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It’s not ironic that IDEA’s 39-year history so closely parallels the trajectory of the fitness industry—the two have literally "grown up" together. IDEA has been a guiding force in health, fitness and nutrition since 1982 and continues to lead as the industry matures. The association was acquired by Outside, Inc., from Active Interest Media in June 2020. Today, our team’s commitment to helping fitness professionals to be more successful in their careers—and to our shared mission to Inspire the World to Fitness™ is stronger than ever!

IDEA Membership: A Distinct Career Advantage

With the fitness landscape dramatically and forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, IDEA’s mandate—to develop the most relevant continuing education and business tools to advance the careers of all fitness pros—is stronger than ever. As the fitness business model transforms, IDEAfit+ Membership helps pros navigate the competitive landscape with confidence. Members can gain customized training inspiration, education and business solutions through a multi-channel array of resources including our award-winning publications, our incomparable live events—IDEA World Convention, IDEA World Virtual and IDEA Personal Trainer Institute—and our expansive online educational courses.

The IDEA Community: Tapping a Global Network of Knowledge and Experience

Belonging to the IDEA community gives you the opportunity to connect with 250,000 fitness professionals around the world. Whether you’re networking at a live or virtual IDEA event, sharing experiences through our multiple social media channels or on ideafit.com, the ties that bind fitness pros together are familiar: Helping others improve their quality of life; providing impactful health and fitness services; and building meaningful careers for life. IDEAfit+ Membership puts fit pros on a clear path with science-based content, practical resources, mentoring tools and multiple ways to connect with like-minded professionals.

Outside Inc.
About Outside, Inc.: The World’s Leading Creator of Active Lifestyle Content

Across web, print, podcast, social and video, IDEA and all Outside brands engage with over 90 million of the most active and influential consumers in the world every month. Outside’s brands include: OutsideOutside TVGaia GPSPelotonathleteRegYoga JournalSKIBackpackerVeloNewsClimbingWomen’s RunningTriathleteBetter Nutrition, Bicycle Retailer, Clean Eating, Fly Fishing Film Tour, Muscle & PerformanceNASTARNational Park TripsNatuRxOxygenPodiumRunnerRoll MassifOutside Business JournalVegetarian TimesVeloPressVeloSwapWarren Miller EntertainmentGymClimberRockandIceTrailRunnerFinisherPix , Paleo MagazineBeta and Cairn

IDEA History

Like many start-up organizations, our beginnings were humble. We began with the IDEA Letter, which was sent to a membership of 300. Later, the IDEA Foundation (now the American Council on Exercise, or ACE) was established by IDEA co-founders Kathie and Peter Davis to offer the industry’s first certification. Soon after, IDEA introduced the industry’s first Code of Ethics and the first industry awards to recognize professional excellence in the fitness field.

Now, 39 years later...

  • IDEA Health & Fitness Association communicates with fitness professionals in over 80 countries.
  • Our original newsletter has grown into the award-winning IDEA Fitness Journal, the most respected industry publication and education resource for fitness professionals.
  • Attendance at IDEA’s annual World Fitness Convention™ has grown from the original 600 to over 14,000.
  • With the launch of IDEA FitnessConnect™ in 2010, IDEA created the largest national industry-wide directory linking over 250,000 U.S. fitness professionals to more than 16 million consumers.

There are so many interesting and memorable markers in IDEA’s past. We invite you to learn more about our colorful history through 2017 by browsing the IDEA Milestone Timeline. The timeline will be updated in 2022 for our 40th anniversary.



Co-founders Kathie and Peter Davis launched IDEA as a grass-roots effort in their spare bedroom with minimal funds and no staff. The couple competed on the tennis team in college and graduated from San Diego State University with degrees in physical education and business, respectively. Upon graduation, Kathie embarked on a journey to pursue her passion and dedicate her life’s work to promoting healthy lifestyles. They started IDEA on the strength of one basic premise: that by fostering professionalism in the health and fitness industry, millions of people around the world could live healthier, happier lives. Kathie served as IDEA’s executive director and Peter as its CEO for just under 34 years.

After establishing IDEA, the Davis’ founded the first formal professional fitness certification organization in 1985, the IDEA Foundation, now known as the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

The Davis’ vision for developing innovative continuing education has significantly contributed to the maturation of the fitness industry into a growing, thriving field. Their leadership led to the establishment of the largest annual international fitness education event, IDEA World Convention®, which annually draws over 15,000 fitness professionals from 60 countries to garner the tools they need to change millions of lives around the planet.

Peter and Kathie are no longer involved with IDEA. However, as part of their legacy, they established the IDEA World Scholarships, which will send five recipients who are in financial need to the IDEA World Convention, all expenses paid.

They look forward to continuing their support of the industry for many years to come!