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Often times I am asked what makes me (a medical exercise specialist) different from a personal trainer or a physical therapist. “They all help me get strong, right?” is the common sentiment. Yes, but not exactly. I want to share with you the roles of each person and pros/cons of seeing them.

Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)

CPTs help clients meet their wellness goal (e.g. loose/gain weight, improve flexibility, energy and strength)

When to see them: A CPT can teach clients proper technique and form, provide accountability to consistent exercise, and design a program that works exclusively for the client.

Pros: Helps clients overcome their fitness pitfalls in an encouraging and supportive environment.
Cons: No formal medical training and/or experience with those with medical conditions. In most cases, services are not insurance reimbursable.

Physical Therapist (PT)

When to see them: Upon discharge from a medical procedure (i.e. surgery) and/or as directed by a physician. They are licensed to use many modalities (e.g. heat, ice, electrical stimulation, exercise) to help patients recover from an acute injury.

Pros: PTs are licensed healthcare professionals. In most cases, services are insurance reimbursable.
Cons:Treatment is limited to the affected area. Insurance may not cover the services if the doctor did not write a prescription for the services.

Medical Exercise Specialist (MES)

The medical exercise specialist is the gray zone between the physical therapist and personal trainer. They have a base personal training knowledge but additional training in medical conditions (e.g. Diabetes, hypertension, and cancer) and injuries (e.g. broken bones and sprains). Their sole modality is exercise. Specialists help clients improve their mobility, function and strength.

When to see them:Upon discharge from medical care and/or does not have any injury or condition that prevents them from exercising.

Pros: Is able to quickly detect warning signs that may prompt the patient to return to the doctor/physical therapist for further medical care. In some cases, helps patients to manage their health condition without drugs or further medical treatment. Services may be insurance reimbursable.
Cons: Only able to use exercise as part of the treatment process.

I hope this helps you to decide which wellness professional to select. Are you looking for a MES? Send us a private message today!