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Publication numberUS20050272562 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/908,316
Publication date8 Dec 2005
Filing date6 May 2005
Priority date21 May 2004
Also published asCN1698917A, CN100336573C, DE602005026884D1, EP1598095A2, EP1598095A3, EP1598095B1
Publication number10908316, 908316, US 2005/0272562 A1, US 2005/272562 A1, US 20050272562 A1, US 20050272562A1, US 2005272562 A1, US 2005272562A1, US-A1-20050272562, US-A1-2005272562, US2005/0272562A1, US2005/272562A1, US20050272562 A1, US20050272562A1, US2005272562 A1, US2005272562A1
InventorsNerio Alessandri, Francesco DELLA VITTORIA, Fabio FERRETTI, Gianmatteo Fabbri
Original AssigneeTechnogym S.P.A.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Exercise machine
US 20050272562 A1
Abstract
Exercise machine in which a resistance element and an exercise station unit are arranged side by side to exchange energy; the resistance element having at least one arm carried rotatably by a frame around a fixed shaft, and a footboard coupled rotatably to the arm; each footboard being movable over an open trajectory P and shaped in such a way as to be interfaceable with a particular portion of an extremity of a user; the exercise station including at least one mechanism suitable for controlling the rotation of the corresponding footboard with respect to the corresponding arm in such a way that each footboard is inclined inwards on the outward thrust stroke of the relative arm, and is simultaneously rotated forward, so as to lower its respective front section and raise its respective rear section.
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Claims(44)
1. An exercise machine for the use by a user for the execution of a physical exercise comprising:
a frame;
at least one resistance element supported by said frame; and
an exercise station supported by said frame, said exercise station comprising
(a) at least one pair of linkage members, each said linkage member having (i) an arm carried rotatably by said frame around an axis of rotation, and (ii) a footboard coupled rotatably to said arm; and
(b) a means of constraint supported by said frame and associated with said linkage members to control the movement of said footboards with respect to said arms;
wherein said exercise station is capable of exchanging mechanical energy with said resistance element; each said footboard is shaped in such a way as to be interfaceable with a particular portion of an extremity of a user, and said means of constraint comprises at least one elongated member coupled to said frame and to said footboard by joints in such a way that, when said arm is actuated outwards, each said footboard moves along its own open trajectory P and simultaneously experiences a rotational movement, said rotational movement being a combination of a tilting movement inwards and forwards of each said footboard.
2. The machine of claim 1, comprising at least two pairs of said linkage members, wherein any one said trajectory P is substantially symmetrical and congruent to any other said trajectory P; said joints are skewed with respect to each other; and said rotational movement of said footboards resembles a movement of eversion of a human foot.
3. The machine of claim 2, wherein said means of constraint comprises, for each said arm, at least one first quadrilateral including said elongated member to control the angular position of said footboard with respect to said arm, said first quadrilateral being supported by said frame.
4. The machine of claim 3, wherein said first quadrilateral comprises, for each said arm at least one elongated member coupled to said frame and/or to said footboard; each said elongated member being delimited longitudinally by joints; and that each said composite movement is capable of simulating an eversion of a human foot.
5. The machine of claim 4, wherein said trajectory P is inclined downwards.
6. The machine of claim 1, wherein each said footboard comprises an upper face profiled in such a way as to receive the sole of a user's foot; said footboard being capable of operating as a lever for the corresponding said first quadrilateral according to a modality of operation in which the sole of a user's foot and said upper face are constantly in reciprocal contact in conditions of rest so as to exploit to the full a movement of outward thrust exerted by said user on each said arm.
7. The machine of claim 5, wherein said means of constraint comprises a second quadrilateral, said first and said second quadrilaterals sharing one of their respective levers for controlling the angular position of said footboards with respect to said arm by means of a first and second elongated member subjected to normal stress only.
8. The machine of claim 6, wherein said means of constraint comprises a second quadrilateral; said first and said second quadrilaterals sharing one of their respective levers for controlling the angular position of the relative said footboards with respect to said arm by means of a first and a second elongated member subjected to normal stress only.
9. The machine of claim 7, wherein said second quadrilateral is supported by said arm.
10. The machine of claim 8, wherein said second quadrilateral is supported by said arm.
11. The machine of claim 9, wherein said lever of said first quadrilateral is capable of acting as a moving component for said second quadrilateral.
12. The machine of claim 10, wherein said lever of said first quadrilateral is capable of acting as a moving component for said second quadrilateral.
13. The machine according to claim 1, wherein each said arm is carried rotatably by said frame around said axis of rotation in such a way as to be capable of crossing a longitudinal median plane L starting from a rest position R, in which rest position R said footboard is arranged on the side opposite to the respective axis of rotation with respect to said plane L so as to render said exercise station more compact in design.
14. The machine of claim 4, wherein each said elongated member has an adjustable longitudinal extension for adjusting the movement of said footboard with respect to said arm.
15. The machine of claim 13, comprising, further a means of reaction for exerting a return action on each of said arms towards a respective rest position R in proximity to said longitudinal plane L.
16. The machine of claim 4, comprising further a means of reaction for exerting a return action on each of said arms towards a respective rest position R in proximity to said longitudinal plane L.
17. The machine of claim 15, wherein said means of reaction comprises at least one damper joining said arms, and connected in such a way so as to bring about a constraining action between said arms as a function of their angular distance, and such as to bring said footboards to a minimum distance with respect to each other when said arms are in their respective rest positions R, or to return said footboards in proximity to said longitudinal plane L while in use, and such that the amplitude of the angle between said arms is prevented from exceeding a fixed value so as to ensure that a user is maintained in a condition of equilibrium.
18. The machine of claim 16, wherein said means of reaction comprises at least one damper joining said arms, and connected in such a way so as to bring about a constraining action between said arms as a function of their angular distance, and such as to bring said footboards to a minimum distance with respect to each other when said arms are in their respective rest positions R, or to return said footboards in proximity to said longitudinal plane L while in use, and such that the amplitude of the angle between said arms is prevented from exceeding a fixed value so as to ensure that a user is maintained in a condition of equilibrium.
19. The machine of claim 17, wherein said damper is connected to said arm by means of its relative end sections and includes a pair of first springs arranged in series, which springs have fixed and different from each other elastic constant.
20. The machine of claim 19, wherein at least one said damper includes a torsion spring.
21. The machine of claim 17, wherein said means of reaction comprises further at least one flexible restraining component arranged between said arms and kept constantly in tension in an elastic manner with respect to said frame by means of said damper in order to modulate said return action exerted on said arm towards the corresponding rest position (R) on the basis of outward thrusts exerted on each footboard.
22. The machine of claim 21, wherein said flexible restraining component is wound onto a pulley carried by a tensioning arm, said pulley being connected to said frame by means of said damper.
23. The machine of claim 17, wherein said means of reaction includes at least three dampers for each of said arms.
24. The machine of claim 19, wherein said means of reaction comprises further a return component arranged between two said arms to connect them elastically to each other in a direct manner.
25. The machine of claim 5, wherein said trajectory P is substantially symmetrical and includes at least one stretch in common with at least one other said trajectory P, and said arms are shaped dissimilarly from each other in such a way as to prevent a collisions between said footboards.
26. The machine of claim 1, wherein said resistance element and said exercise station are connected to each other by means of a mechanical transmission capable of transforming an alternating rotary motion of each said arm into a rotation of at least one rotatable component; said mechanical transmission comprising at least one bolt for each of said arm; said belt being wound onto at least one pulley supported by said frame in a freely rotatable manner between said arm and said resistance element.
27. The machine of claim 1, wherein said resistance element comprises means for controlling power delivered to each said footboard.
28. The machine of claim 26, wherein said rotatable component is suitable for storing rotational energy, said rotatable component being mechanically connected to a means for dissipating adjustable values of energy.
29. The machine of claim 28, wherein said rotatable component comprises a flywheel.
30. The machine of claim 27, wherein said means for controlling power delivered to each said footboard comprises an electromagnetic brake.
31. The machine of claim 1, wherein said resistance element comprises counterweights.
32. The machine of claim 1, wherein said rotational movement: (i) reduces varus of a knee, (ii) improves the stability of an ankle, and (iii) stabilizes the center of gravity of said user during the exercise.
33. An exercise machine for the use by a user for the execution of a physical exercise comprising:
a frame;
at least one resistance element supported by said frame; and
an exercise station supported by said frame, said exercise station comprising
(a) at least one pair of linkage members, each said linkage member having (i) an arm carried rotatably by said frame around an axis of rotation, and (ii) a footboard coupled rotatably to said arm; and
(b) a means of constraint supported by said frame and associated with said linkage members to control the movement of said footboards with respect to said arms;
wherein said exercise station is capable of exchanging mechanical energy with said resistance element; each said footboard is shaped in such a way as to be interfaceable with a particular portion of an extremity of a user; and said means of constraint comprises at least one elongated member coupled to said frame and to said footboard by joints in such a way that, when said arm is actuated outwards, each said footboard moves along its own open trajectory P.
34. The machine of claim 33, comprising further a means of reaction for exerting a return action on each of said arms towards a respective rest position R in proximity to said longitudinal plane L.
35. The machine of claim 34, wherein said means of reaction comprises at least one damper joining said arms, and connected in such a way so as to bring about a constraining action between said arms as a function of their angular distance, and such as to bring said footboards to a minimum distance with respect to each other when said arms are in their respective rest positions R, or to return said footboards in proximity to said longitudinal plane L while in use, and such that the amplitude of the angle between said arms is prevented from exceeding a fixed value so as to ensure that a user is maintained in a condition of equilibrium.
36. The machine of claim 1, comprising further a means of reaction for exerting a return action on each of said arms towards a respective rest position R in proximity to said longitudinal plane L, wherein said means of reaction comprises at least one damper joining said arms, and connected in such a way so as to bring about a constraining action between said arms as a function of their angular distance, and such as to bring said footboards to a minimum distance with respect to each other when said arms are in their respective rest positions R, or to return said footboards in proximity to said longitudinal plane L while in use, and such that the amplitude of the angle between said arms is prevented from exceeding a fixed value so as to ensure that a user is maintained in a condition of equilibrium.
37. The machine of claim 35, wherein said damper is connected to said arm by means of its relative end sections and includes a pair of first springs arranged in series, which springs have fixed and different from each other elastic constant.
38. The machine of claim 36, wherein said damper is connected to said arm by means of its relative end sections and includes a pair of first springs arranged in series, which springs have fixed and different from each other elastic constant.
39. The machine of claim 34, wherein said means of reaction includes at least three dampers for each of said arms.
40. The machine of claim 1, comprising further a means of reaction for exerting a return action on each of said arms towards a respective rest position R in proximity to said longitudinal plane L, said means of reaction including at least three dampers for each of said arms.
41. The machine of claim 39, wherein said means of reaction comprises further a return component arranged between two said arms to connect them elastically to each other in a direct manner.
42. The machine of claim 40, wherein said means of reaction comprises further a return component arranged between two said arms to connect them elastically to each other in a direct manner.
43. The machine of claim 33, wherein said means of constraint comprises, for each said arm, at least one first quadrilateral including said elongated member to control the angular position of said footboard with respect to said arm, said first quadrilateral being supported by said frame.
44. The machine of claim 1, wherein said means of constraint comprises, for each said arm, at least one first quadrilateral including said elongated member to control the angular position or said footboard with respect to said arm, said first quadrilateral being supported by said frame.
Description
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. §119 and the Paris Convention Treaty, this application claims the benefit of European Community Patent Application No. 04012143.6, filed on May 21, 2004, and the benefit of Italian Patent Application No. RA2004A000044, filed on Sep. 16, 2004 (to the extent the subject matter disclosed therein is different from that disclosed in the European Community Patent Application), both of which applications are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a machine which may be used for the execution of physical exercises, and more particularly to an exercise machine aimed at muscular development and/or at the development of resistance to prolonged physical exertion via the repeated execution of alternating movements over an open trajectory.

2. Description of Related Art

Various exercise machines for the execution of physical exercises are well known in the art and include exercise machines directed at the development of single or multiple muscle groups, either simultaneously or in succession and exercise machines which enable the development of resistance to prolonged muscular exertion. Normally, machines of the first type are equipped with means to provide resistance which provide for a succession of eccentric and concentric exercises, while machines of the second type are equipped with means to provide resistance which can exchange energy with the user continuously while he carries out a cyclical movement without a break in continuity. Among the latter, the most widely spread are stationary bicycles, treadmills for walking or running, the so-called “steppers” for simulating a step climbing motion, and elliptical machines for walking and/or running on mobile footboards on closed elliptical trajectories.

Stationary bicycles, steppers and elliptical machines have means to provide resistance designed to absorb energy exerted by a user, while treadmills may be either of the type actuated by a user or motorized with an actuator which determines the delivery of power by the user. Steppers, also, are of the “floating” type, in the sense that the power transmitted to the resistance means during operation of the footboards determines the average distance of the center of gravity of the user with respect to the base of the machine, and therefore influences the amplitude of the movement.

Among cyclical training machines, skating simulators, such as those described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,718,658, are also well-known. Such skating simulators have a pair of substantially identical arms side by side, pivoting on vertical axes; each arm carries a footboard which pivots on it near one relative free extremity; each footboard has a transverse strip designed to prevent transverse slippage from the footboard itself, and therefore for restraining the relative foot. Each lever acts on a flywheel by means of a mechanical transmission fitted with a belt, which is wound along its route around a free wheel, to cooperate with the flywheel, and is connected at its respective extremities to a lever and to the frame, and at this end the connection is made through the interposition of a spring. Each lever is therefore braked in rotation by a belt, and the return of the levers to a central rest position is effected by the respective springs.

This design concept presents several disadvantages: first of all, there is the sensation of awkwardness experienced by a user lifted off the ground on two footboards supported by long activating levers; and secondly, the user's ankles are subjected to unnatural movements and the user's feet move in ways different from those in skating as the user's feet are kept oriented forward during the displacement of the arm from the rest position to a distal position. Especially, in case of particularly large movements, the user can lose his balance and be injured as a result of exercising on a conventional skating stimulator.

To remedy some of the above disadvantages, skating machines have been developed, (e.g., see U.S. Patent Application No. 2002/0042329), in which each footboard is supported bilaterally by an incurved prismatic guide. This guide-footboard pair, besides determining the shape of the trajectory of the said footboard, is shaped in such a way as to vary the inclination of its upper face used by the foot of a user. This guide-footboard pair, therefore, is arranged so as to increase the grip between foot and footboard during the execution of the thrusting movement, and thus to offer the user greater safety in executing the movement of each foot outwards. The means to provide resistance of the machine utilizes a flywheel which can be activated by means of a coaxial freewheel. In addition, an elastic return device is provided to bring the footboards back to their relative center position. In particular, this return mechanism is provided with a flexible component including a belt and a spring arranged in series and running around pulleys.

Nevertheless, these improved skating stimulators still suffer from various problems such as the high production costs of the guide rails/shuttles and significant wear problems, which impact negatively the costs of operation because of the need to carry out frequent adjustments. Furthermore, the extreme rigidity of the structure limits the flexibility of the amplitude and angle settings of the footboard while carrying out exercising movement because these dimensions are directly tied to the length of the user's limbs.

Clearly there is a need for further improvements in the art because the type of movement which can be simulated on the conventional skating machines does not represent the real skating movement, because the machines are poorly adaptable to the anthropometric dimensions of users of different heights, and because the conventional machines are cumbersome, rather ineffective, and very costly.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

The invention will now be described by reference to the annexed drawings, which illustrate non-limiting embodiments of the invention, as follows:

FIG. 1 is a schematic view in lateral elevation of one embodiment of an exercise machine 1;

FIG. 2 is a rear schematic view on an enlarged scale and with parts removed for clarity of the machine in FIG. 1, illustrated in an operating position useful for illustrating some of its structural characteristics;

FIG. 3 is a schematic perspective view, on an enlarged scale and with parts removed for clarity, of the machine in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 illustrates a structural diagram of another embodiment of the machine in FIG. 1;

FIGS. 5 a and 5 b illustrate diagrams of additional embodiments of the machine in FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a diagram derived from FIG. 1 in which the machine is illustrated in a particular operating position, with the relative implements arranged side by side in their respective rest positions;

FIG. 7 is a view in lateral elevation of a third embodiment of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 is a view on plan, with parts removed for clarity, of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a view in longitudinal section, on an enlarged scale, of a detail taken from FIG. 8.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention is directed to an exercise machine for the use by a user for the execution of a physical exercise comprising: a frame; at least one resistance element supported by said frame; and an exercise station supported by said frame, the exercise station comprising: (a) at least one pair of linkage members, each linkage member having (i) an arm carried rotatably by the frame around an axis of rotation, and (ii) a footboard coupled rotatably to the arm; and (b) a means of constraint supported by the frame and associated with the linkage members to control the movement of the footboards with respect to the arms; wherein the exercise station is capable of exchanging mechanical energy with the resistance element; each footboard is shaped in such a way as to be interfaceable with a particular portion of an extremity of a user; and the means of constraint comprises at least one elongated member coupled to the frame and to the footboard by joints in such a way that, when the arm is actuated outwards, each footboard moves along its own open trajectory P and simultaneously experiences a rotational movement, the rotational movement being a combination of a tilting movement inwards and forwards of each said footboard.

In one embodiment, the exercise machine described herein comprises at least two pairs of the linkage members, wherein any one trajectory P is substantially symmetrical and congruent to any other trajectory P; the joints are skewed with respect to each other; and the rotational movement of said footboards resembles a movement of eversion of a human foot.

In a class of this embodiment the means of constraint comprises, for each arm, at least one first quadrilateral including the elongated member to control the angular position of the footboard with respect to the arm, the first quadrilateral being supported by the frame.

In a subclass of this class the first quadrilateral comprises, for each arm, at least one elongated member coupled to the frame and/or to the footboard; each elongated member being delimited longitudinally by joints; and that each composite movement is capable of simulating an eversion of a human foot.

In another subclass of the first class, the trajectory P is inclined downwards.

In another subclass of the first class, the trajectory P is substantially symmetrical and includes at least one stretch in common with at least one other said trajectory P, and said arms are shaped dissimilarly from each other in such a way as to prevent collisions between the footboards.

In another class of this embodiment, each footboard comprises an upper face profiled in such a way as to receive the sole of a user's foot; the footboard being capable of operating as a lever for the corresponding first quadrilateral according to a modality of operation in which the sole of a user's foot and said upper face are constantly in reciprocal contact in conditions of rest so as to exploit to the full a movement of outward thrust exerted by the user on each arm.

In one subclass of this class, the means of constraint comprises a second quadrilateral, the first and said second quadrilaterals sharing one of their respective levers for controlling the angular position of the footboards with respect to the arm by means of a first and second elongated member subjected to normal stress only.

In another subclass of this class, the second quadrilateral is supported by the arm.

In another class of this embodiment, the lever of said first quadrilateral is capable of acting as a moving component for the second quadrilateral.

In another class of this embodiment, the resistance element and the exercise station are connected to each other by means of a mechanical transmission capable of transforming an alternating rotary motion of each arm into a rotation of at least one rotatable component; said mechanical transmission comprising at least one belt for each arm; said belt being wound onto at least one pulley supported by the frame in a freely rotatable manner between the arm and the resistance element.

In a subclass of this class, the rotatable component is suitable for storing rotational energy, the rotatable component being mechanically connected to a means for dissipating adjustable values of energy. In one instance, the rotatable component comprises a flywheel.

In a subclass of this class, the means for controlling power delivered to each footboard comprises an electromagnetic brake.

In another class of this embodiment, the resistance element comprises means for controlling power delivered to each said footboard.

In one class of this embodiment, the rotational movement: (i) reduces the varus of a knee, (ii) improves the stability of an ankle, and (iii) stabilizes the center of gravity of said user during the exercise.

In another embodiment, each arm of the exercise machine is carried rotatably by the frame around the axis of rotation in such a way as to be capable of crossing a longitudinal median plane L starting from a rest position R, in which rest position R the footboard is arranged on the side opposite to the respective axis of rotation with respect to said plane L so as to render the exercise station more compact in design.

In a class of this embodiment, the machine comprises further a means of reaction for exerting a return action on each of said arms towards a respective rest position R in proximity to said longitudinal plane L.

In another embodiment, each elongated member has an adjustable longitudinal extension for adjusting the movement of the footboard with respect to the arm.

In a class of this embodiment, the machine comprises further a means of reaction for exerting a return action on each of said arms towards a respective rest position R in proximity to said longitudinal plane L.

In a subclass of this class, the means of reaction comprises at least one damper joining the arms, and connected in such a way so as to bring about a constraining action between the arms as a function of their angular distance, and such as to bring the footboards to a minimum distance with respect to each other when the arms are in their respective rest positions R, or to return the footboards in proximity to the longitudinal plane L while in use, and such that the amplitude of the angle between said arms exceeds a fixed value so as to ensure that a user is maintained in a condition of equilibrium.

In another subclass of this class, the damper is connected to the arm by means of its relative end sections and includes a pair of first springs arranged in series, which springs have fixed and different from each other elastic constant.

In another subclass of this class, at least one damper includes a torsion spring.

In another class, the means of reaction comprises further at least one flexible restraining component arranged between the arms and kept constantly in tension in an elastic manner with respect to the frame by means of the damper in order to modulate the return action exerted on the arm towards the corresponding rest position (R) on the basis of outward thrusts exerted on each footboard.

In a subclass of this class, the flexible restraining component is wound onto a pulley carried by a tensioning arm, the pulley being connected to the frame by means of the damper.

In another class of this embodiment, the means of reaction includes at least three dampers for each one of the arms.

In another class of this embodiment, the means of reaction comprises further a second spring arranged between two arms to connect them elastically to each other in a direct manner.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1, 1 indicates, in its entirety, an exercise machine having a frame 10 which supports a resistance element 20 and an exercise station 30 arranged side by side. Station 30 is capable of exchanging mechanical energy with the resistance element 20 and has at least one pair of linkage members 31 articulated together (also referred to as mechanical components), among which are an arm 35 carried rotatably by the frame 10 around an axis 36 inclined with respect to the vertical, and a footboard 40 shaped so as to be interfaceable with a particular portion of an extremity of a user and coupled to the arm 35 in a freely rotatable manner.

For example, in FIG. 2, it may be seen how, for safety reasons, the footboard 40 has an upstand 42 (also referred to as upper face) in the relative central section, capable of functioning as a buffer for the other footboard 40, and capable of preventing direct impacts between the malleoli of the feet of a user, or similar problems connected with possible interference during the use of the machine 1. Footboard 40 is therefore rotatable on its own axis and movable over a curved and open trajectory P, visible in FIG. 2, in which it is represented by a dashed and dotted line. This trajectory P, which will be more fully described below, is laid out around axis 36, and inclined downwards in such a way that each footboard 40 is movable starting from a higher elevation near the longitudinal plane L on the centerline of the machine 1 (illustrated in the central part of FIG. 2) to a lower level located to the side, i.e., at a position where the footboard is present after the user has made an outward stroke (illustrated at the periphery of FIG. 2).

This is to say that the terms “inclined downwards” and “sloped downwards”, as used herein to refer to the trajectory P, mean that the footboard 40 moves to a lower vertical elevation as the user completes the outward exercising stroke. The “outward exercising stroke” as used herein refers to an exercise movement wherein one foot of a user moves away from the other foot of a user.

For convenience, it will be generally referred herein to the concrete case of a machine 1 employable for the simulation of the skating movement. However, this choice does not in itself constitute a limitation of the invention described herein. Other exercise machines contemplated within the scope of this invention can be used for other forms of training, e.g., rollerblading, skiing, running, walking, dancing, etc. In line with what has been stated, machine 1 has two pairs of linkage members 31 arranged side by side and located on opposite sides of plane L, fully analogously with what occurs in the known machines for simulating the skating movement. Plane L is made visible in FIG. 2.

The footboard 40 may also be referred to as “implement,” “foot rests,” “means for proving foot support,” “foot supporting means,” etc., to emphasize that there are various designs and embodiments used to provide support for the feet of a user and allowing for interaction of the user with the exercising machine.

Again for reasons of convenience, it is preferred not to complicate the annexed drawings and the present description with the addition of a device, known and not illustrated, for the command and control of the machine 1. Such a device is normally indicated by the term “console”. In fact, notwithstanding that such a console normally has instruments for regulating particular functional aspects of the machine connected with physiological parameters of the user, the description of such a device would have added nothing to the inventive content of the invention described herein.

Exercise station 30 includes, for each pair of linkage members 31, at least one elongated member 51 limited longitudinally by spherical couplings (also known as joints) 52, each one of which links elongated member 51 to frame 10 and to the footboard 40. In particular, the spherical coupling which links component 51 to the frame is displaced with respect to the axis of rotation 36 of arm 35; therefore the elongated member 51 is capable of constraining the rotation of each footboard 40 relative to the respective arm 35 (and to control the rotation of a user's foot resting on a face 41 of the said footboard 40 with respect to the corresponding arm 35). In case that it is necessary to adapt the behavior of footboard 40 to the needs of the user, elongate member 51 can also have its length adjustable at will. This has the effect that each foot of a user is supported by the corresponding footboard 40 in matching/bilateral manner along an open and circular trajectory P, both on the thrust stroke and on the return stroke to a rest position R of the footboard 40 alongside plane L. By virtue of what is described above, this situation occurs even when the trajectory P is sloped downwards in its relative outward part, such as, e.g., for the purpose of increasing the safety of machine 1 for careless or inadequately trained/skilled users.

On the basis of what has been described above, each footboard 40 connects together the respective elongated member 51 and the respective arm 35, and both are connected rotatably to frame 10. Footboard 40, therefore, which connects arm 35 and the respective elongated member 51 in relatively rotatable manner is capable of functioning as a lever, and the assembly of each pair of linkage members 31, the frame 10, and the elongated member 51, besides forming a quadrilateral 43, can be interpreted as a constraining device 50, capable of controlling the rotation of footboard 40 relative to the respective arm 35. This quadrilateral 43 constrains face 41 of footboard 40 in such a way that a foot placed on top of footboard/lever 40 is guided in space along a composite trajectory in conditions of contact and relative rest with face 41, by means of the combination of rotation movements around axis 36.

By virtue of what is described above, in certain embodiments of the present invention, each elongated member 51 is capable of producing a rotational movement of the respective footboard 40 and in particular of inclining the respective footboard 40 inwards on the outward thrust stroke of the relative arm 35 (tilting movement from side to side), and simultaneously of rotating footboard 40 forwards (tilting movement from back to front), to lower its front section 44 and raise its rear section 45. This is to say that as the footboard 40 moves on a downward-sloped trajectory P starting from the longitudinal plane L on the centerline of the machine 1 outwards (i.e., away from the longitudinal plane L), the footboard 40 is progressively skewed towards the front inward part, i.e., towards the front left part of the footboard for the footboard supporting the right foot of the user, and toward the front right part of the footboard for the footboard supporting the left foot of the user. “Skewed towards the front inward part,” as referring to a footboard, means that the front inward part of the footboard is at a vertically lower elevation then the other parts of the footboard. Another words,

The inclination of footboard 40 inwards reduces the varus of the knee and favors the stability of the ankle in the lateral thrust, while the forward inclination of the footboard favors the stabilization of the user's center of gravity over the foot which remains in the central position. In the event that footboards 40 were to remain parallel to one another, the user would have to displace his center of gravity on the rearward thrust stroke, weakening the capacity of the leg left in a forward position to provide support. The inclination of footboard 40 also allows the sole of each of the user's feet to remain substantially parallel and at rest with respect to an upper face 41 of the relative footboard 40, and therefore constantly fitting this face 41. In this way, it will be possible to fully exploit the movement imparted by the user to arm 35 in full respect of joint biomechanics, with the result that the thrust produced will be the maximum producible by a user in full dynamic equilibrium. In addition, this design therefore makes optional a holding component capable of embracing at least one transverse portion of the foot, and thus allows the construction of the individual footboards to be simplified, with the added advantage of a reduction in cost.

The compound movement of footboard 40 may also be summed up by the term “eversion movement,” because of the affinity which this movement has with the movement of flexion and pronation which the sole of a foot can execute when the relative leg is maintained in a static condition. At all events, it may be stated that, in use, moment by moment, while footboard 40 rotates with respect to axis 36 of the relative arm 35, the two joints 52 behave as couplings instantaneously rotoidal and skewed with respect to each other.

The layout of both arms 35 across the longitudinal median plane L has significant advantages from the point of view of bulk and functionality for machine 1 as a whole, because it allows stations 30 to be constructed in smaller dimensions. Also, this design allows each trajectory P to be more aligned with the biomechanics of the lower limbs of a user, and in particular of the ankle and the foot, for a given length of the relative arm 35, by comparison with the case in which the footboard and its axis 36 are arranged on the same side of plane L. Furthermore, this design allows a user to deliver a substantially constant power during the execution of the outward movement of the leg and the relative foot, and in particular in the zone of trajectory P which corresponds to the term “eversion movement” of the foot, as described above.

It should be borne in mind, however, that the particular conformation of arms 35 allows a user to bring each footboard 40 onto the same side of plane L as the one on which its respective axis is located, in particular conditions of operation, to suit the skating style of each user. Lastly, it is obvious, as is seen in FIG. 2, that arms 35 are shaped dissimilarly to each other in such a way as to prevent collisions between arms 35 or between footboards 40 during use of machine 1. The same is true for arms which carry stops 37 for each arm 35.

Notwithstanding the fact that trajectories P traced by the footboards are necessarily symmetrical with respect to plane L, given that machine 1 is usable for the training of the lower limbs, which are normally symmetrical, arms 35 must be shaped dissimilarly to each other, in order to prevent possible interference with each other. Pairs of linkage member 31 are therefore asymmetrical, and each arm 35 is supported by its own shaft 36 on the opposite side with respect to plane L from its respective footboard 40, and is operable in this segment of space starting from its respective position of rest R. It should also be noted that trajectories P of footboards 40, besides being circular and centered on shafts 36, can have at least one stretch of minimal length in common, in the area of plane L. In the case of machine 1, the particular geometrical configuration of arms 35 and the orientation of their respective axes 36 determine the fact that trajectories P of footboards 40 intersect at one point, which point is geometrically positioned with respect to plane L.

According to FIGS. 1 and 3, resistance element 20 includes a rotatable component 25, which is typically a flywheel, shaped in such a way as to be suitable for storing rotational energy, which rotatable component 25 is supported by the frame 10 by means of a shaft, known and not illustrated, which carries attached to it a disc 23 of an electromagnetic brake 24 capable of dissipating adjustable amounts of power in a continuous fashion.

Machine 1, furthermore, has disposed between the resistance element 20 and the exercise station 30 a mechanical transmission 21, capable of transforming an alternating rotary motion of each arm 35 into a rotation of flywheel 25. This transmission 21 includes an idle wheel 27 which is keyed in cantilever onto a horizontal shaft 38 which is carried by frame 10 between two supports which are visible together only in FIG. 2. This wheel 27 is capable of rotating in phase with flywheel 25 by means of a belt 29 and a pinion 32, coaxial with the said flywheel 25.

Transmission 21, comprises further at least one belt 33 for each arm 35, and each belt 33 is wound around a plurality of pulleys 22, supported by frame 10 in freely rotatable manner to connect a corresponding arm 35 and a free wheel 34 to resistance element 20. Each wheel 34, capable of transmitting torque in one direction only while being capable of rotating idly if activated in the opposite direction, is keyed onto shaft 38 to transmit motive power to flywheel 25 by means of belt 29 of transmission 21. Accordingly, each footboard 40, and the corresponding arm 35, can be activated independently of the condition of motion or rest of the other footboard 40, even though, as will be seen below, it is possible to think of constraining the rotation of footboards 40 by means of that of the relative arms 35.

It is appropriate to point out that the type of resistance element 20 can vary in relation to the type of training which it is intended to carry out on the said machine 1, and in particular aerobic/cardiovascular or muscular/anaerobic. A resistance element may also be described as “means of providing resistance” and “resistance means” to emphasize that there are various designs and embodiments used to provide resistance in exercise machines. A resistance element may include a mechanism for selecting any variety of weight amounts depending on a particular user and exercise. The resistance element may also include the weight of the user himself.

Accordingly, resistance element 20 can be of electromagnetic type and include brake 24 as in FIGS. 1 and 3, if it is intended to carry out training of aerobic type, or resistance element 20 can be of mechanical type and have at least one device 70 with counterweights for muscular/anaerobic training, as illustrated in the diagram in FIG. 4. In any event, both device 23 and device 70 can be considered as devices 60 for controlling the power delivered by a user to each footboard 40.

For simplicity, the detailed descriptions of brake 24 and device 70 are omitted, firstly because both devices are structurally known, and secondly because the embodiment of the present invention is independent of the choice of type of resistance element. In any event, in FIG. 4 it was thought appropriate to illustrate a portal structure 71 for resistance element 20 supporting a group 72 of weight packs 73 for each arm 35, each group 72 being vertically actuable under the action of footboards 40 by means of a cable 74.

Regarding the skating movement, it is worth observing that normally skaters perform a thrust on each foot alternately, and therefore impose an equal pause on each foot. Accordingly, for an effective reproduction of this movement it may be appropriate to exert a return force towards the center to the inactive footboard 41; machine 1 includes, furthermore, a reaction device 80 visible in FIGS. 3 and 5, capable of exerting, on each arm 35, a return action directed inwards, and tending to bring each arm 35 back to the central position; therefore, the reaction device 80 is interpretable as a safety device.

This return action must have an intensity suitably proportionate to the amplitude of an angle of rotation outwards of each said arm 35, for which reason device 80 must have mechanical characteristics of an elastic type. In this regard, device 80 may have different embodiments, which have in common at least one elastic return unit acting on arms 35 through transmission 21.

According to the embodiment described in FIG. 3, reaction device 80 includes at least one belt 82 arranged in an inverted ‘U’ between arms 35 so as to connect them together in a substantially rigid fashion, and has relative end sections wound onto shaft 38 in the opposite direction to how each belt 33 is wound onto its respective pulley 34. In this way, belt 82 is capable of being wound onto shaft 38 while belt 33 is unwound through the application of tension to belt 29 during the active stroke of footboard 40. Belt 82 is kept constantly subjected to an action of traction by means of a pulley 83 which is supported elastically by frame 10 by means of a bracket 84 carried by an arm 85 which is hinged to frame 10 at the opposite end to pulley 83, and restrained elastically by elastic return unit 81 including at least one spring 86, connected to frame 10 by its relative end section. In this case the elastic return force is exerted on each arm 35 by reaction device 80 by means of each spring 86. In this way, upon each displacement outwards of each footboard 40, spring 86 exerts through arm 85 an elastic reaction on the other footboard 40 which is a function of the length of arm 85 and of the elastic constant of elastic return unit 81.

By virtue of what is described above, device 80, in its diverse embodiments, is interpretable as a safety device, which makes machine 1 usable without risk even by users not trained in the execution of the skating movement, or by users who do not have much practice in this movement.

Furthermore, from the description above, it is easy to understand that the lack of activity by the user on machine 1, similar to some machines for carrying out the movement of climbing stairs, or steppers, leads to a loss of height through gravity. For this reason frame 10 has a front section 11 usefully shaped for allowing a user to lean on during the process of climbing onto and descending from the said machine 1, or for being employed for exerting a bilateral reaction force to the thrust of the legs during training.

If the spring 86 were to be combined with a rigid body 86 b of longitudinal extension substantially equivalent to that of spring 86 when undeformed, illustrated alongside spring 86 only in FIG. 3, it would be possible to prevent the rotation of arm 85 with respect to frame 10, and therefore to restrict the rotation relative to each other of arms 35, making machine 1 of interest to a less expert category of users.

Solely for reasons of clarity, machine 1 described above has been described for an active movement for the purpose of delivering power only in the eccentric thrust stroke in which each footboard 40 is thrust outwards, and not active in the act of returning footboard 40 towards the center, given that this is the case during the execution of the skating movement. However, the present invention may also be embodied by means of machines which provide for the absorption of energy also on the stroke which returns footboard 40 towards the centre, for example by adding resistance elements 20 substantially identical with those already installed, but operating in a reverse direction.

For example, if it were considered necessary to adapt the elastic action exerted by the version described above of device 80 to the characteristics of a user, it is possible to modify device 80 according to the diagram in FIG. 5 a, providing for elastic return unit 81 to include a spring 87 for each arm 35, or according to the diagram in FIG. 5 b, in which the device 80 includes a spring 87 for each arm 35 and a spring 88 which is arranged between arms 35 to connect them elastically together. In FIG. 5 b, spring 88 has, for convenience, been divided into two elastic sections 90 arranged on opposite sides with respect to a pulley 89 carried by frame 10, but could be implemented differently without altering its operation.

The choice of a model of reaction force according to FIG. 3, or according to FIGS. 5 a or 5 b, will depend on the type of effect which the user believes most satisfactory for his/her type of training, and the set of three alternatives described must not be interpreted as exhaustive of the possible embodiments of reaction device 80, but only as exemplifying the possible embodiments of the said device 80.

In accordance with what is described above, it must be noted that in machine 1 it is not possible to exclude the possibility of elongated member 51 of each arm 35 being stressed also in flexion rather than by normal stress only. As is well known, the quadrilaterals stably maintain the constancy of the trajectories of their vertices when their shafts are in the condition of operating while subject only to normal stress, and only when this occurs with reference to machine 1 will less trained or practiced users be able to find the use of this machine comfortable and safe.

To prevent the trajectories of footboards 40 from undergoing variations which are unpredictable and potentially dangerous for users, in certain embodiments, machine 1 can be illustrated by machine 101, visible in FIGS. 7 and 8, in which, in order to distinguish components similar to those already described for machine 1, reference numbers will be used for clarity which differ by adding a 100 to those used to describe machine 1, unless specified otherwise.

In particular, machine 101 includes a pair of arms 135 with elbows (corresponding to arms 35 in machine 1), each of which is pivoted on a shaft 136 and has, for each relative straight-line stretch, a constraining device 150 having a mechanism analogous to the quadrilateral 43. In particular, with reference to FIG. 8, each arm 135 has corresponding to it an elbow 137 and two quadrilaterals 153 and 154, capable of cooperating with each other to control the angular position of the respective footboard 140 with respect to the corresponding arm 135 by means of a common lever 157. This lever 157, which is also a connecting rod for quadrilateral 154 and a crank for quadrilateral 153, is carried freely rotatably by the relative arm 135 in proximity to the corresponding elbow 137.

At this point, with reference to FIG. 8, for completeness, it may be verified that, quadrilateral 153 shares with machine 1 the respective frame 110, while the frame of the second quadrilateral 154 is constituted by the respective arm 135. Furthermore, still with reference to these figures, quadrilateral 153 includes an elongated member 155, capable of functioning as a connecting rod, and quadrilateral 154 includes, in its turn, an elongated member 156 which functions as an equalizer. Components 155 and 156 are delimited by respective spherical joints 152 and, analogously with component 51, can have adjustable lengths to allow adjustments to the movement of the respective footboard 140 and of the respective upper face 141.

In this case also, each component 155/156 is capable of producing a composite movement of the respective footboard 140 and in particular of inclining the respective footboard 140 inwards during the outwards thrust stroke of the relative arm 135, and simultaneously of rotating footboard 140 forwards, to lower its front section 144 and simultaneously raise its rear section 145.

In certain embodiments, machine 101 comprises further a reaction device 180 (corresponding to device 80 in machine 1), being similarly interpretable as a safety device. In particular, with reference to FIG. 7, machine 101 has a mechanical transmission 121, which is placed between resistance element 120 and exercise station 130, and is capable of transforming an alternating rotary movement of each arm 135 into a rotation of a flywheel 125. This transmission 121 includes, by analogy with machine 1, at least one belt 133 for each arm 135, and each belt 133 is wound onto a free wheel 134 carried by a shaft 138 through the interposition of a single pulley 122 supported by the frame 110 below shaft 138. Each wheel 134 is keyed onto shaft 138 alongside flywheel 125 to transmit torque to the said flywheel 125, which is mechanically connected to a brake 124 through the interposition of a coupling 139 with parallel axes.

It may be observed that machine 1 and machine 101 differ also by the fact that transmission 21 and transmission 121 have one and two stages of parallel-axis couplings, respectively. In the case of machine 101, this allows the use of a brake 124 which can rotate much more quickly than brake 24, and can therefore be much more accurately controllable.

Still with reference to FIG. 7, reaction device 180 has an elastic return component 186 for each arm 135, tending in use to bring the relative arm 135 back to its respective rest position R. Each component 186 is actuated preferably, but not as a limitation, by a large-diameter torsion spring, and the two springs 186 are carried coaxially to each other by frame 110 below pulleys 122 between shaft 138 and brake 124.

According to FIG. 7, the use of large-diameter torsion springs 186 contributes to reducing considerably the longitudinal dimensions of machine 101, with the advantage of greater rigidity and less bulk for the machine. As a result, device 180 of machine 101 is more compact than device 80 of machine 1.

In addition, device 180 includes a damper 195 (also referred to as an elongated component) which, as appears on FIG. 8, is arranged between arms 135 to connect them to each other and, as will be described more fully below, has a length variable as a function of the force exerted on footboards 140, in such a way as to bring about a constraining action in proportion to the angular distance between the two arms 135. With reference to FIG. 9, elongated component 195 is constructed substantially as a damper and, according to FIG. 8, is connected to each arm 135 by relative end sections 152.

In particular, damper 195 includes a casing 198 which houses a rod 199 in axially free manner and casing 198 and rod 199 are connected to each other by a pair of first springs 196 and 197 of different and fixed elastic constant. Spring 196 has the lower elastic constant, and springs 196 and 197 are arranged in series with each other and are capable of functioning as a single elastic body with a fixed value for shortening of the damper up to the point when rod 199 is in its end-of-stroke position inside casing 198, and springs 197 and 196 are coil bound.

By virtue of what is described above, damper 195 is designed to react principally through spring 196 of lower elastic constant for small angles of relative rotation between the two arms 135, while damper 195 is designed to react only through spring 197 for large angles of relative rotation between the two arms 135. In this event the angular distance between arms 135 is at its maximum, damper 195 is equivalent to a rod of fixed length, the two arms 135 are rigidly related to each other, and can therefore rotate through equal angles in equal times. In this event, the operation of one footboard 140 causes the operation of the other in dual manner. If this was a desired objective, it would then be possible to think of replacing damper 195 with a rigid rod, even though this could entail operational problems in the initial transitory stage, because of the fact that a user would have to start the exercise with the footboards at minimum distance from each other, and therefore in precarious conditions of static equilibrium.

For this reason, damper 195 is capable of imposing compliance on footboards 140 with a minimum distance between them when the relative arms 135 are in their respective rest positions or, in use, are placed in proximity to plane L, and of preventing the amplitude of the angle between arms 135 from exceeding a fixed value which may be established by means of known and not illustrated devices for calibrating springs 196 and 197 and the minimum length specified for component 195, in such a way as to ensure that a user is maintained in conditions of equilibrium.

From the description given above, it may clearly be deduced that machine 101 also represents an embodiment of the inventive concept described above, and is such as to represent a valid solution to the technical problems illustrated above, being as a result particularly uncumbersome and safe even for users little trained or expert in skating.

It should be noted that in certain embodiments, the exercise machines described herein allow for each individual footboard to be freely and independently operable. Specifically, the resistance member can be engaged by a single footboard at a time or both footboards simultaneously. This is of particular advantage to more expert users and those more gifted from a muscular and balance point of view.

The term “eccentric exercise”, as used herein, refers to the muscles' lengthening during a contraction. The term “concentric exercise,” as used herein refers to the muscles' shortening during a contraction. Both are essential during resistance training.

The particular embodiment having thus been described, it will now be evident to those skilled in the art that further modifications and variation thereto may be contemplated. Such modifications and variations are not regarded as a departure from the invention.

All publications and patent applications mentioned in this specification are indicative of the level of skill of those skilled in the art to which this invention pertains. All publications and patent applications mentioned in this specification are herein incorporated by reference to the same extent as if each individual publication or patent application mentioned in this specification was specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated by reference.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7115073 *23 Jun 20043 Oct 2006Skatestrider Inc.Exercise apparatus for simulating skating movement
US7455623 *4 Jan 200725 Nov 2008P & F Brother Industrial CorporationElliptical machine
US7513854 *10 Jun 20057 Apr 2009Stearns Kenneth WElliptical exercise methods and apparatus
US755659229 Aug 20067 Jul 2009Technogym International B.V.Method of using exercise apparatus for simulating skating movement
US7591762 *7 Jan 200822 Sep 2009Johnson Health Tech Co., Ltd.Exercise apparatus
US760801928 Nov 200727 Oct 2009Stearns Kenneth WElliptical exercise methods and apparatus
US7641598 *1 Mar 20075 Jan 2010Rodgers Jr Robert ETranslating support assembly systems and methods for use thereof
US7678025 *1 Mar 200716 Mar 2010Rodgers Jr Robert EVariable geometry flexible support systems and methods for use thereof
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US80212751 Feb 201020 Sep 2011Rodgers Jr Robert EVariable geometry flexible support systems and methods for use thereof
US8272995 *6 Apr 200925 Sep 2012Stearns Kenneth WElliptical exercise methods and apparatus
US8303470 *14 Apr 20116 Nov 2012Precor IncorporatedExercise apparatus with flexible element
US8317663 *14 Apr 201027 Nov 2012Precor IncorporatedExercise apparatus with flexible element
US20090258762 *6 Apr 200915 Oct 2009Stearns Kenneth WElliptical exercise methods and apparatus
US20100267524 *14 Apr 201021 Oct 2010Precor IncorporatedExercise apparatus with flexible element
US20110224048 *14 Apr 201115 Sep 2011Precor IncorporatedExercise apparatus with flexible element
Classifications
U.S. Classification482/52
International ClassificationA63B22/14, A63B69/00, A63B69/18, A63B23/04, A63B22/04, A63B23/035, A63B21/062
Cooperative ClassificationA63B21/055, A63B2022/0038, A63B2022/0071, A63B69/0022, A63B69/182, A63B21/005, A63B2022/0041, A63B21/062, A63B21/157, A63B21/154, A63B22/0069, A63B21/225
European ClassificationA63B22/00P10T, A63B21/15G, A63B21/15F6, A63B21/062, A63B69/00G
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
6 May 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: TECHNOGYM S.P.A., ITALY
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:ALESSANDRI, NERIO;DELLA VITTORIA, FRANCESCO;FERRETTI, FABIO;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:015978/0651
Effective date: 20050426