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Exercise Referral Coordinator Job Description

Exercise Referral Coordinator Job Description

If you’re looking to learn about exercise referral coordinator job descriptions, chances are that you're a newly qualified referral specialist or someone who is thinking about getting qualified in this area. 

OriGym is here to help by offering an in-depth look at exercise referral job descriptions, as well as how to get started within the industry.

Contents:

Do you have a passion for helping others, and want to put this to good use? If so, check out OriGym’s Exercise Referral course, where you’ll learn from industry-leading professionals in order to develop the vital skills required to flourish within this job role. 

You can also download our FREE course prospectus, which will provide information relating to this and all other OriGym courses, so you can find the best pathway for you and your career.  

What is an Exercise Referral Coordinator?

An exercise referral, otherwise known as a GP referral, is the process of a medical or health professional referring a patient to a fitness program. Said referral will be specifically designed in order to treat the patients existing condition or injury. 

Typically, exercise referral coordinator job descriptions will highlight that the specialist will be working with clients who suffer from short and long-term conditions, all of which will greatly benefit from physical activity. 

These exercise referrals are more than just a simple recommendation and are to be treated in the same manner as a medical prescription. 

However, this form of treatment is not as general as medication which can treat multiple of the same cases. Instead, many exercise referral job descriptions will stress the importance of constructing specific routines for individual patients.

Learning how to construct said routines around a client’s individual needs is one of the key modules we teach in our Level 3 Exercise Referral qualification. If you’d like to learn more about this, we strongly encourage you to make an inquiry so that our team of career advisors can help you determine whether this qualification is best for you. 

Roles and Responsibilities of an Exercise Referral Coordinator

If you’d like more information regarding exercise referral job descriptions then this section will provide you with just that, as it will specifically look at the day-to-day responsibilities you can expect to occur when working in this role.

Note that this is a general breakdown of an exercise referral job description, differing employers and organisations may require you to take on more or fewer responsibilities.

 

#1 - Work Alongside Medical Professionals 

Medical/health care professionals are the coordinator’s partners in this working environment, and this relationship begins with the hiring process. 

When working in this specific profession the medical workers will typically be the employers who write the exercise referral coordinator job descriptions, whilst the coordinator will act as an employee of sorts. 

In this job role, one of the key responsibilities will be to maintain a good working relationship with these health care professionals. This is a vital necessity, as you will be spending a considerably large amount of time with them.

But how will this working relationship operate? Typically, the medical professional will refer a patient to an exercise referral coordinator with a detailed analysis of the patient's medical issue. 

From this point, the coordinator will design a workout routine that would benefit or cure the patient’s condition.

#2 - Developing a Beneficial Workout Routine 

When working as a referral specialist you will spend a large portion of your time coming up with the best possible physical treatment for your clients. This is why exercise referral coordinator job descriptions will place a great deal of importance on this responsibility.

Typically, the program you design will last for 8-12 weeks, but this can vary from patient to patient as some may require significantly more treatment than others. 

But how do you ensure that you’re designing an effective program?

There are several important steps that you must take before designing these routines, which are as follows: 

  • Personally assess a client’s health and fitness in order to gain a better understanding of their condition. This will allow you to determine any potential risks that could occur during the training program. 
  • Likewise, if you’re unfamiliar with a patient’s condition then you must do your own research prior to the initial meeting. 
  • Identify an appropriate end goal for the client, here you should also determine whether they are suited for long, medium or short-term treatment. 
  • Carry out regular check-up assessments in order to monitor how much progress the client has made. 

OriGym’s Level 3 Exercise Referral course will provide you with all the necessary skills needed to create these workout routines. Without this correct education, you will not know how to tailor a workout to meet a client’s condition. 

Within this particular job role, you absolutely must be receptive to a client's feedback and thoughts regarding their workout routine. If they feel as if something is not working in their favour or even worsening their condition then you must be able to take this on board, in order to tailor a new program around their needs. 

You will also be required to physically guide clients through each workout in the session. Keep this in mind when creating the routine, as you’ll need to assign something you can personally demonstrate too.

#3 - Motivate Your Clients 

Typically, exercise referral job descriptions will ignore this point in favour of placing a greater sense of importance on the previous two responsibilities. However, in a similar fashion to personal trainers, referral coaches must motivate their clients to meet their goals.

What's more, as a referral specialist, you will also be tasked with motivating your clients to continue this routine following the conclusion of your sessions. This is a vital necessity, as the continuation will ensure that the patient’s condition does not deteriorate or relapse. 

Many referral coaches will also work as personal trainers following the completion of courses such as our Level 3 PT qualification. However, motivating personal trainer clients is often significantly easier than those who have been referred to you by a healthcare professional. 

This is typically because PT clients are exercise enthusiasts who have sought you out of their own accord, compared to referral patients who are essentially being told to work with you. 

Additionally, referral clients have very little say in their goals, they are simply there in order to improve or cure their condition. Whereas PT clients are more likely to be motivated to meet goals they have personally selected, such as losing weight or gaining muscle mass. 

Whatsmore, referral clients may genuinely struggle with motivation due to their condition. These training sessions may be painful or uncomfortable for them to attend, so be sure to make these individuals feel as comfortable as possible in order to get the best results.

If you’re looking for ways to motivate your clients then why not take inspiration from online tools at your disposal. For great advice on how to keep your clients engaged with your sessions check out our list of the 37 best motivational podcasts.

#4  - Staying Up To Date 

This is another responsibility that often goes unmentioned in exercise referral coordinator job descriptions, however, staying up to date with medical and fitness advancements is a necessity for all aspiring specialists.

Ensuring that you have a good working relationship with the medical professionals will come in handy for this responsibility, as you can turn to them for help answering any questions relating to medical conditions or terminology.

This is a simple responsibility, however, it requires a great deal of effort on your behalf. In order to succeed in this role, you will need to have the dedicated passion to engage with multiple medical topics, all for the sake of your patients. 

These are the primary roles and responsibilities you can expect to perform when working as an exercise referral coordinator. Please remember, this section only provided a brief overview of this topic, different employers may prioritise one responsibility over the other and may even ask you to perform additional tasks too. 

Freelance vs Contracted Exercise Referral Coordinator

Whilst dissecting the topic of exercise referral coordinator job descriptions we felt it important to highlight the differences between freelance and contracted referral coordinators. 

Typically, both of these roles ask coordinators to perform the same responsibilities, so they don’t differ majorly in execution.

Freelance Coordinators 

Freelance exercise referral coordinating is a somewhat difficult industry to break into, as GPs and medical professionals will often contact coordinators who work for the same company or those who have close standing industry connections. 

However, this does not mean that it’s impossible to act in this role.

Freelance coordinators will have to establish their own industry connections,  this won’t come easily and may require previously working as a contracted referral coordinator or in other job roles such as personal trainers or massage therapist. 

Once you have gained some experience and connections under your belt you can then work as a freelancer, with either GP services or other health and fitness facilities. 

The biggest difference between this role and that of a contracted one is the hours worked. As a freelancer you will be in charge of your own working hours, adapting the rate to your preference and availability.

This in turn will have a knock-on effect on your overall earning potential, as working more than 40 hours a week will allow you to earn more money than most contracted coordinators. 

However, keep in mind that this role lacks financial assurance and may result in less money earned if you lack clients. 

Freelancers will still have to perform all the same roles as contracted employees such as designing workouts, staying up to date etc. Working in this role does not negate any of the information relating to exercise referral coordinators’ job descriptions that we have given in the section above.

Contracted Coordinators 

In terms of offering exercise referral coordinator job descriptions, we can provide a more detailed look at roles that are contracted, as they are clearly laid out on employment sites.

These job descriptions will clearly lay out your responsibilities in great detail, whilst also shedding light on what type of patients you’ll work with. 

Take this Indeed advertisement as seen above from Leigh, which clearly highlights the responsibilities of a Health & Exercise assistant working with the Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Contracted exercise referral job descriptions will seek to provide you with as much detail as possible, regarding factors such as the number of hours you will be working every week. 

When looking at contracted exercise referral coordinator job descriptions you will also be clearly shown your rate of pay. This will be a fixed contract guaranteeing that you will earn a set amount of money from working with the company.

When applying for any contracted position, we advise that you look for roles that provide a detailed exercise referral job description. Do not go into a contract blind, as this could lead to an imbalance of power with your employer and responsibilities that you are not qualified to execute.

What is The Expected Salary of an Exercise Referral Coordinator?

Now that we have covered an exercise referral coordinator job description in great detail we can now turn our attention to the expected salary of a referral coordinator. 

For some the rate of pay will be the most important factor of any exercise referral job description, but how much can you expect to earn? Well, that isn’t an easy question to answer, as there are many external factors which can influence your rate of pay. 

Freelancers 

As a freelancer, you are in charge of your own rate of pay, so it is somewhat difficult for us to offer a concise estimate of what you can expect to earn in this role. 

We strongly advise all newcomers to not overcharge when starting off their careers. Higher rates of pay are reserved for the coordinators who have years worth of experience either within this job role or in the wider fitness industry. 

Instead, we encourage you to get into contact with other freelancers and do your own market research, in order to determine an appropriate entry-level rate of pay. 

Contracted

Thanks to existing exercise referral coordinator job descriptions online it’s easier to estimate contracted salaries. When using job hunting sites the rate of pay should be clearly laid out for prospective employees to learn. 

Take a look at this Glassdoor advertisement for an exercise referral coordinator role within the NHS.

Here the exercise referral coordinator job description clearly lays out the expected rate of pay for a successful applicant.

Glassdoor also reports that the average rate of pay for a highly experienced exercise referral coordinator to be somewhere between £26-27K a year. But for more information relating to this topic, head over to OriGym’s article on exercise referral specialist salary

Skills Required To Become an Exercise Referral Coordinator 

Typically exercise referral coordinator job descriptions will also list key skills that an ideal candidate will have. This section is specifically dedicated to analysing what type of person employees are likely to prioritise during their hiring process.

#1 -  Strong Communication Skills 

When looking through exercise referral coordinator job descriptions you’ll notice an importance being placed on employers looking for effective communicators. 

When working in this particular job role you will need to be clear and concise with the way you interact with the patients. Many of the individuals who are referred to you will have no prior background in fitness, thus, they may require you to explain exercises in great detail. 

Whatsmore, you will need to provide a detailed explanation breaking down every stage of your proposed plan to the patient. This will require you to provide clarity on your choices and why they will benefit a client's overall health. 

However, communication is so much more than talking it also involves listening to clients too. In order to be effective in this area, you must be willing to hear any concerns a patient may have, before presenting them a potential solution to their issues. 

#2 - Teaching Ability 

This is another example of a skill that is stressed throughout exercise referral coordinator job descriptions, without a strong ability to teach, applying for the job is basically pointless as you simply won’t be suitable for the position. 

The vast majority of your clients in this job role will have no previous experience in fitness, it will therefore befall on you to teach them the basics. This will involve using physical demonstrations along with verbal queues of encouragement. 

However, the teaching does not stop once your client has left the class, as the way in which you motivate said clients will also reflect your personal teaching style.

As an exercise referral coordinator, your primary aim should be to ensure your clients remain motivated following the end of their classes. This will promote a positive change in their lives, allowing them to treat their conditions following the end of their tailored program.

If you’re looking to develop your own teaching skills then our Level 2 Fitness Instructor qualification is a great place to start. Here you will learn vital skills that you can take with you into every sector of the fitness industry.

#3 -  Willingness to Adapt 

This is a skill that you will typically see mentioned in relation to every role within the fitness industry, but how does it specifically apply to an exercise referral job description? 

Typically these job descriptions will stress that they are looking for someone who can think on their feet and adapt to any circumstance they may find themselves in.

Clients’ injuries may aggravate between sessions, or they may show significant signs of improvement. In both instances, an immediate change needs to be made in regards to their tailored routine. 

Alternatively, as an exercise referral coordinator, you may make miscalculations when preparing this tailored workout plan. As a result, your design may not work for the client in the way in which it was intended to.

In this instance, you need to quickly correct this mistake and ensure that your client is put back on the path of recovery. 

#4 - Patience 

When researching exercise referral job descriptions you will also see the word ‘patience’ frequently used. 

This usually refers to the client's lack of general experience within the field of fitness and exercise. You will need to be patient during the process of patients learning basic exercises, along with their tailored program. 

Whatsmore, these types of clients may lack motivation and as such you will need to have the patience to persevere with them. 

Giving up on these types of clients is simply not an option, as they depend on these referrals for their own personal health.

#5 - Positive Outlook

Exercise referral job descriptions will always mention something relating to positive mindsets. Employers want to make sure they’re receiving candidates who are outgoing and friendly, someone who can be more than a personal trainer to their potential clients.

Said individuals may be intimidated by their upcoming sessions and training program, they will therefore require all the positivity that they can get.

Your clients will feed off positive energy and in turn, feel more optimistic about the workout ahead.

In short, we can boil this essential skill down to having a passion for fitness and helping others. If both of these aspects interest you then you will radiate positivity in your work, inspiring all of your clients in the process. 

#6 - Creativity 

Designing tailored workout routines for countless individuals is no easy task, and in order to do so, you’re going to need to sharpen your creative skills. 

A creative mindset will help to engage the patient with their treatment as the workouts will be both fun and engaging, instead of repetitive and boring.

A creative mindset will also break up the monotonous routines of a coordinator’s day-to-day work. Whatsmore, it can also help you stand out to employers, who will view you as a unique hiring prospect for your out-of-the-box thinking.

These are just a few examples of skills that will help you to flourish within an exercise referral job. Note, many of these skills are somewhat universal and transferable to the majority of roles within the fitness sector. 

For further information relating to beneficial traits needed to find success in the health and fitness industry click here for our article on the 11 skills required to become a personal trainer

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Who Will You Treat as an Exercise Referral Coordinator?

When looking at various exercise referral coach job descriptions you may notice that the potential client pool differentiates depending on who you work for. 

If you work for a medical organisation such as the NHS then you will be faced with a variety of patients, with a multitude of health issues. However, if you work for a private health care professional then you may have to specialise in treating clients with specific conditions.

But what conditions can you expect to encounter when working as an exercise referral coach? 

Typically, the conditions you will be helping to treat will be:

  • Asthma 
  • Obesity 
  • High Blood Pressure 
  • High Cholesterol 
  • Type 1 Diabetes 
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Lower Back Problems 
  • Arthritis 
  • Osteoporosis 

Certain exercise referral coordinators’ job descriptions will stress that your role will also require you to work with those who are suffering from mental health issues too. 

This will usually refer to individuals with depression and anxiety, however, it does not limit potential patients to these conditions.  

Overall, we can say as an exercise referral coordinator you really have to be prepared to work with any type of client. This is why it’s so important to advance your knowledge of various conditions with the help of our Level 3 Exercise Referral Course

What Qualifications Are Needed to Become an Exercise Referral Coordinator?

As we have stated many times throughout this article, in order to become a qualified exercise referral coordinator you need to achieve your Level 3 OriGym certification in Exercise Referral. However, before you can gain this qualification you will need to enroll in a Level 2 Fitness Instructor course.

What is a Level 2 Fitness Instructor Course?

OriGym’s fitness and instructor course is available to any applicant above the age of 16, the best thing, you don’t even need previous qualifications to enroll. Think of this course as the first stepping stone on the path towards a career in fitness, as most of our courses require you to hold this.

Upon the completion of this specific course, you will have all the tools required to kick start your career in the rapidly evolving industry. Graduating isn’t even a time-consuming process as you can complete the course in as little as 2 weeks.

If you’re still unsure about whether this course is right for you, then it may interest you to know that you can study in a manner that is best suited to your schedule. 

You can either enroll in full-time practical enrollment, entirely online, or split part-time with 50/50 learning.

This certification is designed to teach you how to confidently work in a gym environment, it also includes a module that is designated to the design of workout routines for potential clients. 

Therefore, it’s of vital importance to achieving this qualification before enrolling in any further OriGym course. If you’d like more information relating to this specific course, check out our article which dissects the questions ‘what is a fitness instructor?’ here.

However, once this is achieved you can then progress onto our exercise referral coordinator course. 

What is a Level 3 Exercise Referral Course?

This CIMSPA accredited course is based entirely online with only one practical assessment. 

Our Exercise Referral course is specifically designed to provide you with more information relating to health and fitness, whilst further developing the skills acquired in your previous qualification. 

Specifically, this Level 3 course will focus on developing students' knowledge of long-term illnesses. Specifically, you will learn how to help patients recover and cope with chronic health issues in order to improve the well-being of their life. 

But what will you be learning in this particular course? This specific certification will be split into 4 modules and can be completed over the course of 8 weeks.

In order to discover whether this course is right for you we will break down each module here:

 

#1 - Professional Practice for Exercise Referral Instructors 

Think of this as the cornerstone of everything you need to know regarding exercise referral jobs. Here you will learn about the varying roles and responsibilities from our team of industry professionals. 

Remember, everyone is different and therefore there can be no one method of treatment, instead, with this module you will learn to tailor a session to meet a client's specific needs. 

This module will also provide you with information regarding the UK healthcare system, the proper process for GP referrals, and how to monitor and measure risks that could potentially aggravate a client's condition. 

#2 - Understanding Medical Conditions for Exercise Referrals 

If you’re intent on working in an exercise referral job role then you must develop a basic understanding of medical conditions. 

The knowledge acquired within this module will help make the referral process as smooth for clients as possible.

This course, in particular, will help to improve your understanding of a variety of conditions including:

  • Hypertension
  • Asthma
  • Obesity 
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic Obesity Pulmonary
  • Osteoarthritis 
  • Osteoporosis
  • Depression
  • General Anxiety Disorder

Having a basic understanding of these conditions will greatly benefit your overall performance in this job role. However, as an aspiring exercise referral coordinator, you should be constantly looking for ways to improve by building upon this knowledge in your own time.

#3 - Planning Exercise Referral program

Here you will learn how to tailor workout plans to meet your client's conditions, learning what routines will benefit their long-term health.

Additionally, this module will also hone your ability to offer support, guidance, and motivation to clients who may be struggling to adapt to their new routine. This will be achieved by focusing on safeguarding, promoting long-term behavioural changes, and setting SMART goals. 

#4 - Instructing Exercise with GP Referred Patients

This module is all about research and using pre-existing material to develop your understanding of the exercise referral job role. 

You will review various case studies, assignments, and examples of past referrals for GPs and other health services, in order to learn about the beneficial properties of setting your client's physical, nutritional and personal goals.

Assessments 

If you’re interested in pursuing this online course further you may be questioning how you will be assessed. 

Our assessment process for the Level 3 Exercise Referral course is rather straightforward as you will need to complete:

  • Multiple choice open book online exam on anatomy and physiology - 90% pass mark required
  • Multiple choice open book online paper on the application of nutrition - 90% pass mark required
  • Practical assessment on delivering a program for a patient of exercise referral

The practical assessment will be the only time where you will be required to attend a session in person. The other classes and assessments will be accessible to you via our state of the art e-learning platform, which is packed with useful resources such as:

  • E-Books
  • Online Lectures 
  • Quizzes
  • Videos
  • Exercise Library 
  • And 7 Day week support from our team of dedicated tutors 

However, please be aware that the vast majority of the theoretical assessments to appear on this course also appear on our Level 3 Personal Trainer certification too. If you have already obtained this qualification then you will be exempt from the theoretical tests

Specialist Qualifications That Will Benefit You In An Exercise Coordinator’s Job Role  

If you’re applying for exercise referral jobs then obtaining a specialist qualification will help you to stand out among other candidates, and will greatly increase your earning potential in the process. 

Additionally, these certifications will also provide you with a highly adaptable skill set that will greatly benefit the patients who are referred to your service. 

But what niche qualifications should you consider enrolling on?

#1 - Level 3 Sports Massage Therapy 

This OriGym course will teach you to treat and prevent injuries from occurring through the practice of sports massage. 

This skill will help you in an exercise referral job role as it provides training in rehabilitation and support for patients with physical and psychological conditions.

This particular course is studied through blended learning and will help to further develop your understanding of human anatomy and physiology, such as the theoretical knowledge surrounding soft tissue injuries. 

Whatsmore, you will attend practical group workshops where you will learn the physical aspects of massages.

Pairing your tailored workout plans with sports massage therapy will be highly beneficial to the patients referred to you, and by offering this practice you are likely to attract even more clients.

#2 - Level 4 Diabetes and Weight Control

If patients who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes are referred to your practice then holding this particular certification is guaranteed to benefit the service they receive. 

Here you will learn about the condition itself in greater detail, providing you with the necessary information required to plan exercise programs around the patient's requirements.

This OriGym course places a great sense of importance on understanding a patient's behaviour, in order to create a long-term treatment plan. We strive to provide you with the skills required to motivate your patients, to the extent where they will continue to practice their tailored program following the end of their referral.  

If you’re interested in working with a specific group of patients then we strongly recommend applying for our Level 4 diabetes and weight control course. 

#3 - Level 4 Lower Back Pain Management 

Back pain can be incredibly debilitating for many people, most of which seek out medical attention as a form of treatment. 

Pairing this course with your exercise referral coordinator qualification will allow you to work with specific individuals to create a workout plan which will benefit their current condition.

This particular course contains modules on how to develop and deliver workout plans specifically designed for those who suffer from lower back pain. 

This will directly benefit your job role as an exercise referral coordinator, as it will continue to build upon your pre-existing knowledge regarding the treatment of different injuries and conditions.

When looking at exercise referral job descriptions you will notice that many will ask for experts in common injuries, with lower back pain being a primary example that is often given. 

Instead of having a general understanding of how this condition operates, do yourself a favour and enroll on our course in order to stand out as an expert when applying for these job roles. 

#4 - Level 4 Advanced Sports Nutrition 

Developed by OirGym’s in-house nutrition experts, this course will be incredibly beneficial to anyone who is looking to apply for an exercise referral job. This course will help you to develop a better understanding of the relationship between food and exercise. 

Once this knowledge has been acquired you will be able to recommend a proposed diet plan to your patients, which they can pair with their tailored exercise regime. This is arguably the most beneficial qualification to pair with your exercise referral certificate, as it holds the potential to benefit a patient's health and fitness. 

For further information, click here for how to become a nutritionist without a degree.

FAQ

Can I Be An Exercise Referral Coordinator Online? 

Many of our readers will undoubtedly be familiar with online personal training, in which clients will virtually attend classes. This same approach to teaching can also be applied to exercise referrals too, and it is closely tied to the work of freelancers.

If you’re choosing to follow this career path you will be working in the same manner as you would be in person. However, the routines will often be simplified in order for clients to perform without your assistance.

Said routines will be highly detailed and delivered to clients through virtual meetings, which should take place as regularly as they would for in-person clients. 

What's more, clients who are referred to online classes won’t suffer from serious conditions that will greatly affect their ability to work out alone. 

Who Is The Average Referral Patient?

The short answer is that there isn’t a set type of patient that will be referred to your practice. Within this article, we have discussed at length that part of an exercise referral job description is a willingness to adapt to every client, and that is because no two clients will be the same.

Clients will have a variety of conditions and illnesses, all of which you must do proper research and assessments into in order to generate a tailored workout plan that will be of benefit to their health.

What's more, you could have two patients with identical conditions but different fitness levels. This will result in a similar training style but different approaches to the quantity and rate at which they’ll exercise for, e.g. one patient may be tasked with running for longer periods than the other.

Before You Go!

At OriGym we hope that our article has provided a better understanding of exercise referral coordinator’s job descriptions. By this point, we hope that we have made any newcomer's transition into the industry that much easier. 

Remember, the skills, salaries, and responsibilities we have mentioned within this article may vary from job to job. When applying for a vacancy you should always do your own research in order to assess whether the role is right for you.

Before you go, remember to sign up for OriGym’s Exercise Referral course if you’re interested in pursuing this career path further. Alternatively, you can make an enquiry with us to learn more about how this industry-leading course can benefit you.

You can also download our FREE comprehensive prospectus, which will provide information relating to this and all other OriGym courses, so you’re sure to find something that will interest you. 

Written by James Bickerstaff

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

James holds a BA (Hons) in Creative Writing and Film Studies and has recently gained a MA degree in Film, both of which he attained from Liverpool John Moores University. After taking up the couch to 5K challenge on a whim, James found a new passion for running, which he combines with his love for healthy cooking and writing. All of this led him to becoming a copywriter for OriGym.  

When he is not writing content for the site, James can be found researching new recipes, writing music reviews, reading and watching latest film releases.   

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