Many people get into fitness and start working out, and many are frustrated with their appearance and health and want to take steps to change it. The next logical steps would either be to do one’s own research or seek the help of a professional. So, who do you go to? Most people would typically choose a personal trainer, but may not have considered a Kinesiologist as a viable option. Let’s explore some of the differences and similarities between personal training and Kinesiology.
Many choose personal trainers for convenience and wide availability. However, the commonality is not necessarily an indicator of quality. In fact, according to Melton et al., “the fitness industry … is largely unregulated and lacks a unified governing body. As such, a plethora of personal trainer certifications exists with varying degrees of validity that fail to ensure qualified trainers and, therefore, protect the consumer” (2008). To clarify, a personal trainer has lower requirements to receive their title than Kinesiologists. In addition, some other differences include their audience, prices, education, approach, as well as referral capabilities.
Perhaps the most important factor separating Kinesiologists and personal trainers is their education requirements. For Kinesiologists, they must acquire a bachelor’s degree to receive the certification, which equates to 4 years worth of education, whereas personal trainers need a certification which is typically obtained through some sort of test after a period of a few months. It can then be inferred that Kinesiologists have a higher likelihood of being more informed about health and fitness. While some personal trainers may exceed the knowledge of a Kinesiologist, it will depend on the trainer themselves rather than a governmental or standardized system.
Another difference between the two health practitioners is their audience. There is no inherently better choice because it depends on what type of help you are looking for. On one hand, the target audience that personal trainers are aiming for is the average person coming into a gym looking to get a general introduction to fitness or to gain muscle and/or lose weight. In comparison, a Kinesiologist can address clients ranging from rehabilitation patients to college athletes, in addition to general fitness clients. This is because, in college/university, students go deeper into anatomy, pathologies, and program design equipping them to be more effective with a diverse group of clients. Kinesiologists are even recognized by insurance companies such as extended health providers and ICBC to provide medical treatment for those recovering from motor vehicle accidents, or serious injuries. Some personal trainers can certainly address these issues, but it depends on if they’ve taken the necessary additional education. Personal trainers are not recognized by insurance companies for reimbursement.
Kinesiologists typically work in clinical environments with health practitioners such as Physiotherapists, Massage Therapists, Chiropractors, and others. Personal trainers typically work in a gym setting where they may not be in regular contact with other health professionals. Therefore, Kinesiologists will typically have a stronger referral base and ability to seek out advice from health professionals they work with, and even refer their clients to see them if necessary. Personal trainers can certainly have a strong referral network as well, but it depends on the trainer and the environment they work in.
Another differentiating agent is their approaches. Kinesiologists tend to have more extensive knowledge due to their required education whereas personal trainers are more general with their approach and address more fitness-specific goals such as weight loss, muscle gain, and so on. A Kinesiologist has the knowledge to understand that an issue at one part of the body may stem from another part of the body. This does not exclude the possibility of personal trainers having access to this information but they are generally certified in more general knowledge. An article by Sherry indicated that a “rehabilitation program consisting of progressive agility and trunk stabilization exercises is more effective than a program emphasizing isolated hamstring stretching and strengthening in promoting a return to sports and preventing injury recurrence in athletes suffering an acute hamstring strain” (2004). This goes to show that understanding pain and injury typically requires education that goes beyond the requirements of personal trainers, while Kinesiologists focus on this area of health.
Ultimately, it depends on what the client is looking for. Are they looking for a general program that may be great for programming, diet, strength, or weight loss, but may not address underlying factors that can lead to issues down the line? Or the alternative is a more customized, movement-specific program that will address strength, weight loss, and more, but also plant a solid foundation for the body and movement. Typically Kinesiologists will focus on minimizing the risks associated with exercise as they carefully assess joints and other movements in the body. Kinesiologists are well equipped to design and administer well-rounded exercise programs that will help to work towards fitness goals and minimizing pain, discomfort, tightness, and other complaints.
According to McClaran, “one-on-one personal training is an effective method for changing attitudes and thereby increasing the amount of physical activity” (2004). Ultimately, getting yourself into whatever will get you moving and exercising more regularly will help you to build consistent habits. Our Kinesiologists will happily work with you to rehab injuries, chronic pain, and even work with you one-on-one as a trainer to get you closer to your fitness goals! Book your session at Evolve today!
Mcclaran, S. R. (2004). The Effectiveness Of Personal Training On Changing Attitudes Towards Physical Activity. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise,33(5). doi:10.1097/00005768-200105001-01188
Melton, D. I., Katula, J. A., & Mustian, K. M. (2008). The Current State of Personal Training: An Industry Perspective of Personal Trainers in a Small Southeast Community. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,22(3), 883-889. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e3181660dab
Sherry, M. A., & Best, T. M. (2004). A Comparison of 2 Rehabilitation Programs in the Treatment of Acute Hamstring Strains. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy,34(3), 116-125. doi:10.2519/jospt.2004.34.3.116