Dr. Kenneth Cooper Inspires in a Practical Way at IHRSA 2021

A data-driven session loaded with research on his own client base at Cooper Clinic & Cooper Fitness Center, Kenneth Cooper, M.D., shared an informative and inspiring session with convention attendees about ways to impact their club members in a practical way.

“Wow. Just wow. At 14 years in the fitness industry, I wasn’t expecting to come to IHRSA and find a new role model but Dr. Kenneth Cooper is astounding.”

“Incredible and awesome!”

“Dr. Cooper is an inspiration...What a great figure to have leading the industry and promoting exercise.”

These are a few of the comments received about industry legend, Kenneth Cooper, M.D., MPH, during his IHRSA 2021 keynote presentation, Preventive Medicine: It's More Beneficial & Cost-Effective to Prevent Disease Than it is to Find a Cure, which was sponsored by MXMetrics.

Whether attendees joined IHRSA live in-person in Dallas or connected online, there is no doubt Dr. Cooper left a lasting impression on everyone who tuned in.

If you are not familiar with the “father of aerobics,” IHRSA encourages you to study the history of Dr. Cooper, Tyler Cooper, M.D., MPH, and Cooper Clinic and Cooper Aerobics in Dallas, TX.

At 90-years-old, Dr. Cooper offers more than 50 years of preventive medicine in the fitness industry. During his keynote presentation, he mentioned the naysayers in the early days who said aerobic activity would be just a fad—and he proved them wrong.

The Key to Long-term Well-being

Now, it’s common knowledge in the fitness industry that regular physical activity—and particularly aerobics—positively impacts long-term health. In fact, the positive health impact of daily exercise is even more critical since the start of the pandemic.

Data has shown that physical inactivity is directly linked to severe COVID-19. Dr. Cooper’s session took all this information further and created an atmosphere where fitness club staff were placed at the center of an intersection of long-term well-being for their members, reminding them of the crucial role that they can play in changing and improving lives.

Dr. Cooper had a way of inspiring through practical application. He provided solutions and suggestions from dietary aids to blood tests and showed the long-term impacts of lacking physical fitness on diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. While offering practical data and medically-based information, Dr. Cooper offered clear advice to business owners and staff.

In his September interview with Club Business International magazine, Dr. Cooper shared what he considered to be the key to success for a health club. “Number one is leadership. Number two is programs if you want to have participation long-term. And number three is facility. But unless you provide the leadership, you’re not going to have success even though you may have a nice facility, so that’s most important.”

This short article cannot do justice to Dr. Cooper’s realm of expertise. Without giving too much away from the content of Dr. Cooper’s session, IHRSA has highlighted two main takeaways and encourages IHRSA 2021 attendees to revisit the session by logging into their online account.

If you were not able to join us in person, the virtual program is still available. Dr. Cooper offered abundant and staggering statistics on what fitness can do for the population and beyond.

Data Continues to Support that Exercise is Medicine

Dr. Cooper shared that over the course of 50+ years of work, “We have so much data now that you cannot deny exercise is medicine.” In his CBI interview, Dr. Cooper insisted that “data drives decisions.” The data available now has proven his original claims that exercising and specifically jogging would decrease health ailments such as coronary heart disease.

Between 1968 and 1990, cardiovascular disease deaths decreased by 48% in the United States. More than twice the amount of cases decreased due to lifestyle changes rather than medical treatment. Case participants made lifestyle changes such as cholesterol reduction, stress management, and increased activity.

Dr Kenneth Cooper Inspires in a Practical Way at IHRSA 2021 Column Width

Dr. Cooper conducts stress-testing at Aerospace Medical Lab in 1964.

Technology and data have been crucial elements in club business and further connect club members to their health goals. Dr. Cooper’s data supported this industry trend.

Achievable Goal-setting for Your Members

Dr. Cooper drove home the impacts of small changes. To avoid overwhelming the client by telling them to cut out all bad habits at once, he encouraged the crowd to start small with achievable goals and increase from there. Dr. Cooper shared in his CBI interview that at Cooper Clinic, “Our goal....is to do a very thorough, comprehensive evaluation, and provide education, motivation, and experience.”

Motivation was a common theme among other sessions during IHRSA 2021. For more about the motivations of exercise, check out the Spark: BIG IDEAS - POWERFUL TALKS session that Michelle Segar, P.h.D., MPH, MS, originally delivered on Friday, October 15, and also available on demand.

Additional suggestions and showing real data, such as the impact of increasing vitamin D intake, and showing disparities among different races, further helped the crowd understand both their own health and the health of their members. Dr. Cooper shared that chronic inflammation is linked to numerous health challenges and diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and cancer. Addressing these specific needs and using them as goals for your members can keep them coming back.

Throughout the pandemic and at this year’s convention, in particular, it has become all the more evident that our fitness facilities need to be connected to their medical community. Fitness is a solution and there can be a massive disconnect between clubs and members in meeting consumer needs, or the club isn’t well-integrated in the community to be a well-known resource. Dr. Cooper’s session at IHRSA 2021 increased the importance of connecting fitness to medical outcomes.

Dr. Cooper’s session is available on-demand through December 31, 2021.

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Christine Ulatoski

Christine Ulatoski is the Education Manager for IHRSA. She develops educational content online and in person at IHRSA events, as well as manages all event speakers. Outside of IHRSA, Christine can be found teaching or taking group fitness classes, or in the kitchen baking her specialty: chocolate chip cookies!