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Patent: To Exercise While Playing In Water.
Patent: To Exercise While Playing In Water.  | aust_txbz, sanant_txbz,Jeffery Wayne Henry,John Timothy Schooley,New Braunfels, patent, 8210954, Amusement Water Rides, Exercise Circuits,

Jeffery Wayne Henry and John Timothy Schooley, both of New Braunfels, Texas recently received U.S. Patent 8,210,954 for Amusement Water Rides Involving Exercise Circuits.”

Texas Business Patent of the Day:  Mixing pleasure and exercise has been a trend for quite some time.  Now two Texas men have taken that concept to the next wet level.

Jeffery Wayne Henry and John Timothy Schooley, both of New Braunfels, Texas recently received U.S. Patent 8,210,954 for Amusement Water Rides Involving Exercise Circuits.”

The two men applied for the patent almost six years ago on August 30, 2006.

The patent assignee is Water Ride Concepts Inc. of New Braunfels.

The invention generally relates to water amusement attractions and rides, according to the patent documents. More particularly, the invention generally relates to water-powered rides and to a system and method in which participants may be actively involved in water rides that involve exercise. 

The 1980s witnessed phenomenal growth in the participatory family water recreation facility such as the waterpark, and in water oriented ride attractions in the traditional themed amusement parks. The main current genre of water ride attractions such as  waterslides, river rapid rides, and log flumes, and others, require participants to walk or be mechanically lifted to a high point, wherein, gravity enables water, rider(s), and riding vehicle (if appropriate) to slide down a chute or incline to a lower elevation splash pool, whereafter the cycle repeats. Some rides can move riders uphill and downhill but for efficiency and performance reasons these rides also generally start on an elevated tower and generally require walking up steps to reach the start of the ride. 

With this phenomenal growth came the subsequent problem of finding enough appropriate land available for development in water recreation facilities. One of the problems facing waterpark developers if finding enough land upon which to develop their waterparks. The development of waterparks is an expensive enterprise to which the addition of having to purchase large tracts of land only further adds to the expense of developing waterparks. 

Generally speaking, the traditional downhill water rides are short in duration (normally measured in seconds of ride time) and have limited throughput capacity. The combination of these two factors quickly leads to a situation in which patrons of the parks typically have long queue line waits of up to two or three hours for a ride that, although exciting, lasts only a few seconds. Additional problems like hot and sunny weather, wet patrons, and other difficulties combine to create a very poor overall customer feeling of satisfaction or perceived entertainment value in the waterpark experience. Poor entertainment value in waterparks as well as other amusement parks is rated as the biggest problem of the waterpark industry and is substantially contributing to the failure of many waterparks and threatens the entire industry. 

Additionally, none of the typical downhill waterpark rides is specifically designed to transport guests between rides. In large amusement parks transportation between rides or areas of the park may be provided by a train or monorail system, or guests are left to walk from ride to ride or area to area. These forms of transportation have relatively minor entertainment value and are passive in nature in that they have little if any active guest-controlled functions such as choice of pathway, speed of riders or rider activity besides sightseeing from the vehicle. They are also generally unsuitable for waterparks because of their high installation and operating costs and have poor ambience within the parks. These types of transportation are also unsuitable for waterpark guests who, because of the large amount of time spent in the water, are often wet and want to be more active because of the combination of high ambient temperatures in summertime parks and the normal heat loss due to water immersion and evaporative cooling. Water helps cool guests and encourages a higher level of physical activity. Guests also want to stay in the water for fun. Waterparks are designed around the original experience of a swimming hole combined with the new sport of river rafting or tubing. The preferred feeling is one of natural ambience and organic experience. A good river ride combines calm areas and excitement areas like rapids, whirlpools, and beaches. Mechanical transportation systems do not fit in well with these types of rides. There exists a need in waterparks for a means of transportation through the park and between the rides. 

For water rides that involve the use of a floatation device (e.g., an inner tube or floating board) the walk back to the start of a ride may be particularly arduous since the rider must usually carry the floatation device from the exit of the ride back to the start of the ride. Floatation devices could be transported from the exit to the entrance of the ride using mechanical transportation devices, but these devices are expensive to purchase and operate. Both of these processes reduce guest enjoyment, cause excess wear and tear on the floatation devices, contributes to guest injuries, and makes it impossible for some guests to access the rides. Also, a park that includes many different non-integrated rides may require guests to use different floatation devices for different rides, which makes it difficult for the park operators to provide the guests with a general purpose floatation device. It is advantageous to standardize riding vehicles for rides as much as possible. 

Almost all water park rides require substantial waiting periods in a queue line due to the large number of participants at the park. This waiting period is typically incorporated into the walk from the bottom of the ride back to the top, and can measure hours in length, while the ride itself lasts a few short minutes, if not less than a minute. A series of corrals are typically used to form a meandering line of participants that extends from the starting point of the ride toward the exit point of the ride. Besides the negative and time-consuming experience of waiting in line, the guests are usually wet, exposed to varying amounts of sun and shade, and are not able to stay physically active, all of which contribute to physical discomfort for the guest and lowered guest satisfaction. Additionally, these queue lines are difficult if not impossible for disabled guests to negotiate. 

Typically waterparks are quite large in area. Typically guests must enter at one area and pass through a changing room area upon entering the park. Rides and picnic areas located in areas distant to the entry area are often underused in relation to rides and areas located near the entry area. More popular rides are overly filled with guests waiting in queue lines for entry onto them. This leads to conditions of overcrowding in areas of the park which leads to guest dissatisfaction and general reduction of optimal guest dispersal throughout the park. The lack of an efficient transportation system between rides accentuates this problem in waterparks. 

In this invention, an exercise facility is coupled to a water amusement system. For example, an exercise facility may be coupled to a floating river system. An exercise facility may include a body of water that assists or resists movement of a participant between stations or apparatus in the facility. Exercise stations may be at least partially submerged in the body of water. Exercise apparatus may float on or be coupled to structures in the body of water.

A participant may move from station to station, or apparatus to apparatus, by swimming, floating such as a floating on a flotation device), traveling underwater, walking or jogging in the body of water, or using a conveyor such as standing on an underwater conveyor.

In addition, the invention includes a body of water, exercise stations in the body of water, a processing unit that processes information relating to exercise by a participant, and a display for displaying information to the participant while the participant is at the exercise stations. In some embodiments, the processing unit generates a set of exercise objectives for the participant at the exercise stations. The processing unit may provide directions and status information relating to an exercise routine to the participant through the display. In certain embodiments, the processing unit processes biometric information for the participant received from a sensor. 

In an embodiment, a system for providing exercise includes a control unit coupled to a processing unit. The control unit may control and regulate an exercise device at one or more of the exercise stations. In one embodiment, a system includes a control device operable by a participant to control an exercise device at one or more of the exercise stations. 

 An exercise facility may be part of a water ride. The exercise facility may be coupled to a water amusement system. An exercise facility may include a body of water that assists or resists movement of a participant between stations or apparatus in the facility. Exercise stations may be at least partially submerged in the body of water. Exercise apparatus may float on or be coupled to structures in the body of water. A participant may move from station to station, or apparatus to apparatus, by swimming, floating, traveling underwater, walking or jogging in the body of water, or using a conveyor. A system for providing exercise may include a processing unit that processes information relating to exercise by a participant and a display for displaying information to the participant while the participant is at the exercise stations.