Growing up the son of Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper—the renowned physician who coined the word “aerobics” and who founded Dallas’ Cooper Aerobics Center—Tyler Cooper never had an interest in taking over the family business. After earning a business degree from Baylor University, where he ran track on a scholarship, he moved to Vail, Colo., to be a ski bum. His passion for extreme outdoor sports next took him to Australia. After those few nomadic years, Cooper realized he wanted a life and career that would allow him to help others in a tangible way—an epiphany that brought him back home.
“Ultimately what brought me back was my belief in the concept of what we preach: preventive medicine,” Cooper says. “We focus on health in a way that can improve the quality and quantity of people’s lives. I truly believe in my dad’s vision; I always have.”
He earned a medical degree at the University of Texas at San Antonio, then a master's degree in public health from Harvard University. He now serves as CEO of Cooper Aerobics Enterprises, which aims to “Cooperize” corporate America by helping businesses analyze health care expenses, work with insurance providers, and develop corporate wellness programs. These initiatives can help businesses reduce health care costs, Cooper says, while also improving the overall health of employees.
WHAT YOU DO: We try to help people realize that their health is their personal responsibility, but that we’re here to help them be successful. If they listen to us, not only will they live longer, but they will have a better and more enjoyable life.
BEST PART OF YOUR JOB: The impact that we have. The fact that what we do truly impacts other people’s lives in a very positive and beneficial way. It’s not about just going to work and punching in and punching out. It’s knowing that no matter what capacity you work at in this organization, you are part of a greater team that is working diligently to improve the lives of those around you. And that’s something that can get you out of bed in the morning.
WORST PART: The worst part of my current job? I don’t have any time.
STRENGTHS: I know this business backward and forward. I’ve lived it my whole life. It was dinner table talk for as long as I can remember. So, I believe I bring quite a great deal of experience.
WEAKNESSES: Chocolate chip cookies, with M&M’s on top. Those are absolutely my weakness. But beyond that, I think I have a tendency to over-commit myself.
FATHERLY ADVICE: My dad taught me to never give up. He is an “overcomer” by all means. He faced tremendous challenges when he started this organization. Others tried to run him out of town; they tried to take his medical license for promoting exercise and fitness, and he many, many times was on the doorstep of losing everything. But he believed in what he was doing, and he never gave up.
FAMILY: My wife, Angie, and I have been married eight years, and we have three children. Our oldest son, Clark, is 4; our daughter Lang (my wife’s maiden name) is 3; and our youngest son, Kai, is 10 months.
TV SHOW: I was a big Lost junkie. I loved Lost. I was very disappointed in the way it ended. I thought it was a total copout. It let me down.
ADVICE: Take care of yourselves. Take care of your health. Make it a priority. You can’t be any good to anybody else if you’re not first good to yourself.