ACE's executive director stresses that the organization does much more than certification.

SAN DIEGO - Ken Germano wants to make a contribution to the industry. He hopes to improve retention at clubs. To develop new members. To enhance education. That's why a position at ACE appealed to him. The organization's grand designs are similar to his.

While ACE is known for testing, the organization is more than a certification source, Germano noted. Specifically, ACE seeks to make fitness part of everyone's life. And, according to Germano, ACE is growing more aggressive in its attempts to bring health and exercise to all people.

"We're going to become the true leader," he emphasized. "Not just the leader in word. We're going to become the leader in deed."

If ACE is the leader, then Germano is, in a sense, the leader's leader. As ACE's new executive director, he is on a mission to raise ACE to the next level. He pointed out that people rely on ACE for credible fitness information; now the organization must take the initiative by driving this information to clubs, suppliers and consumers.

To branch out, ACE is lending its training assets to strategic alliances. For example, ACE recently joined forces with IHRSA. Since IHRSA sets standards for clubs and ACE sets standards for instructors, they make a perfect team for pushing exercise education up a notch in fitness facilities.

On the supplier side, ACE now offers a specialty certification program for retail business. The program teaches kinesiology to salespeople who specialize in fitness equipment. Participants learn how to help consumers find the equipment that suits them physiologically. The program also gives the salespeople the information they need to talk knowledgeably with the professionals who purchase equipment for commercial usage.

ACE is also taking its fitness message directly to consumers. The organization is completely revamping its web site to serve both certified professionals and the general public. ACE is also stepping up its publication efforts to put out more books for consumers.

Besides providing consumers with fitness information, ACE plans to champion causes that can improve fitness in communities. One such cause is children's fitness. Germano noted that kids are becoming increasingly overweight and inactive, yet fitness programs for youngsters are dwindling. For that reason, Germano would like to see ACE create certifications, training and curriculums that support OPERATION FitKids, a nonprofit foundation that he founded in 1990 to establish and equip fitness centers for children.

Youngsters represent only one group ACE can aid. As the organization expands its efforts, it will continue to search out people who can gain from ACE's expertise. "One of our taglines is 'fitness for all,' " Germano said, "and our job as the American Council on Exercise is to deliver."