Fitness coach vs Personal Trainer – I’ll Break it Down!

Lately, I have been helping friends, and acquaintances get started in the personal training industry.

A common question is what is the difference between fitness coaches and personal trainers. Keep reading to find. I also suggest checking my article on the top nutrition certifications because they can greatly help you make more money working on your own.

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Fitness coach vs Personal Trainer - I'll Break it Down! 1

One of the most common questions that I have been asked recently is “ what is the difference between a fitness coach and personal trainer?”.

It is not uncommon for new names to pop up for individuals in the fitness industry. A lot of the time these names mean the same thing while other times the profession is slightly different.

In this article, I will be talking about the differences between fitness coaches and personal trainers. I have heard some of my fellow personal trainers work with call themselves fitness instructors or fitness coaches.

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There is a wave of new people that are saying that fitness coaches are different than personal trainers. I am here to prove them wrong and show you why this is just a new made a name for personal trainers.

It is okay if you call people fitness coaches or if you call yourself a fitness coach but I want to get across that these individuals are merely personal trainers with a new nickname. Let ‘s jump right into my fitness coach vs personal trainer article!

Personal Trainers Inspire Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Some individuals that I have been talking with claims that these new “fitness coaches” primarily get paid for inspiring their clients and changing lifestyle habits.

As a certified health coach as well as a personal trainer (with multiple certifications) I can tell you that I do both of these things on a daily basis with every single one of my clients.

Personal training is not just about putting your clients through a tough workout. It is about making friends with your clients, inspiring them in all aspects of life and helping them make healthier choices on a day-to-day basis.

For some reason, some of the information that I was running into online was claiming that these new “fitness coaches” were somehow better than personal trainers.

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I don’t understand this because myself, as well as every personal trainer that I work with, does a fantastic job at helping their clients reach their goals, look better and feel better.

What they claim fitness coaches is exactly what personal trainers do. They copied and pasted the definition of a personal trainer.

“Personal Training” Certifications are the Only Certifications

As I started to get more frustrated about this article that I was reading, I dug deeper into “fitness coach” certifications to find out that I could not find a single one.

I could not find one certification that is labeled as a fitness coach certification. When I googled fitness coach certification, all that I came across were the various personal training certification options that I talk about on PTpioneer such as ACSM, NASM, and ACE.

All of these certifying agencies are highly reputable and recognized within the personal training industry.

If the fitness industry wants to create something called a fitness coach, by all means, go for it make sure you correctly identify the differences between the two, as well as build an active and original curriculum around it and make sure the NCCA accredits it.

This article is getting out of hand I should stop haha.

Conclusion on fitness coach VS personal trainer

From the research that I’ve done, I have not been able to find anything that is labeled a “fitness coach.” I have no problems with having this be an alternate name for personal trainers. I have even heard any of my fellow personal trainers called themselves fitness coaches from time to time.

Make sure to not fall into any scams that claim you will get a job as a personal trainer by getting a “fitness coach certification. I could not find any such certification.

If you want to get into the fitness industry and start helping clients reach their goals I highly suggest getting one of my favorite personal training certifications that I talk about.

Sorry, this was a post where I had to rant about something that was frustrating. Let me know what you guys think have you had a similar experience with people questioning the difference between personal trainers and fitness coaches?

Well, that is the end of my fitness Coach vs personal trainer article! Happy personal training (or shall I say fitness coaching! Haha).

6 thoughts on “Fitness coach vs Personal Trainer – I’ll Break it Down!”

  1. The fitness industry [especially in Australia] is, however the only place where these terms are completely and consistently confused. In all other industries – especially knowledge industries – people get trained in a system first, so that they know what to do. Then they get a coach, who knows how to individualise – tweak, change and perfect- the practise for them and their particular situation alone. The coach, is so much of an expert at all training systems in his industry, that he can do this many times over, for other people, also. Trainers on the other hand, do not have enough experience in their industry to change their delivery methods for each person they train and deliver only a one-size-fits all solutions. Australian personal trainers who are able to deliver bespoke solutions for various clients should always have called themselves coaches, not trainers. The mis-use of the old term trainer completely stuffs up the understanding for everyone else.

  2. Tyler, great post. As a retired fitness professional from both military and civilian sectors, I use to argue and debate this many years ago, especially in an UNREGULATED, that’s right…..the fitness industry is still after the 50+ years ACSM has been around, followed by NSCA and NSAM. It doesn’t matter what anyone says, what any degree you have or any certs. You know why, because it’s all self-regulated by the Golden 3 I just mentioned, followed by the other certifying bodies. The only time anyone, I mean anyone should call themselves a “COACH” of any type, is based who gives you the title. Think about it. Let’s take competitive sports or professional, along with MMA and Boxing. You never heard during your times as a youth playing sports of a football trainer, it was “COACH”. When you get into MMA, you have coaches that focus on fundamentals and the sport and then you have MMA trainers, that focus on conditioning, followed by a nutritionist. Unless you are actually “coaching” someone like with the Olympics, Powerlifting, competitive sport, etc….then a person that gives fitness advice, is either a “personal trainer”, a “fitness professional”, “fitness trainer”, “group trainer”. Even the the CSCS is a “specialist”, even though you hear folks say “strength coach”.

    At the end of the day, “titles” are given or earned, we don’t call ourselves “coaches” unless we have some ego-driven, narcissistic personality and on the other hand, I guess it’s the same as when you have a Adjunct Faculty person with a Master’s Degree who wants to call them “professor”, but never earned tenure or given the title from the college.

    Thanks again for posting the article and glad someone values education, along with
    certs based on what you earned by going to college and also believes PT’s are not coaches.

    1. Hey Tom,
      I’m glad that you liked my article and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I totally agree with what you are saying and coaches are definitely different than personal trainers. Don’t hesitate to leave more input if you are sticking around my website. Thanks for your perspective.

    2. Tom,
      WELL SAID! It’s staggering to see the number of people calling themselves Coach in social media. Not one legitimate fitness coach certification exists. The folks calling themselves coaches are NOT studied or certified with one of the top tier Fitness Training certifications.

      1. Hey Michelle,
        This is totally true, the age of social media, steroids, surgeries etc. is more influential on people’s decisions unfortunately for the viewers. A lot of these people don’t even have the proper credentials to be able to give training advice.

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