Gyms opening: What are the new rules and how can you stay safe?

Rules on social contact still apply and you won’t be able to mix with anyone outside of your household bubble

Sarah Young,Ellie Abraham
Monday 12 April 2021 09:14 BST

As part of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, indoor gyms and leisure centres in England (excluding saunas and steam rooms) are permitted to reopen on Monday 12 April.

This is the same date that pubs and restaurants will be allowed to host customers outside, and non-essential shops, zoos, libraries, hairdressers and holiday campsites are also permitted to reopen.

In his announcement on Monday 5 April, Johnson said: “We set out our roadmap and we’re sticking with it.

“On Monday the 12th I will be going to the pub myself and cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips.”

When will gyms reopen?

Gyms and leisure centres in England are permitted to reopen from Monday 12 April.

It is welcome news for gym-goers and owners alike, who have had to keep their premises largely closed throughout the three national lockdowns.

(Nuffield Health

What changes will happen to ensure staff and customer safety?

In order to remain as Covid safe as possible, many of the rules we have become accustomed to will have to stay in place for gym-goers.

(Nuffield Health

Social distancing is a requirement for all gyms and patrons are unable to mix with people outside of their household in indoor venues until at least 17 May, in line with guidance.

Each gym will have its own guidelines, so it’s worth checking their website for their specific rules.

Nuffield Health has published their guidance on their website. Here is an idea of what to expect:

  • Symptom checking. On arrival, members may be asked if they have displayed any Covid-19 symptoms and if they have recently travelled to a country where they must self isolate on arrival back into the UK.
  • Checking in. With the emergence of QR codes during the pandemic, gym-goers should be prepared to check in to the gym by scanning the code using the official NHS Covid app and should ensure their most up-to-date details are on the gym’s system.
  • Cleaning. Gym equipment will be sanitised throughout the day and overnight with disinfectant and detergent. Gym-goers are also encouraged to use the provided hand sanitiser.
  • PPE. Reception desks have been protected with a plastic screen to form a safety barrier between staff and customers, and staff will be issued with PPE where necessary. Nuffield Health ask that people pay using a bank card - cash won’t be accepted. Masks must be worn in café and communal areas, but are not required when exercising.
  • Social distancing. In line with government guidance, social distancing must be observed inside gyms. As such, there will be limits on the amount of equipment in use to ensure a two-metre distance. Numbers allowed in areas such as pools, changing rooms and studios will be limited and one-way systems will be in place.
  • Ventilation. As coronavirus is spread by airborne droplets, good ventilation is vital in reducing the risk of transmission. Nuffield Health has implemented hospital-grade ventilation systems and consulted with microbiologists, ventilation engineers and hospital infection prevention teams.

What can you do to stay safe at the gym?

In order to keep gyms as safe and clean as possible, businesses need their customers to ensure they are doing what they can too.

(Nuffield Health

Some other helpful tips include:

  • Stay home if you're unwell. Do not come to the gym if you feel sick or have coronavirus symptoms including a temperature, new or persistent cough, and loss of taste or sense of smell.
  • Arrive in your kit. Since numbers allowed in areas such as changing rooms are limited, it’s recommended people arrive in the clothes they plan to work out in, where possible. You should also bring your own towel and yoga mats.
  • Use hand sanitising stations. You are likely to find stations before you reach reception and throughout the gym. Make sure you follow proper handwashing if you use the changing rooms.
  • Follow the social distancing signs. Keep to one-way systems and try to stay at least two metres from others as much as possible.
  • Clean your equipment and mats. Clients are encouraged to do this before and after use with sanitising stations around the gym. 
  • Pre-book. For activities such as swimming, you may have to book in advance.

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