Personal Trainer vs. Gym Personnel

Starting or continuing your fitness journey probably will include a decision about whether to hire a personal trainer or just utilize the employees at the gym of your choice.

First, let’s define a few terms:

  • Personal Trainer – This is someone who provides one-on-one service to an individual.  The personal trainer often is certified by ISSA, NASM, and/or ACE.
  • Fitness Instructor – This is someone who leads group classes.  Although this person may offer some personal corrections in posture, etc., their primary job is to develop a series of steps or routines for the equipment.  Frequently they do little more than demonstrate or set the pace.
  • Coach – Coaches develop a process and make decisions about the best ways to achieve a specific goal.  Often they work with athletes and will specialize in a sport or activity.  They are motivators.

Personal trainers are their own business.  Usually, they pay a fee to the gym for the use of equipment while training their clients.  They are not associated with the gym by way of employment.  The gym often will refer people who are looking for a personal trainer but the trainer is not an employee or contractor. The personal trainer will charge their own rates and create their own packages without consulting the gym.

An exercise facility may also have employees who are trainers.  In this case the trainer is guided by the options the gym offers.  You would be paying the gym and not the trainer directly.

Gym Advantages

An advantage at a gym is they have lots of people working there.  If there is someone with whom you are not exactly compatible, you can simply avoid them.  Lots of people bring lots of perspectives and opinions.  Not all will be applicable to you. With a personal trainer, you have the opportunity to build a rapport.  They will understand your specific goals and any tendencies for injury or medical conditions to be aware of.  They are focused on you alone for the duration of your session. Frequently they will also offer suggestions about nutrition or vitamin supplements.  Personalized attention can greatly affect your motivation and continued progress.

Long Term Goals

A personal trainer will help you set long-term goals and develop realistic steps to achieve that end.  They can help you track your progress and find new approaches.  A gym employee may or may not remember you from week to week.  They will certainly help you with correct technique on specific equipment but probably won’t have enough time to follow you during your entire session or be concerned with your incremental and overall progress.

Enlisting the help of a professional is always a good idea when it comes to health and fitness.  Much of your success or failure stems from consistency, motivation, and the right types of exercises.  Exploring the benefits and disadvantages of both a virtual personal trainer and the employees offered with a gym membership, you can develop the best plan for your ultimate goals.


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