In February of 2011, I had the privilege of speaking with and listening to a presentation by Dr. Kenneth Cooper, founder of the Cooper Institute in Dallas. He was in Kerrville to pay tribute to Gail Sears, founder of the local Center For Fitness, and a dear friend and student of Dr. Cooper. When Gail and her family opened The Center for Fitness in 1999, Dr. Cooper was a speaker at the dedication. It was only appropriate that he returned after her death to personally tell her family and friends what profound respect he had for Gail and talk about her passion for fitness. Cooper said, “There is a difference between being successful and being significant, and Gail was both successful and significant.”
Just as Gail made an incredible difference in the Kerrville area, Dr. Cooper continues to make a difference on a worldwide scale. The forty years of research at the Cooper Institute has created a vast amount of data on fitness and its effect on health. Through the institute’s efforts, millions of people have begun healthy habits, improving both the quality and duration of their lives.
In speaking with Dr. Cooper before his speech, I told him that I was a Cooper Institute Certified Personal Trainer and also had their certifications in Fitness Specialist for Older Adults and Biomechanics of Strength Training. He replied by saying, “Well, then you’ve surely been Cooperized!” He told me a little about this new “brand”, which began the kickoff to the Institute’s next forty years! In his speech, however, he expanded the explanation so that we all heard the details of being Cooperized.
As I often tell my clients, being healthy and fit is a process. It’s not a diet; it’s not a gym membership; it’s not even hiring a Personal Trainer! What is it? It’s a LIFESTYLE CHANGE. It is taking all those healthy habits, such as proper eating and fitness, and incorporating them into our daily lives. Not just occasionally. Not just for a month or two. But every day, for the rest of our lives. Will we slip into our old habits sometimes? Undoubtedly! But then we pick up where we left off, because we know it’s the right thing to do. If those healthy habits are going to stick, they must become a lifetime priority.
I don’t believe I’ve ever listened to such knowledge and passion come out of the mouth of the same person as I did when I listened to Dr. Cooper speak. Early in his medical career, he noticed the lack of focus in the medical field on wellness, as opposed to just treating illness. Consequently, his quest to promote wellness began. His original focus was adults, but he now is putting special emphasis on turning around the childhood obesity epidemic. He has said that it’s much easier to build a healthy child than to fix a sick adult. Everyone – adults and children alike – can benefit from being Cooperized.