What is an Exercise Specialist?

Cassie L. Damewood

An exercise specialist is a person specially trained to identify specific physical health problems and advise on exercise techniques and routines to eradicate or reduce the causes and symptoms. His analysis normally entails reviewing a patient’s medical history and current general health condition along with their physical condition. Major medical issues or restrictions are of particular interest to the specialist. Using all this information, he is generally expected to determine which physical fitness tests to administer to assess what exercise program would be most beneficial to the patient.

Exercise specialists may recommend a specific set.
Exercise specialists may recommend a specific set.

After the tests are concluded, the specialist usually discusses the results with the client. He may recommend changing their fitness training regime to better benefit their physical condition. If no training program is in place, he normally recommends several exercise training options.

Specialists area trained in the field of exercise.
Specialists area trained in the field of exercise.

Once a training program is decided upon, an exercise specialist is commonly required to educate the person on how to use certain pieces of exercise equipment to achieve maximum results. At this point, he normally confers with the client on program guidelines as well as frequency and motion repetition options. If the client has questions or concerns, the specialist typically addresses them at this time.

Exercise specialists need to recognize the symptoms of health problems that can occur with strenuous exercise.
Exercise specialists need to recognize the symptoms of health problems that can occur with strenuous exercise.

If the exercise specialist works for an organization that focuses on group exercise programs and therapies, he may interview the participants and divide them into groups that share common health problems and improvement goals. This screening normally involves conducting a wide variety of fitness evaluations. Non-invasive cardiopulmonary testing may also be performed on the proposed participants.

The minimum educational requirement to be an exercise specialist is a bachelor’s degree.
The minimum educational requirement to be an exercise specialist is a bachelor’s degree.

Once the groups are divided into low, medium and high-risk sectors, the exercise specialist ordinarily develops programs and goals appropriate for each category. These typically include exercise progression plans designed to gradually increase exercise expectations as the program evolves. Both land- and water-based exercises are ordinarily included in the exercise regimens.

An exercise specialist may work with individuals who are dealing with chronic conditions.
An exercise specialist may work with individuals who are dealing with chronic conditions.

In addition to planning and administering exercise programs, an exercise specialist is usually required to educate the clients on reducing health risk factors. He regularly teaches them techniques to identify and relieve stress. He commonly discusses diet habits and recommends options for healthier eating.

Exercise specialists may have tips for getting the most out of a routine.
Exercise specialists may have tips for getting the most out of a routine.

An exercise specialist is normally required to be trained to quickly recognize health problems typically associated with strenuous exercise. These normally include heart failure, heat exhaustion or dehydration. He is traditionally trained in basic CPR and first aid procedures.

Exercise specialists can recommend different regimens depending on a person's fitness goals.
Exercise specialists can recommend different regimens depending on a person's fitness goals.

The minimum educational requirement for this position is a bachelor’s degree in exercise science or health and wellness promotion. Some facilities require a master’s degree in the same or similar fields. In some regions, additional certifications are required.

Exercise specialists may develop programs for people to follow as they attempt to lose weight.
Exercise specialists may develop programs for people to follow as they attempt to lose weight.

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Discussion Comments

Feryll

Sometimes, job titles in the health field confuse me. I have a friend who told me she had hired an exercise specialist to help her get into shape. She had diabetes (borderline diabetic) and getting her weight and eating habits under control could at anytime become a matter of life and death.

Anyway, the exercise specialist helped her map out a fitness plan, and he led her through physical fitness workouts. I later learned that the titles exercise specialist and personal trainer are virtually interchangeable. The greatest benefit for my friend was having someone to work one on one with her and keep her motivated to complete her exercise program.

Animandel

The duties of an exercise specialist and an exercise physiologist can be very similar depending on the facilities where they work. However, a certified exercise physiologist is required to complete more classroom hours than an exercise specialist. This additional time in the classroom is generally rewarded with a significantly higher salary.

As the last paragraph of this article pointed out, an exercise specialist is required to complete a four-year bachelor's program. An exercise physiologist needs the bachelor's degree and at least a master's degree. Some facilities require that people filling this position have a doctoral degree.

An exercise physiologist is also required to complete more practical training than an exercise specialist.

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