Giving Back

By Scott Goudeseune

As members of an industry that positively affects the health and wellness of our communities, we have a lot to be thankful for today. Though we have faced the nation's economic struggles alongside our neighbors, the future of fitness as a whole is looking bright—a true testament to the dedication and perseverance of all those who promote healthy living through safe exercise, sports programming and education.

New legislation and national initiatives are helping to bring fitness to the forefront of society, presenting a great deal of opportunity for fitness service professionals to grow and evolve their businesses. Programs such as Let's Move!, launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, are bringing consumers' attention to the critical need to regularly engage in physical activity, while the President's Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) program is simultaneously inspiring people of all ages to make exercise an integral part of their lives, offering tools and rewards for such positive efforts.

In addition to this national attention on physical activity, fitness service providers are benefiting from the beginnings of an economic upswing. According to Recreation Management's "2011 Report on the State of the Managed Recreation Industry," 65 percent of YMCAs and 67 percent of health clubs anticipate growth in 2012.

With a promising growth forecast, increased media spotlight and White House focus all in our industry's favor, we're presented with unique opportunities to support our community and develop our business at the same time. For example, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently announced its commitment to Joining Forces, a comprehensive national initiative created to provide U.S. service members and their families the support they respectfully deserve. In support of this initiative, ACE is uniting fitness professionals, businesses and organizations across the nation to pledge at least one million hours of fitness services at no cost to family members of actively deployed military reservists and National Guard members. Participation in Joining Forces provides an opportunity for our entire fitness community to demonstrate our collective gratitude to U.S. service members and their families.

As major influencers in the fitness industry, now is the time to play an active role in positively shaping the health and wellness of our nation. This opportunity is first and foremost about giving back and serving those who support and protect our everyday rights. In addition, making a pledge of support to Joining Forces will also present you with the opportunity to introduce your services to a new audience and broaden your reach in your community, which may, in turn, help you succeed in reaching your business goals.

From personal training hours to club memberships, group fitness training sessions to free access to facilities, you and your company have a unique opportunity to join forces with our entire industry in support of our service members and their families. Every hour of fitness service pledged will positively affect the overall health and wellness of our communities.

In return for donating time and services to this worthwhile cause, fitness professionals, businesses and organizations will be privy to the following benefits:

  • Saying "Thanks" by Giving Back: Joining Forces is a unique opportunity for fitness professionals, businesses and organizations to give back to those who make sacrifices for our country. You and your staff will feel proud to help enrich the quality of life for local service members and families. No matter your specialty or affiliation with ACE, pledges are welcomed as we collectively strive to support this dedicated group of warriors and their families.
  • Potential for Business Growth: Pledging support may open the door for your business to gain potential new and/or long-term clients who recognize and appreciate your involvement in the campaign and generosity within the community. When you pledge fitness services through ACE's designated Joining Forces Web site,, you will have access to a guide detailing "7 Ways Joining Forces Can Boost Your Business," which outlines in more detail how this commitment can support you and your business in return.
  • Free Marketing Resources: Any fitness professional, business or organization pledging hours will be provided with a "Toolkit" to help promote not only the Joining Forces program, but also personal services offered. A "Pro Toolkit" is presented to fitness trainers and other instructors, offering marketing flyers, a customizable press release, social media badges and more that can help them recruit affiliate pledges and get noticed by not only eligible military families in their community, but also the media and general consumers who may be looking for fitness services. For businesses and organizations pledging hours, a "Partner Toolkit" will assist with personal outreach to networks of fitness service providers, helping to solicit additional pledges for the cause via a Web site pledge page template, online ads, customizable recruitment e-mails and press releases.

As the fitness world continues to evolve with deeper engagement and programming on both a local and national scale, we have been provided with the unique ability to cater to our friends and neighbors in a very meaningful way. Your pledge to Joining Forces will help reinforce your commitment to connecting people in your local area to valuable fitness resources. Consider community service and outreach as a strategy to grow your business and positively affect the health and wellness of your community. Collectively, our influence has the power to improve the health of our nation.

To take advantage of all the benefits that come with participation in Joining Forces, simply sign up at and click on "Fitness Professionals."


Scott Goudeseune is the chief executive officer of the American Council on Exercise (ACE), America's premier fitness education, certification and training organization promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting Americans against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. With more than 25 years of experience in extensive operations, sales and marketing for fitness- and consumer-based companies, Goudeseune oversees all aspects of operations for ACE and provides extensive leadership and direction for all of the organization's business activities.

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