Confused by the new government guidelines on exercising outdoors since 29 March? Here, we answer your questions on whether you’re allowed to work out with a friend, share exercise equipment, and continue your personal training sessions.
In the excitement of the new rule of six and short-lived sunshine, you may not have given a thought about what the new lockdown rules mean for your workout routine. However, the changes do mean big things for how and where you can exercise – particularly if you’re a lover of group fitness.
Given that it’s been a year since England first went into lockdown, the new guidelines are probably the motivational boost you need. With a couple of weeks until gyms reopen, the novelty of new year goals wearing off and many months of home workouts under our belts, changing up your routine is the best way to get out of your fitness funk.
In fact, you shouldn’t underestimate the impact of missing your mates during a workout – the benefits of training with someone else range from more enjoyable workouts to better performance. Here’s the guidance on when, where and who you’re allowed to sweat it out with.
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Can I exercise with a friend?
In England, outside exercise in your local area with people in your house or one person from another household has been allowed for the entirety of the lockdown. But recent changes, imposed from 29 March, now allow group exercise to take place outside.
If you and your friends want to take place in a group HIIT circuit in the park you can do so with up to six people from different households, or a larger group of any size from up to two households. However, ‘formally organised’ sporting or exercise events have no maximum capacity. “This must be organised by a business, charity or public body and the organiser must take the required precautions, including the completion of a risk assessment,” according to the guidelines.
You can also exercise in official outdoor sport and leisure facilities (such as an outside tennis court) and in private gardens (such as your friend’s garden). Outdoor pools are also open for swimming.
However, the ‘stay local’ message still remains, so people are advised to not travel too far from home in order to exercise with friends or join outdoor classes. Fitness membership platform ClassPass have launched a service to find the best outside workout classes near you, and many gyms are also taking their training to local parks (and even their car park) to support you through the last few weeks of lockdown. Alternatively, now might be the time to try that park bootcamp you’ve had your eyes on.
Can I share equipment with a friend?
If you’re thinking about taking your resistance bands or dumbbells to the park for a socially distanced workout with a friend, things get a bit more complicated. There is no current advice on the government website that indicates whether you can share kit, but in May it stated: “Where possible we recommend that you limit sharing of equipment, for example you should use your own tennis racquet, golf club or basketball, but if you do, practice strict hand hygiene.”
Sport England says that when exercising with a friend “shared equipment can’t be used with somebody not from your household, and social distancing must always be maintained.” Again, this is probably a case of common sense: if you wouldn’t shake their hand, it’s best not to share kit.
Can I train with a personal trainer?
Yes, you can still meet your personal trainer as you meet anyone else in an outdoor space for a one-on-one session, or for a group session if you stick to the rule of six. Just remember to stay two metres away from your trainer (so no spotting) and bring your own equipment.
Keep up to date with all of the latest lockdown information, including updates on exercise advice, on the government website here.
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Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).
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