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Who To Call — Physical Therapist or Personal Trainer?

By Kelly K Veit, DPT January 30 February 2nd, 2023 No Comments

You’ve finally realized that it’s time to exercise. You want to keep your body strong so you can enjoy all those fun things in life. Or maybe you just want to be able to walk to the mailbox easier. At some point we all get to that moment when we realize there needs to be a change. But who do you call? A physical therapist? A personal trainer? Both are qualified to help, but there are some significant differences between the two. Understanding those differences can help make the decision easier.


Physical Therapists (PTs) are trained individuals who must graduate from a certified Physical Therapy program with either a master’s degree or doctorate degree and pass a state licensure exam. Classroom time plus clinical time can take 6-7 years. PTs complete extensive courses in anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, neuroscience, pharmacology, ethics, pulmonology, cardiovascular systems and more. They are trained to diagnose and treat people of all ages. PTs can care for those who are overcoming an injury, surgery, disability, chronic health conditions, or anyone who simply wants to improve their physical well-being and prevent any future injuries. To maintain a state licensure they are required to complete continuing education courses to maintain their skills. PTs can work in a variety of settings including your home, hospital, rehab center, outpatient clinic and schools.


Being able to work out with a Physical Therapist outside of insurance is often an unknown for individuals. Most people think that physical therapy is only available when prescribed by medical doctors following surgery, illness or injury to rehab an affected area. But in reality, everyone has access to physical therapy through private pay. Physical Therapists are available, like personal trainers, to work with individuals who are seeking to improve their overall health, overcome a health condition, build strength and prevent injuries. The benefit of working out with a physical therapist is their training and knowledge of balancing strength exercise and injury prevention. If the individual is sore or tired, your physical therapist will know to alter the exercise routine to accommodate those situations without causing more stress and injury.


Personal trainers are typically people who have a passion for fitness and exercise. No advanced degree is required, a high school diploma or GED is sufficient. To work with clients, they must pass a certification exam from one of a variety of licensing bodies. Trainers may then take additional classes to choose a specialty or take advanced certification exams. Trainers are not required to hold a state license to work with clients. They can work with people of any age. Most trainers work in gyms and some offer to work in a client’s home.


While PTs and personal trainers both work to meet the goals of their clients in strength and conditioning, there are big differences regarding education and training of each. The skill set of one over the other may not work for a specific client. When searching for the most appropriate person to work with to meet your physical goals, it’s important to consider your own personal situation. Are you fairly healthy? Do you have previous injuries? Are you currently having pain with movements? Do you have a complicated medical history? Also to consider is location. Would you be comfortable going to a gym or is it easier to have someone come to you.


If you are interested in speaking with a Physical Therapist–we offer a free consultation. At Tandem Strength and Balance, we only employ licensed Physical Therapists. Their knowledge background, years of experience, and continuing education give our clients the best tools to meet their goals. Clients are evaluated to understand their current physical status, any medical complications, their previous functional level, and discuss strengths and weaknesses. From that information an individualized plan is developed with the steps necessary to meet the client’s goals. The security knowing that you are working with a licensed PT can help alleviate any concerns you may have about additional health issues. You can focus on the work to get stronger with complete confidence in achieving your goals. Regardless of age or diagnosis, we help you to get strong and stay strong!

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