Skip to content

🎁   Black Friday Prices All November Long! Members get 50% OFF IDEA courses & certificates. 🎁Join Now!

🎁   Black Friday Prices All November Long! Members get 50% OFF IDEA courses & certificates.  🎁Join Now!


IDEA Health & Fitness Association History

It’s not ironic that IDEA’s 36-year history so closely parallels the trajectory of the modern fitness industry—the two have literally "grown up" together. IDEA has been a consistent, guiding force in health and fitness since 1982 and continues to lead the way on many fronts as the industry matures. IDEA was acquired by Active Interest Media, Inc. ( in October 2016. 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 has always evolved by anticipating the needs of fitness professionals in their educational and career pursuits. The one constant that time will not change is IDEA’s mandate to develop and package the most credible and useful continuing education to advance the careers of all fitness pros, no matter what their specialty. From the start in 1982 to today, providing the industry’s best professional tools and resources has been the ultimate goal. The result is safe, smart training for people who purchase fitness services as well as professionals who have very high job satisfaction and longevity in their careers.

Active Interest Media—publisher of Yoga Journal, Oxygen, Clean Eating, Vegetarian Times, and over 40 other magazine titles and events across five divisions—provides incredible resources to improve upon what IDEA has always prioritized for fitness pros. Our team is fully immersed in delivering the industry’s most significant continuing education and providing tools to help fit pros and clients move toward success.


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 awards to recognize professional excellence in the fitness field.

Now, 36 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, with a paid subscriber base of nearly 80,000 people.
    • Attendance at IDEA’s annual World Fitness Convention™ has grown from the original 600 to over 15,000.
  • 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 by browsing the IDEA Milestone Timeline.

Meet IDEA’s Co-Founders Kathie Davis and Peter Davis

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!