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Inspiring the World to Fitness for 35 Years!

IDEA and Fitness Industry Milestones 1982–2017

If IDEA Health & Fitness Association co-founders Kathie and Peter Davis had it to do over again, they likely wouldn’t change much on the storied journey of what grew from a fledgling association and a small annual gathering of fitness professionals into a powerful trade association and the massive IDEA® World Convention. IDEA has come to this exact moment in time as a sum of all the parts, moments, people and happenings since the company’s founding in 1982.

Here, on IDEA’s 35th birthday, we reflect on the trajectory and growth of IDEA’s role as a guiding force in an awesome industry that continues to be fluid and brimming with innovation.

It’s been a whirlwind, and you have all been such a big part of the fun! We hope you’ll enjoy reliving (or learning about) some of the highlights in this time capsule of IDEA’s history.

This timeline is not a comprehensive list of fitness events over the past 35 years. For space, we have abbreviated the history for the first 25 years (which we covered in detail in the July–August 2007 issue). Coverage for 2008–2017 is more expansive. See the complete timeline at www.ideafit.com/35years.

Peter and Kathie Davis create IDEA, and the first IDEALetter goes out to a membership of 300 fitness professionals.

IDEA membership tops 3,000.

The first National Aerobics Championships take place.

The first edition of IDEA’s magazine, Dance Exercise Today, is published.

IDEA holds its first international convention in San Diego to a sold-out crowd.

Peter and Kathie Davis establish the IDEA Foundation (now known as the American Council on Exercise) to provide certification for aerobics instructors.

The IDEA Foundation produces the Aerobic Dance-Exercise Instructor Manual and conducts its first industrywide standardized certification exam.

Washington, D.C., hosts IDEA’s first eastern Educational Conference.

IDEA introduces the industry’s first Code of Ethics.

IDEA holds its first personal training conference.

IDEA introduces a membership category and newsletter for personal trainers.

IDEA’s membership reaches the 20,000 mark.

The IDEA Foundation changes its name to the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

IDEA celebrates its 10th anniversary.

A new guideline advising sedentary adults to accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week is announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

New “Nutrition Facts” food labels become mandatory in the United States.

Exercising with free weights becomes the most popular fitness activity in America (American Sports Data).

Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General is released, officially validating, for the first time, what decades of research have revealed about physical activity and health.

IDEA conducts and publishes the industry’s first comprehensive Fitness Programs Survey, as well as its first opinion statement, which addresses music volume and the danger of hearing loss for instructors and participants during group exercise class.

Researchers find that women who exercise at least 3 hours a week reduce their risk of breast cancer by 37% (The New England Journal of Medicine).

IDEA introduces IDEA Fitness Edge, a newsletter specifically for group fitness instructors.

IDEA presents its first Personal Trainer of the Year Award.

IDEA Personal Trainer Trendwatch shows postrehabilitation training as an area of steady growth. Group personal training also increases in popularity.

”Healthy People 2010” aims to raise the percentage of adults who do 30 minutes of moderate physical activity regularly, preferably daily, from 15% to 30%.

IDEA adopts a new name and logo, becoming IDEA Health & Fitness Association.

The first industrywide work satisfaction study of fitness professionals—conducted by IDEA—finds that 85% of fitness professionals are satisfied with their jobs, substantially higher than the U.S. norm.

New U.S. government guidelines recommend that adults are physically active at least 60 minutes per day to decrease the risk of chronic disease.

IDEA’s 2002 Group Fitness Trendwatch identifies yoga and Pilates as the most popular group fitness activities.

IDEA begins its signature initiative to Inspire the World to Fitness®.

Three new IDEA publications debut: IDEA Fitness Journal, IDEA Fit Tips and IDEA Trainer Success.

IDEA Fitness Journal wins the first of 13 MAGGIE Awards for magazine excellence from the Western Publishing Association. The MAGGIES are considered the Oscars® of the publishing world.


IDEA launches the Inner IDEA® Conference with its purpose of “inspiring the world to
wellness through body, mind and spirit.” The Inner IDEA emphasis is on wellness within a holistic philosophy geared toward personal transformation and the establishment of a conscious community of body-mind (yoga, Pilates, integrative exercise, tai chi and allied health) professionals.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for “fitness trainers and aerobics instructors” will grow 44% between 2002 and 2012.

IDEA celebrates in silver as it marks 25 years of fitness industry leadership!

The first-ever IDEA® Personal Trainer Institute is held in Orlando, Florida.

New clinical practice guidelines are issued jointly by the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society recommending the practice of viniyoga-style yoga as moderately effective therapy for individuals with chronic lower-back pain.

The FDA approves the sale of cloned meat and dairy products.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes a landmark statement, saying it is incapable of adequately safeguarding the nation’s food and drug supply.

Researchers study the impact of the Nintendo Wii on users’ fitness levels.

The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports unveils its first-ever fitness challenge
for adults.

According to IDEA’s Fitness Industry Compensation Survey, personal trainers are making an average hourly rate of $34.75.

IDEA introduces a new online exercise library.

IDEA launches a video subscription service.

IDEA Fitness Manager becomes the first of IDEA’s print publications to go digital.

Studies suggest that text messages can positively influence health behaviors.

The American Medical Association (AMA) releases a position statement supporting a ban on artificial trans fats in restaurants and bakeries nationwide.

Studies suggest that text messages can positively influence health behaviors.

Students in some New York state schools begin undergoing mandatory weight and BMI screenings at the start of the school year.

The American Dietary Association reveals that U.S. schools do not provide students with sufficient access to fruits, vegetables or whole grains.

IDEA is inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame.

United Airlines starts charging customers extra if they do not meet specified size limits.

The economic downturn leads to a decrease in fitness equipment sales.

The debate over healthcare reform heats up.

IDEA begins publishing a custom version of IDEA Fitness Journal for ACE-certified professionals.

The American Heart Association (AHA) releases a policy statement in support of workplace wellness programs.

IDEA launches IDEA FitnessConnect, an online portal that enables users to search for fitness professionals in local areas.

IDEA launches IDEA Pilates Today, a digital publication for the Pilates community.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) invests $19 million to explore how American farmers can create a more sustainable supply of organic ingredients to meet the rapidly expanding demand.

First Lady Michelle Obama announces the Let’s Move! campaign, aimed at tackling childhood obesity and helping kids to lead healthier, more active lives.

ACE celebrates its 25th anniversary.

IDEA introduces the IDEA Certificate Program, a video-based home-study program for group fitness instructors.

Research finds that regular meditation is beneficial for a wide range of health issues.

The CDC allocates $642 million for programs focused on increasing activity levels, improving nutrition, lowering obesity rates and decreasing the number of people who smoke.

The AHA updates its CPR guidelines, calling for use of deeper, more rapid compressions
on adults and children.

MyPlate replaces the USDA MyPyramid.

IDEA launches the IDEA Career Guide, an online resource that offers guidance for people in every stage of a fitness career.

The “godfather of fitness,” Jack LaLanne, dies at the age of 96.

IDEA introduces IDEA Answers, a real-time question-and-answer portal.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons releases a statement in support of yoga for pregnant women.

President Barack Obama signs into law the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which aims to grant greater access to free and reduced-price meals to children in need and to improve nutrition standards in school lunches.

The USDA and the HHS update their dietary guidelines, encouraging Americans to eat less salt and saturated fat and more fruits and vegetables.

Online fitness training continues its expansion as more fitness professionals take to the internet to provide services.

The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey finds that 69% of students in K–12 do not attend daily physical education classes in school.

IDEA launches IDEA Food and Nutrition Tips, the fitness industry’s first-ever publication focused on nutrition education.

The World Health Organization reports that, globally, 1.4 billion people are overweight and 500 million are living with obesity.

The new Client Newsletter—built with IDEA content geared to consumers—becomes available to IDEA members, who can customize it and send it to clients each month.

First Lady Michelle Obama and 300,265 people across the nation break the Guinness World Record for most people performing jumping jacks in a 24-hour period.

IDEA celebrates its 30th anniversary.

The American Dietetic Association changes its name to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Medicare begins offering obesity screening and counseling as part of a preventive-services package under the Affordable Care Act.

Fitness DVD sales reach $264.5 million.

IDEA launches FitFeed™, which collates health and fitness content being shared on Twitter, Facebook and IDEA Client Share.

CVS/caremark mandates that employees using its medical insurance plan submit to certain screenings or pay extra for coverage.

IDEA® Personal Trainer Institute West debuts in Seattle.

Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health state that more than twice as many midsized corporate employers intend to offer workplace wellness programs as did so in 2010.

The AMA officially labels obesity as a disease.

Only 20% of Americans get enough weekly exercise, according to the CDC.

The National Institutes of Health website launches a searchable dietary supplement database that helps users understand supplement fact panels, provides directions for use, and more.

The world mourns the loss of “the father of bodybuilding,” Joe Weider.

Kathie and Peter Davis are inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame.

IDEA retires IDEA Pilates Today. and its mind-body conference, Inner IDEA.

IDEA launches BlogFest, the first-ever event designed for health and fitness bloggers, at the IDEA World Convention.

IDEA launches the IDEA Workout Builder, which allows users to customize, save and share workouts.

Research shows that physically active students tend to test better academically.

James Levine, MD, PhD, declares, “Sitting is the new smoking.”

Obstacle-course races grow in popularity, with more than 100 businesses offering them, compared with merely a few in 2009 and 2010.

IDEA’s flagship publication, IDEA Fitness Journal, marks its 10th year in print.

Studies suggest that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can protect against heart disease and improve insulin sensitivity and blood pressure.

The FDA mandates that all chain restaurants, similar retail food establishments and vending machines with 20 or more locations list calorie information on menus and menu boards.

Apple® gets into the fitness tracking game with the release of the Apple Watch™.

The consumer research company Nielsen reports that the number-one New Year’s resolution for 2015 is to stay fit and healthy.

Health.com anticipates that wearable tech will be the top fitness trend in 2016. (Subsequently, ACSM will repeat the prediction for 2017.)

IDEA launches the IDEA Success Academy at IDEA World.

Research finds that 450 minutes of physical activity per week—mostly from walking—cuts early death risk by as much as 39%.

The IDEA World Fitness and Nutrition Expo at IDEA World is the biggest in IDEA history.

President Barack Obama signs a bill allowing for a reorganization of scholastic focus and emphasizing physical education as an important component of a well-rounded curriculum. The new law gives schools access to more grant money for PE programs.

In response to mounting research, the American Heart Association issues an advisory statement on the dangers of sedentary behavior.

IDEA launches the first-ever IDEA World Nutrition & Behavior Change Summit.

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion releases the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020. Many scientific experts reject the guidelines as pandering to special interests and recommend that people refer to the official report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee instead.

IDEA hosts the inaugural IDEA World Club & Studio Summit—a 3-day educational event for club and studio managers and owners—at the IDEA World Convention.

Research shows a link between exercise and reduced work stress.

The 2016 Yoga in America Study Conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance says more than 36 million people in the United States practice yoga.

Use of standing desks or sit-to-stand desks becomes more prevalent in workplace environments.

The National Consortium for Credentialing Health & Wellness Coaches and the National Board of Medical Examiners sign an agreement to launch a national individual health and wellness coach certification.

Pokémon Go is released, adding 144 billion steps to U.S. physical activity levels in just 1 month, according to an estimate by researchers.

The IDEA World Nutrition & Behavior Change Summit expands to become a 2-day event.

Researchers find that HIIT offers a significant boost to cellular health and function.

IDEA combines the best of IDEA Fitness Manager and IDEA Trainer Success by launching a new publication for club and studio owners and managers: IDEA Fit Business Success.

Outdoor exercise and activities are on the rise, according to the Physical Activity Council’s 2017 Fitness Participation Report.

IDEA retires IDEA Trainer Success, its publication on the business of personal training, and IDEA Fitness Manager, its fitness management publication and the longest continuously running newsletter in the industry, at 30 years.

IDEA celebrates its 35th year of fitness industry leadership.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor, and IDEA's director of event programming.

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