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London,UK Posted 1 month, 1 week ago

Fitness Instructor vs Personal Trainer

It can often be difficult to determine the differences between two similar terms in the fitness world, and the debate between fitness instructor vs personal trainer is no different. While these two terms may often be used interchangeably, they have wildly different meanings, and it’s vital to be aware of, and understand, the differences and similarities between the two. 

Whether you’re just beginning your fitness journey and are curious how a fitness instructor is different to a personal trainer, or if you’re a seasoned gym veteran wondering whether to diversify as either a personal trainer or a group fitness instructor, we have you covered.

OriGym’s comprehensive guide aims to outline both roles, the difference between a fitness instructor and a personal trainer, and which one could be the right option for you and your exercise-related goals. 


  • What Is A Fitness Instructor?
  • What Is A Personal Trainer?
  • How Are These Roles Different?
  • What Qualifications Does A Personal Trainer Have vs. A Fitness Instructor?
  • What Are The Benefits Of A Fitness Instructor vs A Personal Trainer?
  • What Are The Benefits Of A Personal Trainer vs A Fitness Instructor?
  • Our Conclusions

But if you’re already confident in your knowledge of the difference between a fitness instructor and a PT, and are looking to take that confidence to the next level, a career in fitness could be your next step.

OriGym’s unparalleled personal training courses are not only the most affordable option on the market, but they also offer unmatched levels of support and advice, with guaranteed post course interviews and expert guidance throughout.

Interested? Check out our FREE prospectus to learn more about what we offer, and how it could be ideal for you.

What Is A Fitness Instructor?

A fitness instructor (also often referred to as a gym instructor) is predominantly responsible for ensuring the safety of all the people that are in the gym when they are on shift.

Their duties will typically include: 

  • Patrolling and monitoring the gym floor - The most basic duty of a gym instructor, as it not only maintains the gym’s overall safety, but ensures that every gym goer can access the equipment they came to use.
  • Enforcing the gym’s rules and etiquette - This goes hand-in-hand with the first duty on this list, in that it’s part of making sure that the gym is as welcoming and safe as it can be. Read more in our ultimate guide to gym etiquette, and how you can do your part.
  • Correcting any serious form or posture mistakes - An important part of gym instructor duties is to recognise and offer advice when it comes to serious or injury-threatening postural mistakes. For instance, if someone is twisted awkwardly when using heavy weights, or is placing too much pressure on a weaker area, such as the joints. 
  • General, overall duties - These include anything else that may need doing on the gym floor, ranging from welcoming gym goers as they enter, to ensuring people are aware of the nearest fire exit in the event of an emergency.

While these may seem like simplistic, basic jobs, they are an integral part of the gym-going experience, and without these, your local gym would simply not function as efficiently and effectively as it does normally.

These duties are often in addition to teaching or leading classes as part of the gym’s timetable. Many of the instructors will specialise in one specific kind of exercise class (such as HIIT or Zumba), and will therefore be better suited to leading the class.

This is mutually beneficial for both the gym instructor (in that they get to lead a class in something they are passionate about) and the gym (they are guaranteed to have someone who’s familiar with the gym delivering their session).

One crucial thing to note, though, is that a gym instructor will have completed a Level 2 gym instructor course, which is the minimum qualification needed to become a gym instructor. 

But, while many consider them to mean the same thing, there is a gulf of difference between a fitness instructor and a PT. Let’s examine a personal trainer's duties in more depth, so you can decide between a fitness instructor or a personal trainer.

What Is A Personal Trainer?

In contrast to a gym instructor, a personal trainer (often abbreviated to PT) works predominantly on a 1-to-1 basis with paying clients, creating exercise programs that are specific to that individual’s needs and fitness capabilities.

As a general rule, a personal trainer will:

  • Tailor exercise plans - Taking into account their client’s fitness levels, their goals, and any preexisting conditions, a personal trainer will design and deliver bespoke exercise programs.
  • Correct individual form and posture - By working more closely with a singular client, a personal trainer can help to correct posture and ensure you’re getting the right results from an exercise
  • Establish goals and aspirations - Because of the more intimate nature of a personal trainer session, you can work together to create manageable, attainable goals to keep you motivated.
  • Dietary and nutritional advice - While this may not be true of all PTs, most personal trainers will be able to dispense some advice when it comes to what to eat to ensure you can continue to see results.

These often all form part of one or two sessions over the course of your first week under the tutelage of a personal trainer - we’ve outlined what you can expect from a personal training session in our comprehensive guide.

It’s also important to note that, unlike the Level 2 qualification required for a gym instructor, personal trainers have to have completed a minimum of a Level 3 personal training diploma.

This bespoke service and tailored training and advice is arguably the most definitive difference when it comes to a fitness instructor vs a personal trainer, but it doesn’t represent the only dissimilarity.

In our next section, we’ll examine how to distinguish between a personal trainer or a fitness instructor, and which one could be the ideal option for you.

How Are These Roles Different?

When making the choice between a fitness instructor vs a personal trainer, it’s important to be aware of exactly how the roles differ. We’ve started to touch upon what’s involved in both of these roles, but it’s important to highlight their differences so you can make an informed decision.

Perhaps the most immediately obvious difference is that, as a fitness instructor, you wouldn’t have the same one-to-one interaction with people in the gym, as opposed to the interaction you can have as a personal trainer.

This can, for many, be a huge sticking point - without that bespoke attention and tailored plans, it can be difficult to achieve or even set goals, and therefore find the motivation to exercise.

A gym instructor is often responsible for many people, both on the gym floor and as part of any sessions they’re running. And while there are many great benefits of group exercise classes, there is very little interaction between the client and the tutor in this scenario.

This leads directly into the next discrepancy between a personal trainer and a fitness instructor - the minimal contact associated with fitness instruction can often mean that form suffers, and your clients may not see the results you want.

While there are general instructions when it comes to group classes, it does lack the individual support, simply due to the amount of people involved in the class, and the tight time constraints.

Exercise classes often also require self-motivation, which can be difficult to find, especially if you’re not seeing the results you’re aiming for, or if you’re finding it tough to understand or follow the exercises.

This isn’t an issue that occurs as part of personal training, as the motivation naturally comes from the next scheduled session, and especially as personal training is a paid service, there’s the added incentive of having paid for it in advance.

There’s also a significant difference between the qualifications needed to apply for each of these roles. Our next section will examine the difference in the necessary accreditations, whether that’s those needed to be a personal trainer or a group fitness instructor, and how you can achieve each one.

What Qualifications Does A Personal Trainer Have vs. A Fitness Instructor?

As we’ve previously mentioned, there is a definitive difference between the qualifications you need to become a fitness instructor vs a personal trainer’s qualifications.

Let’s break it down, examining exactly what you’ll need, and how this forms the main fitness instructor and personal trainer difference .

To become a gym instructor, you’ll need to have completed what’s referred to as a Level 2 gym instructor qualification. This gives you all the grounding and expertise you need to be able to work within a gym environment.

Many courses (such as OriGym’s industry leading gym instructor course) provide resources to give you grounding in a fitness environment, teaching you the fundamentals of the gym floor, and how you can provide a safe and secure environment for all gym goers.

OriGym’s gym instructor course also provides everything you need to fully prepare you for teaching group classes, too, providing information on “motivating groups and individuals” and the “principles of exercise and fitness”, ensuring you’ve got the correct grounding to be a superb instructor.

However, when we look closer at the difference between a fitness instructor and a personal trainer, there’s a big difference in the qualifications you need.

To become a personal trainer, you need to have completed a Level 3 personal training course in addition to your Level 2 gym instructor course. This is the minimum necessary qualification needed to be able to work on a 1-to-1 basis with clients, and deliver the bespoke training sessions associated with personal training. 

Some providers may offer a combination of the two, ensuring you can go from no qualifications to a qualified personal trainer in a much more streamlined manner. 

OriGym’s personal training diploma represents not only the most comprehensive support package, with guaranteed interviews after you complete the course and unlimited advice and support throughout, but also the most affordable price on the market. 

This course will have a formal accreditation from a governing body - this is usually REPs (the Register of Exercise Professionals) and CIMSPA (the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity), or, in rare cases, the course will also be recognised as a chartered education course with ISO-9001 certificate - OriGym’s personal training diploma is one of very few worldwide to hold this recognition.

It’s also important to recognise that many personal will have undergone additional professional development courses (often referred to as CPDs), which not only gives them additional expertise, but means that they can also refer to themselves as an expert personal trainer.

What Are The Benefits Of A Fitness Instructor vs A Personal Trainer?

Now that we’ve at how the qualifications differ when it comes to a personal trainer vs a group fitness instructor, it’s important to discuss the benefits of each, and determine what could be the right option for you. 

#1 - Costs Less To Become A Fitness Instructor

If you’re looking to become qualified in the fitness industry, but have a very limited budget, then it may be more feasible to qualify as a fitness instructor vs a personal trainer qualification.

As a general rule, gym instructor courses will always be cheaper than a personal trainer course (we’ll touch on some of the reasons why later), meaning it could be a better option for those who are working with a tight budget, or don’t have the money to outlay.

Take OriGym’s Level 2 gym instructor course, for instance.

The flat rate for the course is £599.00, which includes all administration and processing fees (OriGym’s prices always account for any admin fees, meaning you always pay the rate you see). 

By comparison, the cheapest Level 3 personal training diploma (also available from OriGym) costs £1,199.00, but does include both the Level 2 and the Level 3 qualifications needed to become a personal trainer. 

Although this initial outlay may seem intimidating, it’s crucial to remember that OriGym also offer flexible payment plans that are designed to suit every budget. 

It’s also wise at this point to consider your future career progression - the only option for a gym instructor in terms of development is to become a personal trainer, and by buying these courses separately, you’ll have to outlay approximately £400 more than buying them as the bundled personal training diploma

So, by opting for OriGym’s personal training diploma, you’ll not only be investing in your present self, but in your future career, too.

And while this difference in price may still prove to be a deciding factor when choosing between becoming a personal trainer and a fitness instructor, it’s also important to consider salary and what you’ll be earning. OriGym’s comprehensive report on personal trainer wages explores their earnings in much greater depth.

#2 - More Likely To Have Fixed Hours

When it comes to hours, it can be dependent on how established as a personal trainer you are, and how well you can market yourself and your services to potential new clients.

This is generally not as prevalent an issue when you’re a fitness instructor vs when you’re a personal trainer.

Many gym instructors will work solely with one gym, and as such will usually be given a fixed number of hours to carry out their usual duties (such as the ones we outlined earlier in this article).

As with our previous point, this can be a deciding factor, especially when it comes to finances, as these guaranteed working hours will be paid, albeit at a lower than average wage.

However, this does not mean that you’re guaranteed to be picked up for a gym, and many work as freelance or independent gym instructors, which aren’t necessarily guaranteed these same hours. 

We would always advise you to be aware of any hours you’re promised, and whether or not you’re able to supplement these with additional freelance work.

#3 - More Sociable Role

As you might have expected from the job title, a personal trainer is much more tailored to one specific client, and one PT can only have so many clients.

When compared to a personal trainer, a fitness instructor will interact with many more people on a day-to-day basis, even if that’s just a short greeting as they enter the gym, or on a more interactive basis during classes.

While this may not be ideal for some (especially as you won’t generally get to know people on a deeper level as you would as a personal trainer), it can be a perfect fit for others who may be more sociable, or that enjoy meeting new people on a regular basis.

A gym instructor role will also allow you to work with multiple different types of people, ranging from those who only attend the gym on a rare occasion, to those who are there every day.

This can not only help with helping you find your niche (especially important when it comes to exercise classes), but also deciding how you want to progress in your career in fitness.


Read the full article at: origympersonaltrainercourses

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