What is the difference between An Exercise Physiologist & Personal Trainer?

Exercise Physiology Camberwell

What is the difference between An Exercise Physiologist & Personal Trainer?

At Upwell Health Collective, we know that regular movement is paramount to helping you reach your potential – but what if you have an existing injury or medical condition?

Exercise Physiology is the science of ensuring that physical activity is not only safe, but immensely beneficial for your health. It’s a rapidly expanding industry, but commonly we get asked the question: What’s the difference between an Exercise Physiologist and a Personal Trainer”?

Both professions have a common goal of getting you active and helping you reach your goals, but here are five reasons why you should visit an Exercise Physiologist for your unique health needs:

  1. Qualifications: Exercise Physiologists are required to complete a minimum of four years at university, at both a graduate (Bachelor) and post-graduate (Masters) level. This provides qualification as both an Accredited Exercise Scientist, and then an Accredited Exercise Physiologist with the national regulatory body ESSA (Exercise and Sport Science Australia). By completing extensive study and over 500 hours of placement, Exercise Physiologists possess in-depth knowledge of the human body and how it responds to exercise.In contrast, Personal Trainers are required to complete certificate level education which can range from two weeks to twelve months in order to become qualified, including 50 hours of experience with healthy populations only.
  2. Scope of Practice: Personal Trainers are well equipped to prescribe exercise for ‘healthy populations’, assisting those without medical conditions or injuries to stay fit and well through movement.Exercise Physiologists are also able to see this population, as well as meeting the needs of those with musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiovascular, mental health, cancer and metabolic conditions. If you currently have a health concern which fits in to those categories, your exercise and lifestyle advice should be coming from someone who is qualified to manage them.
  1. Collaboration: The ability of different health professionals to work together results in the best possible outcomes for you. Seeing an Exercise Physiologist will ensure that the other members of your healthcare team (doctors, specialists, surgeons, allied health) are notified of your assessment findings and progress along the way. Because Exercise Physiology is a recognised allied health profession, you may also be eligible for Medicare and private health rebates.
  2. The Psychology of Exercise: Not only do Exercise Physiologists know what exercises will work best for you, they also possess the knowledge and understanding to raise your motivation and help you stick with it. These skills have been developed through specific units at university, as well as hours of placement and experience in the field. Instead of receiving a stock standard program, your Exercise Physiologist will spend time exploring your goals and values to devise a routine which works with your life. By performing a thorough initial assessment and then checking in with this on a regular basis, you will be able to clearly track improvements and set new goals as they arise.
  1. Ongoing Education: Just like any profession, Exercise Physiologists are required to comply with accreditation requirements and accumulate Continuing Professional Development points – ensuring that prescribed exercise is always guided by the latest research. Exercise Physiologists have to accrue 20 points each year, whereas Personal Trainers are able to obtain 20 points over a two-year period. This means that each year, your Exercise Physiologist can undertake extra study in Pilates, yoga, strength and conditioning, back pain management, goal setting, chronic pain, fatigue… the possibilities are endless!


If you have a condition or injury which would benefit from physical activity, but you aren’t sure where to start, an Exercise Physiologist is the right health professional for you. Click on the names to learn more about our amazing Exercises Physiologists Jennifer Smallridge & Hannah Dower.

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