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What’s the Difference Between a Certified Athletic Trainer and a personal trainer?

Let’s Discuss Certified Athletic Trainers vs Personal Trainers

“Oh, I bet you’re in great shape!” “I need you to help me lose weight.” “Can you make me a workout plan?” Every Athletic Trainer has heard these statements and similar ones after first introducing themselves and their occupation. So, what is the difference between a Certified Athletic Trainer and a personal trainer? The terms are very similar, so it makes sense that people would be easily confused. Typically, my response is something like “Actually, you know those people that run out on the football field when someone gets hurts – that’s what I do.” It’s much easier to give an example than to try and explain everything that an AT is capable of because there’s so much!

An Athletic Trainer, as defined by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, is a highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professional who collaborates with physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. In order to call yourself an AT you must graduate from an accredited master’s program, pass a board exam and in 49 states you are also required to be licensed in order to practice. AT’s must always have their CPR, First Aid and basic life support certification up to date and complete continuing education hours every year. All this to say that Athletic Trainers can do anything from perform chest compressions on a heart attack patient to taking a professional football player through an entire ACL rehabilitation process. In the past they were associated mainly with college and professional athletics, but these days they are employed by clinics, hospitals, performing arts companies, police and fire departments and even health departments in commercial settings.

A personal trainer is someone who works one-on-one with a client to implement a fitness regimen. They have an understanding of human anatomy and physiology and are great motivators. Personal trainers inspire their clients to reach for their goals and hold them accountable for their diet and routines outside of the gym. Personal trainers must pass an exam in order to practice and are obtain a certification. The top 5 certifications are from the American Council on Exercise, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the American College of Sports Medicine, the International Sports Sciences Association and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Many of these courses require pre-requisite classes and a CPR and First Aid certification before even beginning them. Personal trainers are also required to complete continuing education hours.

Ultimately the best way to stay healthy and fit is to work with both types of professionals. One will make sure you are exercising properly and safely and the other can address any soreness or injuries you may incur while getting into shape.

Active Recovery for Runners: An oxymoron or something more?

active recovery

 

Believe it or not, research shows that active recovery is the best way to keep your maintain your fitness on days off.  Active recovery, or cross training, is taking a break from your normal training regimen by doing another activity.  For instance, a football player may swim laps on his off day.  Working out instead of remaining completely sedentary has been shown to aid in recovery by increasing blood flow to damaged tissues and reducing the amount of atrophy that occurs to muscles even 24 hours post workout.

 

If you are training 5-6 days per week consider incorporating one of these workouts into your schedule.

 

1. Riding a Bike

Biking is a great way to actively recover without exhausting your body.  There’s less impact on your joints when biking as compared to running and depending upon the terrain you can increase the difficulty of the exercise.   If biking isn’t necessarily an activity you enjoy invite some friends to ride with you on a Saturday morning and make it a social event.  The miles will fly by and you’ll hardly notice the time.

 

active recovery

2. Running on the AlterG

The AlterG is a state of the art treadmill that uses NASA technology to decrease your body weight up to 20%.  For active recovery purposes, it’s best to set your body weight percentage at 85-90%.  Even this small decrease in weight relieves pressure on your ankles, knees, and hips while still allowing your body to go through the normal running motion.  Running on the AlterG even once a week can increase your speed and add to your mileage.

Schedule your Alter-G session, here: BOOK YOUR SESSION 

3. Swimming

People tend to disregard swimming even though it’s fantastic whole body cardio exercise because it involves a little more preparation.   However, throwing a swimsuit and towel into your gym bag pales in comparison to the benefits of a 30-minute swim.  Swimming laps at an even pace adds to your oxygen capacity and is a resistance exercise for your upper body, which may get neglected during training.

 

So whether you’re training for your first 5k or your 20th marathon, remember to stay active on those off days!