National Fitness Hall of Fame Museum & Institute

Educate * Motivate * Inspire

2015 NFHOF Induction Ceremony

The 2015 National Fitness Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was truly a memorable event. It started with a VIP Meet & Greet on Saturday evening in a casual setting with everyone having a chance to get to know each other better. On Sunday morning with had an open Board Meeting with several suggestions on how to make “The Hall” even better in the next year and then the weekend was capped off Sunday evening with a VIP reception and dinner, Red Carpet interviews and a fantastic ceremony.

“It is amazing to see so many Fitness Superstars in one place. There must have been over 1,000 years of fitness experience in that room.” Most of the individuals present are still at the top of their game helping tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) live healthy and fit lives!”

Thomas, Debbie and Gary, although no longer with us, they were honored on this special day and their legacy will it be forever remembered in the archived annals of “The Hall.”


National Fitness Hall of Fame Inductees – Class of 2015

  •       Instructor – Debbie Drake  
  •       Trainer (or Coach) – Joe Lupo 
  •        Educator – Gary Yanker 
  •        Medical Fitness - Professor Thomas K. Cureton, PhD 
  •        Fitness Business Person – Gilda Marx
  •      Organization - National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT)

(Note:  The lifetime career work of most inductees stretches across several fitness categories.  In order to objectively review, analyze and select from the hundreds of qualified health & fitness professionals, applicants/nominees are asked to choose just one occupational category).   


Debbie Drake - (Instructor)  - Debbie (born 1931) was a true fitness trailblazer. Debbie was the first woman to star in her own daily exercise show. The Debbie Drake Show debuted in 1960 and aired during the morning on dozens of stations across the country. Between that show and its follow-up, Debbie Drake’s Dancercize, she stayed on the air continuously until 1978. Like Jack LaLanne, Drake became one of the country’s first fitness gurus, parlaying her fame into guest appearances on TV shows such as The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The David Frost Show, The New Steve Allen Show and What’s My Line?.

Debbie was also before her time as a multimedia star: In addition to her TV show, she published the 1961 book Debbie Drake’s Easy Way to a Perfect Figure and Glowing Health, and recorded albums, including Look Good! Feel Great! and How to Keep Your Husband Happy.

Joe Lupo – (Trainer)  - Joe has been in the fitness business as a personal fitness trainer for over 50 years beginning in California and continuing currently in Miami, Florida. He trained his first client in the late 60's and has never stopped. Joe was born in East Harlem, New York in 1938. Sports and fitness were always his passions. In 1958 he won the Golden Gloves Tournament in Manhattan and went on to a professional boxing career with a record of 19-1-1 and was inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame. 

Through his career he has trained many musical and theatrical performers, as well as professional athletes like Lenox Lewis and the Oakland Raiders. However Joe's calling was to train ordinary people who he knew must be strong to survive life's challenges. He has been doing so longer than any other person.

His weight training method is used by the Cooper Clinic to help rehabilitate heart attack survivors and his "Joe Lupo 30-day diet" has helped thousands of people lose weight successfully. But his real body of work is the more than 5000 people he has trained in his career.

Gary Yanker - (1947 - 2008) – (Educator)  - Gary was dubbed America’s foremost walking expert by the Miami Herald and NBC’s Today Show and is generally considered the guru of the walking movement. He devoted his life to making walking the number one exercise in America. Gary is the walking editor of American Health magazine, the founding editor of Walking World magazine and the fitness spokesperson for The Rockport Shoes Company. Gary also published and created over 20 books& videos on exercise and walking. 

Dr. Thomas K. Cureton, Jr. - (1901-1992) – (Medical Fitness) – Dr. Cureton is often referred to as "The Father of Physical Fitness," Professor Cureton, who taught at the University of Illinois from 1941 to 1969, lectured at physical fitness institutes around the world. He wrote or was the co-author of 50 books and many articles. At the University of Illinois he was responsible for the development and leadership of the Physical Fitness Research Laboratory. Dr. Cureton became known as one of the leading fitness experts in the United States.

Professor Cureton served on the President's Council on Physical Fitness under five Presidents and received several Council awards. He was also a champion masters swimmer and once held 14 world records. In 1980 he was inducted into the International Swimmimg Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He was also research director of the national Aquatic Congress of the Y.M.C.A. for 25 years.

Gilda Marx - (Fitness Business Person)  - Gilda (born 1935) was a leader in the fitness and fashion fields.  She was the CEO of Gilda Marx Industries, Inc.  Her other companies include Christina for Gilda Marx Inc. and Gilda Marx International, Inc.   Her products are sold in more than 5,000 major retail stores on four continents, including the Gilda Marx store in new York City, and Gilda Marx Boutiques at Body Design by Gilda studios.

In the early 1960’s, Gilda Marx inspired the aerobics movement when she choreographed movement to music as an upbeat, innovative way to exercise.  To introduce others to the benefits of aerobics, she developed a chain of highly acclaimed fitness studios-Body Design by Gilda.  In the late 1970’s, Gilda recognized the need for high quality, fashionable bodywear during exercise.  She and her husband, Robert Marx, created an exclusive fabric with four way stretch.  Using this fabric, Marx designed a line of leotards, called Flexatard, which contours the body in luminous colors.  Today she also designs and manufactures trendy, high fashion lines that cross over from exercise and dance to street wear-California Body, made of cotton/poly/spandex; Stars of Tomorrow-children's bodywear line; and Christina for Gilda Marx- active sport and intimate apparel bras and coordinated panties.  All four lines features new high tech fabrics, such as Breathables, which keep women cooler, drier, and more comfortable.

Gilda has demonstrated her commitment to fitness and aerobic dance for more than four decades.  She authored a book - Body by Gilda, produced “Walk with Gilda”- an audio aerobic walking program and created state of the art fitness programs at her fitness studios in New York City and Washington D.C.

The National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT) – (Organization)

In 1980, Ron Clark, president and CEO of National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT), moved from Southern California, where he was serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, to his hometown of Lafayette, Indiana to begin a career in personal training. In 1978, Ron discovered his love for hardcore fitness training after a gunshot wound required rehabilitation.  His journey as a personal trainer led him to discover the need for a personal trainer certification that was “real-world”, applicable and also attainable for the person who may not have the technical background that certification agencies once required. In 1987, Ron accepted the challenge and incorporated NFPT.

NFPT certified its first fitness trainer in 1988.  NFPT's Personal Trainer Certification program became accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) in 2005. This followed an industry movement to raise the bar in the credentialing field – a standard setting measure that NFPT fully supports and is proud to endorse.

NFPT began with a personal trial, grew from a vision to help others, and sustains from a passion to be more for its global family of trainers. NFPT has certified more than 30,000 trainers and will continue to expand its reach by supporting those looking for a foothold in the personal training industry.