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Is Fitness Essential?

2021 IDEA World Virtual

For fitness professionals, the clear answer to this simple question is, “Absolutely.” But during the pandemic, the legal interpretation of what essential means for fitness businesses has vastly differed from what volumes of exercise science confirm.

This disconnect between semantics and reality squarely placed our industry, as deemed by many state and local governments, in the nonessential—and, therefore, closable—category.

In many states, this unfortunate classification lumped fitness businesses in with bars and restaurants and created an untenable “on-again, off-again” climate in which to do business (that is still happening as I write this in late January). The industry at large was caught flat-footed by the quarantine closures and basically had to start from scratch on educating state and municipal leaders to prove the essentialism of our life’s work to keep people active.

This month’s cover story by Patricia Ryan, MS, IDEA’s former vice president of education and its original editor in chief, explores how fitness pros can emerge from the disruption of the past year into the next evolution of health and well-being. She cites dozens of sources to back up the premise that PA, nutrition and healthier lifestyle choices continue to be key in both preventing and managing chronic conditions and may even aid people in recovering from the coronavirus.

What’s more, her interviews with leaders representing all stripes of fitness pros—from personal trainers, group ex instructors and medical exercise specialists to health coaches and lifestyle medicine practitioners—provide a hopeful and passionate view of our industry that can strengthen the connective tissue between IDEA pros and the healthcare-wellness continuum. We hope the piece provides you with a runway of hope, optimism and inspiration that gives you lift in 2021 and beyond.

2021 IDEA® World Virtual: United We Thrive!

And while we remain physically distanced, it is more important than ever that we come together—regardless of medium or platform—to find new ways to navigate the challenges we face. Unity will elevate the industry, help you and your colleagues make measurable career strides, and provide the health, fitness and wellness leadership the world needs. Today, more than ever, it’s critical to find ways to work together and lift up one another.

It is also important to open our doors—physically and virtually—to all people, whatever their shape, shade, age or ability. Fitness, health and wellness are for all people. We cannot fulfill our shared mission of inspiring the world to fitness, health and wellness if some are not invited to participate. This year’s IDEA World Virtual theme, “United We Thrive,” was chosen to emphasize that we all belong. When we recognize that our differences are also our strengths and we work together to elevate this amazing industry, we all achieve greatness.

We hope to see you there. Sign up for updates as our plans unfold for this inspiring event: ideafit.com/fitness-conferences/2021-idea-world-virtual/.

Please stay safe and keep inspiring!

Sandy Todd Webster




Sandy Todd Webster

Editor in Chief




Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster is the editor in chief of IDEA’s award-winning publications. She is Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified and is a Rouxbe Certified Plant-Based Professional cook.

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