Can you exercise with a friend during the coronavirus lockdown? Your questions, answered

Posted by for Strong Women

Confused by the latest government guidelines on exercising outdoors? 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. 

We’re under lockdown for the third time, and on top of that we’re facing the latest restrictions during the gloomiest months of the year. If, by this point, your exercise motivation has fallen a bit flat, don’t be too hard on yourself. Running out of steam is completely understandable, particularly if you’re used to working out with a friend. 

According to PureGym, the benefits of working out with a friend include everything from increased motivation to more enjoyable workouts. And, research conducted by the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University found that people who exercise together are far less likely to give up on their gym memberships, with 43% of people who worked out alone cancelling theirs within a year, compared to just 6.3% of those who exercised together.

But the guidance can be confusing, and you may be unsure as to whether you and your workout buddy are still allowed to meet up. So we thought we’d clear things up for those of you who are itching to get back out there, whether with a friend or your personal trainer

Can I exercise with a friend?

In England, current government guidance advises that you “limit time spent outdoors, but you can leave your home to exercise. This includes but is not limited to running, cycling, walking, and swimming.” You are free to do that with members of your household or support bubble (where you are allowed to form one), as well as with one other person from another household as long as social distancing is maintained. 

As well as gyms and indoor swimming pools, outdoor sports facilities have also closed, including tennis courts and golf courses, but you can still exercise in outdoor public places including parks, beaches, the countryside and public gardens. However, you can’t exercise with anyone outside of your household in a private outside space – so that means your friend can’t train in your back garden. 

Following this advice also requires common sense. For example, if you are running with someone that you don’t live with, be careful not to take your workout down narrow pathways where you can’t stay two metres apart or you avoid cutting up other users of the space. 

Socially distanced exercise is OK

The government advice also states that “children under five, and up to two carers for a person with a disability who needs continuous care, are not counted towards the gatherings limit of two people meeting outside.” This means, for example, that a parent with a baby can still go for a walk with a friend.

The rules also specify that you can only leave your home to exercise once a day, and that you should not travel outside your local area to do so. 

Can I share equipment with a friend?

If you’re thinking about taking your bats and balls, resistance bands or dumbbells to the park for a socially distanced workout with a friend, things get a bit more complicated. In May the government advice 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.”

However, according to Sport England, this time things are not so free. They say 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.”

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 everyone is a part of the same household or support bubble. Just remember to stay two metres away from your trainer 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.  

Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts.

Images: Getty / Unsplash

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