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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is the difference between an exercise physiologist and a personal trainer?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 8


    Angela Jenkins (Daley)

    Exercise Physiologist, Personal Trainer

    I am a preventative health expert and presenter. My Career over the last 15 yearsI moved to Sydney for the Olympics and started my career … View Profile

    Exercise physiologists all have four-year university degrees, and
    they've completed 500 clinical hours, working with lots of conditions including healthy population, cardio-pulmonary, neuro-muscular, metabolic and
    muscular skeletal. There is no other profession that has this level of exercise education. Personal trainers, whilst there are varied qualifications the requirement is you only have to do a six-week course to get that accreditation, so there is a lot of difference in education. Exercise physiologists are also registered with Medicare and health funds, Veteran Affairs and work cover. So there's quite a significant difference between the two levels of qualification.

  • 3


    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    As Angela has stated, to be qualified as a personal trainer you only need a certificate III and IV from either TAFE or an accredited institute such as the Australian Institute of Fitness. These qualifications are often only of short duration (some 6-8 weeks) whilst a TAFE qualification can be up to a year. 

    An Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) has undergone 3 years of university training completing either a Bachelor of Science (Exercise and Sport Science) or an equivalent, PLUS a further year specialising in exercise science and rehabilitation for a total of 4 years. What makes an AEP different from a personal trainer is that they possess the knowledge and skills to safely teach and educate clients on the best fitness program for them. AEP's can also tailor specific plans to people who suffer from chronic diseases or who are recovering from an episode such as a heart attack. Personal trainers with just a certificate III and IV are not qualified to train these populations of people and must refer to an appropriate health professional.

    I hope this answers your question :)

  • 2


    Gaby Wolf

    Exercise Physiologist

    As an Exercise Physiologist, I specialise in improving the balance, mobility and quality of life of older adults through specific falls prevention exercises. I am … View Profile

    I agree with both Angela and Chris.

    To put it very simply, a Personal Trainer works with the HEALTHY population whereas Exercise Physiologists work with the UNHEALTHY population.

    That is why Exercise Physiologists are required to obtain 500 hours of practical experience and a university degree. 

  • 2


    Andrew Dowler

    Exercise Physiologist

    As an exercise physiologist i concentrate my practice on postural re-education, and orthopaedic rehabilitation delivering individualized exercise interventions for a wide range of conditions.Working closely … View Profile

    Good points from the above.

    Personal Trainers are a very important aspect in the health continuum, they keep people fit healthy and engaged in active lifestyle. An EP does this, and more.

    Exercise Physiologists work in a number of varied roles, including
    - hospital based outpatient departments delivering exercise interventions for a broad range of health conditions
    - high performance strength and conditioning at the elite level of sport.
     - private practice working in multidisciplinary clinics delivering exercise interventions
    - health and fitness as exercise professionals!- exercise science engaged in research and academic pursuit
    - occupational health and safety roles

    Exercise Physiologists work  within a wide range if health conditions, and can work with low, moderate and high risk clients (with appropriate medical screening)
    - musco - skeletal rehabilitation and exercise correction
    - neurological rehabilitation and gait education
    - metabolic disorders
    - cardio vascular disorders
    - chronic disease management
    - functional exercise prescription and postural education
    - apparently healthy populations

    A  personal trainer is involved  primarily in fitness for the low risk, apparently healthy client. There are some qualifications at a Diploma level that allow a personal trainer to work with stable, moderate risk clients (with Appropriate medical clearance), but do not have the in-depth training that an EP does at a post graduate level.


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