An internationally recognized leader in the health and fitness industry, Ruth is dedicated to the growth and betterment of the industry through her tireless research and development efforts.  She has founded eight successful businesses and holds numerous awards and honors in the industry.  She educates and energizes audiences with her presentations on personal growth, entrepreneurship, health, fitness, wellness, running a business and aquatic rehab and fitness.

In 1994, she founded the Aquatic Therapy and Rehab Institute, Inc. (ATRI) a non-profit educational organization dedicated to the professional development of health care professionals involved with aquatic therapy.  ATRI offers continuing education courses at conferences and workshops that advance the knowledge and skills of the aquatic therapist. Click here for more information about ATRI or visit

She has emerged as an internationally recognized leader in the aquatics industry.  She is the founder and past president of the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA), a non-profit international association serving as a clearinghouse for all aspects of the aquatics industry.  In 1987, she saw a need for an organizing body in the aquatics field and she founded AEA to fulfill this need.

Ruth has been fortunate to be the leading spokesperson for this relaxing and centering aquatic technique.  Click for more.

Ruth travels worldwide to present workshops, lectures and keynotes.  Most of her presentations are about aquatic therapy, rehab or fitness.  She also does several business topics and motivational keynotes. To learn more about the topics please click here.

Ruth has several books, DVDs and other products.  For more information, please click here.

Education and Certifications

M.S., University of MichiganB.A., Northern Michigan UniversityThe Institute for Aerobics Research CertifiedMaternity Fitness, Inc. CertifiedGold Certification from the American Council on ExerciseGraduate, The Aerobics Seminar, The Aerobics Center, Dallas, Texas

AAHPERD Aquatic Council Senior Fitness Instructor Credential

Aquatic Therapy and Rehabilitation Industry Certified

Aquatic Exercise Association Certified


The Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports in Wisconsin
The Circuit of Reebok Professionals and Specialists (CORPS)
U.S. Senatorial Business Advisory Board Steering Committee
Advisory Board of Disability International Foundation

Awards and Recognition

The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports – the first Presidential Sports Award in Water Exercise
The Governor of Wisconsin for entrepreneurial accomplishments and promoting health, fitness, and the quality of life in Wisconsin
Council for National Cooperation in Aquatics (CNCA) National Honor Award
Sara’s City Workout (Sara Kooperman) Aquatic Instructor of the Year
The Wisconsin State Assembly for excellence in entrepreneurial and fitness endeavors
The American Heart Association for outstanding fund raising
IDEA…The Association for Fitness Professionals – International Outstanding Business Award
The City of Port Washington, WI with the key to the city for creating a new thriving business
ABC News Health Show for being a leader and entrepreneur in the fitness industry
Suomi College Entrepreneurial Award
The Aquatic Exercise Association’s Contribution to the Industry Award
American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance’s Service and Merit Awards
The Sevier-McCahill Disability International Award
The International Swimming Hall of Fame John K. Williams, Jr. Adapted Aquatics Award

In the Aquatics International 25 Most Powerful Aquatic People in the World


Personal Achievements

Who’s Who in United States Executives
Facilitated a multidisciplinary committee, and wrote the definition of aquatic therapy
Facilitated a multidisciplinary committee, and wrote and published Standards for the Aquatic Therapy and Rehabilitation Industry
As a member of the Wisconsin Governor’s Council for Physical Fitness, nominated and presented the Outstanding Wisconsin Citizen Award.
Worked with the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Kinesiotherapy Association, and the Aquatic Exercise Association to begin work on a multi-disciplinary Aquatic Therapy Program.
Created a Position Statement for the public availability of pools for the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

Created and incorporated non-profit organization for the betterment of aquatics, the National Aquatic Coalition.

Created and incorporated Ai Chi International, a non-profit organization to decrease pain

Wisconsin State Representative for IDEA
IDEA Foundations’ national certification committee
IDEA Leadership Council
Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
Water Exercise Specialty Committee of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
FOCUS (one of Wisconsin’s largest professional women’s organizations) – current member, past president and chairman of the board
Business and Professional Women’s Organization – past president
National Association for Female Executives – Network Director
Reebok Aerobic Championship – presentation judge
Reebok Corps  – advisory staff


Over 170 articles on health, aquatics, business, wellness, leadership
Eighteen books
Numerous educational DVDs and CDs


Other Companies

Ruth is involved or connected with several other businesses and organizations.

AEA ( Ruth started the Aquatic Exercise Association in 1985.  Angie Nelson and Julie See took over AEA in 1993 (when Ruth’s family needed her) and have done wonderful things with it.  Angie, Julie, Anne Miller (ATRI), and Ruth are close friends and the companies continue to work closely together.

DSL ( Ruth started a company in 1976 that produces all her DVDs, books, etc.  It’s called DSL.  Now it publishes other people’s products as well.

The Fitness Firm.  Ruth started The Fitness Firm in 1976.  Phyllis DeCoste now owns the company.

The Jalkanen Foundation.  Before Ruth’s Dad died, he and her Mom set up a charitable foundation.  He died before it could get funded so Ruth is sometimes available to speak in trade for a donation to the foundation.