Difference Between an Exercise Physiologist a Personal Trainer and a Physiotherapist

Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs) are different from Personal Trainers. AEPs are allied-health professionals with Medicare Provider numbers and are trained members of the health and medical sector who focus on exercise for those with chronic (long term; generally greater that 6 weeks) conditions, whereas personal trainers are members of the sport and recreation sector and focus on strength and conditioning.

Exercise Physiologists can also work on the sport and recreational sector (Personal Training), utilising on medical/specialised education when implementing exercise programs for apparently healthy populations.

Physiotherapists deal mostly with acute (short term) musculoskeletal injuries, they use physical therapy to help manipulate and stretch muscles to help with acute inflammation and tightness from acute or repetitive strain injury. Techniques such as PNF stretching, manipulation, dry needling/acupuncture , trigger point release and TENs machine therapy are common practices whilst attending a physiotherapist.

Rehabilitation exercises are also prescribed to help with improving range of motion and decreasing pain, an Exercise Physiologist would come in after the acute pain has subsided and will work with clients to help continue their rehabilitation program to prevent recurrent injuries and transition clients back to their normal active lifestyles without the fear of further injury.

Exercise Physiologist

  • Allied Health Provider
  • 4 Year University Degree qualified and accredited with ESSA.
  • Specialise in graded exercise therapy and lifestyle interventions for persons at risk of developing, or with existing chronic (long term) and complex medical conditions and injuries (i.e. ‘specific populations’).

Personal Trainer

  • The Personal Fitness Trainer Qualification (Certificate 4) may be completed in less than 6 weeks of training.
  • Qualified and insured to design and deliver fitness programs to persons of low risk only (no injuries or health concerns i.e. ‘apparently healthy populations’).


  • Allied Health Provider
  • 4-5 year University Degree and qualified and accredited with APA
  • Specialise in physical therapy techniques to help reduce and rehabilitate acute (short term) muskuloskeletal pain and injury
  • Can diagnose injuries and conditions whereas a Exercise Physiologist cannot