The Relativity of Personal Training
& Physical Therapy Careers
Learn the Difference Between Personal Training & Physical Therapy
Physical therapists and personal trainers dedicate themselves to supporting the physical health of individuals. Starting with an analysis of a client's physical condition, they devise a plan to help a person reach specific wellness goals. Where do these two professions diverge, and why might someone enlist the service of one over the other?
Personal Training – A Career of Endorphins
Personal trainers typically work in health clubs, gyms, recreation centers and schools. Many also conduct at-home training sessions with clients. In general, personal training jobs do not require advanced education; however, earning an accredited certification in the field, which involves significant study and experience, lends greatly to a trainer's credibility and qualifications.
Accredited personal training schools typically provide a curriculum that prepares students for certification through course work in several areas:
- exercise science
- fitness program development
- medical risk factors
- business management concepts
Different personal training schools may offer full-time or part-time programs that students can complete in a few weeks or a few months. Typically, these programs involve 300 hours of study and 200 hours of hands-on gym time.
Clients typically go to personal trainers for one-on-one help to develop an exercise and fitness program that serves a particular goal or set of goals, such as weight loss, athletic conditioning, strength training or cardiovascular health. In turn, trainers design an appropriate fitness program that incorporates exercise equipment and nutrition guidelines. Working with clients in the gym, they track a person's progress and adapt programs as necessary. Another key part of the job? Motivating clients to adhere to their program and stay focused on their fitness goals.
Like personal trainers, physical therapists develop a plan to guide clients to a better state of health. However, patients typically seek physical therapy to restore physical function or improve mobility that has diminished due to injury, disease, chronic pain or a disabling condition. Physical therapy treatments may include exercise, massage therapy, ultrasound or electrical stimulation.
Creating a therapy plan involves a careful examination of a patient's medical history and an analysis of their current physical performance and function. Therapists often consult with other professionals involved in a patient's care, such as physicians, occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists, during the course of treatment.
The majority of physical therapists work in hospitals or the offices of physical therapists. Many find employment in physicians' offices, home health care services, nursing care facilities and outpatient care centers, while others work in private practice or as researches or educators at universities and physical therapy schools.
To practice in their profession, physical therapists must hold a master's degree from an accredited physical therapy program and pass national and state licensing exams. Physical therapy schools typically offer course work in basic science, including biology, chemistry and physics. Some specialized classes include biomechanics, human growth and development, examination techniques and therapeutic procedures. Earning a master's in the field generally takes two years beyond attaining an undergraduate degree.
Physical therapists must possess the interpersonal skills and compassion necessary to communicate with patients regarding their physical therapy needs. For some patients, treatment may occur once or twice a week for a few months; for others, it may continue on a long-term basis. Therapists need to establish a caring, trusting relationship with their patients as a means to achieving their goals for rehabilitation.
Personal Training and Physical Therapy
Careers Share a Common Foundation
At the root of physical therapy and personal training stands physical health. Both professions play a crucial role in the wellbeing of the clients they serve, and both remain in high demand for the same primary reason—their ability to deliver life-changing results. Find a personal training school or physical therapy school to start your rewarding career today!
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