Young Fitness Industry Leaders Should ‘Reflect on What You’ve Accomplished’

Brad Wilkins, senior vice president of operations at Cooper Aerobics, reminds fitness industry leaders to "stop every once in a while and reflect on what you’ve accomplished."

The Lessons in Fitness Leadership series highlights IHRSA’s industry leaders and thanks them for their continued commitment to growing, promoting, and protecting the health club industry. By sharing their business expertise, we hope that you will get to know them, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership.

Leadership Cooper Aerobics Rope Pull Column

Brad Wilkins
Senior Vice President of Operations, Cooper Aerobics
Cooper Wellness Strategies

What is the most fulfilling part of being a business leader in the fitness industry?

The fitness industry has such a positive message to share, and as a leader, I recognize nothing is given except the opportunity to create, motivate, and help people live longer and healthier lives.

I have a unique opportunity to do this at Cooper Fitness Center, since Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, the “father of aerobics,” founded our organization on the basis of exercise as preventive medicine. We’ve been helping people get fit for almost 50 years, backed by research from The Cooper Institute. For more than 20 years, I have had the opportunity to make an impact on people’s lives every day.

If you were able to go back in time, what is one piece of leadership advice you would have given your younger-self about working in the fitness industry?

I would tell my younger-self to make sure you stop every once in a while and reflect on what you’ve accomplished. It was only about a year ago that one of my mentors brought this must-needed skill of self-reflection to my attention.

We can all get caught up in what needs to be done next and not spend enough time reflecting on all the positive success we have experienced. Over time, I have learned to embrace this and am now a firm believer that thinking back and appreciating what you’ve accomplished reinforces your purpose and restores your spirit.

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council (ILC)?

Advocacy issues, oversight, and participation are very important for our industry. During a conversation I had in early 2016 with an industry veteran and leader, I was encouraged to get off the sideline and cross the line to start participating in a more active role. It was great advice and I am so glad I followed it.

We must stay proactive and unite our industry in fighting negative legislation and promoting supportive legislation to continue to grow our industry and encourage all people to get fit.

“Make sure you stop every once in awhile and reflect on what you've accomplished.”

Brad Wilkins

Senior Vice President of Operations, Cooper Aerobics and COO, Cooper Wellness Strategies

What has been your most memorable experience as part of the ILC?

My most memorable experience as part of the ILC has been the opportunity to talk with our lobbyists and other industry leaders to learn more about the depths of the political challenges that face our industry. It was particularly enlightening to attend the Industry Leadership Council meeting at IHRSA 2017 in L.A. and hear from industry leaders like Jim Zupancic, Allison Flatley and Missy Moss, in addition to IHRSA’s lobbyists and other club owners and operators.

The Personal Health Investment Today Act, or PHIT, is legislation that would make access to physical activity more affordable. How will passage of this bill help America get fit?

During the last 47 years, the Cooper Aerobics Center, powered by the leadership of Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper and the research done at The Cooper Institute, has preached and proven that exercise is medicine. Physical activity is in our DNA here at Cooper, and at age 86, Dr. Cooper still practices what he preaches.

The PHIT Act is a significant piece of legislation that will open the door for many individuals and families to be more proactive in improving their quality and quantity of life, the heart of our mission and purpose here at Cooper. We stress the importance of living an active lifestyle and fighting obesity, as we’re seeing the debilitating effects of a sedentary lifestyle in both children and adults across our nation.

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Shannon Vogler

Shannon Vogler is an avid fitness consumer who uses her creative abilities to craft beautiful content for health and wellness businesses. She offers a variety of digital marketing services that aim to promote the importance of an active body and mind. When she’s not working, Shannon enjoys lifting, running, and cheering for the New England Patriots.