ISSA Names New CEO, Eyes Wellness Expansion

Warren Heffelfinger’s vision includes curriculum expansion, strategic partnerships and digital transformation to help the fitness certification organization reach 100 million people by 2030

The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) has hired Warren Heffelfinger as its new CEO as the organization gears up for its next phase of growth in education for fitness, wellness and health professionals.

Andrew Wyant, who served as ISSA’s CEO since 2018, will transition to chief growth officer, leading sales, marketing and business development. He will also remain on the board of directors.

Heffelfinger’s appointment coincides with a period of rapid evolution in the fitness industry, presenting ISSA with an opportunity to leverage emerging trends and prospects. The organization maintains its dedication to delivering top-notch education, certification programs and comprehensive, professional support.

The Ripple Effect of Corporate Culture

With more than 10 years as CEO of Ingenio, a PE-backed wellness platform, Heffelfinger has a proven track record in growing, scaling and acquiring businesses in the health and wellness space. His deep passion for both fitness and education aligns him with ISSA’s mission of empowering fitness and wellness professionals globally.

“We are delighted to welcome Warren as CEO to further elevate ISSA’s vision of promoting healthier living to 100 million people by 2030,” Wyant said. “Warren’s expertise and unwavering commitment to excellence make him the ideal leader for ISSA. I look forward to collaborating closely with him as we continue to expand our presence in the fitness and wellness industry.”

Heffelfinger’s leadership philosophy is deeply rooted in the belief that a strong organizational culture is the cornerstone of business success. 

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” Heffelfinger told Athletech News, echoing management consultant and business visionary Peter Drucker. “It’s about creating an environment where every student can thrive.”

Warren Heffelfinger (credit: ISSA)

Heffelfinger shared that joining ISSA felt like stepping into a role where the potential to make an impact is “truly substantial.” His focus will be on amplifying existing success and harnessing the power of culture which, when executed properly, “is the single greatest competitive advantage a company can build.”

“In this business, the multiplier effect is significant. By engaging with one student, we can impact the health and wellness of many others,” Heffelfinger said. “Combining a mission-driven culture with this multiplier effect could make a huge difference globally.”

Personal Training Is More Than Just Fitness

Heffelfinger’s strategic vision for ISSA also includes expanding the organization’s curriculum into new and emerging fields of wellness.

“I think we’ve learned more about wellness in the past decade than we did the previous 100 years,” he said. “We’ve seen a remarkable evolution in what constitutes wellness—from basic nutrition and exercise to a holistic approach that encompasses mind, body and spirit,” he said. 

ISSA’s expansion plans include not just deeper dives into existing categories like personal training and nutrition, but also exploring specialties and adjacent areas such as brain fitness and functional aging.

“We’re not just teaching fitness; we’re extending far beyond our direct interactions,” Heffelfinger emphasized. 

“This perspective is vital as ISSA navigates the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, particularly as the industry grapples with integrating AI and other technological advancements while maintaining the personal touch that is intrinsic to fitness and wellness,” he added.

credit: StratfordProductions/

Asked how ISSA will meet its mission to reach 100 million people by 2030, Heffelfinger said that, ultimately, it starts with supporting the people who serve their respective communities with a multi-pronged approach. 

“There are many marketing-oriented partnerships we need to identify to reach a broader audience,” he said. “It’s not just about personal training in general, but all the subspecialties. Building the right partnerships in those areas will allow us to eventually reach those 100 million people through our students. We also need to understand evolving end-user needs. As Wayne Gretzky said, ‘Skate to where the puck is going.’”

Expanding Access

In addition to hiring Heffelfinger as CEO, ISSA has launched several strategic initiatives aimed at broadening its educational offerings and adapting to the evolving needs of the fitness industry. It announced the acquisition of Empowered Education’s Health Coach Institute and Functional Nutrition Alliance, in October 2023

Most recently, ISSA introduced the “Coach de Nutrición” program—a Spanish-language adaptation of its Nutritionist course—specifically designed to address the cultural and dietary needs of the Hispanic/Latino community in the United States.

ISSA is also embracing digital innovation to enhance its sustainability efforts. The organization has transitioned from paper to digital certificates. This shift not only reduces environmental impact but also improves the flexibility and accessibility of certifications for graduates.

As ISSA continues to grow under Heffelfinger’s leadership, the focus remains on empowering fitness professionals globally, providing them with the tools and knowledge they need to make a positive impact.

The post ISSA Names New CEO, Eyes Wellness Expansion appeared first on Athletech News.


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