Become an Exercise Referral Instructor

stethoscope on laptop
stethoscope on laptop

Make a Difference

The demand for exercise referral instructors has never been higher. Numerous organisations, ranging from the likes of the NHS to the World Health Organisation, claim that we are in midst of a ‘health epidemic’, with chronic illnesses and diseases consistently on the rise.

Exercise Referral Services

The role of an exercise referral instructor remains one of the most important in the industry. Those who pursue this career find it incredibly rewarding as they have the privilege and opportunity to positively improve the health of clients who need it the most.

Those who require exercise referral services can suffer from an array of conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. These conditions often produce serious symptoms so exercise programmes have to be specialised in order to improve a client’s health, functional ability and general wellbeing.

Clients in a referral scheme are often taking a lot of medication for their condition(s). Because of this, you will need to know how these medications will impact upon any exercise or activity that’s prescribed. Exercise referral instructors/consultants typically work in collaboration with GPs, cardiac specialists, and other healthcare professionals.

Referral schemes typically cater for these common medical conditions:

  • Asthma and COPD

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Parkinson's disease

  • Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

  • Obesity

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

  • Hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol)

  • Non-specific low back pain

  • Arthritis (RA and OA)

  • Osteoperosis

Requirements of an Exercise Referral Instructor

Above all else, exercise referral requires excellent communication skills, more so than any other position in the health and fitness industry. Many clients/patients will have a completely different lifestyle to yourself, so a professional, empathetic and non-judgemental approach is required at all times. It’s important you have a genuine passion for working with people and a desire to improve their health.

In order to practice as an exercise referral instructor, you must possess a Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral. This qualification is also mandatory for progressing to a Level 4 discipline (Low back pain, obesity, diabetes etc). Exercise referral also provides a useful addition to a personal trainer’s skill set, widening the range of clients they can work with.

GP with patient taking blood pressure
woman wearing boxing gloves in gym

Exercise Referral Employers

Those involved in exercise referral schemes are usually employed by:

  • NHS
  • Local authorities
  • Primary care trusts
  • Schools, colleges and universities
  • Self-employment
  • Private health clubs
  • Charitable trusts

Exercise Instructor Pay

Salaries can range significantly, starting at around £19,000 and can reach up to around £30,000. This varies dependant on the type of scheme, experience and qualifications. The average salary of someone with some experience is around £25,000.

In recent years there’s been a significant increase in the number of exercise referral vacancies, making a career in this role incredibly viable.


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