Fitness coach vs Personal Trainer [2023] - I'll Break it Down!

This is a very unique article that I have written to carefully review the two most common titles in the fitness world today.

You’ll learn the following:

How personal trainers inspire healthy lifestyle habits
Personal Training certifications are the “only certifications”

In the end, you’ll get to know if there is a difference between the two job titles.

Let’s set sail, shall we?

Fitness Coach vs Personal Trainer [year] - I'll Break it Down! 6


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

In as much as fitness coach/ instructor and personal trainer are the same we shall be looking at their differences if there is any.

Certified personal trainers/ fitness coach is saddled with the responsibility of offering exercise science in a training session with a specific fitness goal.

A common question is what is the difference between fitness coaches and personal trainers.

Keep reading to find out more about fitness instructor vs personal trainer or personal trainer vs group fitness instructor.

I also suggest checking my article on the top nutrition certifications which exercise specialist offering fitness nutrition training session has done justice to, because they can greatly help you make more money working on your own.

The menu at the top of this page will answer any question related to personal training that you have.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment here (I’ll respond within 24 hours).

Also, visit the home page for the most recent and popular articles.

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If you’re looking to become a trainer, or how to be a fitness coach take the quiz to find out which fitness certification is the best for your training style as there are a lot of online coaching program that talk much on group fitness, fitness nutrition, behaviour change and others.

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

Another very common question is “how much do personal trainers earn?”, this question is asked in almost every industry and well-known career.

Well, the answer to this question is in detail in another article, you can find that out for yourself if you are new to the field of personal training.

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 a fitness coach vs personal trainer.

I have heard some of my fellow personal trainers I work with call themselves fitness instructors or fitness coaches.

There is a wave of new people that are saying that fitness coaches are different from personal trainers.

I am here to prove them wrong and show you why this is just a new name made for personal trainers.

The personal trainer certification exam is a requirement for the two nomenclature, as this also qualifies the fitness coach, corrective exercise specialist, or celebrity personal trainer.

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!

So, what is a fitness coach?

Personal Trainers Inspire Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Fitness Coach vs Personal Trainer [year] - I'll Break it Down! 7

Do you need a “fitness coach” to inspire a healthy lifestyle?

This section holds the answer.

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Best Study Materials
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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 providing the services of a health and fitness training as well as a certified 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 in the training sessions.

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.

This is a good quality of a fitness instructor.

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.

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

What they claim fitness coaches do is exactly what personal trainers do.

They copied and pasted the definition of a personal trainer.

“Personal Training” Certifications are the Only Certifications

Fitness Coach vs Personal Trainer [year] - I'll Break it Down! 8

By now you should have an idea of what certifications are legit.

But if you’re still in doubt, this next section will clear all your doubts about personal trainer 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 labelled 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

Fitness Coach vs Personal Trainer [year] - I'll Break it Down! 9

Incredible right? I thought as much when I first started with this research. Knowledge is indeed power.

Now you know who is certified and who is not.

From the research that I’ve done, I have not been able to find anything with a “fitness coach definition.”

I have no problems with having this as an alternate name for personal trainers.

I have even heard some 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.

Fitness Coach vs Personal Trainer [year] - I'll Break it Down! 10

Sorry, this was a post where I had to rant about something that was frustrating.

Let me know what you guys think if you have had a similar experience with people questioning the difference between personal trainers and fitness coaches?

An interesting read: How much does a personal trainer make?

Well, that is the end of my fitness trainer vs personal trainer article!

Happy personal training (or shall I say fitness coaching! Haha).

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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All content published on PTPioneer is checked and reviewed extensively by our staff of experienced personal trainers, nutrition coaches, and other Fitness Experts. This is to make sure that the content you are reading is fact-checked for accuracy, contains up-to-date information, and is relevant. We only add trustworthy citations that you can find at the bottom of each article. You can read more about our editorial integrity here.

6 thoughts on “Fitness Coach vs Personal Trainer 2023 – I’ll Break it Down!”

  1. PTPioneer User

    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. PTPioneer User

    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. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      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. PTPioneer User

      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. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

        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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