“Can I exercise with a friend during lockdown?”

Workout buddies can make your exercise much more enjoyable – but are they allowed during the coronavirus lockdown?

Stop beating yourself up if your lockdown workouts have been feeling a bit flat. Firstly, it’s a pandemic! It’s OK to not be the strongest or fittest you’ve ever been. And secondly, if you’re not used to working out on your own, you might be struggling to feel motivated without a friend to cheer you on.

Gyms reopened in Wales on 9 November with the end to their firebreaker lockdown and Scotland is operating a tier system that impacts whether gyms can open in different areas. But in England and Northern Ireland, people are itching for the day we get to go back to the gym floor. 

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Can I exercise with a friend?

In England there is currently ‘unlimited exercise time’, meaning you are free to walk, run, cycle and even take our workouts to the park for as long as we want. You’re free to do that with members of our household or bubbles, 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. 

The government advice also states that “children under 5, 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.”

They also encourage people to stay close to home unless you need to travel in order to exercise, for example to a park or open space. Then, they advise walking or cycling where possible. 

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, this time the guidance is not so specific. Instead, “you are advised to avoid any activity which requires close contact” but “there is no restriction on the type of activity you can do when exercising, provided that you are within the permitted gathering limits outlined.”

Can I train with a personal trainer?

Group workout sessions are band, but you can meet your personal trainer as you meet anyone else in the park or other outdoor space for a one-on-one session, as long as you remain two metres apart for the session and clean the equipment thoroughly before and after use. 

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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