Training v. Working Out and Coaches v. Trainers

I need to get this off of my chest.  I’m on a one man crusade to change the language of the gym, if only our own.  The fact is, I prefer the terms coach to trainer and training to working out.  I’ve been thinking about this for a while and finally this terminology has become a regular part of my vocabulary.  When I looked up the definitions there is certainly some overlap and gray area.  And sure it may be semantics but let me explain.


Working out, or the even more vague exercising, are not bad things.  I’m not trying to vilify those things.  They both involve a person moving their body which is arguably the single most important part in all of this.  However, working out, especially for Joe Average walking down the street, often means doing a bunch of random stuff that makes you sweaty and tired but without a lot of rhyme or reason.  There is likely a goal in mind but the exercise or exercises do not necessarily reflect that.  There may or may not be progressions, a specific exercise order or even a plan upon entering the gym each day.  Training to me is different and ideally the more appropriate terminology.  It does not have to be reserved for high level athletes.  All you need is some purpose and a plan and you are no longer working out all willy-nilly, you are thinking more long term and working toward a goal.  Each day builds on the last with the understanding that even if today isn’t the best, it’s a process.  Staying the course will pay dividends long term.  Again, exercising is fine.  Just save that for when you take the dog for a walk, not when you finally get that third chin up you’ve been working toward and in the process earned a body that you love and makes you more confident.



To me the term trainer, as opposed to coach, brings a couple thoughts to mind.  One is someone working with animals and teaching them tricks or how to behave.  Another is an athletic trainer, which is an appropriate term but more referring to the person often first on the scene of an injury to an athlete on the field, helping with recovery and therapy and/or taping your ankles for you.  As it relates to the gym, I think of a trainer as someone that might show you some things in the gym but probably doesn’t have a lot of experience and skill.  It doesn’t mean he or she is a bad person, just not very advanced.  Consider what thoughts the term coach evokes in your mind.  A entails more responsibility.  That person is a teacher, a leader and constantly working on his or her craft.  Again I prefer coach to trainer.  It my not be appropriate in every situation, just like training vs. working out, but discerning between the two is important to me.



I believe that the best gyms have coaches and their people train.  Goals may vary but there is at least some sort of plan, structure and reason for doing what you’re doing.  Working out is for both those that may have a goal but are unsure of the path and those that believe effort and sweat automatically equate to results, unaware if their effort is actually beneficial.

– Mike Baltren

1 thought on “Training v. Working Out and Coaches v. Trainers

  1. Moses Correa

    this is so true, thanks for sharing. AS Marty Gallegher says: " always have a plan when you are at the gym. Even if it is to not have a plan!"

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