Guidance on indoor training and group exercise in England

Please use this summary together with the content on CIMSPA’s ReOpen hub and the detailed guidance provided by the Government, ukactive and EMD UK.

Risk Assessment

  • All instructors must prepare a written Covid-19 risk assessment prior to activity.
  • Instructors who use third party-owned or managed facilities should work with the management of that facility to ensure these guidelines are followed.
  • Each facility should have a specific facility operations plan that incorporates a full risk assessment. Instructors should ask to see this risk assessment and satisfy themselves that it is comprehensive.
  • For further information, see the “Managing Risk” section in the Government guidance for gym/leisure facilities.

Social Distancing, Ventilation and Hygiene

  • The Government guidance specifies a minimum of 100 sq ft of space per person for indoor facilities. For this figure, the area is the net usable indoor facility space available to members to use, including changing rooms, toilet and wash facilities.
  • For the avoidance of doubt, 100 sq ft is a space 10ft x 10ft or equivalent, not 100ft x 100ft.
  • Social distancing of 2m (6.56ft) within a fitness setting is required (3m distancing is advised for classes involving movement).
  • EMD UK (the national governing body for group exercise) has provided additional guidance and resources for social distancing for exercise classes - available HERE
  • Additional examples of spacing for indoor classes are available from Fitpro (2m spacing and 3m spacing).
  • Ventilation systems should provide 100% fresh air and not recirculate air from one space to another. A ventilation ventilation rate of 20 l/s/p is advised for facilities.
  • Rigorous and frequent cleaning and hygiene procedures should be followed, including the provision of hand sanitiser in multiple locations.
  • Equipment should not be shared within a class. If used in subsequent classes, it should be thoroughly cleaned.
  • ‘Sweat towels’ should not be used.
  • You should allow a 10 minute gap between sessions to allow time for cleaning and to prevent congregation of people.

Staff & Customer Wellbeing

  • Operators will commit to the wellbeing of their staff and customers, and if they show/have any signs of Covid-19 (temperature, cough and difficulty breathing), they will be sent home to follow Government regulations.
  • Operators should keep contact details of all participants for 21 days (within GDPR regulations) in case it becomes needed for NHS test and trace.
  • All team members should understand Covid-19 related safety procedures and feel safe to return to work - see ReActivate training below.
  • All team members should be kept up to date with how safety measures are being implemented or updated.
  • There is no current requirement for staff or customers to wear PPE or face coverings in indoor fitness facilities, unless it is normally required.
  • Les Mills has some useful resources for instructors on preparing to get back to work, available HERE.


  • Posters should be on display informing customers and staff of social distancing and cleanliness/hygiene protocols throughout the facility. CIMSPA has made example posters available in English and Welsh - click HERE.
  • Operators should employ one way people flow systems to reduce congregation in any area of the facility where possible.
  • Where possible, separate entry and exit points should be provided.

ReActivate Training

  • ReActivate is a new, free, online training platform, designed to equip anyone working or volunteering in the sport, fitness, leisure and physical activity sector in England with the knowledge and skills they need to confidently return to work or restart their coaching activity. Click HERE for more and to sign up.

Outdoor training

  • Please click HERE for the latest guidance on outdoor training in England. CIMSPA has also created guidance for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Tara Dillon, CIMSPA CEO, said:

“The reopening of indoor facilities in England is a really welcome and important moment, and a chance for the sector to begin getting back on its feet. This is a sector that creates enormous economic, health, social and community benefits, and we all have a responsibility to reopen in a safe and responsible way, for the benefit of staff and customers. We have worked closely in partnership with ukactive, EMD UK, Sport England and DCMS to get to this point and will continue to support the further reopening of the sector in all parts of the UK.”

CIMSPA has a number of resources available to support and guide the sector during the coronavirus crisis, including:
  • ReActivate - free online Covid Awareness Training for anyone working or volunteering in the sport, fitness, leisure and physical activity sector in England
  • 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


Q: What if I or one of my clients has COVID-19 symptoms?

A: If you have any COVID-19 symptoms you should not work and should follow the Government guidance - click here for more. You should communicate with your clients to ensure they do not attend classes if they have any symptoms. Instructors and venues should encourage all participants to report any infection of their household to the NHS Test and Trace system following use of the facility to limit the spread of the virus.

Q: Can I undertake training in a facility with less than 100 sq ft of space per person?

A: The Government guidance requires 100 sq ft per person as a guide to maximum occupancy in gyms and indoor facilities, for ventilation purposes. We are currently working to clarify whether smaller spaces can be used, provided social distancing and hygiene guidance can be observed.

Q: Can I train someone in a private home or garden?

A: Two households can meet indoors. This means that personal training or exercise can take place indoors between members of two households (including the trainer’s household) provided hygiene and social distancing guidance is observed. You can meet and train outdoors in groups of up to six people who you do not live with. For larger outdoor group training sessions please see the separate guidance for organising larger “outdoor physical activity and sport events”.

Q: Do I need any special ventilation equipment for a studio or home gym?

A: Keeping windows and doors open to allow maximum fresh air circulation (plus following the advice on capacity and social distancing) will provide the ventilation you need. There is detailed guidance on building ventilation here. In the absence of this, instructors are encouraged to ventilate as much as they can and use a CO2 monitor to measure levels. More information is also available in the ukactive framework.

Q: Can I hold classes/sessions in a community venue such as a community hall?

A: Yes you can (at the discretion of the owner/operator) while following the indoor sport Covid-19 secure guidelines. Click here for the Government guidance on community facilities.

Q: Can I have any physical contact with clients, for example to correct their posture?

A: No, you must maintain social distancing guidelines at all times.

Q: If I’m working with a client with a disability, can I have contact with them e.g. to help them access equipment?

A: The Government guidance says: “Social distancing should be maintained between all users of facilities including individuals, groups, teams, teachers, trainers and coaches unless users come from the same household or to manage needs on account of a disability when additional mitigation will be essential.” If social distancing is not possible, or direct personal contact is needed to help a disabled person to be active, you should talk to the person concerned about how best to support them. Consider use of appropriate PPE, wearing gloves or a face covering, as well as handwashing, sanitising equipment and minimising contact time. Activity Alliance has produced guidance on “Considerations for community sport and leisure providers on including disabled people and people with long-term health conditions.”

Q: What if a client requires first aid or emergency help?

A: Try to assist at a safe distance from the casualty as much as you can and minimise the time you share a breathing zone. If they are capable, tell them to do things for you, but treating the casualty properly should be your first concern. Remember the 3P model – preserve life, prevent worsening, promote recovery. Detailed guidance on first aid during COVID-19 is available here from HSE.

Q: Can I train people who are shielding or vulnerable?

A: People who are shielding can take part in one-to-one or group exercise indoors or outdoors, following the above guidance on numbers. Clinically vulnerable people should take extra care to minimise social contact with those outside their household and be diligent about social distancing and hand hygiene. From 1 August, the government will pause shielding unless the transmission of COVID-19 in the community starts to rise significantly. See the Government guidance on shielding here.

Q: Can I train clients in contact sports e.g. boxing, martial arts and have contact while wearing pads?

A: You must maintain social distancing at all times. Please refer to the relevant Governing Body for details. England Boxing’s current advice is: Due to social distancing and the increased risk of exertion, face-to-face and close contact pad work, sparring and competitive boxing/fighting of any kind is not permitted.

Q: Can I play music during a training session?

A: The Government guidance states: “All venues should ensure that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other. This includes - but is not limited to - refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult. This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission - particularly from aerosol and droplet transmission.” For group exercise sessions instructors are recommended to supply their own head mic and windbreaker to reduce the need to elevate the voice, and to encourage class members not to shout out or cheer during classes.

Q: Can I run a high-intensity session such as “body attack” indoors?

A: If you maintain the guidance on social distancing (3m for classes involving movement), hygiene and ventilation there is no reason not to run these types of sessions. Les Mills has further resources and advice at here.

Q: Do I need to complete a new Covid specific PAR-Q for clients?

A: Getting clients to complete a PAR-Q before beginning any exercise programme is good practice and may be required by your insurer. Sample PAR-Qs are available within EMD’s free support pack.

Q: Can parents bring babies/children to classes, and do they count towards the numbers for outdoor training or indoor occupancy?

A: You can bring children to a class but you should avoid it where possible. Babies and children would count towards the numbers and must maintain social distancing from other households. The Government guidance states: “Generally attendance by spectators and non-participating children should be avoided and minimised especially within indoor facilities. Customers who are accompanied by children are responsible for supervising them at all times and should follow social distancing guidelines.” See 2.1.5. Spectators & children for more.


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, gym, coaching, 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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