University Sports raises the bar higher with international summit

​Safa Jafari Safa, ​Office of Communications, communications@aub.edu.lb

AUB hosted this year’s international fitness education and wellness summit, Raise the Bar. Over three days, 170 athletes participated in fitness sessions offered by professionals from various backgrounds related to fitness and exercise.

Through a collaboration between AUB and the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the Inspire Summit 2019 was organized by Inspire Fitness Academy (IFA), in conjunction with AUB, under the title “Raise the Bar.” Offering diplomas that are approved by the Ministry of Education as well as recognized by Europe Active and Active IQ, the summit was first held in September 2018 to introduce science-based fitness instruction and training courses, and implement updated fitness and health programs. 

“It is our pleasure to host the Raise the Bar conference for the second consecutive year,” said Ghaleb Halimi, director of AUB University Sports. “Our aim was to convey the most recent research findings and trends in the industry to our students in specific and community in general. The presence of the international speakers and the high standards gave a remarkable value to the event, and the dense participation from other universities in Lebanon, fitness club owners and managers, and exercise professionals.”

The number of speakers, participants, summit days, and sessions has significantly increased since last year. This year, 15 local and nine high-profile international speakers worked with 170 participants, students, and alumni from AUB as well as other universities. Sixty sessions were offered, ranging between panel discussions, workshops, lectures, and group exercise sessions that included exercise to music and boot camp.

“During Raise the Bar 2019, we raised the bar higher with new topics, evidence-based sessions, and more than 20 presenters… This summit had an impact on promoting the beautiful side of Lebanon to international presenters that started to spread the word about this country and recommend visiting it to others,” said Patrick Bejjani, founder and director of Inspire Fitness Academy who presented a token of appreciation to Mr. Halimi as a representative of AUB.

A first of its kind roundtable discussion was held among club operators in Lebanon. Discussions revolved around standards of exercise professionals, opportunities for collaboration to raise the bar in the fitness industry, and the possibility of developing an independent register for exercise professionals. The day continued with a Fit Leadership Summit that included several educational sessions on the field of fitness management.

“Raise the Bar 2019 not only creates community awareness about the importance of increasing physical activity but also provides an opportunity for certified health and exercise professionals in Lebanon the chance to upskill themselves with some of the top local and international presenters,” said Anthony Wall, director of strategic partnerships, American Council on Exercise. 

Speakers from AUB and AUBMC included Dr. Hasan Baydoun (orthopedic surgery and sports medicine, AUBMC); Dr. Afif Mufarrij (emergency medicine and primary care sports medicine, AUBMC); Dr. Marco Bardus (health communication and health promotion, Faculty of Health Sciences); Dr. Elie-Jacques Fares (sports nutrition, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences); and Dr. Tarek Gherbal (sports physical therapy, AUB University Sports) who also organized the event.

“The quality of the presenters, topics, and venue were truly world-class and included leading-edge research, as well as best practice concepts over the three-day event.  Both Inspire and AUB should be commended for supporting the exercise industry of Beirut in this way – ongoing education of this level is essential if the exercise industry is to progress forward and ultimately help increase physical activity levels in Lebanon,” said Richard Beddie, board’s chief of staff, International Confederation for Registers of Exercise Professionals (ICREPs).

The University Sports department – Office of Student Affairs​ started its partnership with Inspire Fitness Academy, an education partner of the American Council on Exercise, in 2017. Courses and workshops are hosted at AUB and offered to AUB students, alumni, and anyone in the community interested in becoming an internationally certified and qualified professional in the fitness industry.