In August our family had the wonderful opportunity to visit China and Thailand. In addition to absorbing the rich culture of these countries, we were welcomed by several IDEA members and toured a number of fitness centers while we were there.

Our first stop was Beijing, a frenetic city of nearly 15 million people, where we visited two clubs: CSI Bally Total Fitness Club and Beijing Evolution Fitness Center. Both facilities are beautifully equipped, have an array of group fitness classes on the schedule and are in the beginning stages of offering personal training. Kenny Wong, president of the Asian Academy for Sports & Fitness Professionals, and Jacqueline Yue, director of public relations and communications, took us out for a Mongolian dinner and talked with us about the status of the fitness industry in different parts of Asia.

Kenny started his organization 15 years ago after attending the IDEA International Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, and has made great progress educating and certifying fitness professionals in various parts of Asia. A culture shift has led to sweeping changes in attitudes toward fitness in China, according to Kenny, who says that better jobs and pay are the main reasons his country is shaping up. He also notes that the allure of the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing has inspired the Chinese to turn a more attentive eye to sports and fitness. “This is just the beginning of the first stage of the industry in China,” he says. “It has a lot more room to grow, both professionally and in the number of clubs.” Ultimately, the long-term success of China’s current infatuation with fitness hangs on whether it surpasses the fad stage and becomes an ingrained lifestyle choice, he forecasts.

Where have we heard that before?

On to Bangkok, where we spent time with IDEA members Thanpian Chiemwichit and Daniel Remon, learning about their efforts to inspire people to fitness in Thailand. Thanpian, who is 72 years old, teaches both group fitness and personal training; for the past 10 years, she has attended the IDEA World Fitness Conventions, where she regularly reconnects with her daughter, a personal trainer from Seattle. Daniel’s company, FitcorpAsia, helps corporations provide fitness services for their employees.

As we reflect on this trip, it’s humbling to know that the good work of IDEA is thriving, not only in places like China and Thailand, but in the 74 other countries in which our 1150 international members practice their craft. It is a privilege to have so many amazing ambassadors of IDEA’s mission engaged from India to Iceland, from New Zealand to the Philippines, and in all regions in between. Your ongoing education, skill, knowledge, dedication and enthusiasm give health and hope to a global population that truly needs both.

For all you do to inspire the global fitness village, we salute you!

yours in good health,

Kathie and Peter Davis