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Physiotherapist or Specialist Exercise Professional?

There are many common grounds found in both professions, the main one being the use of the same exercises. In this Blog I discuss the pros and cons of each profession, so that you can make an informed decision as to whom to seek help from. Of course you can visit both professionals, as we give help at different times of your rehabilitation. For example, a physiotherapist will help you in the first few weeks after leaving hospital, while the Specialist Exercise Professional will continue the good work of the physios, within a community setting, for as long as you require. We complement each other by working towards your final goal.



Great at musculoskeletal problems, sports injuries and general sprains & tears.

Hands on therapy available, but you may have to ask for this as their time is precious.

Set of exercises given to practise at home.

Free if you go via the NHS.

They can diagnose musculoskeletal problems.


Long waiting list on NHS, but this does depend on where you live in the UK. Some areas may not even have a waiting list. Maximum of approximately 6 sessions if 1-1 or 8-12 sessions if attending a class.

Expensive if you go privately.

egular physios know a little about everything. They are not routinely trained to specialise in one area. For example, if you attend a regular physio, post-stroke, you will receive generic exercises, not stroke specific exercises.

Physios have limited training in group management. They often require support via another professional such as an OT, to run such classes, or in some cases, they have very small participant numbers.

NHS physios may in certain instances (eg post Stroke) do home visits, but generally speaking they do not attend your house.

Specialist Exercise Professional


Specialist Exercise Professionals will take on clients for as long as THEY require our services.

Great at giving exercise prescriptions, but ONLY if they are trained to specialise in the specific medical problem.

Charges are between those of a regular physio and a Personal Trainer (privately). You may be fortunate to live in an area where the Instructor works alongside the local GP surgery, to provide this service. In this case there would be a minimal charge.

If the Instructor has specialised to Level 4, they will:

“know more about exercise….than the vast majority of GP’s, OT’s and physios” Fitpro magazine (winter 2018)

Sets of exercises given to practise at home, with bespoke grading to facilitate progress, plus these exercises will be specific and evidence-based for the medical condition.

Trained in class management and should be giving individual exercises within the class setting. We are trained to teach slightly larger groups and do not require another professional or “spotter” so long as we don’t have more than 8-10 clients, per session.

Classes are held within the community, therefore it takes away the “hospitalised or medicalised setting” which many folk hate.

If the Exercise Professional has the right qualifications, they are insured to do home visits. This allows the client to feel relaxed and “at home”, while allowing the Instructor to give bespoke exercise programming.

We are cheaper than a private physio.


No hands on! We are not allowed to touch the client, in any shape or form. However, we can use equipment to aid the exercises and in a small number of instances we do have to help the client - put their foot into the bike stirrup - for example.

Costs more than the free NHS service - we quite often loose folk because they are enticed by the free service.

However, in my experience once the physio sessions have come to an end, the client then finds themselves with no support and many return back to the Exercise Professional.

Exercise professionals can’t diagnose. If they suspect there is a problem our job is to re-direct them to their GP, physio or social care network.