Date: 9/3/2009

Community Hospital Fitness Pointe’s Debi Pillarella is named 2009 IDEA Program Director of the Year

IDEA founders Peter and Kathie Davis (far right and far left) along with Master of Ceremonies and TV star Kathy Smith (second from right) pose for a media photograph with 2009 IDEA Health & Fitness Inspiration award winners (second from left to right) Cynthia Carrion Norton, Personal Trainer of the Year; Debi Pillarella, Program Director of the Year and June Kahn, Instructor of the Year.

IDEA Health & Fitness Association recently honored Community Hospital Fitness Pointe’s Debi Pillarella as their 2009 Program Director of the Year. The health and fitness association is considered to be the leading membership organization of health, wellness and fitness professionals worldwide with more than 23,000 members representing some 80 countries around the globe. IDEA Health & Fitness Inspiration awards were presented to four industry standouts, including Pillarella, during the Aug. 13 opening ceremonies of the 2009 IDEA World Fitness Convention in Anaheim, California.

“IDEA is proud and thrilled by all the meaningful work our members do to motivate people to live healthfully,” said IDEA executive director Kathie Davis. “These awards honor professionals who give their utmost to help clients, communities and the fitness industry to be better, stronger and healthier all around.”

Dedicating her life to health and fitness, Debi Pillarella, MEd, CPT serves as the education/fitness program manager of Community Hospital Fitness Pointe, the medically-based fitness facility in Munster, Indiana that helps individuals achieve life-long health and fitness through innovative, quality programs, state-of-the-art equipment and highly credentialed staff. As education/fitness program manager, Pillarella oversees a staff of more than 50 fitness professionals and develops fitness, wellness and health education programs in aquatic fitness, personal training, group exercise, Pilates and yoga while supervising day-to-day operations and outreach venues.

Her devotion to health and fitness stems, in part, from her own, personal experience and victory over a cardiovascular defect and stroke. In 1994, Pillarella had just completed her master’s degree, had newfound success in her career (created videos, traveled for presentations, wrote a book) and was "feeling on top of the world," when she began to experience numbness and tingling in her arms and hands. Like many women, she thought it would just go away. But it didn’t just go away, and shortly after, a hole was diagnosed in the wall of her heart. She had open-heart surgery. And, in 2000, Pillarella suffered another health setback - a stroke. With sheer determination and a strong commitment to fitness, she was able to eventually overcome and recover from heart disease and brain surgery.

Her personal mission is to create best-practice health and fitness programs that are data driven and geared for different populations in Northwest Indiana. One example of this can be found in the Take 5 for Life program, an in-school, pedometer-based, walking competition with weekly fitness/nutrition curriculum aligned with State of Indiana education standards. The program has been introduced to elementary schools throughout Northwest Indiana and teaches students how to eat healthy; be active; manage their mind (abstain from drugs, alcohol and tobacco); be well-rested and feel good about themselves. Through programs such as Take 5, Pillarella says she wants to make a difference in people’s health for today and tomorrow, one community at a time.

“This award really needs to be shared; not only with the Fitness Pointe staff who support my vision, energy and passion for excellence, but also the community at-large,” Pillarella said. “From the bottom of my heart, my sincerest thanks.”

To continue on her mission, Pillarella also serves as a national fitness spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Pillarella is past recipient of the 2004 Fitness Director of the Year award from ACE. She is an adjunct faculty member at Purdue University, Calumet, and Indiana University Northwest. She received the 2004 Award for Teaching Excellence from Indiana University Northwest School of Continuing Studies. In 2006, she received the Indiana Health Achievement Award from the Indiana Public Health Foundation for her extensive work in community fitness and health promotion. She has more than 25 years experience in the fitness field and holds both personal-training and group-exercise certifications from ACE. Pillarella has written numerous articles on fitness and health and is the author of Fitness Stepping (Human Kinetics). She also currently writes a column for NWI Parenting Magazine entitled “Fit Family.”

Community Hospital Fitness Pointe is located at 9950 Calumet Ave. in Munster. For more information about the programs and services offered at Community Hospital Fitness Pointe, call 219-924-5348 or visit and click on Fitness Pointe.

Other awards presented to fitness professionals by IDEA Health & Fitness Association at their convention include IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year to Cynthia Carrion Norton, MBA, Makarti City, Philippines (Norton is personal trainer to President Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines). IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year has been presented to June E. Kahn of Broomfield, Colorado. And the 2009 IDEA Fitness Inspiration award has been presented to Scout Bassett of Los Angeles, California.

For more information on IDEA fitness and wellness conferences, publications, professional fitness education and products, member services and other activities, visit