Personal Trainer vs. Dietitian vs. Health Coach: Which is Better?

Deciding to make a change to a healthier lifestyle is a huge step. And after you decide to do that, the next step is figuring it out how These changes occur.

For many of us, that means getting some help. But who do you turn to?

A personal trainer can help you achieve a fitness goal and a registered dietitian can help you eat more healthily. And maybe you’ve heard of health coaches, but aren’t sure exactly what they do.

Here’s a guide to help you learn exactly what each of these specialists can help you with and how to find a qualified professional to help you succeed in reaching your specific goals.

What is a personal trainer?

“A personal trainer’s job is to help you achieve your fitness goals as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible,” explains Trevor Thieme, CSCS, Beachbody’s senior director of fitness and nutrition content.

They can customize a workout program based on your goals, workout preferences, mobility and fitness level, and exercise experience, she adds.

Then, they’ll adjust that program as you progress to make sure you don’t hit a plateau. But it’s not just about the workout.

“A good trainer will motivate you and make exercise enjoyable,” says Thieme. “This is important because exercise enjoyment and motivation are key to exercise consistency, which is one of the most important factors in achieving any fitness goal.”

The hard thing to remember is that almost anyone can call themselves an expert, even if they’re not certified — just look at all the “fitness influencers” on Instagram.

And not all certifications are created equal.

“When considering a personal trainer, make sure their certification is recognized by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies,” says Thieme. “Some of the top certifications come from NSCA, NASM, ACE, ISSA, and ACSM.”

You should choose a personal trainer if…

  • You want to achieve your fitness goals as efficiently, effectively, safely and as quickly as possible.
  • You are motivated by one-on-one coaching.
  • You need – and can afford – this level of responsibility.

How to Find a Certified Personal Trainer

“Don’t assume that the trainer at your local gym is certified or knowledgeable,” Thieme says.

Research instructors online or ask them questions in person or over the phone to find out what certification programs they have completed.

You can also search for instructors online at the sites of many certified organizations.

“The key is to find someone who specializes in your goals — whether it’s weight loss, muscle gain, improving endurance and cardiorespiratory fitness, enhancing athletic performance, or some combination of these,” says Thiem.

It is equally important to make sure that they blend well with your personality! “It’s not their job to be your friend, but you have to enjoy working with them,” adds Thiem.

What is a registered dietitian?

“A registered dietitian is an expert in food and nutrition science,” explains Krista Maguire, RD, Beachbody’s nutrition manager. To earn RD or RDN certification (the acronyms can be used interchangeably to refer to a registered dietitian nutritionist), they must:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree awarded by a US regionally accredited college/university (or foreign equivalent).
  • Complete an Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD).
  • Complete a 1,200-hour (6- to 12-month) ACEND-accredited supervised internship at a health care facility, community agency, and/or food service corporation.
  • Pass a national exam administered by the Dietetic Registration Commission.
  • Complete continuing professional education requirements to maintain registration on an ongoing basis.

More than half of RDs have advanced degrees. Some RDs also hold additional certifications in areas such as sports nutrition or diabetes, and they can help with more than just meal planning or weight loss.

“Those who specialize in clinical nutrition use medical nutrition therapy to help with a variety of health conditions; Some focus more on specific populations such as pediatrics, geriatrics, or athletes; And others can help with food allergies, digestive issues, disease prevention and management, eating disorders… the list goes on!” Maguire said.

Some will join you at the grocery store, eat meals, or sweep the pantry at your house.

You should choose a registered dietitian if…

  • Whether you want personalized, science-based diet guidance or if you just want general healthy eating advice.
  • You want a meal plan tailored just for you.
  • You want to lose weight without falling into the latest diet trap.
  • You want a diet suitable for a specific health condition.

How to find a registered dietitian

Find an RD in your area on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.

You can search by zip code as well as areas of expertise (food allergies, diabetes, weight management, vegetarian nutrition, etc.).

You can check if the provider has a website or call them to find out about their specializations and any other certifications they have.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re unclear what something means!

It’s also important to ask how they work with clients and make sure they can help you meet your goals, Maguire says.

What is a health coach?

A health coach is just that – a coach who helps you make lifestyle changes to be healthier.

“Most people know what they should do, but they don’t do it. A health coach helps you identify barriers to changing your behavior and then sets realistic goals for fitting those behaviors into your life,” explains Lauren Schroer, director of product development for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) who developed the ACE Health Coach. helped Certification

A health coach can help with a variety of goals, including exercise, healthy eating, sleep, quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol consumption.

In the first session, you will discuss your goals, and the coach will ask questions to determine why you want to make these changes and what is preventing you from achieving your goals.

These conversations often uncover obstacles you hadn’t noticed, Schroer says.

Then, your health coach will set SMART goals with you. If you haven’t achieved those goals by the next session, at that point you’ll identify why not and adjust the initial goals. If you reach your goal, you set new ones.

You should choose a health coach if…

  • You don’t need a workout plan or a meal plan.
  • You know what you need to do to get healthy, but need help identifying and overcoming obstacles to doing so.

How to find a health coach

Schroer explained that there are several organizations that offer health and wellness certifications with a slightly different slant.

For example, some focus on nutrition, while others have more of a spiritual component. Check out Health Coach Certification and what it means.

“Work with a trainer whose philosophy and teachings support your needs,” Schroer says.

Some health coaches also offer group coaching. These sessions go through the same exercises you would do one-on-one but at a more affordable price.

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