope upwards (which appears as a downward slope in the inverted view of FIG. 5), to correspond to the traverse of a band 30 from the lower portion of bottom portion 52, where the attachment slots are located, across the length or width of housing 10, to the higher portion of bottom portion 52, where the parking slots 42 are located and band 30 will be extended by a user performing exercises.

Each band 30 that is connected to horizontal bar 125 at attachment slot 126 by attachment ring 124 extends into the interior of housing 10 in a direction roughly parallel to attachment slot 126 into which band 30 has been placed, until it arrives at opening 40 that is on the opposite side of housing 10 from attachment slot 126 where that band 30 is attached. The resilient material portion of the proximal end of band 30 then rests in parking slot 42, as previously disclosed, such that stop 68 is located at the side of parking slot 42 on the exterior of housing 10. For the most effective use in a preferred embodiment, the length of band 30 when in its rest state—that is, when no stretching force is being exerted upon it—should be approximately equal to the distance between attachment slot 126, where the distal end of band 30 is fixedly attached to housing 10, and parking slot 42, where the proximal end of band 30 is placed. Stated otherwise, the ideal rest-state length of a band 30 that issues from an opening 40 in the short side of housing 10 is the length of housing 10; the ideal rest-state length of a band 30 that issues from an opening 40 in the long side of housing 10 is the width of housing 10. Using bands 30 having these ideal lengths provides immediate resistive force when a user grasps a band 30 and begins an exercise.

In a preferred embodiment, a rectangular housing 10 is used, with a single opening 40 on each of the shorter sides of housing 10, and two openings 40 on each of the longer sides of housing 10, as is apparent from FIG. 2. Other shapes for housing 10 are also feasible, including, without limitation, a square, oval, or circle.

During operation of a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a user determines which bands 30 he or she prefers to engage, based upon the user's strength and the exercise that he or she wishes to perform. The user attaches handle assemblies 58 at appropriate openings 40 to one or more bands 30 by connecting snap ring 66 to one or more stop rings 136 that are located at the proximal ends of bands 30 at those openings 40. By this method, a user may, for example, attach handle assembly 58 to two or three stop rings 136 located adjacent to each other in the same opening 40, thus providing greater resistance during an exercise compared to when a single band 30 is used.

The user then exerts a pulling force on handle assembly 58, which immediately causes the bands 30 that are attached to handle assembly 58 to exert a counter-acting force in direct proportion to the spring constant associated with those bands 30. If the user is positioned on or near the top 20 of housing 10, the resilient portion of the band 30 will press against roller 110, causing it to rotate about its horizontal axis, thus reducing the friction that would otherwise be caused by band 30 moving against housing 10 as it stretched during an exercise.

Training regimes completed using the present invention may involve a training cycle exercising one complete circuit followed by a cardio interlude and flexibility exercise or continuing immediately to another training cycle. Moving from one muscle group to another allows muscles in a first group to recover effectively while other muscles are exercised. Thirty seconds or less of rest between each exercise maintains heart rates within a cardiovascular training zone. Hence, the importance of being able to perform a series of exercises on a single apparatus as disclosed herein.

The present invention is suitable for effective use in a wide variety of exercise or fitness-related circumstances, including, as non-limiting examples, circuit training, rehabilitation, sports conditioning, body building, youth fitness, and senior fitness.

The wide range of motion provided by the instant invention, using one or more bands that exert a resistive force immediately upon use, allows a user's body to move in natural ranges of motion with reduced risk of injury, thus being less restrictive in movement and more bio-mechanically sound.

Exercise patterns and sequences are best designed to incorporate the entire body, which is typically divided into the following seven muscle groups: legs, back, chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and abdominals. It is preferred that exercises engaging these seven groups should be performed in sequences, moving from the largest muscle groups to the smallest muscle groups. It is important to perform these patterns with no more delay than that required for adequate rest between each sequence.

Some of the exercises that are possible using a preferred embodiment of the present invention include the following:

Legs Exercises

Lunges

    • One foot on a selected front right corner of housing 10 of the apparatus and one on the resulting rear left corner of housing 10, grasp a handle 60 in each hand and elevate to a full upright standing position while stretching associated bands 30.

Step Back Lunges

    • With feet shoulder width apart and near a selected front portion of top portion 50 of housing 10, grasp a handle 60 in each hand, step one foot to the rear of top portion 50 and return to the upright position. Alternate legs and repeat.

Squats

    • With both feet shoulder-width apart, grasp a handle 60 in each hand, squat down to a comfortable position on top portion 50 and a complete range of motion by standing straight up.

Inner Thigh

    • While lying on either side of housing 10, attach a handle 60 over the foot that is closest to housing 10, with a straight leg, lift foot upward then return to starting position at bench level.

Outer Thigh

    • While lying on either side of housing 10, attach a handle 60 over the foot that is furthest from housing 10, with a straight leg lift foot upward with desired resistance, return to starting position at top portion 50.

Glute Press

    • While supporting your body weight on both knees and both hands on top portion 50, attach a handle 60 on a selected end of housing 10 to one foot. Start at a position with the foot at the end of housing 10, extend the foot straight back and up (as in a reverse heel press).

Leg Extension

    • While lying flat on your back on top portion 50 with knees bent, attach a handle 60 to one or both feet. With knees near a selected end of housing 10, extend feet upward hinging at the knee, then return to starting position.

Leg Curl

    • While supporting your body weight with both hands on top portion 50 of housing 10 and balancing on one knee, attach a handle 60 to one foot. With that foot near one end of housing 10, raise hip and contract foot toward hip, working the hamstring and glute muscles.

Straight Leg Dead Lift

    • With handles 60 attached to one side of housing, while keeping knees straight, bend at the waist to reach down to the side of housing 10 extending your hamstrings and lower back.
      Back Exercises

Bent Single Arm Row

    • While standing upright upon top portion 50 of housing 10, slightly hinged at waist, grasp a handle 60 with both hands and pull to chest, return to starting position by extending arms and stretching them back toward housing 10.

Low Back Extensions

    • While standing upon top portion 50, with knees slightly bent and while hinged at the waist, keep back straight while stretching toward housing 10 and move away from housing 10 by standing upright and extending past the starting point.

Seated Row

    • While sitting with feet pushing against the end of housing 10, reach forward with knees bent and pull handles 60 to chest in a rowing position.

Mid Row

    • While standing with feet at shoulder width grasp handles 60, such handles being disposed at opposite end of bench. Hinge slightly at waist and with chest lifted pull handles 60 to chest in a smooth continuous motion.

Single Cross Over Pulls

    • While standing with feet shoulder width apart and facing the side of housing 10, reach across the body to grasp a handle 60 affixed to a band 30 having the desired resistance, stand up and pull selected handle 60 across the body to the opposite side of chest, return to the starting position and repeat, switch arms and repeat again.
      Chest Exercises

Bench Press

    • While lying flat with back upon top plate 140 grasp a handle 60 in each hand, each handle being affixed to a resilient member 132 having a predetermined, desired resistance and push in an upward motion. Return to starting position and repeat. (See, for example, FIG. 8.)

Single Arm Bench Press

    • While lying flat with back upon top portion 50 grasp a handle 60 in each hand, each handle being affixed to a band 30 having a predetermined, desired resistance and push in an upward motion alternating hands to work each side of chest independently. Return to starting position and repeat.

Flies

    • While lying flat with back against top portion 50 of housing 10, grasp a handle 60 in each hand and extend arms out to the sides with elbows slightly bent. Push upwards bringing hands together above chest while elbows remain slightly bent.

Seated Incline Press

    • While seated upon top portion 50 with feet on floor, lean back to a desired angle to perform an incline press with selected handles 60 pushing upward away from chest. To increase difficulty and to utilize core and stabilizing muscle groups lift feet off floor while performing exercise.

Seated Incline Flies

    • While seated upon top portion 50 of housing 10 with feet on floor, lean back to the desired angle to perform incline flies with arms out with elbows slightly bent bring hands in an upward movement to meet above chest. To increase difficulty and to utilize core and stabilizing muscle groups lift feet off floor while performing exercise.

Incline Push Ups

    • Perform standard push-ups with hands on top portion 50 of housing 10 to isolate upper chest area

Decline Push Ups

    • Perform standard push-ups with torso on housing 10 and with hands on floor to isolate lower chest area
      Shoulder Exercises

Upright Rows

    • While standing upon top portion 50 with feet disposed at shoulder width, pull handle 60 to the upper center area of chest under the chin.

Seated Military Press

    • While seated upon top portion 50 of housing 10 and a handle 60, affixed to a selected band 30 of desired resistance, in each hand disposed at shoulder height, push each handle 60 with desired weight upward overhead with back straight.

Cross-Overs

    • While standing upon top portion 50 of housing 10 with feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent, reach across body with a hand to grasp a selected handle 60, stand upright and pull handle 60 across the body and extend at shoulder level out to side, return handle 60 across body to waist and repeat with other hand.

Lateral Shoulder Raises

    • While standing on top portion 50 of housing 10 grasp and pull a selected handle 60 in each hand to waist, keep elbows slightly bent and raise arms to each side leading with elbows to shoulder height.
      Biceps/Triceps

Standing Bicep Curls

    • While standing on and facing the end of housing 10 use a handle 60 designed for two hands or else a pair of handles 60 each designed for one hand, perform bicep curls, the arm fully extending and contracting upward for a full range of motion.

Alternating Curls

    • While standing upon top portion 50 of housing 10 and facing an end of housing 10 use a pair of handles 60 and alternate one arm with the other to perform bicep curls, the arm fully extending and contracting upward for a full range of motion

Reverse French Curls

    • While standing upon top portion 50 and facing an end of housing 10 grasp a handle 60 designed for two hands or a pair of handles 60 each designed for one hand with palms facing toward the floor perform bicep curls, with arms fully extending and contracting upward for a full range of motion.

Triceps Kick Backs

    • While standing in the middle of top portion 50 of housing 10 with knees slightly bent and slightly hinged at the waist, grasp a pair of forward handles 60 and extend arms behind the user fully extending triceps. Arms may be exercised simultaneously or one arm at a time, independent of the other.

Seated Triceps Extensions

    • While seated on top portion 50 of housing 10 with arms disposed above shoulder with elbows hinged at the ear level, extend grasped handles 60 upward, keeping elbow in a stable position

Lying Triceps Extensions

    • While lying upon top portion 50 of housing 10 with arms hinged and elbows disposed above a users head, grasp a handle 60 from an end of housing 10 position and extend, keeping the elbow in a stable position, extend upward to a full arm extension.

Lying Crunches

    • While lying on housing 10 with feet on the floor, grasp a handle 60 connected to one or more bands 30 having a desired predetermined resistance and disposed at that end of housing 10 closest to the head of the user, pull hands to chest while keeping hands on chest raise your upper torso in a sit-up position while keeping resistance and feet on floor.

Knee Crunches

    • With a handle 60 attached to feet and while lying upon top portion 50 of housing 10, bring knees to the chest while keeping the upper torso flat on bench and hands across chest.

Leg Lifts

    • While lying upon top portion 50 of housing 10 and keeping legs straight, attach a handle 60, affixed to a band 30 having a predetermined desired resistance, to both feet, lift legs six to eight inches to work lower abs with resistance, return to starting position. This exercise could be performed with both legs or alternating one leg at a time.

The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics thereof. The presently disclosed embodiments are therefore to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, the scope of the invention being indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description, and all changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are therefore intended to be embraced therein.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7470224 *Apr 16, 2007Dec 30, 2008Everett Roy JCombined resistance/magnetic exercise apparatus
US7591763Mar 7, 2008Sep 22, 2009Gymflex Fitness, LlcPortable convertible multifunction exercise apparatus and method
US7637855 *May 25, 2008Dec 29, 2009Edison Nation, LlcUnsteady exercise platform having resistance bands
US7736286Feb 27, 2008Jun 15, 2010Jordan PanaiotovExercise system utilizing elastic bands
US7946969 *Sep 14, 2009May 24, 2011Journey Fitness LlcPortable exercise platform with resistance mechanisms
US8021286 *Mar 21, 2008Sep 20, 2011William Gene SuiterExercise apparatus with adjustable resistance
US8088050 *Apr 6, 2009Jan 3, 2012Aucamp Frederick PPortable exercise equipment
US8715144Dec 16, 2010May 6, 2014Journey Fitness LlcPortable exercise platform with resistance mechanisms
US8894554 *Jul 13, 2012Nov 25, 2014Paul ChenPivotal pulley for exercise machine
US8905902 *Nov 7, 2012Dec 9, 2014David Earl BurchamExercise kit
US20110183821 *Jan 26, 2011Jul 28, 2011Robert RadiOrbital vibration training and exercise device
US20130288865 *Apr 15, 2013Oct 31, 2013Kevin CoulterFitness device
US20140018218 *Jul 13, 2012Jan 16, 2014Paul ChenPivotal pulley for exercise machine
US20140128230 *Nov 7, 2012May 8, 2014David Earl BurchamExercise kit
Classifications
U.S. Classification482/123, 482/121, 482/126
International ClassificationA63B21/02
Cooperative ClassificationA63B2071/027, A63B21/04, A63B2208/0252, A63B21/0557, A63B21/0552, A63B2208/0204, A63B21/0442, A63B23/0458, A63B21/00065, A63B21/16
European ClassificationA63B21/16, A63B23/04B6, A63B21/04, A63B21/055D