The Unique & Interesting Roles of ESSA

One thing that we have witnessed as ESSA and the industry has grown, especially over the last 5-10 years, is the variety of niche and interesting roles our exercise and sports science professionals are working in.

In the past, the majority of our professionals have worked in more traditional settings such as within private practice offering rebateable services. As the need for evidence-based exercise, physical activity and sporting prescriptions and programs has expanded across all aspects of life, this has seen new and exciting roles start to be filled by our members.

It is a testament to the role exercise plays across all workforce sectors and the need for an accredited exercise professional to deliver these health services.

Over the last 5 years, ESSA has interviewed exercise and sports science members who are working in unique roles for our digital magazine, MOVE. Here we have shared just a few of these here with you.
Caoimhe Scales, Accredited Exercise Physiologist – working with COVID-19 patients
As an AEP, Caoimhe has worked across a wide variety of pathology groups and settings, with roles in clinical practice, research, policy and teaching. During the COVID-19 response in NSW, Caoimhe worked full-time within the Sydney Local Health District (SLHD) Special Health Accommodation (COVID-19 Quarantine Hotels).

“I have enjoyed the challenge of working in the SLHD Special Health Accommodation during the COVID-19 response. Over the last six months I’ve been able to set up an exercise physiology service across our hotels, in addition to coordinating a research study that we are running onsite.

It has been very challenging at times, but I’ve enjoyed providing onsite exercise rehabilitation to patients recovering from COVID-19 and being able to provide exercise prescription and advice to help patients without COVID to manage their existing conditions, as well as to manage feelings of stress and anxiety during the quarantine period.”

Read the full interview from 2020 here.
Paul Cavendish, Accredited Exercise Physiologist – working with polio survivors
Australia was officially declared polio-free in 2000, but that doesn’t mean that the effects of the virus have disappeared in this country entirely. Paul Cavendish has worked with Polio Australia as a clinical health educator for health professionals.

“A person with a history of polio can be diagnosed after 15 years or more time of relative stability with Post-Polio Syndrome, a neurological diagnosis typically characterised by gradual or abrupt muscle weakness, increased fatigue, and pain. AEPs can play a crucial role for polio survivors. Exercise prescription needs to be based on a thorough history and consideration of co-morbidities as well as the polio history. As an AEP, we can assess strength via manual muscle testing, do a series of functional measures, and then creatively prescribe the right amount and type of exercise to avoid overloading joints and high fatigue levels while maintaining function.”

Read the full interview from 2018 here.
Stuart Noyce, Accredited Exercise Physiologist – teaching kids to ride a bike
Cyclabilities is a community-based (award-winning) allied therapy program which supports children with additional needs to learn to ride a bike. Stuart has been the leading Exercise Physiologist for Cyclabilities since the very beginning.

“The innate traits of an AEP include being a supportive, caring, enthusiastic and actively engaged participant in our client’s rehabilitation and these skills transfer seamlessly when teaching additional needs children. As an AEP, we all develop the ability to assess an individual’s physical capacity and help identify areas that need improvement and priority focus, while the exposure to multitude of clientele types ensures our problem solving, patience and communication skills can be utilised to assist individuals progressing at different rates.

By being able to provide suitable and individualised progressions to a cycling skill or activity, we empower individuals to continually develop their skills, attain gradual improvement and gain both the confidence and motivation to achieve their next goal. After being a part of this program for the past six years, there are so many positive stories and it has been extremely rewarding helping so many children learn how to ride a bike and develop their fundamental movement skills with confidence.”

Read the full interview from 2021 here.
Samuel Warrener, Accredited Exercise Physiologist – supporting online gamers  
Although Samuel has been working as an AEP for over 10 years, Sam’s latest and unique venture is Rehab Esports which combines online gaming and exercise physiology.

“Rehab Esports is a very exciting key into the gaming world which could greatly improve both performance and health of our new version of athletes. As such, I am expanding both the rehabilitation and performance gaming components.

I have dreams of working with eSports teams to help them win worldwide tournaments as well as hear of reports of gamers having the confidence and understanding to seek the advice of AEPs in regard to their health, postures and workstations.”

Read the full interview from 2021 here.
Glenn Phipps, Accredited Exercise Physiologist – working with blind surfers
Glenn is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Sports Scientist who accepted the role as Head Coach for the Australian Adaptive Surfing Team, after working over in the US with Matt Formston, a world champion surfer and Australian Paralympian in cycling who is also legally blind.

“When working with surfers in general, those that aren’t elite, they tend to think the only thing that improves surfing, is surfing. One aspect that has been great with Matt Formston has been checking out his on-water footage and dialling in on what components he feels he may be missing to access better technique. For example, upper body rotation has been an issue at times, and we also uncovered components of this in his gait pattern. Cleaning these things up has greatly improved his access to a better surfing technique.

Working with Matt has also been a great learning experience, as my verbal cues have to be on point. Thankfully, not only due to his visual loss, but also to his experience as a Paralympian, Matt’s body awareness is amazing, and it’s really helped to dial in the best way to coach him.”

Read the full interview from 2020 here.
Simone Conly, Accredited Exercise Physiologist – working in a fatigue clinic
The UNSW Fatigue Clinic is Australia’s only integrated centre of research and clinical service that provides evidence-based health care for people with fatigue conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), post-cancer fatigue (PCF) or post-infective fatigue syndrome (PIFS).

“My role as an AEP at the UNSW Fatigue Clinic here is quite unique. Sessions last between 45-60 minutes and cover everything from graded activity, graded exercise, sleeping patterns, mood, cognitive activities, planning of daily schedules, social activities, work, school schedules, etc. It is important to look at the person as a whole, including assessing both physical and cognitive activities since these can impact patient symptoms and function.

My job is to help patients establish a baseline level of activity, individualised to the patient, where daily tasks are managed without an exaggerated exacerbation in symptoms. As such, no two consults are the same.

As we know, exercise has its many benefits. Given the complexity of managing chronic fatigue, AEPs are crucial in delivering exercise prescription.”

Read the full interview from 2021 here.
Jessica Seymour, Accredited Exercise Physiologist – volunteering in Vanuatu
“When I first arrived in Vanuatu, gym was a new concept and exercise wasn’t encouraged, nor was the link between exercise and improved health really understood. During my volunteer assignment, we had about ten women come to the gym every day in their lunch break to exercise as well as some who came in the morning before work. There was also a group of young girls who began to come to the gym twice a week after school after hearing about it through their mum who worked there and regularly attended the gym herself.

It was a genuinely heart-warming feeling to see everyone improving not only physically with their strength and cardiovascular fitness but also growing in their confidence and watching them actively seek out challenges in their exercise routines.”

Read the full interview from 2019 here.

Supporting health through exercise for 30 years 

To celebrate 30 years of Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA), we are reflecting on 30 stories which commemorate the profound impact the exercise and sports science industry and its professionals have had on our communities, and how they have benefited the health landscape in Australia.

Click here to read more like this one