The latest England lockdown guidance FAQs

Exercising outdoors

Please be aware that Government guidance and laws are always evolving – if we become aware of any changes we will update here. Please always check that you are insured for any activity you are doing, and make sure you have permission to use any public outdoor spaces.

When working within the guidance below, we would urge everyone to exercise caution and prioritise the safety of themselves, clients and the wider community. Please always maintain social distancing and good hygiene protocols.

Further resources:

Updated 1 April 2021 - now including guidance from Step 2 (12 April)


Can I run personal training sessions outdoors?

From 29 March
People can meet outdoors for informal exercise and recreation in groups of up to 6 people, or 2 households.

Outdoor personal training and coaching sessions are classed as organised outdoor sport, and can take place in larger numbers where it’s formally organised and follows Covid-secure guidance. It can take place in outdoor spaces, including people's gardens. People should maintain social distancing during the activity, and social interaction before and after the activity should only take place in separate groups of up to 6 people or 2 households.

Personal training cannot take place in people’s homes, unless they are classified as business premises.

For outdoor group exercise/group training, please see the question below.

Can I run group exercise/group training classes outdoors?

From 29 March
Group exercise and group training classes led by a qualified instructor are treated as an organised outdoor sport and can take place outdoors in line with the Return to Play guidance issued by EMD (UK). This includes risk assessments, PAR-Qs, Covid-19 symptom checks, social distancing and hygiene measures.

While there is no legal limit on numbers for organised outdoor sport, EMD (UK) and most insurers recommend a limit of 30 people including the instructor/s for group exercise. Please check to make sure you are covered for the activity.

Group exercise/training can take place in private gardens if there is enough space to safely maintain social distancing.

Do I or my clients need to check in using the NHS Track and Trace app for outdoor sport, PT or group exercise sessions?

When running sessions outdoors, you need to download your own QR code poster and ensure participants check-in before taking part in the class. Where participants cannot scan QR codes, you must manually record their attendance in accordance with GDPR regulations, keep details of all class attendees for 21 days and provide all data to NHS Test and Trace if requested.

Can I work with more than one client or group per day (outdoors) provided there is no overlap?

There is no limit on how many clients or groups you can work with in a day, as long as you leave a sensible time gap between sessions to avoid any overlap, and encourage participants to disperse quickly once each session is finished.

Can outdoor sports facilities open?

From 29 March
Outdoor sports facilities can reopen and be used in line with National Governing Body guidance. This includes, but is not limited to, outdoor swimming pools, outdoor gyms, skateparks, tennis and basketball courts, golf courses including adventure golf, and riding schools to enable outdoor sports in compliance with social gathering limits.

How far can I or my clients travel to take part in exercise or sport?

Instructors can travel for work where reasonably necessary and if it cannot be done from home. Participants should follow the latest Government guidance on travel. Participants should minimise time spent outside their home, but can leave home to exercise and take part in informal and organised sport and physical activity. People from different households are not allowed to share a car for travel to sport and physical activity sessions.

Can I use my own equipment for outdoor PT sessions?

Where possible you should run sessions without using equipment, or the client/s should provide their own. If you need to provide equipment for a client, you must make sure it is thoroughly sanitised before and after each use (including any benches or other surfaces that are used), and that you maintain social distancing at all times.

Can I take part in contact combat sports outdoors?

Contact combat sports can take place where it is formally organised and following the relevant national governing body guidance.

Adults: Organised contact combat sports can take place outdoors for adults in Phase 1 (padwork only) of the combat sport framework, in line with the relevant national governing body guidance.

Children: Organised contact combat sports for children can take place outdoors and indoors in Phase 2 of the combat sport framework.

National governing bodies for contact sports have developed action plans in line with the government’s Combat Sport Framework which takes into account the level of risk of their sport and how they can work to mitigate it to minimise Covid-19 transmission risk.

Can I use a gazebo or similar structure for outdoor sessions?

You can use a gazebo or canopy, provided it is open on two sides, provides adequate ventilation and does not create an enclosed space or a permanent structure.

Can I run training sessions in a private garden?

From 29 March
Personal training, group exercise and group training can take place in private gardens, when it’s formally organised and following Covid-secure guidance. Please see the detail above.

If you need to enter a house to access a garden, please move through quickly and avoid touching any surfaces.

Do I need to wear a face covering?

You don’t need to wear a face covering while exercising, but you should wear a face covering at all other times when at an indoor sports facility. You’re not required to wear face coverings while taking part in sport and physical activity.

Can I run personal training sessions inside a private home?

1:1 personal training sessions cannot take place within a private home, unless it is within a facility classified as business premises.

Can indoor gyms, leisure centres, sports and community facilities open?

From 8 March, indoor facilities can open if contracted to deliver school lessons.

From 12 April, indoor sports facilities can reopen to the public, including gyms and leisure centres, indoor courts and pitches, swimming pools, fitness studios and multi-sport facilities (such as climbing walls, driving ranges, archery venues and indoor skate parks and snow sport facilities).

Facilities should open in line with the government’s Sport Facility guidance, including:
  • Indoor facilities are for individual use only or within household groups.
  • The maximum occupancy of an indoor facility must allow a minimum of 100 square feet (9.3 square metres) per person
  • Personal training sessions can take place inside a gym or leisure facility on a 1:1 basis, or with one household.
  • Group sessions and exercise classes, and indoor sports/activities that require more than one person (for example, badminton, bowls etc.), cannot take place unless you’re playing with someone from within your household/support bubble.
  • Organised indoor sport in groups is allowed for under-18s, following sport-specific guidance where appropriate
  • Parent and child activities can take place indoors and outdoors with a limit of 15 attendees. Children under the age of five do not count towards the attendee limit.
  • Indoor sports courts and climbing walls can re-open.
  • Changing rooms and shower facilities can be opened, but you should encourage participants to avoid or minimise use where possible (for example, by arriving in kit and showering at home) and to minimise the time they spend in the changing area.
  • Participants should social distance whilst in changing rooms. More than one household can use changing facilities at one time but they must not mix and must adhere to capacity limits.

Private and home gyms that are classified as business premises can also reopen, following the same guidance.

ukactive has more detail on the operational guidance for indoor facilities including capacity, ventilation and cleaning.

Can group exercise classes take place indoors?

Based on the current roadmap, the earliest date for indoor group exercise will be Step 3 (set to be 17 May).

Can I take part in contact combat sports indoors?

What is permitted depends on whether it is for children or adults.

Adults: Organised contact combat sports can take place indoors for adults in Phase 1 (padwork only) of the combat sport framework, in line with the relevant national governing body guidance. It can only take place individually or in one to one coaching sessions in line with wider government restrictions on access to indoor facilities.

Children: Organised contact combat sports for children (under 18s) can take place in Phase 2 of the combat sports framework, in line with the relevant national governing body guidance. Groups should follow the Out of School Setting guidance on numbers within a session which is available on the government’s website.

National governing bodies for contact sports have developed action plans in line with the government’s Combat Sport Framework, which takes into account the level of risk of their sport and how they can work to mitigate it to minimise Covid-19 transmission risk.

Can I open my home gym/fitness studio?

Private and home gyms that are classified as business premises can reopen from April 12, following the same guidance as for indoor sports facilities.

Can indoor facilities be used for staff training and educational purposes?

Indoor facilities can be used for coach education or training courses that are working towards an external accreditation recognised by a professional body. This is permitted within the education exemption, therefore the courses should follow the Department for Education guidance.

Can I use an indoor facility for filming online classes?

If this is something you cannot reasonably do from home and you will not come into contact with anyone else, then it is permitted to film an online class from inside a gym.

Are there exceptions for children and young people?

Children under 5 are not counted towards the gatherings limits for exercising outside.

Schools and colleges have the flexibility to decide how physical education, sport and physical activity will be provided while following the measures in their system of controls. Pupils should be kept in consistent groups, with sports equipment thoroughly cleaned between each use by different individual groups.

Out-of-school settings and wraparound childcare providers can offer indoor and outdoor sports provision to all children, where it’s being used for the purposes of supporting their parents to work, seek work, undertake education or training, attend a medical appointment or address a medical need, or to attend a support group; and for other limited purposes. Vulnerable children will be able to access this provision under any circumstance.

Please see the Government guidance on education settings for more detail.

From 12 April, children (anyone under 18 on 31 August 2020) can take part in indoor activity, including sport, regardless of circumstance. This includes in businesses which otherwise cannot open until Step 3, such as ice rinks and trampoline parks.

Indoor sport for children must be formally organised meaning it is organised by a qualified instructor, club, national governing body, company or charity and follow sport-specific guidance where appropriate.

Are there exceptions for people with disabilities?

From 29 March, organised outdoor and indoor sport for disabled people is allowed to continue. National governing bodies providing sport formats for disabled people will set out how they can deliver this provision in line with existing guidance on social distancing and Covid-secure measures.

People who provide essential support (e.g. carers) to disabled people are exempt, and don’t count towards gathering limits, including indoors. Therefore, disabled participants can be supported by a carer(s)/personal assistant(s) while taking part in exercise. This can be in addition to others from your household, support bubble or one person from another household – this could be a coach.  Up to 2 carers for a person with a disability who needs continuous care, are not counted towards the gatherings limits for exercising outside.

Social distancing should be maintained where possible, but in some circumstances people will need physical assistance to be active. It’s important you discuss this with the person to consider their needs and preferences. 

Any sports coaches or trainers undertaking one-to-one sessions should ensure they’re complying with relevant national governing body safeguarding policies and procedures and conduct a thorough risk assessment before engaging in any sessions. This should include particular consideration for under-18s and vulnerable adults. 

Are there exceptions for elite sports coaching and training?

Elite sportspeople (and their coaches if necessary, or parents/guardians if they are under 18) - or those on an official elite sports pathway - are permitted to meet in larger groups to compete and train. See the Sport England FAQs for more detail.


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