As a personal trainer with long-established expertise in body composition transformations, rehabilitative exercise, bespoke nutrition plans and helping my clients reach their fitness goals, I commonly come across people who have misconceptions about what it means to be a personal trainer.

If I were to sum it up concisely as possible, a personal trainer, whether self-employed trainers working from gyms in their own homes or a skilled PT based in a commercial gym, gives you one thing: confidence.

My job isn’t to put clients through the most gruelling workout regime I can think of, nor is it always to navigate the process with individuals keen to reach the pinnacle of physical fitness. Instead, it’s to listen, engage, and use the knowledge I’ve gained to provide the right solution for each person and walk them through each stage of their fitness journey.

What (Exactly!) Is a Personal Trainer?

Part of the puzzle is that all personal trainers are different and might offer varied sessions, training disciplines, fitness training and health advice. However, any trainer you hire should be appropriately qualified and be able to provide education and support adapted to your individual needs.

The services your trainer provides will naturally vary depending on your existing level of physical activity and the motivation behind your drive to improve your health and well-being but might include:

    • One-to-one personal training sessions on a regular basis, where you learn how to perform exercises correctly.
    • Specific personal training based on mobility, flexibility, injury recovery or health goals around heart health, blood pressure and strength.
    • Group sessions with friends or family, where your personal training session is adjusted to allow clients of all ages to participate and enjoy the benefits of healthy, safe movement.
    • Nutrition, health and fitness programmes based on targets such as weight loss, learning skills, or working on key areas of your ability that matter most to you.

Even expert personal trainers aren’t a perfect match for every client, so it’s important you choose a qualified trainer who has previous experience in helping people achieve the fitness goals you have in mind.

What Is the Difference Between a Personal Trainer and a Gym Instructor?

Each personal training session is customised to the client. Still, if you’re a gym member, you may tend to notice that fitness professionals navigate to certain types of sport and physical activity, which is what we’d expect since, depending on which certifications and additional qualifications a trainer has, they often focus on areas where they have the most value to share.

That said, the best exercise professionals to suit your training aspirations may vary, based on where you wish to workout, the working hours your ideal trainer will follow, and any particular sports-specific exercise routine consistent with your requirements.

There are also different types of fitness professionals, as I’ve summarised below.

    • A gym instructor isn’t usually accredited with any personal training awarding bodies but acts as a fitness adviser to show you how each piece of kit works.
    • Class instructors or fitness trainers normally run group classes to suit a range of abilities and might work with individual clients in certain areas, such as kettlebell training or stretching.
    • A fitness instructor often specialises in instructing exercise in a certain class, be that Zumba, spin, legs bums & tums, or functional fitness.
    • Certified personal trainers offer a broader breadth of knowledge, with a good understanding of various exercises, nutrition plans and the types of workout schedules, routines, or training that will help you meet your health and fitness goals.

If you’re a brand-new gym member and are unfamiliar with weighted machines, a gym instructor can assist, but you shouldn’t expect these exercise professionals to offer personalised advice since their skills are based on using equipment rather than providing bespoke programmes.

This factor is where a personal trainer’s qualifications and in-depth insights make a compelling impact because a great personal trainer should be agile in how they apply their skills to improve your success. The service is entirely bespoke and based on ensuring you make the absolute most of the fitness facilities at your disposal.

The Benefit of Working With Personal Fitness Trainers

While the word ‘fitness’ features, let’s pause to recalibrate what that means because health and fitness are about significantly more than a six-pack, visible quads or a defined set of biceps.

Personal training might be inherently linked with fitness goals, but many personal trainers within the fitness industry provide a more holistic approach, by defining which training types and intensity will match your lifestyle.

The first session with a personal trainer may, in fact, involve very little training! Qualified exercise professionals will take the time to establish what you’d like to achieve for your body, health and motivation each time you train.

For me, that means I want every client I work with to:

    • Understand the beneficial, sustainable, and often gradual changes they can make to their nutrition and lifestyle that will be incredibly beneficial to their overall health and fitness.
    • Discover how they move their body, train, and progress will influence their broader well-being and sense of satisfaction and help them progressively hit big-picture targets.
    • Learn the intrinsic value of motivation and showcase how we can work together to make personal training empowering while slotting into any lifestyle, whether that involves a busy career, kids, family obligations and other barriers to health and wellness.

The goal is to make every personal training session, every exercise you attempt, and every visit to the gym feed into a wider understanding and unpick how we can make your gym visits and exercise sessions tailored to your body, age, health and lifestyle – not compromising your health for what you can achieve but making your ability to progress the cornerstone of your long-term health.

I appreciate that a first personal training session can feel packed with expectations, but the reality is that, as a personal trainer with a track record of great success, I’m not here to make you sculpt your dream body at any cost but make your wellness, confidence in the gym and health my priority – and to ensure that every exercise is adapted to the fitness goals I know you can achieve.