American Univesity of Beirut

Fitness and wellness summit at AUB raises the bar for professional exercise

​​Sally Abou Melhem,, Office of Communications

​The University Sports Department–Office of Student Affairs in cooperation with the Inspire Fitness Academy (IFA), and in collaboration with the American Council on Exercise (ACE), held a two-day fitness and wellness summit, featuring high-profile international presenters from the US and Europe, visiting AUB and Lebanon for the first time. The event, entitled “Raise the Bar,” took place at the Charles Hostler Student Center (CHSC) auditorium on September 8 and 9. It was attended by 13 speakers and over 100 participants including personal trainers, fitness instructors, physical therapists, life coaches, and fitness enthusiasts.

AUB’s Dean of Student Affairs Talal Nizameddin commented on the event describing it as a landmark event and a herculean effort that brought the best-of-the-best together in a first-of-its-kind initiative in Lebanon and the region. “Hosting this event at AUB sends the message to the region that the science of exercise starts at the summit level. This event today brings together IFA and ACE as well as other leading bodies to determine a new future and hopefully form an annual event to raise the bar so that all people of the region can have access to safe, professional, and fulfilling exercise.”

The summit tackled more than 30 different subjects related to health, fitness, sports injuries, management, and leadership; through lectures, workshops, and practical sessions. It also included two boot-camp training sessions at AUB’s Green Field led by Sergeant Ken Weichert, six-time US Army Soldier of the Year, master fitness trainer, and master resilience trainer. 

Another highlight of the event was a panel discussion on “bringing the medical and fitness worlds closer together” that included orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at AUBMC, Dr. Hasan Baydoun, ACE Director of Strategic Partnerships Anthony Wall, and senior sports therapist at AUB, Dr. Tarek Gherbal.

ACE Executive Vice President for Engagement Graham Melstrand said that it was a privilege to have the opportunity to collaborate with IFA and AUB in support of their vision of advancing the exercise profession and fitness industry in Lebanon and the region. He added that this vision “brought together so many current and future industry leaders who are committed to serving at the critical intersection of the clinic and community to provide the leadership, expertise, and support necessary for individuals to achieve their personal goals in health, fitness, or sports performance.” 

In his comment about this event, IFA Founder and Educational Director Patrick Bejjani said, “Raising the bar is the motto, raising the standards is the aim.” He added that this event has achieved both, with “determination and commitment, through science, life coaching, practice and many influential topics.” He continued saying that this fitness and wellness summit at AUB “had the impact of change and taking the trade to the next level of professionalism.” 

The University Sports Department in the Office of Students Affairs has been offering fitness education courses on campus at CHSC in collaboration with IFA since 2013.

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