Alexis Batrakoulis, Ph.D., ACSM-EP, ACSM-CPT, EIM-II, has been named ACSM's Certified Professional of the Year for 2022. ACSM's Committee for Certification and Registry Boards and ACSM's Health & Fitness Summit Program Committee developed the Certified Professional of the Year award in 2021 to recognize an outstanding ACSM certified professional for their dedication and exceptional contributions toward enhancing the health and wellness of individuals in their community.
Involved in the health and fitness industry since 1995, Alexis currently works as an adjunct lecturer, personal trainer, and fitness educator presenting in more than 40 countries across five continents and is based in Greece. Alexis is the founder of the International Obesity Exercise Training Institute, teaching internationally approved continuing education courses on exercise and health for fitness professionals around the globe. His primary research interests focus on the study of hybrid-type, multicomponent interval training in obesity.
“Alexis' commitment to promoting fitness in the global space is unparalleled. As an exercise professional he has touched countless lives by providing individual training, delivering educational presentations for his peers, and conducting academic research, furthering our understanding of the acute and chronic effects of physical activity and exercise,” said Christie Ward-Ritacco, Ph.D., ACSM-EP, EIM-II, chair of the ACSM's Certification Board. “There are few individuals in the field who have substantial experience in all of these areas and Alexis is a global leader and champion for the field of exercise science.”
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BEGIN YOUR CAREER IN HEALTH AND FITNESS?
For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for sports, exercise, and an active lifestyle. Thus, I decided to turn my passion into my profession. The first step in that direction was to earn a bachelor's degree in Physical Education and Sports Sciences beginning my studies in 1993. I always believed that academic education is the strongest pillar of a successful career in the industry. However, I also put a lot of effort into attending various professional seminars both domestically and internationally learning from the best in the field and aiming to bridge the gap between science and practical application. I will never forget my impressions when I visited the United States for the first time as a student in the summer 1996 to attend a fitness convention. It was an experience of a lifetime and gave me the opportunity to interact with and learn from exercise professionals from around the globe. But most importantly, I realized how vibrant and competitive the health and fitness industry is and how many opportunities for growth, innovation, and excellence are offered within this occupational sector.
WHAT DOES WINNING ACSM'S CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR AWARD FOR 2022 MEAN TO YOU?
Any industry award is a huge honor, and each one has a significant value for the recipient. But this particular award is clearly the greatest accomplishment of my professional career given that ACSM is the global authority on sports medicine and exercise science engaging top-level academics, researchers, and practitioners. I am extremely excited about this tremendous recognition. Being selected among thousands of dedicated ACSM certified professionals involved in the group fitness, personal training, exercise physiology, and clinical exercise physiology fields is something really special. This honor recognizes the work I have done as an exercise professional and fitness educator for the past 27 years internationally. As the recipient of this prestigious industry award, I can confirm that nothing is impossible if you follow your dreams and stay connected with your vision, mission, and goals.
HOW DO YOU PLAN TO USE THE ACSM CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR RECOGNITION TO BE AN AMBASSADOR FOR ACSM AND THE COMMUNITY YOU SERVE?
As ACSM's Certified Professional of the Year, I plan to be an ambassador of the organization, representing ACSM's mission and vision globally. I hope to raise the bar in the industry by spreading the message that fitness and exercise services should ideally be offered by practitioners demonstrating a robust academic background and professional credentials in personal training and/or clinical exercise. My primary goal is the elevation of our profession by disseminating the message that ACSM is the leading educational organization setting the standards in exercise training for apparently healthy populations as well as those impacted by chronic diseases. Highlighting the key role of education, certification, and lifelong learning in supporting public health not only in the United States but also worldwide is a productive approach for encouraging excellence, extroversion, and international collaboration.
ACSM is a globally recognized organization, especially among those in academia, but not necessarily in commercial fitness within multifaceted, challenging, and emerging markets such as Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. As ACSM's Certified Professional of the Year, I plan to promote the vision, mission, and goals of the College to those vibrant markets that demonstrate excellent potential, aiming to expand ACSM's activities around the world.
With physical inactivity and obesity becoming two of the most challenging global public health issues of our century, I will also try to spread the message that the health and fitness industry is currently facing a changing landscape due to those two epidemics. I would like to see ACSM work to provide research-based exercise training recommendations for the masses.
REFLECTING ON ACSM'S MOTTO OF “LEADING THE WAY,” DESCRIBE HOW YOUR ACSM CERTIFICATIONS HAVE HELPED YOU ACCOMPLISH YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS
Holding several ACSM certifications (ACSM-EP, ACSM-CPT, EIM-II) and working as a practitioner as well as an educator at both vocational and academic levels, I can confirm that my professional credentials have been valuable tools for helping me make a real difference in the health and fitness industry. More specifically, ACSM's certifications have been a great support for taking my knowledge and skills to new heights while providing me with an exceptional recognition as a member of a community considered to be the global authority on sports medicine and exercise science.
Working as a personal trainer, exercise physiologist, educator, subject matter expert, author, and speaker worldwide, my primary professional goal is the integration of research and practice into the real world aiming to support general and clinical populations. I strongly believe that ACSM offers excellent opportunities and resources to its members and certified professionals who seek to implement evidence-based exercise strategies for various populations while emphasizing the value of an active lifestyle to the masses.
ACSM has influenced my career in many ways. I have always believed that the only way to make a difference in the field and in the classroom is to learn from the best. ACSM has provided a unique path for excellence and innovation through its certifications, journals, continuing education resources, and top-level conferences. As a young investigator and adjunct lecturer in academia, I can verify that ACSM's certifications are considered the most credible professional credentials among my peers. As an international presenter and fitness educator having the opportunity to interact with thousands of colleagues globally, I have found this credibility to be crucial for networking, leadership, and innovation in the health/fitness industry, academia, and community.
HOW DO YOU PURSUE PROFESSIONAL GROWTH?
Over the past 27 years, I have learned through a broad spectrum of activities and roles within the health and fitness industry that the critical difference between top- and mid-level exercise professionals is top-level exercise professionals are always lifelong learners who stay hungry and humble. Thus, I have been trying to equip myself with the most robust academic and professional credentials to raise the bar and elevate our profession worldwide. Such a combination is missing among fitness professionals, and from my perspective, self-improvement and professional development have no limits. I really enjoy learning new things and am constantly seeking out new learning opportunities aiming to develop a competitive portfolio of knowledge and skills to help me adapt to the ever-changing industry landscape as well as to overcome potential barriers or insecurities.
Considering that exercise can change lives and create appropriate mindsets aiming to fight against the most prevalent lifestyle-related chronic diseases, my vision is to teach and prepare clients and prospective exercise specialists on how to blend evidence-based practices and appropriate behavior change strategies to make a real difference in the field.
This year's applicants were narrowed down to three finalists before Alexis was named the winner during ACSM's International Health & Fitness Summit. The other two finalists for 2022 are as follows:
Robert Berry, M.S., ACSM-CEP, EIM-III, is a master's prepared clinical exercise physiologist (CEP) earning his graduate degree in Health Promotion and Education from the University of Pittsburgh in 1999. He obtained his ACSM-CEP certification in 1999 and his ACSM-RCEP certification in 2005. Robert has more than 20 years of experience in cardiac rehabilitation (CR) and is the clinical coordinator of Cardiac Rehabilitation for Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, where he designed and implemented the first telehealth CR program in the United States to be reimbursed by a third-party payer. He is passionate about increasing participation rates in CR by using alternative delivery strategies. Robert has delivered multiple presentations on telehealth CR at regional and national meetings and has authored or coauthored 11 peer reviewed publications. He is active in several professional organizations having held leadership positions at both local and national levels. He served as president of the Clinical Exercise Physiology Association, an ACSM affiliate, in 2013. Robert's service to ACSM includes serving on the (CEP) Certification subcommittee the Clinical Exam Development Team, and he currently chairs the Billing and Coding subcommittee of the ACSM-CEP Reimbursement Task Force. Outside of work, he is an avid mountain biker and lifelong martial artist.
Tracy Deborde, ACSM-CPT, is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer® and holds additional certifications in sports conditioning and nutrition, as well as in women's fitness from adolescence through menopause. She has earned a bachelor's degree in health sciences with additional education in public health and kinesiology. Tracy uses an evidence-based approach acquired from her multiple certifications along with her continuing education to progress her mission of promoting generational health within the communities she serves. Her goal is to instill a love for fitness and health in her clients as early as possible to create a healthy society.
“With the presentation of the 2022 ACSM Certified Professional of the Year award, the ACSM Certification Board continues to recognize outstanding ACSM certified professionals who are making significant changes in their communities through exercise. The selection committee was thoroughly impressed with the achievements of this year's applicants and appreciate the opportunity to highlight the tremendous work being done with ACSM Certified Professionals,” said Christie.
Applicants for ACSM's Certified Professional of the Year must hold a current ACSM certification and work at least 20 hours per week as an exercise professional. The winner receives a complimentary registration to ACSM's International Health & Fitness Summit, a complimentary one-year ACSM Alliance membership, an opportunity to serve as an ACSM media spokesperson, and more. To learn more about ACSM's Certified Professional of the Year, visit https://www.acsm.org/get-stay-certified/certpro-award.