Staff Spotlight – Tessa Nielsen

Specialised Health, Behind the Scenes. Who is Specialised Health?

The culture of progression, passion and authenticity behind Specialised Health drives all of us to provide quality Exercise Physiology services in the compensable space. We support claimants in achieving their return to work and life goals through specialist exercise and lifestyle prescription while recognising the importance of open communication with all parties involved in the rehab process. We share knowledge with a passion and are made up of exceptional individuals. 



Tessa Nielsen

Location: Rotorua and surrounds, NZ


Tessa is new to Rotorua, but she’s not so new to Specialised Health. Tessa has been one of our NZ Exericise Physiologists for nearly 2 years, and we’re stoked to have her! 

Tessa completed her an undergraduate degree in Sport & Exercise, and Masters degree in Exercise Prescription & Training at Massey University in Palmerston North. Prior to becoming and Exercise Physiologist she worked as a Personal Trainer, as well as gaining other life skills through lifeguarding, waitress and receptionist duties.

Tessa is passionate about exercise physiology and especially the role exercise has in improving people’s lives!

She has experience in various conditions including numerous musculoskeletal conditions, particularly lower back injuries, as well as neurological conditions and fatigue. But her favourite population to work with is Mental Health. 

Why does she LOVE working with mental health clients for Specialised Health? And how does it even help?

Read on and stay tuned on to our social media as we post Tessa’s interviews and exercises each day this week!


Why did you choose the Exercise Physiologist life?

I love people and just feel that exercise is un-tapped magic for so many people! I am still in awe as to what it can do for people in all their unique situations, so just wanted a career where I could be an advocate for that.

What are your Ninja Exercise Physiology skills?

My “favourite” condition to be involved with is anything mental health-related.

My love for people means I get so much satisfaction using exercise as a means to improve confidence, self-efficacy and the overall mindsets of the people I work with. Again, it’s magic in this space. 

Tessa explains one of the ways we use exercise physiology to assist mental health claimants return to work and life:

Do you exercise?

Yes, do! I actually slot my own exercise into my schedule alongside my clients! It’s a non-negotiable for me (99% of the time), but when you arrange other people’s exercise for a job, it can be (surprisingly) hard to get your own done!

I do 3 weights sessions a week (Upper, Lower, Full body ‘Friyay’) and ideally 3 cardio sessions a week. My cardio is usually 2 mountain bike rides (I’m training for a race at the moment!) and 1 shorter HIIT based session.

Tell us about your most inspirational client…

I love this question because our clients are often so unaware that they are inspiring us, but they are!

I recently finished with a client who was off work with severe depressive disorder. At my initial consult with this client, I asked him about his history with exercise – he opened the door to the hallway and the wall was lined with marathon/iron man/triathlon medals. It had been many years since he’d completed anything like this and he looked back on that time as though it was a different “far away” version of himself.

I said to him “What’s your perceived ability to run a marathon now, do you think you could do it again? /10”. 

His answer was 1.

20-weeks later he ran a full marathon.


Food  Anything Asian ❤

Exercise Why? I love doing HIIT. HIIT of all kinds. It’s the ultimate dose of “you can do this” for me personally.

Fact   There is a mountain on Mars three times the height of Everest!

Fiction  Up (guilty cartoon pleasure, but so wholesome!)

Myth Buster  –   “No pain, no gain”.  In most situations, a well-balanced routine with gradual progression is 100% more beneficial than not being able to walk for days following EVERY leg session.


Do you have a life outside of Exercise Physiology?

How can you not in this beautiful place we call New Zealand? I like doing fun stuff in amongst all the amazing scenery we have around here (see photos).


How did you survive the lockdown, and do you have any tips for the Australians?

Honestly, I baked A LOT and then exercised A LOT because “balance”. Although I don’t think I quite nailed that balance. . .

What are your current goals?

Right now, the goal is to set up in the Rotorua region and continue to spread the exercise-related love/inspiration in a different part of the country. I want to get into more continued education whilst things are picking up, and of course, more fun stuff in pretty places!


Want to work with Tessa, or another EP in NZ?


Linked In: Specialised Health, Tessa Nielsen