The difference between a gym instructor and a personal trainer

Updated on September 6, 2021

Many people today are interested in becoming part of the fitness/exercise industry as personal trainers or gym instructors. But are these two professions different or just have different terminology? Read on to find out more.

What does a gym instructor do?

A gym instructor works at a gym or an exercise center. A major responsibility of a gym instructor is to educate people on the safe use of exercise equipment and weights. Using the wrong techniques to lift weights or use exercise machines can result in serious injury. The gym instructor provides instructions and demonstrates how to use different exercise equipment and perform different physical exercises. Other duties of a gym instructor include:

·  Signing up new members

●  Cleaning up exercise equipment

●  Offering tours of the gym to new and potential members

●  Leading exercise classes (e.g. aerobics, Zumba, etc.)

Gym instructions do not offer personal training exercises or customized exercise plans. You do not have to pay any fee to the gym instructor. The gym they work for is the one that hires them and compensates them for their services.

What does a personal trainer do?

A personal trainer provides personal or individualized/customized physical training plans and educational information. Physical trainers may work as independent contractor at a gym or run their own practice. They help people set goals, educate them about different exercises, assess their fitness level, and even discuss nutritional aspects of following a healthy lifestyle. Many people consult personal trainers for guidance on exercise regimes for weight loss, fitness and healthy living.

Personal trainers provide motivation and encouragement to people who are interested in becoming physically fit. They are also more flexible in terms of where they provide these services. They often take clients to parks, beaches, pools, personal gyms etc. They are thus not limited to a particular gym but can provide their services based on the client’s needs. Personal trainers either charge by the hour or may have a flat rate for half a day or full-day services. Depending on the level of fitness, people may need several sessions with a personal trainer. The overall aim of a personal trainer is to ensure that their clients meet their fitness goals.

What qualifications do each need?

Gym instructors must have a:

·  High school certificate

●  Certificate in GYM Fitness instructing

●  Diploma in Health, Fitness and Exercise instruction

●  CPR certificate

Personal trainers must have a:

●  High school certificate

●  A CPR and AED certificate

●  Specialized training in a particular fitness specialty (e.g. athletics, mind-body fitness, special populations, etc.)

●  A certificate in their chosen specialty

Overall, personal trainers require more training and education than gym instructors. Most personal trainers also have a good background in anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and injury prevention. In particular, the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) offers certifications for personal trainers to take an exam for certification. NASM is a leader in health and fitness education and offers several certifications that can help personal trainers become more successful.  NASM certifications aren’t easy to pass which is why test takers often need to invest in good study guides and dedicate the time it takes to learn the material and pass the certification. But the effort is worth it. NASM certification offers personal trainers a higher income potential than most gym instructors.

Other Certificates for Personal trainers

●  Gym Fitness instruction

●  Health, Fitness and Exercise instruction

●  Personal training

●  Nutrition

Both gym instructors and personal trainers can work in fitness centers, gyms, hotels, cruise ships, resorts, community centers, boot camps, spas, yoga studios, health clubs, and similar facilities. In addition, personal trainers can have their own practice and provide services to private clients. A gym instructor cannot work online; they usually have to be physically present at the gym to show clients how to use different equipment and/or exercise safely.

Where do their skills overlap?

Both require good interpersonal skills and the ability to motivate and inspire clients. Many fitness professionals start as gym instructions and then acquire more training and qualifications to become a personal trainer.

The fitness industry is a growing industry with significant job opportunities and potential for long-term clients. Becoming a gym instructor or a personal trainer is a matter of personal preference. But for people who are seriously considering pursuing a career in this industry, it is recommended that they acquire the necessary skills and qualifications so that they can be hired by fitness providers who have regular clients and a solid reputation. Many gym instructors start small, but as they gain more experience within the industry and learn more about client needs, potential areas of growth, they can acquire the necessary certifications and achieve more growth in their careers.

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