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Publication numberUS20060281604 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/147,821
Publication dateDec 14, 2006
Filing dateJun 8, 2005
Priority dateJun 8, 2005
Publication number11147821, 147821, US 2006/0281604 A1, US 2006/281604 A1, US 20060281604 A1, US 20060281604A1, US 2006281604 A1, US 2006281604A1, US-A1-20060281604, US-A1-2006281604, US2006/0281604A1, US2006/281604A1, US20060281604 A1, US20060281604A1, US2006281604 A1, US2006281604A1
InventorsJonathan Stewart, David Albert
Original AssigneePrecor Incorporated
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Cross training exercise device
US 20060281604 A1
Abstract
An exercise device includes a frame, first and second foot links, first and second foot supports, a coupling system and a guide system. Each foot link has a first portion and a second portion. The first and second foot supports are carried by the first and second foot links, respectively. The coupling system is associated with the first portion of each foot link for coupling the first portion to the frame so that the first portion of each foot link travels in a closed path relative to the frame. The guide system supports the second portions along a preselected reciprocating path of travel as the first portions of the respective foot links travel along their paths of travel. The guide system is selectably positionable at an angle from horizontal within the range of 45 degrees to 75 degrees.
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Claims(26)
1. An aerobic exercise device to simulate various types of climbing motions, comprising:
a frame having a pivot axis defined thereon, the frame configured to be supported on a floor;
first and second foot links, each foot link including a first portion and a second portion;
first and second foot supporting portions for receiving the feet of the user, the first and second foot support portions supported by the first and second foot links, respectively, each foot support portion having a forward portion and a rearward portion, the rearward portion extending from the foot link a distance greater than the forward portion;
a coupling associated with the first portion of each foot link for coupling the first portion of each foot link to the pivot axis so that the first portion of each foot link travels in a closed path relative to the pivot axis; and
a guide associated with the frame and operative to engage and direct the second portions of the foot links along preselected reciprocating paths of travel as the first portions of the respective foot links travel along their paths of travel, so that when the exercise device is in use the foot support portion moves along a generally elliptical path of travel.
2. The exercise device to simulate various types of climbing motions according to claim 1, further comprising a control system to change the position of the guide relative to the frame to alter the paths traveled by the first and second foot links.
3. The exercise device to simulate various types of climbing motions according to claim 1, further wherein the guide is at an angle from horizontal of 45 degrees to 75 degrees.
4. The exercise device to simulate various types of climbing motions according to claim 1, further wherein the guide is at an angle from horizontal of 50 degrees to 75 degrees.
5. The exercise device to simulate various types of climbing motions according to claim 1, further wherein the guide is at an angle from horizontal of about 60 degrees to about 75 degrees.
6. The exercise device to simulate various types of climbing motions according to claim 1, wherein a guide system further includes gliders pivotally mounted to the second portion portions of the foot links that ride along corresponding tracks and which provide structural support in opposed directions which is necessitated by the generally vertical orientation of the foot links.
7. The exercise device to simulate various types of climbing motions according to claim 6, wherein the gliders include a pair of inwardly projecting ridges that cooperatively ride in grooves defined in the corresponding tracks.
8. The exercise device to simulate various types of climbing motions according to claim 6, wherein the gliders include a pair of opposite rollers that roll on opposite sides of the track.
9. An exercise device to simulate various types of climbing motions, comprising:
a frame having a pivot axis and configured to be supported on a floor;
first and second foot links, each foot link having a first portion and a second portion;
a foot support carried by the first and second foot links for receiving the feet of a user;
a coupling associated with the first portion of each foot link for coupling the first portion of each foot link to the frame so that the first portion of each foot link travels in a closed path about the pivot axis of the frame; and
a guide system for supporting the second portions of the foot links along a preselected reciprocating path of travel as the first portions of the respective foot links travel along their paths of travel, so that when the exercise device is in use the foot support portion moves along a generally elliptical path of travel, the guide system further including gliders pivotally mounted to the second portions of the foot links, the gliders configured to ride along corresponding tracks, the guide system providing structural support inhibiting decoupling of the second portions of the foot links from the tracks in a direction that is generally normal to the longitudinal axis of the tracks.
10. The exercise device to simulate various types of climbing motions according to claim 9, wherein the gliders include a pair of inwardly projecting ridges that cooperatively ride in grooves defined in the corresponding tracks.
11. The exercise device to simulate various types of climbing motions according to claim 9, wherein the gliders include a pair of opposite rollers that roll on opposite sides of the track.
12. The exercise device to simulate various types of climbing motions according to claim 9, further wherein the guide is at an angle from horizontal of about 45 degrees to about 75 degrees.
13. The exercise device to simulate various types of climbing motions according to claim 9, further wherein the guide is at an angle from horizontal of about 55 degrees to about 75 degrees.
14. The exercise device to simulate various types of climbing motions according to claim 9, further wherein the guide is at an angle from horizontal of about 60 degrees to about 75 degrees.
15. The exercise device to simulate various types of climbing motions according to claim 9, further comprising a control system to change the position of the guide relative to the frame to alter the paths traveled by the second portions of the first and second foot links.
16. An exercise device, comprising:
a frame configured to be supported on a floor;
first and second foot links, each foot link having a first portion and a second portion;
first and second foot supports carried by the first and second foot links, respectively, for receiving the feet of a user;
a coupling system associated with the first portion of each foot link for coupling the first portion of each foot link to the frame so that the first portion of each foot link travels in a closed path relative to the frame; and
a guide system for supporting the second portions of the foot links along a preselected reciprocating path of travel as the first portions of the respective foot links travel along their paths of travel, the guide selectably positionable at an angle from horizontal within the range of 45 degrees to 75 degrees, such that when the exercise device is in use the foot support portion moves along a generally elliptical path of travel.
17. The exercise device according to claim 16, wherein the guide system further including gliders pivotally mounted to the second portions of the foot links that ride along corresponding tracks.
18. The exercise device according to claim 17, wherein the gliders include a pair of inwardly projecting ridges that cooperatively ride in grooves defined in the corresponding tracks.
19. The exercise device according to claim 17, wherein the gliders include a pair of opposite rollers that roll on opposite sides of the track.
20. The exercise device according to claim 16, further wherein the guide is at an angle from horizontal of 55 degrees to 75 degrees.
21. The exercise device according to claim 20, further wherein the guide is at an angle from horizontal of 60 degrees to 75 degrees.
22. The exercise device according to claim 16, further comprising a control system to change the position of the guide relative to the frame to alter the paths traveled by the second portions of the first and second foot links.
23. An exercise device, comprising:
a frame configured to be supported on a floor;
first and second foot links;
a foot support carried by the first and second foot links for receiving the feet of a user;
a system associated with each foot link for coupling the foot link to the frame and guiding the foot support along a preselected, generally ellipse-shaped path relative to the frame, the generally ellipse-shaped path defining a major axis relative to horizontal, the system selectably positioning the foot support such that the major axis of the ellipse-shaped path forms an angle with horizontal that is within the range 35 degrees to 50 degrees.
24. The exercise device according to claim 23 further wherein the system comprises a coupling system associated with a first portion of each foot link for coupling the first portion of each foot link to the frame so that the first portion of each foot link travels in a closed path relative to the frame and a guide system for supporting a second portions of the foot links along a preselected reciprocating path of travel as the first portions of the respective foot links travel along their paths of travel.
25. The exercise device according to claim 24, wherein the coupling system comprises first and second crank arms with one portion of the crank arms pivotal relative to about a pivot axis and the other portions of the crank arms pivotally pinned to the first portions of the first and second foot links.
26. The exercise device according to claim 23, further wherein the foot support at an angle of the major axis of the ellipse from horizontal of about 40 degrees to about 50 degrees.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to exercise equipment.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The benefits of regular aerobic exercise have been well established and accepted. However, due to time constraints, inclement weather, and other reasons, many people are prevented from aerobic activities such as walking, jogging, running, and swimming. As a result, a variety of exercise equipment has been developed for aerobic activity. It is generally desirable to exercise a large number of different muscles over a significantly large range of motion so as to provide for balanced physical development, to maximize muscle length and flexibility, and to achieve optimum levels of aerobic exercise. It is further advantageous for exercise equipment to provide smooth and natural motion, thus avoiding significant jarring and strain that can damage both muscles and joints.

While various exercise systems are known in the prior art, these systems suffer from a variety of shortcomings that limit their benefits and/or include unnecessary risks and undesirable features. For example, stationary bicycles are a popular exercise system in the prior art; however, these machines employ a sitting position that utilizes only a relatively small number of muscles, through a fairly limited range of motion. Cross-country skiing exercise devices are also utilized to simulate the gliding motion of cross-country skiing. While cross-country skiing devices exercise more muscles than stationary bicycles, the substantially flat shuffling foot motion provided by the ski devices limits the range of motion of some of the muscles being exercised. Treadmills are still a further type of exercise device in the prior art. Treadmills allow natural walking or jogging motions in a relatively limited area. A drawback of the treadmill, however, is that significant jarring of the hip, knee, ankle, and other joints of the body may occur through use of this device.

Another type of exercise device simulates stair climbing. Such devices can be composed of foot levers that are pivotally mounted to a frame at their forward ends and have foot-receiving pads at their rearward ends. The user pushes his/her feet down against the foot levers to simulate stair climbing. Resistance to the downward movement of the foot levers is provided by springs, fluid shock absorbers and/or other elements. These devices exercise more muscles than stationary bicycles; however, the rather limited range of up-and-down motion utilized does not exercise the user's leg muscles through a large range of motion. The substantially vertical reciprocating motion of such stair climbing exercise machines results in substantial impact load on the hip, knee and ankle. Further, the up and down reciprocating motion can induce a hyperextension of the knee. Some attempts to reduce such impact loads in the prior art have added cushioning to the pedals of the stair climbing exercise machines.

A further limitation of a majority of exercise systems in the prior art lies in the limits in the types of motions that they can produce. A relatively new class of exercise devices is capable of producing elliptical motion that simulated the natural stride of a person. Exercise systems create elliptical motion, as referred to herein, when the path traveled by a user's feet while using the exercise system follows an arcuate or ellipse-shaped path of travel. Elliptical motion is much more natural and analogous to running, jogging, and walking than the linear-type, back and forth motions produced by some prior art exercise equipment. However, these devices that create an elliptical motion are limited to analogizing to running, jogging, and walking motions.

What would thus be desirable is an exercise device that provides for smooth natural action, exercises a relatively large number of muscles through a large range of motion. What would thus be desirable is an exercise device that produces a user selectable raised, or highly angled, elliptical motion that simulates natural climbing or stepping motion. It would be further desirable for an exercise device to exercise muscles that are not exercised by elliptical machines of the prior art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An exercise device in accordance with the principles of the present invention provides for smooth natural action, exercises a relatively large number of muscles through a large range of motion. An exercise device in accordance with the principles of the present invention provides a smooth exercise device that produces a user selectable raised, or highly angled, elliptical motion that simulates natural climbing or stepping motion. An exercise device in accordance with the principles of the present invention exercises muscles that are not exercised by elliptical machines of the prior art.

An exercise device in accordance with the principles of the present invention includes a frame, foot links, a coupling system and a guide. The frame defines a pivot axis and is configured to be supported on a floor. First and second foot links each include a first portion and a second portion. A foot-supporting portion supported by the first and second foot links receives the feet of the user while in standing position. Each foot support portion has a forward portion and a rear portion, the rear portion extending from the foot link a distance greater than the forward portion necessitated by the generally vertical orientation of the foot links. The coupling system is associated with the first portion of each foot link and couples the first portion of each foot link to the pivot axis so that the first portion of each foot link travels in a closed path relative to the pivot axis.

The guide is associated with the frame and operates to engage and direct the second portions of the foot links along preselected reciprocating paths of travel as the first portions of the respective foot links travel along their paths of travel. When the exercise device is in use, the foot support portion moves along a generally elliptical path of travel. The guide is at an angle from horizontal of about 45 degrees to about 75 degrees, such that when the exercise device is in use the foot support portion moves along a generally vertically inclined, generally elliptical path of travel. In a further preferred embodiment, the guide is at an angle from horizontal of about 50 degrees to about 75 degrees; in a further preferred embodiment, the guide is at an angle from horizontal of about 60 degrees to about 75 degrees. The guide system further includes gliders pivotally mounted to the second portions of the foot links that ride along corresponding tracks and which provide structural support in opposed directions which is necessitated by the generally vertical orientation of the foot links. Thus, an exercise device in accordance with the principles of the present invention simulates various types of climbing motions.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing aspects and many of the advantages of the present invention will be more readily appreciated as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a side perspective view of an exercise device in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an elevated side view of the device of FIG. 1 with the left footpad elevated.

FIG. 3 is a view similar to FIG. 2, showing the device of FIG. 1 with the right footpad elevated.

FIG. 4 is an elevated view of the device of FIG. 1 at a less severe vertical orientation relative to FIGS. 1-3.

FIG. 5 is a close-up view of a guide assembly of the device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a close-up view of another guide assembly of the device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 is an elevated side view of another exercise device in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

In the conventional prior art devices designed to simulate walking, jogging or running activity, the cyclical or closed path of the user's foot is typically oriented at about a zero degree to 40 degree angle from horizontal, which results in an angle of the major axis of the ellipse being about five degrees to 30 degrees. This orientation provides for acceptable walking, jogging and running simulation; however, a user interested in simulating climbing is limited to utilizing an exercise device that simulates stair climbing but is limited in the range of up-and-down motion utilized and thus does not exercise the user's leg muscles through a large range of motion or is limited to a reciprocating motion that does not adequately simulate the natural foot path. An exercise device in accordance with the principles of the present invention simulates climbing but is not so limited in the range of up-and-down motion utilized and thus exercises the user's leg muscles through a larger range of motion. Also, the substantially vertical reciprocating motion of prior art stair climbing devices produces substantial impact loads on the hips, knees and ankles of the user. Further, an exercise device in accordance with the present invention substantially reduces the impact loads placed on the joints of a user.

Referring initially to FIGS. 1-3, an exercise device 18 in accordance with the principles of the present invention is seen. The exercise device 18 of the present invention can include a floor engaging frame 20 incorporating a forward post 22 extending upwardly and diagonally forwardly. A main pulley 24 can be located on the frame 20 for rotation about a horizontal, transverse axis 26. The main pulley 24 is connected to a step-up pulley 90. The step-up pulley 90 is connected to a braking system 40, as described in detail below. The main pulley 24, the step-up pulley 90, and the braking assembly 40 may be covered by a rear hood (not shown).

A pair of foot links 30 a, 30 b are provided. Foot supporting portions such as a pair of foot pedals or pads (hereinafter referred to as footpads 27 a, 27 b) can be provided carried by the foot links 30 a, 30 b. The rearward portions of foot links 30 a, 30 b can be rotatebly coupled, preferably through left and right crank arm assemblies 100 a, 100 b, to main pulley 24, such that the rearward portions 30 a, 30 b travel about a circular path around axis 26 as the main pulley 24 rotates. Gliders 32 a, 32 b can be pivotally mounted to the forward portions of foot links 30 a, 30 b to ride along corresponding rail tracks 34 a, 34 b of a guide 36, as described in detail below.

The forward portions of the foot links 30 a, 30 b reciprocate up and down along the tracks 34 a, 34 b as the rearward portions of the foot links 30 a, 30 b rotate about the axis 26, thus causing the foot pads 27 carried by the foot links to travel along elliptical paths in an angle of the major axis of the ellipse from horizontal of about 35 degrees to about 50 degrees. When the exercise device 18 is in use and when the foot links 30 a, 30 b travel upwardly from a bottom most position, the heel portion of the foot of the user initially rises at a faster rate than a toe portion thereof. When the foot links 30 a, 30 b travel downwardly from an upper most position, the heel portion of the foot of the user initially lowers at a faster rate than the toe portion. In an alternative embodiment, a mechanism could be provided so that the foot pads remains generally parallel to the ground throughout the arcuate or ellipse-shaped motion. In either embodiment, an exercise device 18 in accordance with the principles of the present invention produces aerobic activity comprising natural climbing or stepping foot motion.

A lift mechanism 38, mounted on the post 22, can be operable to selectively change the inclination of the guide 36 thereby to alter the climbing motion of the user of the device of the present invention. Thus, the lower portion of the guide 36 can be pivotally engaged with the floor-engaging frame 20 by pivots 41 (FIG. 2). A forward hood (not shown) may substantially encase the lift mechanisms.

The following description describes the foregoing and other aspects of the present invention in greater detail.

Frame 20 is illustrated as including a longitudinal frame central member 42 terminating in the rear at a relatively shorter transverse member 44 (FIG. 1). Ideally, but not essentially, the frame 20 can be composed of rectangular tubular members, which can be relatively light in weight but provide substantial strength. End caps 48 can be engaged within the open ends of the transverse member 44 to close off the ends of these members. Other frame configurations can also be used.

The forward post 22 can include a pair of upwardly and diagonally forwardly extending members 52 a, 52 b that can be joined at the upper periphery of the post 22. A pair of hand supports 54 a, 54 b can be provided for grasping by an individual while utilizing the present device 18. The hand supports 54 a, 54 b can be part of a continuous, closed form handle bar 56. The handle bar 56 can include an upper transverse section that can be securely attached to the forward post structure 22 by a clamp 60 engaging around the handle bar upper section and securable to the forward post structure 22 by a fastener 62. The handle bar 56 also can include a transverse lower section 68 a, 68 b extending outwardly from and clamped to the upwardly and diagonally forwardly extending members 52 a, 52 b. The handle bar 56 may be in part or in whole covered by a gripping material or surface, such as tape, foamed synthetic rubber, etc. Other handle or handlebar configurations can also be used.

A display panel 74 can be mounted at the upper portion of the handle bar 56 and/or the post 22, at an orientation that is easily viewable to a user of the device 18. Instructions for operating the device as well as courses being traveled may be located on the display panel 74 in an exemplary embodiment. In some embodiments of the present invention, electronic devices may be incorporated into the exerciser device 18 such as timers, odometers, speedometers, heart rate indicators, energy expenditure recorders, controllers, etc. This information may be routed to the display panel 74 for ease of viewing for a user of the device 18.

The lower portions of the pair of upwardly and diagonally forwardly extending members 52 a, 52 b can extend to and engage the ground to provide further support to the device 18. The lower portions of the pair of upwardly and diagonally forwardly extending members 52 a, 52 b can be joined to the longitudinal frame central member 42 by generally horizontal support members 53 a, 53 b. In addition, the pair of upwardly and diagonally forwardly extending members 52 a, 52 b can be further joined to the longitudinal frame central member 42 by generally vertical support members 58 a, 58 b.

As best seen in FIG. 2, the main pulley 24 can be held in a support housing 82 extending upwardly from the frame central member 42. The housing 82 may be fixedly attached to frame central member 42 by any expedient manner, such as by welding or bolting. The main pulley 24 can be mounted on a rotatably extending drive shaft 84. The drive shaft 84 is mounted to support housing 82 by a bracket 83. It will be appreciated that the center of the drive shaft 84 corresponds with the location of transverse axis 26. The main pulley 24 is illustrated as incorporating spokes that radiate outwardly from a central hub to intersect a circumferential rim. The main pulley 24 may be of other constructions, for instance, in the form of a substantially solid disk, without departing from the spirit or scope of the present invention. A bearing assembly 88 can be employed to anti-frictionally mount the drive shaft 84 to the bracket 83. The step-up pulley 90 can be also mounted on housing 82 behind main pulley 24. The main pulley 24 and step-up pulley 90 are connected via a belt 91.

The rearward portions of foot links 30 a, 30 b can be rotateably attached to left and right crank arm assemblies 100 a, 100 b. The left and right crank arm assemblies 100 a, 100 b couple the rearward portions of the foot links 30 a, 30 b to the drive shaft 84. In the exemplary embodiment described herein, the proximal portions of the crank arm assemblies 100 a, 100 b engage the drive shaft 84, while the distal portions of the crank arm assemblies 100 a, 100 b can be rotatably connected to the rearward portions of the foot links 30 a, 30 b. In this configuration, the rearward portions of the foot links 30 a, 30 b orbit about the axis 26 as the drive shaft 84 rotates, and the foot pads 27 a, 27 b of the foot links 30 a, 30 b travel in an elliptical path of motion. In an alternate embodiment of the present invention, the rearward portions of the foot links 30 a, 30 b can be rotationally connected directly to a main pulley which functions to couple the foot links 30 a, 30 b to the drive shaft 84 and permit rotation about axis 26 .

Various mechanical arrangements may be employed to embody the crank arm assemblies 100 a, 100 b in operatively connecting the foot links 30 a, 30 b to each other. Such variations may include a larger main pulley, a smaller main pulley, or may eliminate the main pulley entirely and incorporate a flywheel, or may eliminate the main pulley entirely and incorporate a cam system with connecting linkage, provided that the foot links are coupled so as to permit an arcuate or ellipse-shaped path of travel by the foot pads 27 a, 27 b of the foot links 30 a, 30 b. Further, a coupling member (not shown) can be positioned between the distal end of each crank arm and the rearward portion of the foot link.

The footpads 27 a, 27 b can be mounted on the upper surfaces of the foot links 30 a, 30 b to receive and retain the user's foot. The foot pads 27 a, 27 b can be connected to the foot links 30 a, 30 b by two support members 105, 106; due to the large angular, or generally vertical, orientation of the foot links 30 a, 30 b, the rear support members 105 a, 105 b can be substantially longer than the front support members 106 a, 106 b in order to position the footpads 27 a, 27 b in a generally horizontal orientation.

Referring FIG. 7, another exercise device 18 in accordance with the principles of the present invention is seen. In this embodiment, support members 105, 106 extending from foot links 30 a, 30 b to the footpads 27 a, 27 b can be eliminated. The pair of foot links 30 a, 30 b can be provided as generally bent such that the footpads 27 a, 27 b can be provided carried directly on the foot links 30 a, 30 b. In further alternative embodiments, each foot pad can be supported in an angled orientation with respect to its corresponding foot link using a single support, or multiple supports.

The angled footpads with respect to the foot links, wherein the rear or heel portion of the footpad 27 is positioned further from the foot link 30 than the front or toe portion of the footpad 27, provides proper support for the user's feet as the user's feet move in the angled elliptical path. Without the angled orientation of the footpad with respect to the foot link, the user's calves, Achilles tendon and heel would generally unsupported as the user's feet traveled in the angled elliptical path. Further, without such angled footpad support, the risk of over-extending or overstressing of the user's calve muscles, Achilles tendon and heel are significantly increased. The angled footpad support of the present invention eliminates these issues by providing the appropriate support for the user's feet as the user's feet travel in the angled elliptical path produced by the angled orientation of the guide 36 of the exercise device 18. The footpads 27 can be formed with a plurality of transverse ridges that not only enhance the structural integrity of the footpads, but also serve an anti-skid function between the bottom of the user's shoe or foot and the footpads.

Referring now to FIG. 5, a first embodiment of glide 32, carried on guide 36, is seen in detail. In order to simulate a climbing motion, the glide 32 and the guide 36 are advantageously and selectively positioned at an angle from horizontal of about 45 degrees to about 75 degrees. The forward portions of foot links 30 are pivotally attached to glides 32. In one embodiment, each of the glides 32 can include a pair of inwardly projecting ridges 108, 109 that cooperatively ride in grooves 110, 111 defined in the corresponding rail tracks 34. Thus, structural support can be provided in opposed directions, which is necessitated by the generally vertical orientation of the foot links 30. In the context of this application, the term “generally vertical” means at an angle of about 45 degrees to about 75 degrees from the ground. The forward portions of the foot links 30 reciprocate up and down along the rail tracks 34 as the rearward portions of the foot links 30 rotate about axis 26 causing the footpads 27 carried by the foot links to travel along various elliptical paths, as described more fully below.

The cooperative slidable engagement between the ridges 108, 109 and the grooves 110, 111 ensures that in operation the glide 32 will not separate from the guide 36 as the angle of the guide 36 with respect to the ground increases. As previously mentioned, the glides of existing elliptical machines are typically oriented at about a zero degree to 40 degree angle from horizontal, which results in an angle of the major axis of the ellipse being about five degrees to 30 degrees. Accordingly, the rollers or glides coupled to the forward end of the footlinks of such elliptical machines typically slidably or rollably engage the guide in a manner that does not preclude separation of the roller from the guide in a direction that is normal from the longitudinal axis of the guide. Preventing such separation between the glide or roller and the guide is generally not necessary on existing machines because the angle of the guide with respect to the ground is not large enough to induce such separation.

Referring now to FIG. 6, another embodiment of glide 32 and the guide is seen in detail. A pair of concave rollers 112, 113 can be rotatably joined to the forward portions of each of the foot links 30. In this embodiment, a generally “H” shaped guide 115 can be provided having grooves 117, 118 corresponding to the rollers 112, 113. A second pair of concave rollers 120, 121 are provided also rotatably joined to the forward portions of each of the foot links 30. As such, the rollers 112, 113 and 120, 121 maintain the forward portions of the foot links 30 securely engaged with the “H” shaped guide 115 during use. Structural support can be provided in the opposed direction by the use of a second pair of rollers 120, 121 on opposite sides of the tubular track. Alternatively, a single roller can be used on each side or other multi-directional movable supports can be used.

While in the embodiment described herein, the guides 36 are depicted as a straight rail tracks 34 thus imparting a straight reciprocating motion on the glides 32, other alternative motions imparted on the glides 32 are contemplated. For example, the shape or the configuration of the rail tracks 34 can be altered thereby imparting different reciprocal motions on the glides. When combined with the rearward motion on the foot links 30 a, 30 b, alternative reciprocal motions can impart different arcuate or ellipse-shaped paths of travel on the foot pads. Other alternative configurations of the exercise device 18 can also be used to provide other generally elliptical paths of travel to the foot pads. For example, a four-bar linkage mechanism, other crank and linkage arrangements, or cam driven linkage assemblies could be used to provide a generally elliptical path of travel to the foot pads. Such alternative configurations can be used to adjust the generally elliptical path of travel. For example, the lower portion of the inclined generally elliptical path of travel can be widened in order to reduce the severity of the change in direction of the user's foot during use of the exercise device.

Referring to FIGS. 1-4, the guide 36 can include parallel members 127, 129 joined by cross members 130, 132, 134 and disposed in alignment with the foot links 30 a, 30 b. The rail tracks 34 a, 34 b can be mounted on the parallel members 127, 129. The top portion of the guide 36 can be supported by lift mechanism 38, which is most clearly shown in FIGS. 2-4. The lift mechanism 38 can be pivotally connected 46 at the lower portion to the frame central member 42. The upper portion of the lift mechanism 38 can be connected to the top-most cross member 134. Alternatively, the tracks 34 do not extend to the base of the device and are not pivotally coupled to the base; the rails can be supported at a mid-portion of the frame or to the lift mechanism. The lift mechanism can incorporate a sensing system to sense the extension and retraction of the lift mechanism, and thus, the angle of inclination of the guide with respect to the frame or the ground. The angle of inclination of the guide can be transmitted to a CPU through an analog to digital interface and controller.

The lift mechanism 38 can be raised and lowered by various mechanisms. In one embodiment, the lift mechanism can be raised and lowered by hydraulics. In another embodiment, the lift mechanism can be adjusted manually. In another embodiment, the lift mechanism 38 can be raised and lowered by an electrically powered lift actuator. The lift actuator can include an upper screw section rotatably powered by an electric motor operably connected to the upper portion of the screw section. The top of the screw section can be rotatably engaged with a retaining socket assembly which can be rotatably attached to the top-most cross member. The socket allows the screw to rotate relative to the socket while remaining in vertical engagement with the collar. The motor may be operable to rotate the screw section in one direction to lower the guide or in the opposite direction to raise the guide, as desired. As the guide is lowered or raised, the angle of inclination of the guide is changed which in turn changes the climbing motion experienced by the user of device.

Thus, FIG. 3 shows the device in which guide is at an angle “X” from horizontal of about 75 degrees. Also shown in FIG. 3 is the elliptical path of the footpads “Y” which is likewise at an angle from horizontal of about 75 degrees. FIG. 4 is an elevated view of the device of FIG. 1 at a less severe vertical orientation relative to FIGS. 1-3. FIG. 4 shows the device in which guide is at an angle “X′” from horizontal of about 45 degrees. Also shown in FIG. 3 is the elliptical path of the footpads “Y′” which is likewise at an angle from horizontal of about 45 degrees. In accordance with the present invention, various angles from horizontal between about 45 degrees and about 75 degrees can be chosen by the user of the device by raising and lowering the lift mechanism which changes the angle of inclination of the guide which in turn changes the climbing motion experienced by the user of device.

The present invention can include a system for selectively applying the braking or retarding force on the rotation of the main pulley through a brake system 40, best seen in FIG. 2. The step-up pulley 90 drives a smaller driven sheave 150 through a V-belt 152. The driven sheave 150 can be mounted on the free portion of a rotatable stub shaft 154 that is mounted in housing 156 connected to the frame central member 42. The relative sizes of the step-up pulley 90 and the driven sheave 150 can be such as to achieve a step of speed at about six to ten times and ideally about eight times.

The brake system 40 can include an eddy current brake assembly 164. The eddy current brake assembly 164 can include a solid metallic disk mounted on stub shaft 154 inboard of driven sheave 150 to also rotate with the driven sheave. Ideally, an annular faceplate of highly electrically conductive material, e.g., copper, can be mounted on the face of the solid disk. A pair of magnet assemblies can be mounted closely adjacent the face of the solid disk opposite the annular plate. The magnet assemblies each include a central core in the form of a bar magnet surrounded by a coil assembly. The magnet assemblies can be positioned along the outer perimeter portion of the disk in alignment with the annular plate. Alternative braking or retarding forces can be used such as for example friction brakes, fluid resistance etc. In addition, a generator can be used to provide resistance or braking to the exercise device as well as to generate power for use by the system electronics.

The location of the magnet assemblies may be adjusted relative to the adjacent face of the disk so as to be positioned as closely as possible to the disk without actually touching or interfering with the rotation of the disk. As noted above, the significant difference in size between the diameters of step-up pulley 90 and driven sheave 150 results in a substantial step up in rotational speed of the disk relative to the rotational speed of the main pulley 24. The rotational speed of the disk is thereby sufficient to produce relatively high levels of braking torque through the eddy current brake assembly 40. A flywheel resistance control can be provided that controls the brake system 40. The flywheel resistance can be transmitted to a CPU through an analog to digital interface and controller. In a further preferred embodiment, the brake assembly 40 and flywheel can be located forward relative to the main pulley 24 to minimize the footprint of the exercise device 18.

It may be desirable to monitor the speed of the main pulley 24 so as to measure the distance traveled by the user of the present device and also to control the level of workout experienced by the user. Any standard method of measuring the speed of the main pulley may be utilized. For instance, an optical or magnetic strobe wheel may be mounted on disk, the step-up pulley 90 or other rotating member of the present device. The rotational speed of the strobe wheel may be monitored by an optical or magnetic sensor to generate an electrical signal related to such rotational speed. The rotational speed of the main pulley can be transmitted to a CPU through an analog to digital interface and controller.

To use the present invention, the user stands on the foot pads 27 while gripping the handle bar 56 for stability. The user imparts a downward climbing action on one footpad thereby causing the main pulley 24 to rotate about axis 26. As a result, the rear portions of the foot links rotate about the axis 26 and simultaneously the forward portions of the foot links ride up and down the tracks 34 a, 34 b. The forward portion of the foot link moves downwardly along its track as the point of attachment of the foot link to the main pulley moves from a location substantially closest to the post 22 (maximum extended position of the foot link) to a location substantially furthest from the post, i.e., the maximum retracted position of the foot link. From this point of the maximum retracted position of the foot link, further rotation of the main pulley causes the foot link to travel back upwardly along the track 34 a back to the maximum extended position of the foot link.

While preferred embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described, it would be appreciated that various changes may be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7455624 *Feb 23, 2007Nov 25, 2008Shu-Chiung Liao LaiLow-impact exercise machine
US7621849 *Nov 14, 2008Nov 24, 2009Cheng-Ta TsaiStepper
US7682293Mar 2, 2007Mar 23, 2010Paul William EschenbachLateral elliptical exercise apparatus
US7686743Oct 22, 2007Mar 30, 2010Paul William EschenbachElliptical rock climber exercise apparatus
US7758472May 28, 2008Jul 20, 2010Precor IncorporatedExercise device ramp roller retainer
US7833133 *Dec 28, 2006Nov 16, 2010Precor IncorporatedEnd of travel stop for an exercise device
US8047968 *Oct 14, 2009Nov 1, 2011Brian Charles StewartSimulated climbing and full body exercise and method
US8540609 *Aug 27, 2011Sep 24, 2013Brunswick CorporationClimber appliance
US8562491 *Oct 6, 2010Oct 22, 2013Flatiron Design, LlcSeated exercise apparatus
US20110028277 *Oct 6, 2010Feb 3, 2011Christopher MerliSeated exercise apparatus
Classifications
U.S. Classification482/51, 482/52, 482/57
International ClassificationA63B22/04, A63B22/06, A63B22/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63B21/008, A63B21/012, A63B22/0023, A63B22/0664, A63B2022/0676, A63B2220/34, A63B2230/06, A63B21/0051, A63B22/205, A63B21/225
European ClassificationA63B22/00B4, A63B22/06E
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Aug 3, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: PRECOR INCORPORATED, WASHINGTON
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:STEWART, JONATHAN M.;ALBERT, DAVID L.;REEL/FRAME:016857/0273
Effective date: 20050727