Shane Kinkennon by Shane Kinkennon

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is pleased to announce the formation of a deep strategic partnership with The Cooper Institute (Cooper). Cooper is ACE’s perfect philosophical ally and we’re elated about the new engagement we’ve forged. Cooper has long been one of the world’s most respected scientific authorities on the relationship between physical activity and health and is a leading authority on medical exercise.


It wasn’t always an accepted fact that exercise contributes to better health. In the 1970s, Dr. Kenneth Cooper was the first to assert that health and longevity might be linked to cardiovascular fitness. In fact, much of the medical community was up in arms as many believed that urging people to engage in aerobic exercise would do real harm. But Dr. Cooper set out to prove what he believed, founding the research and education nonprofit The Cooper Institute along with the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas. Decades later, his hypothesis is long since proven and Dr. Cooper is widely considered the “Father of Aerobics.”

The Cooper Institute houses a longitudinal database on the health effects of exercise for hundreds of thousands of people. That database and the research studies built on it continue to make major contributions to the body of evidence that exercise is in fact medicine.

Why the connection to ACE

ACE has long offered research grants for original research on the safety and effectiveness of fitness trends, fashionable workouts, and specific exercises—it's a significant part of what we do. This ACE-sponsored research earns media coverage and contributes to public knowledge. And increasingly, ACE is underwriting original research on the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of both physical-activity and broader lifestyle-behavior-change programming, in both community and clinical settings.

The Cooper organization believes preventive health and physical-activity promotion need more collaborative effort across disciplines, and ACE has a reputation for spearheading such efforts. For instance, ACE earned plaudits from thought leaders for our objective underwriting and convening of the Prescription for Activity Task Force, which produced a blueprint to tap the capacity of multiple sectors across healthcare to increase physical-activity levels. The Cooper Institute CEO, Dr. Laura DeFina, was a member of the task force. ACE’s commitment to objectivity through that process, allowing the recommendations to unfold uncolored by ACE interests, made a real impression on Dr. DeFina and the other participants and stakeholders.

What the Cooper–ACE partnership entails

Here are some highlights of the key facets our new partnership with Cooper:

  • Cooper certificants find a new home. Cooper sought to return its focus full-time to scientific research and education and wind down its practice of certifying exercise professionals. So, those well-qualified holders of respected Cooper credentials were carefully transitioned by Cooper and ACE together to become ACE Certified Professionals. ACE is thrilled and honored to welcome them into our family of certified exercise professionals and health coaches, which is nearly 95,000 strong and growing.
  • Prevention Research Summit (PRS). ACE’s President & Chief Science Officer Cedric X. Bryant, PhD, FACSM, serves as Scientific Advisor to the Cooper Institute, and was a participant at the PRS, where the current and future research agenda for the Institute was reviewed and discussed. We all imagine Cooper-ACE co-sponsored studies in our future.
  • Co-developed education. Cooper and ACE will be working together on new educational offerings for ACE Certified Professionals and other exercise professionals and health coaches, with specific emphasis on exercise programming for individuals impacted by a variety medical conditions.
  • Utilization of the Cooper campus. The Cooper Aerobics campus in Dallas is a world-class facility. ACE’s Board of Directors held its fall meeting there in 2019 and will do so again this year.


The Executive Team and Board of Directors at ACE are really enthusiastic about what’s unfolding. We share mission and core values with the Cooper Institute, and we’re forging a partnership that is active and meaningful. Our hope is that the result is more people increasing their physical-activity levels across all demographics, regardless of age, sex and socioeconomic status.

LEFT: Cedric Bryant, PhD, and Dr. Cooper shake hands after a meeting at ACE.