Six top tips to success from an Exercise Physiologist student

I’m here to offer you a HUGE chunk of free advice surrounding the world of exercise and health care, how to tackle university and the workplace head on, and a few super crucial gold nuggets I’ve picked up along the way that would’ve made my life a little bit easier if someone had so kindly written this article for me when I finished school.

Top Tip 1: You can’t put a price on health. The way I see it, everything in everyone’s life stems from the state of their being. If that’s their actions, their temper, their acceptance or denial, their focus, their libido, their mood, their playfulness or their patience, it starts with their health: their tiredness, the diseases they’re battling, their body shape, their strength, their mobility, how alert they are, their resilience, their injuries - ALL OF IT. Take half a look around you and you’ll see that unhealthy lifestyles are a rapidly growing epidemic of the world, and I truly believe that being given the ability to alter people’s lives as drastically as we can as exercise physiologists (EP) is the greatest gift of all. I can’t hand you a graduation certificate, but if you’re planning on helping people for a living and working as any sort of integrator of health, read on.

Top Tip 2: People don’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care. I work as an exercise physiologist and performance coach at a studio in Milton called Cutting Edge Performance Centre. I can speak through experience when I say that becoming part of clients’ lives is one of the best parts of this profession. As an EP I get to be a part of daily catch-ups, messaging, celebrations of progress, breakthroughs, plateaus, pitfalls and personal bests for dozens of people every week. It’s as much heart-warming as it is affirming in that I’ve chosen the right degree that allows me to step past barriers that you can’t step past with a lot of other degrees. Being an EP allows me to have quite a personal relationship with my clients. I can put myself side-by-side with each one of them as we work together through their efforts and through their struggles, and that’s where the real difference is made. Being someone who is intertwined in my clients’ lives, providing instantaneous guidance and advice to make their lives better than they were yesterday – that right there is what I live for.

Top Tip 3: You can’t put a price on it, but you can define a principle contributor towards health: EXERCISE. Lifestyle interventions need to be prioritised in this world of growing disease, obesity and injury. The sooner you realise that and the importance of the work we’re doing here, the better. Every single client that we see, we can make a tangible difference in their life. Every client, group or audience that we can educate edges this world closer and closer to a world that believes in lifestyle interventions as an avenue of rehabilitation and disease prevention. Get your educated message out there in any way that you can ASAP, and tell people about the cheapest, most effective and available medicine that exists on this planet: exercise. 

Top Tip 4: Keep your brain open and your ears unplugged. I can reflect on some of the courses I completed during university and admit that I didn’t really know what I was learning until a few years down the track. I need you to note that it’s incredibly important to keep learning not simply to pass your end of semester exams, but for the sake of the future application of this information. Dig into that passion that drew you into this degree every day of every week and appreciate what you’re learning because one day everything that has come into those ears of yours has to be communicated from your lips or your pen tip to those in need. Keep your humility close by and seek answers and clarification whenever you need it. Have the confidence to ask questions and don’t sit in the back row pretending that you don’t have them out of your own insecurities or your urge to not stand out. University is an incredible opportunity for growth, but a lot of these opportunities can be glazed over or missed if not approached intelligently.

Top Tip 5: I was recently enlightened by the fact that this line of business is much more of a people business than it is a science business. By this I mean that it is extremely important to build your foundation of clinical, anatomical, physiological and health promotional education through university, and to also not let go of being a lifelong student. However, in order to be able to preach the gospel of movement, you need to be able to confidently and efficiently TALK TO PEOPLE. You need to get them to listen to you, to trust you, and to follow you if you want to make a difference. I found that this was something that wasn’t taught as much in classes (although small psychology lessons are scattered throughout, you just have to know what you’re looking for), but in university practicums you will learn communication skills and how to deal with relationships. You have to take every opportunity you can get with your peers, your supervisors and your clients, be eager to learn and, here’s the kicker, put yourself well out of your comfort zone, often. The sooner you realise the importance of that, the sooner you can stop robotically throwing skills you’ve studied for at conditions you come across, and rather start treating your clients for who they are and start passing your knowledge on like an educated human with empathy, passion and individualisation.

Top Tip 6: Love what you do. With the adaptability and methodical critical thinking that is fostered at UQ, we as EPs are given the range to work with any individual that we come across. Working as an EP now, I take pride in myself and my work as I can empower and inspire everyone that I meet. I can apply the skills that I have developed internally at university, my practicum experiences and externally through my own work and other educators to change lives through creative solutions. There is an almost indescribable euphoric feeling that flows through your whole body when re-assessing clients and uncovering objective improvements in their functionality and consequentially their quality of life. Ask around and you’ll soon discover that most of the students in the Health and Behavioural Sciences faculty are in this field to help people. Exercise physiology is about using the power of exercise as medicine. That might be a cliché but it’s a cliché for a reason. I’m doing everything in my power to passionately help the world age better through the medicine of movement. With the opportunity to become an EP at your fingertips, I hope that one day you can do the same.

Last updated:
22 May 2019