Guidance FAQs for England from 23rd December

Please note that this information supersedes any previously published guidance on the new Tier system for England.

The Government guidance can be found here.
For the Tier 4 Government guidance here.
Sport England has also produced a set of FAQs.

Can I run personal training sessions outdoors?
  • Tier 1,2&3: Personal training can take place in groups of up to 6 people from different households (including the instructor), in a public outdoor space. This means you can train up to 5 people at a time from different households.
  • Tier 1,2&3: Personal training can also take place in larger groups when it is organised by a qualified instructor and follows the Government guidance on “Organised sports participation events”.
  • Tier 4:Personal training can take place in an outdoor public space (such as a park, outdoor sports facility or public garden) between a qualified trainer and up to two people from different households, while maintaining social distancing and other Covid-secure guidance.

Can outdoor sports facilities open in Tier 4?
  • In Tier 4, outdoor sports facilities are allowed to open and can be used by individual households, bubbles or two people from different households. This applies to outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, golf courses, outdoor swimming pools, archery/driving/shooting ranges, riding centres and playgrounds.

Can I run group exercise classes outdoors?
  • Tier 1,2&3: Organised outdoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes can continue in larger groups (now with no limit on numbers) in a public outdoor space, following Covid-secure guidance and with social distancing between all participants.
    - Within these larger events, in Tiers 1&2 participants must not gather in groups of more than 6 people, and in Tier 3, participants must not mix with people from outside their household or support bubble (see below for definition of mixing).
    - In Tier 3, sports which involve high-risk elements (such as prolonged face proximity) may have to be modified to be played safely. Please refer to your NGB guidance for details.
  • Outdoor exercise classes fall under the “Organised sports participation events” guidance. Please also see the guidance in the EMD UK Return to Play pack.
    - In Tier 4 outdoor classes are not allowed - the limit is 1:2 personal training (see above). There are exemptions for outdoor activity for disabled people, supervised sport for U18s, elite sport and sport as part of an education curriculum.

Can gyms, leisure centres and sports facilities open?
  • Tier 1,2&3: Most sport facilities such as gyms/leisure centres, courts and pitches can remain open across all tiers, except indoor skating rinks which must close in Tier 3 areas. However measures to control the infection rate may restrict the number of people who can gather, the activities that can take place, and the services that can be provided (such as food and drink sales). These are set out in the guidance for sport facility operators.
  • Tier 4: All indoor sports and leisure facilities have to close, with exemptions for education and training, childcare purposes, supervised activities for children and for elite sportspeople to train and compete.

Can I run group exercise classes indoors in a gym, fitness studio or leisure centre?
  • Tier 1&2: Indoor exercise classes can take place. There is no upper limit on class size but you must ensure you have 3m x 3m per person for movement classes or 2m x 2m per person for static classes and have divided the usable floor space by 100sq ft / 9sq m per person for maximum capacity numbers.
    - In Tier 1, participants can be in separate groups of up to 6 people, as long as they do not mix with other groups (see below for definition of mixing).
    - In Tier 2: people from different households should not mix
  • Tier 3: No group exercise classes can take place indoors, unless within a household or bubble.
  • There are exemptions to the limitations on organised indoor sport for people with disabilities, sport for educational purposes and supervised activities (including sport and physical activity) for under-18s, which can continue with any number of participants.
  • For any group exercise you should ensure all COVID guidelines in the EMD UK Return to Play pack are adhered to.
  • In Tier 4: Indoor facilities must close, apart from the exemptions detailed above.

Can community centres be used for exercise classes?
  • Tier 1&2: Yes, when following the same guidance as for gyms and leisure centres and at the discretion of the owner/operator of the facility.
  • Tier 3: No group exercise classes can take place indoors, unless within a household or bubble.
  • Tier 4: Indoor facilities must close, apart from the exemptions detailed above.

Can I run personal training sessions within a gym or studio?
  • Tier 1: You can run Personal Training sessions in groups of more than six people, as long as people are in separate groups of six that do not mix.
  • Tier 2: You can run Personal Training sessions in groups of more than six people, as long as there is no mixing between people from different households. Please see below for a definition of mixing.
  • Tier 3: 1:1 Personal Training and coaching is allowed indoors, but should take place in a gym or sports facility rather than a private house.
  • In Tier 4: Indoor facilities must close, apart from the exemptions detailed above.

Can I train someone inside a private home?
  • Tier 1: You can work in groups of up to six people (including you) from different households, while maintaining social distancing and hygiene guidance.
  • Tier 2: You can do 1:1 training in a private home, while maintaining social distancing and hygiene guidance.
  • Tier 3: Personal training sessions should not take place in a private house, but can take place in a gym or sports facility.
  • In Tier 4: You cannot visit another person's home.

Can 1:1 personal training take place with a disabled person inside a private home?
  • Tier 1,2&3 : Yes. People who provide essential support to disabled people are exempt, and do not count towards gathering limits.
  • Tier 4: The exemption for disabled people is only for tiers 1-3. There are no exemptions for disabled people taking part in sport and physical activity indoors in tier 4, although organised outdoor sport is permitted for disabled people.

Can I use a private garden for personal training or exercise classes?
  • Tier 1&2: You can work in groups of up to six people (including you) from different households in a private garden, while maintaining social distancing.
  • Tier 3&4: You can’t have anyone from another household within a private home or garden.

Can I use my home gym or home fitness studio?
  • Tier 1,2&3: If this is used for solely business purposes you can reopen it, following the same rules as for indoor gyms and leisure facilities in your tier.
  • In Tier 4: Indoor facilities must close, apart from the exemptions detailed above.

Can I do pad work with a client?
  • Although pad work is permitted in Tier 1 only it is not currently allowed in a fitness environment. We are continuing to work with EMD, Sport England and England Boxing to map to their guidance for our sector which will have to be approved by DCMS before you can partake in any pad work.

What does “no social mixing” mean?
  • It means maintaining at least 2m distance between people from different households at all times and also ensuring that there is no socialising before or after a class i.e. people do not travel together, gather to chat, get changed etc... Social interaction before and after playing any sport or activity should be extremely limited and only take place in line with legal gathering limits and other relevant restrictions. Participants should arrive, do the activity and then leave straight away.

Do I need to wear a face covering?
  • Face coverings are required in most indoor settings. Although this does not include gyms and leisure centres, some facilities may require you to wear them before or after activity. Face coverings should not be worn while exercising.
  • CIMSPA and EMD UK also recommend that you and participants wear face coverings outdoors until the session is ready to begin. See the EMD UK Return to Play pack for more guidance on running group exercise classes.

Can I travel between tiers to work and can people travel between tiers to visit a gym or take a class?
  • Instructors can travel between tiers to work, but travel should be minimised. When travelling from Tier 1 to Tier 2 you should follow Tier 2 rules.
  • Participants can travel between Tiers 1 and 2 to take part in exercise, but travel should be minimised.
  • When travelling from Tier 2 to Tier 1, you should follow the Tier 2 rules.
  • People should avoid travelling into or out of Tier 3 or Tier 4 unless it’s necessary for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities.For more detail on Tier 4 travel, click here.

Working with U18’s
  • All organised activity for children is exempt from legal gathering limits. This includes organised indoor team sports and all supervised sporting activity including group exercise for under-18s. However appropriate care should still be taken when running activities for under-18s. All instructors running activities for children should consult the Department for Education’s guidance on protective measures for out-of-school settings, which sets out practical steps providers of community activities, holiday clubs, after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school provision for children should follow to minimise the risk of transmission for children attending their settings.

Can professional coaching/education courses continue?
  • You can continue to travel into or out of tier 3 and 4 areas, and take part in a sporting activity, if you need to for work, education and training.
  • This means that professional training that is working towards an external accreditation recognised by a professional body (e.g. an national governing body coaching course) can go ahead across all tiers. For practical activity sessions, you should follow national governing body/training provider guidelines.
  • The exemption from legal gathering limits and travel restrictions for education covers curriculum activity provided by a school or further/higher education provider (such as a college or university).

CIMSPA has several digital resources available to support the sector during the coronavirus crisis, including:

  • ReTrain - a £1.5m training initiative designed to retool the sport and physical activity workforce, funded by The National Lottery through Sport England.
  • ReActive - Refresh your Covid training and return to sport and physical activity with confidence.
  • ReOpen - an online hub offering guidance and resources to support the sector in reopening facilities, when permitted.
  • Stronger Together Hub - a range of resources and advice to support businesses and individuals.
  • Stronger Together Facebook Group - an open community for all those working in the sector.


The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity

CIMSPA’s work enhances the career opportunities and professional development of the workforce operating in sport, fitness, exercise, leisure, gyms, coaching, outdoor exercise, health and wellbeing. We achieve this through sector-wide engagement, membership, networking, events, directories and professional standards.

Incorporated by Royal Charter Charity registration number 1144545

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