Personal trainers and group fitness instructors both work with their clients to help them improve their fitness and overall health and wellness levels, but the two approaches can be very different. Here’s a look at the key similarities and differences between these types of fitness training and how they can complement each other as well.
Personal Fitness Training
A certified personal trainer is a fitness expert who is professionally trained to assist others with designing and implementing their own fitness goals and workout programs. A personal trainer works one-on-one with clients to understand their fitness goals and challenges, and to come up with a plan to overcome obstacles.
A personal trainer often instructs clients in related areas of wellness, including diet, nutrition, and overall well-being. A certified personal trainer may be further certified in specialized areas such as nutrition, weight management, sports conditioning, and senior fitness, in order to assist a wider range of clients with their particular needs and goals.
Group Fitness Instruction
A group fitness instructor does many of the same things that a personal trainer does, but in a whole-class setting. Group fitness certification prepares instructors to facilitate full-class workouts while still paying attention to the individual needs of each class member and instructing each person accordingly.
A group instructor does not give each client or class member the same individualized attention and goal-setting strategies that a personal trainer does due to a higher volume of clients, but clients may choose to meet with a personal trainer on their own for assistance in these areas, or a client may choose to discuss one or more of these areas with a group fitness instructor to learn how participating in group fitness can help them reach personal fitness goals.
How to Become a Personal Trainer or a Group Fitness Instructor
A majority of health clubs, fitness facilities, and other organizations recognize the importance of fitness training certification when it comes to the health and safety of their clients. The International Health, Racket, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) recommends that health and fitness clubs hire only trainers and instructors that have been certified by an industry program that’s recognized and accredited by the NCCA—the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.
There are dozens of organizations that offer courses and certification in fitness instruction, so make sure you choose one that’s NCCA approved.
Benefits of Dual Certification
Of course, a personal trainer can also be a group fitness instructor and vice versa. Earning certification in both areas can better prepare fitness instructors to serve a wider client base and work in small-group fitness settings. Personal training places more emphasis on individual challenges, goal-setting, and accountability, while group fitness helps accommodate people of varying levels of fitness and uses common goals and group motivation to help members set and reach fitness goals on their own.
From a practical standpoint, earning certification in both areas can lead to more well-rounded training and increased job opportunities at health and fitness related facilities that offer both personal training and group classes. A fitness instructor with varied training, certifications, experiences, and clients is also more likely and qualified to start their own fitness facility. Fitness trainers can also market themselves to private clients or organizations in need of fitness instruction or personal training.