CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application claims the priority of U.S. 61/036,525, filed Mar. 14, 2008, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.
This application describes exercise clothing and accessories that subject the wearer's body to weight or resistance, as well as methods of use to promote the strength, conditioning, and health of the user.
In recent years, people have become more interested in maintaining good physical health by engaging in exercise and other physical activities. Weightlifting is an example of the many types of exercise that people participate in to maintain fitness. Swimming, running, aerobic activities, and other forms of exercise are also used in order to maintain physical fitness and to provide some aerobic challenge to a person's physiological system so that they may maintain better health. The link between physical activity and physical health is well recognized.
In particular, weightlifting is often a preferred form of physical activity because individual muscle groups may be targeted and developed. Consequently, through weightlifting, a person can focus actively on the biceps, triceps, calves, thighs, and other muscles. In doing so, the person may not only engage in an aerobic activity but also engage in an activity that specifically strengthens a chosen muscle or group of muscles.
A significant number of exercise machines are available to allow a person to target particular muscles of the body. Such machines, however, are often very costly to purchase and maintain. They may also be limited in the scope of exercises available. Furthermore, they are often not portable, such as the machines typically found at gym, sports, and fitness clubs. Thus, a continuing and unmet need exists for exercise equipment that allows for a wide variety of exercises to be accomplished by a person, without the need for cumbersome machines.
Example exercise accessories include a weight apparatus that can be worn by a user. In an embodiment, the weight apparatus incorporates an elongate closed tube suitable for wrapping around a user's arm (e.g., wrist), leg (e.g., ankle), neck, or other extremity, and further includes attachment means for securing the weight around the extremity. The attachment means may be a re-usable attachment means such as, by way of non-limiting example, a fastener such as a snap, button, string, zipper, buckle, belt, or hook-and-loop type fastener such as VELCRO® brand fastener, and any combination thereof. The fastener may be adjustable so as to permit a user to adjustably select a desired length to promote a comfortable and snug fit without undesired tightness, discomfort, or looseness around an extremity.
In another embodiment, exercise clothing include garments that create resistance against the movement of an extremity, such as resistance against regular, everyday motions incurred in selected activities of humans or animals. By way of example, an exercise garment may include desirable performance features, such as slimming of a body part through compression or tension, which may be selected based, in part, on anatomical fit.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Additional features may be understood by referring to the accompanying Drawings, which should be read in conjunction with the following Detailed Description and Examples.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an example weight apparatus in accordance with an embodiment hereof.
FIG. 2 is a top view of an example weight apparatus in accordance with an embodiment hereof.
FIG. 3 is a side view of an example weight apparatus in accordance with an embodiment hereof.
FIG. 4 is a bottom view of an example weight apparatus in accordance with an embodiment hereof.
FIG. 5 depicts two example weight apparatus of different sizes.
FIG. 6 illustrates use of an example weight apparatus as an ankle band.
FIG. 7 illustrates use of an example weight apparatus as a wrist band.
FIG. 8 illustrates an exercise garment in accordance with an example embodiment hereof.
In a first embodiment, exercise accessories include a weight apparatus that can be worn by a user. In one example, the weight apparatus incorporates an elongate closed tube suitable for wrapping around a user's arm, leg, neck, or other extremity, and further includes attachment means for securing the weight apparatus around the extremity. The attachment means is preferably a re-usable attachment means such as, by way of non-limiting examples, a fastener such as a snap, button, string, zipper, buckle, belt, or hook-and-loop type fastener such as VELCRO® brand fastener, or any combination thereof. (VELCRO® is a registered trademark of Velcro S.A. Corp. of Switzerland). Preferably, the fastener is adjustable so as to permit a user to adjustably select a desired length to promote a comfortable and snug fit without undesired tightness or looseness around the extremity. Of course, the attachment means should be sufficiently strong to maintain its bond during use.
By way of further example, the weight apparatus incorporates a dense, heavy fill material to provide the desired gravitational weight to promote physiologically appropriate and anatomically appropriate resistance exercise to a user wearing the weights. By way of non-limiting example, the heavy fill material may be in a solid or liquid state, but is preferably a solid. The solid is preferably a non-toxic granular, particulate, or crystalline form of a metal, sand, mineral, rock, or other heavy, dense solid material. Preferably, the fill material is selected to provide a desired total weight to the apparatus while minimizing at least one dimension of the tube, whether length, width, height, or otherwise so that the distance between the apparatus center of gravity and the user's extremity is minimized during use.
Accordingly, a preferred apparatus is in the form of an elongated tube. The dense, heavy fill material is enclosed in a tube member, which is sealed or otherwise closed to prevent escape of the fill material. The tube member may be made from a material that is durable and strong enough to retain the fill material, but is also flexible enough to allow for wrapping around an extremity without causing undesired chafing, skin irritation, or other human discomfort. In one embodiment, the tube material is a synthetic rubber such as neoprene, although other rubber materials, textiles, plastics, and other natural and synthetic materials may be utilized, including combinations thereof. By way of additional example, the material may be multi-layered to provide the desired characteristics described herein, such as a neoprene tube having an inner neoprene layer in contact with the fill material and an outer cloth layer to provide cushion and abrasion resistance against the skin of a user wearing the weight apparatus.
In another example, the weight apparatus includes a removable sleeve that surrounds at least of portion of the tube when in use, but can also be easily removed for laundering or for other purposes. In another example, the sleeve is provided in multiple decorative patterns that can be changed or customized by the individual wearer. Example styles and ornamental designs include denim, lace, flowers, stars, reptile skin, leopard spots, and zebra stripes, among others. The sleeve may also be reversible so as to allow a user to simply turn the sleeve inside out to provide a different desired decorative appearance.
By way of further example, sleeves can be comprised of different materials to provide different desired functional performance characteristics during wearing use, whether alone or in combination with desirable decorative appearance characteristics. By way of example, a sleeve may be provided for abrasion resistance to protect the tube material of the weight apparatus. In this example, a heavy, durable denier polyester woven textile may be selected by a user, such as for use during gardening or other outdoor uses. In another example, a sleeve may be constructed of a stretchable elastic material.
By way of further example, a sleeve can be provided for resisting static, such as for use in combination with a silk garment or other static electric generating apparel, such as in dry indoor conditions such as indoor offices in low-humidity winter conditions. In yet another example, the sleeve material may be selected to promote visibility, such as reflective material for night exercise activities such as jogging, or in bright orange or green colors to promote daytime activities such as in use by hunters, highway construction personnel, or other persons to promote safe visibility of the user. Indeed, the selection of the sleeve material as a covering of the weight apparatus to provide such diverse additional functional features is a novel and feature of the wearable weight apparatus.
Additionally, the weight apparatus may include fixed or adjustable overall weight. For example, the fill material and tube may be selected to promote adjustment by a user. In one example, the tube includes at least one end that can be opened by a user to add or remove fill material. In another example, the fill material may be selected to be readily removable and replaceable by a user, such as by providing fill comprising large aggregate particles or sheets of fill material, sealed packets of fill material, or combinations thereof. In another example, the weight apparatus are provided in preselected, fixed overall weights. For example, a weight kit may be provided including a series of weight apparatus across a range of preselected weight increments, with directions for use based on the extremity, desired activity, or the intended duration of use. Still further, removable sleeves may be provided to add incremental weight as desired by the user.
In one non-limiting example, a kit includes wrist and ankle weights in various weight increments, such as ¼ pound, ½ pound, 1 pound, and 2 pounds. By using combinations of weights, a desired resistance can be applied to an extremity. For example, a person may wear both a ½ pound and a 1 pound weight apparatus around an extremity to thereby subject that extremity to a weight resistance of 1½ pounds. A kit may include pairs of wrist or ankle weights so that the user may wear identical weights on the left and right side of the body.
While other functional and appearance characteristics are provided, the weight apparatus are most commonly used for exercise purposes (e.g., yoga, pilates, aerobics, or even doing household chores). In one example, the weight apparatus are worn on at least one extremity of a mammal to provide gravitational weight resistance to motion of the extremity. The result of such additional resistance is that, when a suitable weight is worn for an appropriate duration of time, the additional weight resistance causes increased muscle use, which promotes the strength of the limb through increased muscle use, blood flow and other desirable physiological exercise factors. Thus, the wearing of the weight apparatus can be used to tone or rehabilitate an extremity such as an arm, leg, or neck of a mammal. Wrist and ankle weights add resistance against the upper and lower body muscles to maximize efforts of the wearer during everyday movements. Accordingly, a weight apparatus as described herein may be in the form of a wrist or ankle weight that tones muscle and burns calories when worn throughout the day.
The weight apparatus may be used to enhance fitness levels and rehabilitate by wearing them over a long period of time, such as longer than about ½ hour and preferably between about 1 hour to about 8 hours. Methods of use include wearing the weight apparatus throughout the day during regular daily activity. In this method of use, long duration and continuous ongoing resistance against the upper and lower body muscles tones muscles, even during everyday functional movements. With use of the weights in this manner, each body movement will have slight, ongoing resistance, thereby working the muscles to increase stamina, strength, tone, and conditioning use of those muscles. Additionally, one or more weights may be worn for rehabilitative purposes such as to provide tension or traction on a joint of the user, even when the user is not moving. Additionally, a weight apparatus can be worn during sports practice drills, such as on the wrist or arm of a baseball pitcher or football quarterback.
By way of further example, in one embodiment the body weights are trademarked as BANGLZ® (a registered trademark of Simply Weights, LLC, of Wayne, Pa.), include the features previously described herein, and are available in at least weight increments of ¼, ½, and 1 pound to provide slight resistance against the muscle and can be safely worn throughout a wearers regular daily activities. The inventors note that too much weight or weight worn for too long a period of time may cause problems for the wearer's joints, and before commencing an exercise regimen a prudent person will consult with a competent healthcare provider. The BANGLZ® embodiments are provided in weights of less than about 3 pounds to ensure slight, ongoing resistance that builds strength gradually and safely. This ongoing, accrued strength can improve health of the wearer's bones, balance, joints and overall lifestyle.
Referring to the attached Drawings, FIGS. 1-7 illustrate, generally, a weight apparatus consistent with an example embodiment hereof. FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of weight apparatus 10, which includes elongate closed tube member (within removable sleeve 12) having attachment means 14 at the distal ends thereof. For convenience, removable sleep 12 is illustrated without any fanciful design or graphical elements, although it may have such features as described elsewhere herein. FIGS. 2, 3 and 4 are top, side and bottom views, respectively, of weight apparatus 10. As illustrated, attachment means 14 includes a hook-and-loop fastener, in which hooks 16 and loops 18 are situated on complementary engagable surfaces of weight apparatus 10. Mating surfaces of attachment means 14 are engaged during operation around a wearer's extremity, such as ankle 50 or wrist 60 as depicted in FIGS. 6 and 7.
The elongate closed tube member is typically between about 6 inches and 12 inches long (e.g., 8 inches), and hook-and-loop attachment means 14 are typically between 1 and 2 inches long (e.g., 1.5 inches). The overall length of weight apparatus 10 should be sufficient to completely wrap around the intended extremity (e.g., about 9 to 14 inches). As illustrated in FIG. 5, elongate closed tube member 11 and hook-and-loop fastening means 14 are constructed from the same fabric that has been filled with dense, heavy fill material and stitched closed. The edges of weight apparatus 10 are sealed with binding 13. Two weight apparatus are illustrated in FIG. 5: ½ pound weight apparatus 10A and 1 pound weight apparatus 10B.
In a second embodiment, exercise clothing is provided. In one example, a garment is provided to create resistance against the movement of an extremity, such as resistance against regular, everyday motions incurred in selected activities of humans or animals. By way of further example, the garment may include other desirable performance features, such as slimming of a body part through compression or tension, which feature can be selected based, in part, on anatomical fit.
By way of example, the garment can be an undergarment, or can be an outerwear garment. In one example generally illustrated in FIG. 8, the garment is an undergarment made of a tightly woven elastic material selected and assembled so as to fit snug to the body of a user from the hips to just above the knee. In this skirt-like example, the snug fit requires greater physical exertion of the legs and associated musculature with every step by the user. This resistance against the movement of the legs requires greater physical exertion and results in exercise by the user that will tone and strengthen the hip, buttocks and upper leg region. By way of further example, the skirt-like resistance undergarment, in addition to serving as an exercise-inducing garment, provides compression of the tissues it covers, thereby discreetly shaping the user.
In the case of a female human user, the undergarment in this example provides resistance, exercise, and compression to problem thigh, buttock, and hip regions to reduce the presence and appearance of cellulite, saddle bags, and other physical and aesthetic problems common to that region of the human anatomy. The resistance undergarment is designed to be worn as a discreet, everyday exercise enhancer and is to be worn while performing normal, daily activities. This ongoing resistance maintains and strengthens muscles and increases fitness levels of the user.
In the example of a skirt-like embodiment, the undergarment is shaped to taper from the hip region down to above the knee. This tapering creates the resistance against each leg as it moves. The undergarment is designed to be worn from hip to just above the knee for maximum resistance against the leg during regular activity. The garment material is both strong for resistance and smooth for shaping.
By way of non-limiting example, the undergarment material is selected and arranged to provide a selected level of resistance to movement of the covered anatomy of a user. While it is preferable that the material itself be elastic in nature, desirable results can be accomplished through the incorporation of elastics materials, whether by weaving, sewing, attaching, or layering of materials to accomplish the desired level of resistance. In addition, the garment material may be selected or assembled so as to provide different regions of varying resistance, compression, and combinations thereof. By way of non-limiting example, in the skirt-like embodiment, the bottom portion of the garment adjacent the knees may be provided with a band of greater resistance, whether by selection of material, assembly of the material (such as by layering, stitching of stretch-resistant threads or patterns), attachment of a material having greater resistance to stretching than the upper region of the skirt, and combinations thereof.
Preferably, to facilitate discrete and prolonged use in daily activities, the garment is comprised of an undergarment having a smooth, low friction outer surface that will not grab, bind, or otherwise impede the normal draping of an outer garment of a user. Additionally, it is preferable that the garment be comfortable against the skin of a user so as to avoid chafing, irritation, and other discomfort that can result from prolonged use of the garment, such as in desired wearing and use in daily activities for more than 4 hours at a time.
By way of further example, the garment can be constructed from different materials to provide different desired functional performance characteristics during wearing use, whether alone or in combination with desirable decorative appearance characteristics. By way of example, in addition to movement resistance, the material can be selected and assembled to provide for resisting static, such as for use in combination with a silk garment or other static electric generating apparel, such as in dry indoor conditions such as indoor offices in low-humidity winter conditions. Indeed, the selection of the material to provide such diverse additional functional features is a novel and feature of the wearable exercise garment apparatus.
Additionally, the sizing and resistance characteristics of the product are selected based on the actual resistance level desired, or the anatomical characteristics of the user. Preferably, both of these factors are taken into consideration. It is believed that such dual-factor sizing creates a unique exercise and fitness clothing product.
By way of further disclosure, the exercise garment in one embodiment is known as a SMARTSLIP® (a registered trademark of Simply Weights, LLC, of Wayne, Pa.). In that embodiment, as shown in FIG. 8, the garment is a slip 70 having the following general characteristics and benefits. Heavy 10 ounce stretch fabrics are used, and provide a very natural body fit on a wearer. The memory of the fabric creates a natural resistance that enhances a body's movements for maximum fitness benefit. Additionally, tricot fabrics and spandex fabrics provide excellent memory retention for many anatomical body shapes and fitness levels. However, certain fabrics and materials have not been beneficial with the SMARTSLIP® brand garment. For example, rubber materials made for resistance are irritating against the skin and can restrict normal blood flow if used for long periods. Additionally, 100% cotton materials have minimal memory in the fabric and generally will not perform the desired results on a body.
The SMARTSLIP® garment can be used as outerwear and pulled over regular activewear to add greater emphasis to an exercise routine by the wearer. For example, the garment can be worn over a wearer's pants/shorts while the wearer is walking or performing another type of specified exercise routine. The benefit is greater, targeted resistance against the hip and leg region during a workout. Additionally, the SMARTSLIP® garment is appropriate for prolonged activities. For example, the garment has been developed for maximum comfort both with the fabric selections and design as described herein. As shown in FIG. 8, one or more panels, such as side hip panels 72 may be provided on the SMARTSLIP slip 70, each panel 72 made of made of less resistant material. Those panels 72 are added for comfort and ease of movement while allowing compression on the stomach and lower back of the wearer. This compression on the front and back regions slim the look of the wearer while also protecting and supporting the areas from fatigue. Optionally, the slip 70 may include one or more resistance-inducing regions 74 having a greater resistance to stretching, such as by incorporating multiple layers of stretch material, elastic bands, or other stretch resistant features into the slip 70.
Lastly, the SMARTSLIP® and other embodiments of the exercise garment are each constructed of materials which protect and work the muscles simultaneously. The tight resistance in the fabric surrounds the body part and muscles within thereby protecting them, for example from cold or abrasion, while they are working. Thus, while wearing the garment, the user is using its own natural anatomical functional movements, while safely building strength through controlled resistance to those movements.
While this description is made with reference to exemplary embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings hereof without departing from the essential scope. Also, in the Drawings and the description, there have been disclosed exemplary embodiments and, although specific terms may have been employed, they are unless otherwise stated used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation, the scope of the claims therefore not being so limited. Moreover, one skilled in the art will appreciate that certain steps of the methods discussed herein may be sequenced in alternative order or steps may be combined. Therefore, it is intended that the appended Claims not be limited to the particular embodiment disclosed herein.