Episode 5 | Unveiling the Cosmic Roots of Aerobics

Justin Guilder & Dr. Tyler Cooper

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Episode Description

This was a fascinating discussion with Dr. Tyler Cooper, CEO of the pioneering Cooper Clinic. Founded in 1970 by Dr. Cooper's father, it was the nation's first preventive medicine clinic - at a time when exercise was thought to actually be dangerous and no one went to the doctor when they were healthy.

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Hi, and welcome to the Lumida Legacy Podcast. I'm your host, Justin Gilder. On this podcast, we'll explore how to achieve and plan for a long, healthy life, as well as how to prepare for the inevitable and unforeseen through estate planning, insurance, and end of life decisions. We'll talk candidly with experts who advise high, And ultra high net worth clients, so you can learn how to apply their strategies and tactics to your own longevity and legacy planning.

So I'm pleased to be joined today by Dr. Tyler Cooper, the CEO of the Cooper Clinic. And for those that don't know, the Cooper Clinic is really not only at the forefront of preventative medicine, but it is the father of all preventative medicine clinics in the country. And so we're really pleased To be joined today by Dr.

Tyler Cooper and Dr. Cooper, if you could maybe kick us off a little bit [00:01:00] of the background of the Cooper Clinic itself, which was started not by you, the Dr. Cooper, that's joining us today, but actually by your father, Dr. Cooper. Oh, that's right. First of all, thanks for having me today, Justin. It's a pleasure to be with you.

And yeah, it goes back a long way actually into a time when most people can't imagine anymore that it wasn't believed that exercise was good for your health. And my father was working in the military at the time, back in the late 50s and early 60s, and he was transferred over to NASA, and he was tasked with how do you counteract the effects of long term exposure to zero gravity of all the men going to the moon?

They're in the Apollo lunar mission, just a small job there but he had been an athlete in college before going into medicine, and had always believed that fitness was good for your health, and so he did some testing to believe that if he could get the astronauts in better, in a better level of physical fitness, They would be able to handle the trip easier and recover.[00:02:00] 

So how that leads to prevention is unusual, but that's where it all started. And that at that point, he created a hypothesis, which was exercise is good for your health. And if you correlate it to measured medical examinations and results like cholesterol and all these different types of factors that you would see a benefit.

And like any good hypothesis, you have to set it up is. You first have the question, but then how do you collect the data in order to prove the question out? And so how do you measure physical fitness? And that's where it all started for my father back in the 60s, is he created a way to use VO2 measurement during exercise to correlate it as a quantitative measure of fitness.

And originally he did that through gas exchange on a treadmill stress test, and then he correlated that to a field test, which some of your listeners may know, the Cooper test or the 12 minute run. And that was the original test to start measuring fitness. But over time, he started collecting data for all the people that he was putting through these fitness evaluations, [00:03:00] and, but then wondered, how do you get people healthier?

How do you get them more fit? And so in 1968, he followed, published his first book called Aerobics, actually invented that word aerobics, made, added an S to aerobic and made it a noun. And funny side story is that the publisher was wanting to name the book that, cause that was the first chapter. My dad thought people were, they were crazy.

They'd never, people would never be able to remember that name or pronounce it. And now it's a second home or second nature to everybody. But so anyway, so that original book was like essentially the first how to, The book on fitness and getting fit and why it mattered and it consisted of doing the 12 minute run and then 32 cardiovascular exercises that were correlated to a point system of oxygen consumption that if you got a certain number of points per week, then that would put you in another level of fitness.

And for example, a point was considered to run an 8 minute mile was one point. And your goal was to get between 10 to 30 points a week. And that is really what is credited with starting the whole exercise revolution, the jogging [00:04:00] craze, all of that, is my father's original book. But so in 1970, at the age of 40, he decided to leave the Air Force and come to Dallas to start where we are today.

And the goal with that was, To start a preventive medicine clinic, upon which the foundation of what we do here in our clinic is the measurement of fitness, being the foundational element of how we improve people's health. You gotta remember in 1970, there were no such things as preventive medicine clinics.

You went to the doctor when you were sick, not when you were healthy. Certainly, back in those days, again, exercise was thought to be damaging to your health. When my father was in med school, he was taught that your heart only has so many beats. And if you run through them more quickly by exercising, you'll die sooner.

Also the idea of hypertrophy of the heart, that if you exercise more, your heart was going to become enlarged and lose its ability to function. And all of which we know to be false now, but that was the pressure that, or not the pressure, but that was the education that he [00:05:00] was receiving when around exercise.

So it was really. Just to reach out and to make the claim that I'm going to tell everybody to exercise and I'm going to focus my prevent, my medical practice truly on prevention and prevention alone was crazy. But the goal was, is that people would come to our clinic, they would go through a comprehensive physical evaluation, Of which the most important piece was actually getting on a treadmill stress test and measuring their VO2, which we still do today.

And what the treadmill consists of is you walk at 2. 2 miles an hour, or excuse me, 3. 3 miles an hour, and it goes up roughly a degree per minute, and you go as long as you can. And based on how long you can go, we can get a predicted VO2 and then classify that into your age and gender. To give you a valuation of your level of fitness, which I'll refer to more in a later when we talk about research, but that was revolutionary.

And so that was the foundation of the fitness center in, or excuse me, of the clinic and everything that's, everybody's gone through the clinic in the last 53 years. All their data has gone [00:06:00] into our nonprofit research institute to be able to eventually produce the first study in 1989 that showed the physiological benefits of exercise.

At the same time, he also started here on our campus a physical fitness center, which there really wasn't anything like that in 1970 either. Maybe you had a YMCA or something like that, but not a fitness center we know today. And a lot of background there, but there's a lot to say on really how my father and this organization changed the entire landscape of how we look at fitness, how we look at exercise, how we look at preventive medicine.

And one closing note on that was so interesting is that when my dad launched his first book in 68 and then opened the facility here in 70, they tried to take his medical license away from him here in Dallas for doing treadmill stress tests, I believe there was editorials in magazines and the New York Times and so forth said my father was going to kill more people than Hitler.

By promoting jogging, that there'd be millions of dead joggers around the world as people followed my father's advice. That's what he was up against. [00:07:00] So it's an incredible story. And I always use the analogy, imagine you're a missionary and you go to some Island where no one believes what you believe.

You do such a good job converting the Island to that belief. By the time those people's grandkids come around, they never knew they weren't that belief. And that's essentially what my father in this organization has done with fitness and prevention. Yeah. It is an incredible story and it's not too often that you actually get to say that somebody wrote the book on something, but he actually wrote the book, Aerobics, which is incredible.

Now tell us a little bit about your journey as well, because now you run and are the CEO of the Cooper Clinic. What was that journey like? I was born in 1970. I was actually, I'm six days younger than the business. And so when I say I've truly grown up in it, I've truly grown up in it. And a funny little story is no one believed in what my dad was trying to do when he came to Dallas in 1970.

And so no banks would give him any money or anything like that. And there [00:08:00] was a CEO of a company here in Dallas who believed in what he was doing and what he wanted to start. And they loaned him the original money to start the business. The company was called the Tyler Corporation. Which again, I was born a few days later and that's where I got my name.

So when I say I am fully embedded in this business, even back to my name, I grew up in a very unique environment where my, I was fortunate to travel around the world with my father as we went, and as a family preached this concept of preventive medicine, of fitness. With the goal of using it to improve the quality and the quantity of people's lives.

That's what we do as an organization. That's our mission statement. It's been that for over 50 years now. And it was really unique to grow up in an environment where what you're doing, you can tangibly see the effects. On the people that you're reaching almost daily, whether it be through their improvement in their physical health, their mental health, their general wellbeing, their spiritual health, whatnot, we've been, it was a real blessing, but even with that in my early days, I did not want to be part of the business.

I had no interest in being a doctor [00:09:00] and ended up going to Baylor university on a partial track scholarship. And that was my real interest was in running and ended up getting a business degree there. Cause I figured no matter what in life, that would be helpful. Go ahead. And then after I graduated, I went off and did my own thing for a while, for a few years.

But it was during that time that I got away from the family business and out of the shadow of my father, if you will, that I realized, was really able to see what a unique business this is. And as I thought about my career and what I wanted to do with my life, I've been around all types of successful people.

And what I find is the most appealing way to spend your life, certainly it's foundational in my faith, is. The ability to help other people tangibly every day. And I thought about that, there's not really a better way for me to do that than by being engaged in this business where we do that with hundreds of thousands of lives, literally.

And so I had no pre medical requirements completed. I had been straight business in college. And so I moved back to Dallas and I started working and taking [00:10:00] pre meds at night. I did that for about two and a half years to finish my requirements and then to apply to med school. And then got in, went to medical school, did my residency, and also got a, received a master's in public health and healthcare management.

And then came back. And I've been now back for about 18 years. And I oversee all of our businesses. We have seven businesses under the umbrella, of which the Cooper Clinic is one. And then I still see patients a few days a week. I definitely want to be engaged on the one on one basis. And it's just an awesome place to be because like I said, what we did from day one in working to improve the quality and quantity of people's lives, we're still doing that today and it's just a, it's a wonderful blessing to see that type of ROI, you certainly outrun a business and you need an ROI, there's no mission without a margin as Covey always said, right?

But in the same light, the mission, the margin never outpaces the mission in our business. And that's what I think keeps us going so well, and that's why we've had so much of the success we've had for literally decades of [00:11:00] doing what we're doing, and the future continues to look bright. Yeah, it's incredible.

How many patients have you interacted with, roughly, through the Cooper Clinic? Not you personally, the clinic itself. Over the last 53 years, I think we've had over 350, 000 patients. Come through our clinic. And a lot of those have been coming for years and years. So they'll come. We have patients who've been coming 30, 40 years, every year they come through.