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History

It’s not ironic that IDEA’s 40-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. 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. 

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. 

In April 2022, IDEA was acquired from Outside Interactive, Inc., by lifelong fitness professional and former IDEA VP and general manager Amy Boone Thompson. As IDEA’s new owner and CEO, Thompson has returned IDEA to its roots as a family-owned business with leadership principles that reflect endemic understanding of the health, fitness and wellness industry.  

Now, 40 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 many thousands of fit pros from around the globe. 
  • 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. 
  • IDEA proudly provides continuing education for fitness pros through a library of over 15,000 articles and a CEC course collection around 1,000 strong that spans every specialty area.  

There are so many interesting and memorable markers in IDEA’s past. We invite you to learn more about our colorful history through 2022 by browsing the IDEA 40th Anniversary Timeline. 

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