Personal trainer or health coach? Here's how to choose

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When looking to get in shape and improve your health, there are important differences between choosing a health coach or a personal trainer. (KABC)

Candice Witek is a certified health coach. A job that has her wearing many hats.

"Stress reduction techniques and gratitude practices. It's all about health and getting them to love who they are," said Witek.

That means assisting with meal prep, meal plans, shopping, and recipes. While Witek also helps clients with workouts and finding ways to move more, it's not the same as personal training.

"We write a program for you so you can safely and effectively achieve your goals," said Marc Natividad, level three personal trainer at The Bay Club in Santa Monica.

Marc Natividad makes it sound simple but there's a lot behind what he does. He's trained for 22 years and holds personal trainer and specialty certifications. From working with the elderly to pregnant athletes, he provides a comprehensive program and helps clients stay with it.

Professional health and wellness coach Jackie Keller who sees a place for both coaches and trainers breaks it down this way.

"A coach that's trained as a professional coach knows how to help the individual uncover their own expertise, uncover their own path it's a totally different dynamic. It's a different way of helping your client. There's validity in both," Keller said.

Keller holds the highest level of certification from The International Coaching Federation. She mentioned there is a new certification test that is reviewed by the National Board of Medical Examiners. She was one of the first to pass this review.

Whether or not you hire a personal trainer or a health coach, ask to see their accreditation because there are many different organizations out there and there can be some education that takes as little as a weekend.

"There are online courses which you can complete in a weekend or days and there are other very extensive programs which you actually have to intern for six months to a year," said Natividad.

He suggests these questions:

"Have they worked for a club? How long have they been in business? If you are working privately do you have insurance, do you have a business license? And please verify it," he recommends.

So do people ask Witek to check her accreditation?

"Wow! None, believe it or not but I have it all on my website," said Witek.

The bottom line: trainer or coach, do your homework to make sure you've got the best.
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