A Day in the Life of a Clinical Exercise Specialist

I get asked a lot about what exactly does a clinical exercise specialist do. I thought it would be fun to do a “day in the life” (and a What I Ate Wednesday) for me when I go to my second job (first job is Mama). I work at a hospital Monday, Wednesday and Friday in Cardiac Rehabilitation. This is a typical Monday for us.

I wake up naturally at a very early hour. Actually it’s 10 minutes earlier than usual. I quietly get dressed for a run, put my contacts in and brush my teeth. While I check my email, Facebook and blog, I do a dynamic warmup. Multitasking at it’s best.

headlamp - happyfitmama.com

I do an easy 4 miler, stretch a little afterwards and then hop in the shower. Thankfully the kids are still sleeping so Ron and I can both get ready for work with a little less chaos.

Kids are up! Ron gets them dressed while I continue to get myself dressed, make their breakfast and mine all at the same time. They come downstairs and I’ll eat breakfast with the kids. Today it’s Overnight Quinoa Oatmeal. Just need to heat it up and add toppings.

quinoa oatmeal breakfast - happyfitmama.comHugs and kisses around as Ron leaves for work and we finish breakfast.

Once breakfast is done it’s a mad dash to get out the door before 7. I linger a little longer at drop off today since its the kids first full day in a new room – the BIG KIDS room. Settled and happily playing, I dish out hugs and kisses and I’m out the door to work.

dayinthelife - happyfitmama.com7:30 -9:00 I’m at work. Catch up with my coworkers, find out if there are any new patients starting today and get the telemetry monitors ready for the first monitored class. From 8-9 I supervise an exercise class of patients who have not had a recent event like CABG (coronary artery bypass grafting), MI (myocardial infarction) or stenting. I lead a strength training session for a small group of patients while others workout on various pieces of cardio equipment (treadmill, bikes, elliptical, Nu-step, Rowers) partway through the class. At the end of class, I lead a cool down stretching session for all.

9:00-10:00 Phase II Outpatient class comes in. These are the patients who have had a recent event and are at various stages of recovery. There is a new patient starting today who is 5 weeks post CABG surgery. I hook him up to the telemetry monitor and get him started on the new patient paperwork. While he works on that, I help take the other patients initial blood pressures. In the meantime, the new patient completed his paperwork so I take his vital signs (blood pressure, HR, Oxygen Saturation) and explain the Six Minute Walk Test. When the walk test is completed, I do an orientation to the exercise equipment and the gym and discuss his exercise prescription. When the hour is up, I lead the class in a cool down stretch.

10:00-10:30 Short break between classes so I grab a snack (homemade dill pickles from a patient – yum! and unpictured Larabar) and stretch/browse Instagram.


10:30-11:30 Another Phase II Outpatient class. During this class I am at the telemetry desk inputting patient data and watching everyone’s EKG for abnormalities. Class went by fast with no problems! Always a good thing.

11:30-12:30 I head to my desk to catch up on paperwork, charts and planning education for the patients.

12:30-1:00 LUNCH!!  My coworkers and I head outside to enjoy some sunshine and fresh air.

lunch outside - happyfitmama.com

1:00-2:00 Another supervised exercise class arrives. I help take everyone’s resting blood pressures before sitting at my desk again for more paperwork.

2:00-3:00 Last Phase II Outpatient class of the day. More blood pressures, inputting patients workloads into handheld PDA as they change equipment. I start two patients on a strength training routine now that they are 8 weeks post surgery.

3:00-4:00 Last class of the day! More resting blood pressures at the beginning of class. I then enter patient charges for the day and catch up on more paperwork while supervising the class. Near the end of class, we do a round of resistance band exercises for the whole body followed by a cool down/stretch.

After the last class of the day leaves, I put equipment away for the night and am ready to leave to pick up the kids from school.

The kids had a great first day in their new classroom. We chat about the day on the ride home and discuss what to have for dinner.

sticker kids - happyfitmama.com

5:15-7:30 is a blur of dinner prep, eating, clean up, bath time and then finally up to bed for a story or two.

Black Bean Kale Wrap - happyfitmama.com

Ron usually comes home at some point during that whole blur. Once the kids are in bed, I respond to blog comments, emails and scroll through Facebook. By 8:30, I join Ron in the living room and talk about our day as I do core work and my physical therapy exercises. And because I’ve been up since zero dark thirty, I’m in bed at 9:30, zonked out.

There you have it – exciting stuff, huh? I should follow up with a typical “day in the life” of my other job – home with the kids. Which would be more thrilling? :)

43 comments on “A Day in the Life of a Clinical Exercise Specialist

  1. I had so much fun reading your take on WIAW this week. I don’t know how you do it all, but really give you the biggest credit I can for fitting it all into one day a couple times a week. Not only is your husband blessed to have such a terrific wife, your kids should be just as proud. You’re a rockstar!

  2. I’m tired just reading about all you pack into a day! But what a cool job you have, and an important one. I’d guess it’s very rewarding and that your patients appreciate all you do for them.

    And yep, that’s an early breakfast, which makes it hard to stretch to lunch! I am able to not eat breakfast until 8 or 8:30, so it makes that stretch much easier!
    misszippy1 recently posted..My snack-free lifeMy Profile

  3. It’s nice to know how other people’s day like. It’s great that you shared this. I always wonder how people can work, workout, run…be a mom, be a husband…and blog all at the same. I don’t have kids (yet) but I get overwhelmed with work and being a wife. What more if we have kids. You guys are super mom! Thanks for sharing. You are an inspiration! :)
    Ja @Ja on the RUN recently posted..Coast-to-Coast Trip Part 1: Orlando, FLMy Profile

    1. My education background is a BS in Exercise Science and certified through the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) as a Clinical Exercise Specialist. Usually those two are required for jobs in Cardiac/Pulmonary Rehab. I’ve seen a lot of recent job postings requiring a MS or years of experience too. Email me if you want any specifics.

  4. I was very interested to hear about your job. I am a RN, and I recently passed my Personal Trainer exam with ACE Fitness. I am looking for a job similar to yours, doing health and fitness teaching. Not sure how to go about it since I’ve been out of the workforce for a while now while staying home with my kids. Would love to use my nursing degree in a fitness related way!

    1. An RN is actually part of the cardiac rehab team. You’d be perfect! If you have any questions, feel free to email me and I’ll try to point you in the right direction. Good luck!

    1. Thanks! For core work – plank variations, foam roller stability exercises and other exercises for hip strengthening such as clamshells, leg lifts, leg extensions/flexion/abduction/adduction. Mostly exercises prescribed by my PT for my most recent injury.

  5. Pingback: A Day in the Life
      1. I don’t work in cardiac rehab but I’m looking into it as a career change for me and trying to find out as much as I can. I currently work as an elementary physical education teacher.

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