Early research


The inventor of the first known chi exercise machine was Keiichi Ohashi of Skylite Co. Ltd, Japan. It seems that he was inspired to experiment with different designs by the experience and vision of Dr Shizuo Inoue, who had been working with “goldfish exercise” for many years, following in the footsteps of his mentor Katsuzo Nishi. Dr Inoue seems to have been the original source of the idea to develop a machine capable of replicating the sideways motion of this type of exercise.

There were at least 6 different engineering designs attempted by Mr Ohashi from 1988 to 1994, with corresponding patents granted in Japan. Mr Ohashi continued to experiment with different engineering solutions for chi machines even after the first model was launched in 1990 by Skylite Co. Ltd in Japan and Hsin Ten in Taiwan.

The first Japanese patent application filed in 1988 covered the general principle of swinging the feet through a motor-driven device. This specified a foot position above the floor of 100 to 200mm, and a swing speed of 100 to 200 times per minute.

A similar patent application was filed in USA in 1990 and granted in 1992. This gave the same broad definition of foot position and speed, but additionally specified a swing amplitude of 20 to 40mm.

None of these patent specifications referred to any studies demonstrating the effectiveness of particular design parameters. Instead they specified a very broad latitude for the key dimensions and speed, as noted above. For more detail on patents, see Key Patents.

The Japanese Ministry of Health & Welfare granted Skylite Co. registration as manufacturers of Remedial Medical Devices in 1993.

Hsin Ten (Health & Wealth) Inc. of Taiwan have published a book in English titled “Aerobic Respiration Exercise and Health”. This is a translation of Dr Inoue’s writings on the subject of “Goldfish Exercise”. According to Dr Inoue’s book, many ailments can be relieved by this type of aerobic exercise. He gives a long list of conditions that can be treated in this way, and gives an explanation in each case based on his own understanding of the human body in the context of his focus on efficient use of oxygen.

No actual research is mentioned in Dr Inoue’s book. In fact there is no detail in the book on the subject of chi machines. They are mentioned as one of at least eight ways to achieve the effects of Goldfish Exercise. Dr Inoue had of course been working with goldfish exercise for many years prior to the invention of the first Chi Machine in the late 1980’s – see Goldfish Exercise for more information.