Personal Trainer vs Coach. Which is Better?
By Neil Perkins
Personal Training is a relatively new industry. 20 years ago the everyday man on the street wouldn’t know what a Personal Trainer was. Nowadays one third of regular gym users has used a personal trainer and one fifth regularly book sessions with a trainer.
The desire for people to achieve maximal results in minimal time, coupled with people’s desire to look leaner, feel fitter and perform better has meant a large growth in Fitness Professional’s. With training courses been achieved in little as weekend, there are some people that are sub-standard who find their way into the fitness industry.
Coaching athletes is something that people have been doing for centuries. Before we had Personal Trainers, coaches from a cross section of sports have produced countless success stories with athletes. Athletes who’s physiques were desirable, fitness was unquestionable and performance was world class.
It was American football coach Vince Lombardi that embraced sports science and strength & conditioning, he famously said ‘Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing’. Jock Stein influenced many modern football managers, most notably Alex Ferguson who said ‘He was encyclopaedia of coaching’ and boxing hall of fame coach Emmanuel Steward quoted ‘The athlete has the skill, all I do is show him how to use it’
There are good and bad Coaches and Personal Trainers. But what is better a coach or a trainer?
Elite level athletes are trained by Coaches, not Personal Trainers. If you have a specific goal you’d work with a specific coach. If your goal was to be a better footballer, you’d hire or work under a football coach. If your goal was to get stronger, you’d work with an S&C or lifting coach and if you were going on stage as a bodybuilder you’d hire a prep coach. If your goal is to become ‘fitter’ perhaps and all round Personal Trainer might be the better option.
Coaches are good at getting to the desired goal they specialise in. A boxing coach will know how to condition someone for boxing and make them perform better, a sprinting coach will know how to condition a sprinter to run faster, a lifting coach will make someone lift more weight. If you are specific with your goal a coach in that field is the better option, however a fitness professional will have a greater all round knowledge of different modes of training.
If your goal is to generally get fit or lose weight reputable PT might be the better option. A coach will periodise training and include elements of Strength & Conditioning but with a long-term goal of improving the sporting performance for that sport. A good Personal Trainer will engage a client and peirodise training not only to shock the body, but keep the mind entertained. A coach will improve someone specific to the task that they are trained in the delivery of.
If you have a specific goal, then a specialist coach is always a better option. Many trainers nowadays are setting specialist fields of expertise. If you have goal, check that the trainer or coach has had success in achieving it prior. Also look at their athletic background, would you work with a body transformation coach who didn’t have a six pack or a boxing coach who has never coached anyone to box?