Personal Training vs Physical Therapy: What’s the Difference?

Most people are familiar with these terms but don’t exactly know the difference between the two disciplines. It also makes it very confusing that personal training and physical therapy are often both referred to as “PT.” Read below for a quick comparison between the two!

What is Personal Training?

A personal fitness trainer is (as defined by National Federation of Professional Trainers),

a fitness professional possessing the knowledge, skills and abilities for safe and effective exercise and fitness program design, instruction and assistance for the purpose of reaching personal health and fitness goals.”

Education Requirements:

Certification is required and some (not all) associations require an Associates or Bachelor’s degree in a related field (Exercise Science or Kinesiology).

What Can They Do:

  • Measure your body composition
  • Asses your current fitness level (flexibility, strength and endurance for example)
  • Prescribe a personalized exercise program
  • Instruct exercise programs with emphasis on proper technique


What is Physical Therapy?

Physical Therapists are licensed health care professionals that diagnose and treat individuals to restore their abilities to move, function, and prevent disability.


Education Requirements

A Physical Therapist must complete a graduate degree-either masters or clinical doctorate from an accredited program. State licensure is also required to practice as a Physical Therapist.

What can they Do:

  • Diagnose movement dysfunction
  • Consult with patients to learn about their physical condition and symptoms
  • Develop a treatment plan
  • Instruct patients on proper exercise technique
  • Provide stimulation, massage, or various manual techniques
  • Maintain patient records, prescribing and monitoring goals and progress
  • Instruct the patient and family about in-home exercises

Both professions are similar as they are patient/client facing, but have different scopes of practice, educational requirements, and work environments.

This is only a short list of differences between the two disciples. Still want more information? Follow along with any RET clinic on social medial all month as we celebrate Physical Therapy Month!

RET Physical Therapy Group has been “Your neighborhood physical therapy clinic,” since it was founded in 1973. The company is made up of 24 locations in the Puget Sound area that are all locally owned and operated by a team of physical therapists focused on a single purpose: to provide consistent, quality patient care within neighborhoods and communities. For more information, visit






You may also like

Free Screen on Us

We offer complimentary screens at all RET locations. If you’ve been dealing with a nagging injury or persistent pain, don’t wait any longer.