Sometimes, the terms “personal trainer” and “gym instructor” are used interchangeably, but these two positions are quite different in some key ways. At PT Academy, where we educate people who are passionate about fitness for careers in the fitness industry, we get this question often and thought we should clear up any confusion once and for all. Here, we’ll cover the key differences between being a personal trainer and being a gym instructor, and share what you’ll need to do if you want to pursue either of these career paths.

Duties of a Gym Instructor

For many people, becoming a gym instructor is their first experience working one on one with clients, and gives them a taste of what life could be like as a personal trainer. The position of gym instructor is considered an entry-level position for someone wanting to build a career in the fitness industry, but does require certain skills and certifications.


Gym instructors (sometimes called ‘fitness instructors’ or ‘gym floor instructors’) are tasked with helping gym and fitness center clients use equipment properly, ensuring they are using proper form and the safest practices. Gym instructors may offer advice on things like posture and form, could provide spotting for weightlifters, or could even take groups through programming. Group classes are often run by gym instructors, as are most regularly scheduled gym programming and group sessions.

Duties of a Personal Trainer

Though many personal trainers get their start working on a gym floor or instructing group classes, the majority choose to move on to personal training to be able to work more closely with their clients. A personal trainer works one-on-one or with small groups, providing personalized instruction tailored to the specific needs of the client. Whereas a gym instructor only works with their clients at the gym, a personal trainer takes a more holistic approach, and supports their clients both in and out of workout sessions.


Because working as a personal trainer involves the evaluation of a client’s physical condition, personal trainers must have an in-depth and comprehensive knowledge of the human body and how it functions. Trainers must be able to offer their clients honest, and helpful advice to help them achieve whatever their fitness goals may be. Personal trainers may help clients along a weightloss journey, as they rehabilitate minor injuries, as they train for a specific athletic event or competition, or as they focus on their overall health.


Personal trainers create personalized programs for their clients and develop close relationships with them to learn more about their physical needs. Personal trainers help clients to set and reach personal fitness goals, creating workouts tailored to their clients’ specific needs in addition to providing nutritional, motivational, and mental support.

Industry Certifications

If you have always dreamt of a career in the fitness industry, a good place to start is by acquiring the necessary industry certifications. Being a gym instructor or a personal trainer requires a whole lot more than just a passion for working out, including formal education and training in pursuit of proper certification. At PT Academy, we offer tons of fitness courses and certifications for fitness professionals at every stage of their careers, including continuing education courses for our already established alumni.

Certificate III in Fitness – SIS30315

Certificate III in Fitness is an entry-level course designed for students who are interested in becoming gym instructors, or beginning their journey to becoming a personal trainer. The Certificate III program will prepare you to work on the gym floor, performing individual fitness assessments, and making adjustments/suggestions for your clients’ workouts. You’ll work with industry experts who have years of experience and training doing the exact work you have always dreamt of, and who will give you invaluable insight and advice to jumpstart your career.

Certificate IV in Fitness – SIS40215

Certificate IV in Fitness builds on the skills you will have acquired in Certificate III and qualifies you to begin working as a personal trainer. This course is designed to expand your knowledge of the human body, and give you the training you need to recognize injuries, create personalized workout plans, keep clients motivated, and much more.


Along with opening up opportunities for you to work as a personal trainer, having earned Certificate IV in Fitness can also allow you to take your knowledge to a wider market, even providing you with opportunities to apply for positions abroad. Many personal trainers find successful careers that involve visiting places around the world, traveling on cruise liners, working with important individuals, and developing amazing depths of knowledge through travel and interpersonal experiences.


Have you ever imagined yourself working as a gym instructor or personal trainer? What’s stopping you? Visit PT Academy online today to learn more about how you can start your career in fitness.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *