Differentiating CKA/Kinesiology from CSEP/Exercise Physiology

The Canadian Kinesiology Alliance (CKA) and the Provincial Kinesiology Associations (PKAs) understand how confusing it may be to try to differentiate between the services of kinesiology, the CKA and exercise physiology and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP). This document attempts to explain the differences in scope, insurance and benefits of each of these associations. See below for answers to frequently asked questions:

  1. How do CKA and CSEP organizations compare?
  2. If I am a kinesiologist with the CKA do I have to maintain my CSEP certification? Do I have to pay double contribution: membership fees, insurance fees, etc.?
  3. What is the difference in scope of practice? Why does CSEP not cover the entire scope of Kinesiology?
  4. What is the difference in Professional Liability Insurance (PLI)? Does CKA/PKA insurance fully cover you?
  5. As a CKA Kinesiologist can I work with the same clientele as a CSEP CEP? Will my professional judgment as a CEP be lost if I do not renew my certification?
  6. What are the benefits to becoming member of PKA/CKA?


Without prejudice               Updated : 2020-03-23
Disclosure: Currently the practice of kinesiology varies from one province to another. The information in this document may differ and not correspond with the provincial legislation. The main purpose of this document is to present the current portrait of kinesiology (definitions, fields of practice, acts, etc.) across Canada, with information regarding resources in the various fields of kinesiology, practical tools, the extent of its scope of practice and other potentially useful documents. This document is in perpetual revision as per the evolution of the practice of kinesiology in Canada. The CKA / ACK will not be held responsible for any consequences or damages that may occur as a result of the use, misuse, misinterpretation or abuse of the information found on its website. We emphasize that the aim of this document is to help guide you. Should anyone require guidance in interpreting any of the provided information, they should seek the advice of their provincial kinesiology association

  1. How do CKA and CSEP organizations compare?

The CKA is a non-profit corporation that advocates and promotes the advancement of the profession of kinesiology in Canada. Kinesiologists provide services to improve human movement and deliver quality solutions through prevention, objective assessment, and evidence-based interventions.

On a national level, the CKA represents nine (9) provincial kinesiology associations (PKAs), and over 4,200 affiliated Kinesiologists, by developing progressive partnerships with other national organizations, providing support to effect positive change within government and public policy, and by promoting the science of Kinesiology. The CKA advances the PKAs by facilitating national and interprovincial communication/partnerships and by supporting and encouraging ongoing development of PKAs. The CKA establishes and promotes the standards of the Kinesiology profession across Canada. Note: In the province of Ontario the standards of kinesiology are government regulated.

The CKA, through its mission to be the voice of Kinesiologists, has successfully played a key role in increasing awareness of the kinesiology profession across Canada to the point of becoming the reference for lawmakers, and other health professionals. Kinesiology is a health profession while Clinical Exercise Physiologist (CEP) is a certification granted by CSEP. Kinesiologists are regulated health professionals in Ontario while other provinces are in the process of becoming regulated.  CSEP is a self-governed organization that certifies Exercise Physiologists (EPs). The CKA cannot merge with CSEP as the fundamental purposes are different: one is for a profession, the other for a certification.

A CKA kinesiologist, and a CEP, require a minimum of a 4 year kinesiology degree. Kinesiology is the study of the dynamics of human movement, including all the components involved (anatomical, physiological, neurological, biochemical, biomechanical, neuromotor, psychological), as we interact with our environment. Kinesiology is also defined as human kinetics or the scientific study of how we move. Kinesiologists provide services to improve human movement and deliver quality solutions through prevention, objective assessment, and evidence-based interventions. The CKA is focused on advancing the profession of kinesiology. CSEP focusses on exercise physiology which is one of many valuable fields of study and practices of kinesiology. Thus, CSEP are not focused on the aspirations of Kinesiologists but only that field.

The CKA refers to exercise physiology as a specific field of study within the practice of kinesiology (and not as a specialization) because the College of Kinesiology of Ontario (CKO) does not recognize any specializations at this time due to the fact that kinesiology has a diverse scope of practice. For this same reason, it becomes obvious that CSEP and CKA cannot merge; as their mission is different because one represents a profession, and the other provides a certification.

We prefer to refer to exercise physiology as a specific field of study and practice of kinesiology and not as a specialization because, in regulated provinces, consideration of specializations has been rejected. For example, the College of Kinesiologists of Ontario (CKO), to our knowledge, does not recognize any specializations at this time due to the fact that kinesiology has a diverse scope of practice by nature.

As you know, kinesiology is legislated in some provinces and in others, the process has begun. In this process, it was/is highlighted by lawmakers that the CKA/PKAs must no longer maintain close ties with an organization such as the CSEP which also certify candidates who have no training in kinesiology yet are performing acts of kinesiology. They can form a partnership to raise awareness of kinesiology but without governance ties.

Also, as stated by lawmakers, a regulated health profession must rely clinical reasoning and judgment. Universities design their curriculum to meet the requirements of the regulatory bodies to teach Kinesiology skills and this clinical reasoning, in each province in order to ensure the health and safety of the Canadian Public. Kinesiology skills cover the entire scope of practice rather than just one field of study such as with CSEP. Kinesiology curriculum changes are made in consultation with PKAs, and the CKA, in order to meet the needs of the Canadian public.

In order to follow best practices, and ensure current methodology, CKA kinesiologists and CSEP CEP’s similarly require a number of continuing education credits to maintain good standing with their association. To maintain membership in CKA, and CSEP, members must achieve continuing education credits, and professional insurance.

You will understand that the CKA/PKAs must be irreproachable in the eyes of the law-makers with regard to its similarities, procedures and affiliations if it wishes to be recognized as health professionals and to advance the profession.

Furthermore, CSEP Board of Directors has announced that CSEP has dissociated from EIMC. They found it was no longer possible to hold the National Center License signed in 2012 with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). As mentioned, EIMC is no longer functioning with CSEP as the host organization. EIMC has decided to move forward as a non-profit organization and are now dissociated from CSEP. Many of the provincial chapters of CSEP are no longer active in many provinces where they were in the past, and are still not active in other provinces.

  1. If I am a Kinesiologist with the CKA, do I have to maintain my CSEP certification? Do I have to pay double contribution: membership fees, insurance fees, etc.?

Membership with a Provincial Kinesiology Association (PKA), or as an individual member with the Canadian Kinesiology Alliance (CKA), not only constitutes an affiliation of great value, but is also recognized by other healthcare providers, insurers and lawmakers within your professional practice as a Kinesiologist.

The CSEP Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) and Clinical Exercise Physiologist (CEP), although an asset in your professional practice, are fields of study that are already part of university training within a Bachelor of Kinesiology. It may not be necessary to maintain certification, but rather to update this type of knowledge through continuous training.

In some provinces, some employers have determined that obtaining and maintaining the CEP certification is a prerequisite for employment. Students can satisfy this requirement with proof of passing the CEP exam within their Bachelor of Kinesiology degree. Saskatchewan is the only province where the Workers’ Compensation Board makes it mandatory for “Exercise Therapists” to have a CSEP certification. Employers are now learning about the benefits of hiring Kinesiologists to perform this type of rehabilitation work. The CKA is actively advocating and promoting Kinesiologists in this area to educate employers that it is not necessary for employers to require the CEP certification of its employees.

Kinesiologists do not have to pay both CKA and CSEP memberships if they want to practice as a Kinesiologist. A Kinesiologist who is affiliated with the CKA and its PKA has mandatory insurance that covers the entire scope of practice of kinesiology. As a Kinesiologist in good standing, you already have the necessary education in exercise physiology, and do not need to maintain a CSEP certification as well. For more information on a Kinesiologist’s scope of practice and insurance, see the questions below.

  1. What is the difference in scope of practice? Why does CSEP not cover the entire scope of Kinesiology?

A CKA affiliated Kinesiologist must have studied exercise physiology to achieve their Kinesiology degree, and to register with their PKA and the CKA. Exercise physiology is a field of study within Kinesiology similar to biomechanics, motor planning, anatomy, etc. One may say that Exercise Physiologists (EPs) are specialized Kinesiologists (Kins) that do not perform the entire scope of practice of a Kinesiologist. Kinesiologists may act as EPs yet can perform more because of an extended scope of practice. See here the similarities: EIMC Designation Kins vs. CSEP

Exercise Physiology is only one part of Kinesiology. EPs are praticing in that said field, often more active into research than practice depending on provinces. We recognize their work as researchers and specialists.

Kinesiology is a regulated health profession in Ontario and Quebec is expecting an announcement to this effect soon. CEPs are not a regulated health profession in any province. Only in SK does the Work Compensation Board stipulate that care givers must be CSEP certified. In other provinces, Kinesiologists are required to be members of their PKA in order to provide services (e.g. ICBC, and SAAQ etc.).

For more information on the scope of practice of a CKA Kinesiologist Read more

As examples and to name a few, the following acts/treatments are in the scope of practice of Kinesiologists but not of EPs: soft tissue work, medical reports (including FCEs), return to work planning, job site assessment, ergonomics, electrical therapy, etc. These may be different depending on provinces.

Kinesiologists have a wider scope of practice. Read more

  1. What is the difference in Professional Liability Insurance (PLI)? Does CKA/PKA insurance fully cover you as Kin?

The CKA’s Professional Liability Insurance (errors and omissions) covers all professional acts of a Kinesiologist (including those of the CSEP and CEP). ). It covers Kinesiology acts regardless of where they are performed (in a gym or client's home, workplace) and across Canada. The CKA Professional Liability policy covers the full scope of kinesiology services with no ambiguity. The CSEP insurance policy is for Exercise Physiologists that practice in their field only. The CSEP certificate of insurance does not reference anything related to kinesiology services. The coverage from CSEP is not complete for Kinesiologists.

To help Kinesiologists understand the difference between different insurance programs, the CKA produced a comparison document, See CSEP Insurance Programs vs. CKA (PROLINK).

Some key differences include:

  • CSEP bundles insurance premiums into their membership fees vs. CKA and PKAs which separate insurance through PROLINK for greater transparency.
  • CSEP does not automatically include coverage for Kinesiology. It is an optional package to be purchased for $85 in addition to the standard PLI coverage costs included in CSEP membership: For example, $2M...Read more
  •  The CKA National Insurance Program policy with $1M of coverage (min.) is less expensive than the CSEP policy.
  • The CKA National Insurance Program covers the entire scope of practice of kinesiology.

Other benefits of the CKA insurance include:

  • unlimited consulting services in the event the member experiences a breach of data security or privacy. Kins receive and store healthcare data which is viewed as sensitive personal identifiable information by the privacy commissioner.
  • immediate access to lawyers with expertise in privacy law to advise Kins whose patients’ healthcare data is hacked, or stolen from the Kin’s phone/laptop/computer etc.

The insurer for the CSEP and CKA are a Canadian owned operated insurer with their claims specialists all located in Canada but CSEP program is underwritten by a syndicate of Lloyds of London. They are based in the UK: BMS/Novex insurance is a subdivision of Lloyds of London.

  1. As a CKA Kinesiologist can I work with the same clientele as a CSEP CEP? Will my professional judgment as a CEP be lost if I do not renew my certification?

When you graduate with a Kinesiology degree, you have the opportunity to work with a wide range of clientele. Provincial Kinesiology Associations evaluate your credentials and determine your ability to work as a Kinesiologist in your province. For more details on the scope of practice of a CKA Kinesiologist.

By virtue of his university education as a Bachelor of kinesiology, Kinesiologists have the professional judgment to work with a symptomatic person following a thorough in-depth history of the client, using the PAR-Q or another relevant questionnaire. Adequate record keeping must be observed to satisfy legal requirements and be ready in case of future lawsuits.

  1. What are the benefits to becoming member of PKA/CKA? What other services does the CKA/PKA provide to me?

Kinesiology is a young profession, yet maturing quickly. The Canadian Kinesiology Alliance works to bring increased recognition and awareness of kinesiology and the sciences of human movement, to advocate on behalf of our partners and stakeholders, and to support common standards and professionalism. Nationally the Canadian Kinesiology Alliance is the strong and united voice of Kinesiologists. On a national level, the CKA / ACK represents ten (10) provincial kinesiology associations (PKAs) that are member associations and over 4,200 affiliated Kinesiologists

When joining CKA/PKAs, Kinesiologists benefit from:

  • Access to opportunities to networking and social capital;
  • Access to promotional event material for the National KinWeek held annually in November and the National Health and Fitness Day held annually in June, for Bell Let’s Talk for mental health;
  • Access to preferred rates from partners for industry leading professional insurance products (including errors and omissions and commercial general liability), continued education opportunities (online seminars and printed resources) or home and auto insurance;
  • The right to issue receipts to clients for the purpose of reimbursement through their health benefit plans. The CKA/PKAs are committed to investing in the reimbursement of our services through insurance companies. It is important to specify that only CKA/PKA Kinesiologists, members in good standing, can issue receipts to their clients, for the purpose of reimbursing services;
  • In addition, in order to provide better customer service, the CKA / PKAs have enhanced their member management system and websites to provide online services for registration , to view their profile, view their subscription history, to independently manage their continuing education credits and make any changes to demographic information;
  • Be listed in an online directory “Find-a-kin” for Canadians to be able to locate you and contact you thus increasing your clients.
  • Be represented in events to promote the profession to human resources manager of benefit health plans and to insurance companies to ensure kinesiology services are reimbursed to your clients.

Finally, your membership is a guarantee of professionalism towards your colleagues, other healthcare providers and law-makers, and especially for your clients. By renewing your subscription each year and taking advantage of the many services, you collectively contribute to the success and recognition of your profession.

As Kinesiology is now well represented in each province and are part of the decision makers at CKA, we are looking forward to working together with all National Health Organizations (NHOs) and PKAs to raise awareness of the kinesiology profession, Kinesiologists’ services and to work together to bring the best care to clients.

Trusting this has brought more clarification, please contact your PKA or CKA for more information.