What Is the Difference Between a Personal Trainer & a Fitness Trainer?

Personal trainers and health fitness specialists and trainers are professionals who have extensive training in exercise science and physiology. They work with individuals to educate them about, and motivate them to begin and continue, healthy habits that will improve their health and fitness. There are many certifying organizations that test and recognize personal trainers and health fitness specialists. Courses and training can be found worldwide.

Role of a Personal Trainer

  • Personal trainers work with both healthy individuals and people who have special considerations for exercise, such as those who have suffered an injury or a stroke. Certified personal trainers develop, demonstrate and supervise healthy exercise routines based on their exercise science training. Sometimes, personal trainers will work with a small group of individuals who are at similar fitness levels and have similar health goals.

Role of a Health Fitness Trainer

  • Health fitness trainers, also called health fitness specialists, can be found at universities, hospitals, gyms and community centers. They are professionals with degrees who also hold a certification in health fitness. Health fitness specialists conduct pre-exercise screening and risk stratification for those who want to exercise or are prescribed an exercise regimen. They also work with communities and individuals who need to adopt and maintain healthy habits in order to reduce the effects of diseases such as diabetes.

Requirements for Personal Training Certification

  • According to the American College of Sports Medicine, which first began certifying personal trainers and fitness trainers in 1954, you must be 18 years of age or older and have a high school diploma or equivalent to take the certification test to become an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer. A current adult CPR certification with a practical skills component will be required.

Requirements for Health Fitness Trainer Certification

  • If you are testing to become an ACSM Certified Health Fitness Trainer, you must meet all requirements for a personal trainer. In addition, you must also hold a bachelor’s degree in a health-related field, or be in your last semester of earning one.


  • A health fitness specialist will prescribe a general set of exercises to an individual to accomplish heath and fitness-related goals such as rehabilitating injured limbs or reducing weight. A personal trainer will then create a routine for the client, and work out with him in order to ensure safety and motivate further fitness. After seeing improvement in the health and fitness of the client, the personal trainer may refer him back to the health fitness trainer for reevaluation of his needs and perhaps to have another set of exercises or further training prescribed.

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