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  • Writer's pictureTamara J. Frayssinet

Athletic Trainer vs Personal Trainer, what's the difference?

Often I find the terms athletic trainer and personal trainer used interchangeably. Or, people will ask me, “What is the difference between a personal trainer and an athletic trainer?” Personal trainers and athletic trainers both bring their own set of skills to the table. Here is a run down of the ways to differentiate between the two.Usually the largest and most immediate difference between Athletic Trainers and Personal Trainers is their job description. Personal trainers work in fitness and exercise to help people get in shape and lose weight. Athletic Trainers work with orthopedic injuries - treating people who are injured and returning them safely to activity in the fastest time possible. And, unlike Physical Therapists, Athletic Trainers specialize in athletic populations on and off the field, including on-field emergency response. If you’ve watched a football or baseball game and have seen someone run out onto the field after an injury, most likely, it was an Athletic Trainer.

Athletic Trainers are responsible for the prevention, assessment and rehabilitation of athletic injuries. (Physical Therapists typically treat off the field and post-injury.) Personal Trainers may have a wide variety of backgrounds and certifications. They do not, however, treat or assess injuries.

Another large difference between Athletic Trainers and Personal Trainers is their level of education and certification process. Personal Trainers must demonstrate a level of competency for their certifications ranging from an examination to an internship and degree. Unlike Personal Trainers, all BOC Certified Athletic Trainers must hold a bachelor’s degree, complete an accredited athletic training program, receive approval from that program’s director and then pass a board of certification exam. Personal Trainers, depending on the type of certification, may or may not have an educational background of the same caliber. But, then again, comparing personal trainers to athletic trainers is like comparing apples to oranges.[A tip: Always check into the level and type of certification a personal trainer has. The American College of Sport’s Medicine (ASCM) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) are among the most rigid although they are not the only well qualified certifications.]At The Body Defined, I blend both disciplines to provide you with the best care possible. If you would like to learn more about Athletic Trainers, please visit

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