Most people are familiar with a Personal Trainer. From a professional standpoint, this is someone that is qualified by a Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training and is skilled in providing 1:1 fitness advice, training programmes and exercise supervision; either self employed or as part of a larger gym. However, there are restrictions on Personal Trainers working with clients that have certain prescribed medical conditions and therefore represent more risk than an otherwise healthy person exercising.

Whilst some Personal Trainers ignore this, they are in fact invalidating their insurance and their client may not be aware.

So what are these prescribed conditions? What is Exercise Referral? What should you know when seeking the services of a Personal Trainers.

Exercise Referral and occupational description

An Exercise Referral instructor’ role includes assessing pre-exercise readiness and designing, delivering, monitoring, adapting and tailoring exercise programmes for individual patients with one or more specific controlled medical conditions. They collect and interpret relevant patient information aiming to ensure safety and effectiveness of exercise programmes and actively encourage patients to adopt regular physical activity and active lifestyle, employing appropriate motivational strategies to achieve this.

The origins of this role was a Fitness Professional that worked as part of a multi-disciplinary health team and received patients referred by a GP. Provision of the fitness programme was then funded by the National Health Service (NHS) and therefore was effectively free at the point of need for the patient. Whilst this funding route can still exist, it is increasingly rare.

However the role of exercise in supporting patient with certain conditions such as Obesity and Diabetes remains very valid and increasingly needed. Therefore the need for Exercise Referral qualified specialists very much remains. Albeit that funding is now typically privately arranged by the client, in effect the same as private medical care.

It should be noted that GP consent and approval to the patient undertaking exercise must be sought by the patient PRIOR to embarking upon this.

Some clients that are not under specific clinical care, feel that employing an Exercise Referral specialist rather than a basic personal trainer is preferable as it gives them additional piece of mind regarding the advice they are receiving and the skills of the person that is supporting them.

Who should be using an Exercise Referral Specialist?

The Level 3 Exercise Referral Qualification covers a range of medical conditions and enables the individual to work with clients who are referred to exercise and within a low to moderate risk stratification.

Metabolic / Immunological
  • Obestity
  • Diabetes Type 1
  • Diabetes Type 2
Cardio & Respiratory
  • Hypertension
  • Hypercholesterolaemia
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Asthma
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoporisis
  • Simple mechanical back pain
  • Joint replacement
Mental Health
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • General Anxiety disorder

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