Review of the Use of Face Masks by Personal Trainers

Updated 25 May 2020

Good news

Exercise NZ and REPs have reviewed the use of face masks by exercise professionals in light of the government’s safety strategy at alert level 2. 

Our industry health and safety practice is reflected in the updated document ‘Framework for exercise facilities in New Zealand operating within a covid-19 environment’. Please click here to view the full framework document.

Key points relating to the use of face masks contained in the document are:

  • Personal training sessions: Physical distancing of 2m is recommended but may be as close as 1m. Mask are optional for the personal trainer. Where trainers/clients are in close proximity for an extended period, trainers should consider standing so that their breathing direction is not towards the client for any extended period.


6 May 2020

Outcomes of REPs Consultation

REPs COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols – May 2020

Click here for a downloadable copy of the REPs COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols

We have just completed an industry consultation where we proposed new industry specific COVID-19 mandated health and safety protocols to provide protection to the exercising public. Thank you to the 500 exercise professionals and facilities who provided feedback.

The change proposed was that registered exercise professionals would be required to wear a face mask when interacting within 4 metres of clients/participants, with some exceptions allowed.


  1. Overview of the Industry Consultation

The consultation provided an opportunity for registered exercise professionals and facilities to give their feedback. We have given careful consideration to all of the responses received. Overall there was industry support for the proposed safe distancing standard. Feedback was received from some survey participants that 2 metres provided a safe level of distancing without the need to wear a face mask.

REPs and the Exercise Association of New Zealand have been in discussion with Sport New Zealand who are the government agency overseeing sport, recreation and physical activity, and WorkSafe New Zealand who are the government authority responsible for ensuring the health and safety of all New Zealand workplaces. We have taken into consideration their advice. We have also taken into consideration the safe physical distancing practices of New Zealand high performance sports coaches when engaging with their participants.

The REPs COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols for registered exercise professionals have been amended based on the feedback received, and in conjunction with the expert advice we have received.


  1. Outcomes of the Industry Consultation

Summary: Based on our industry consultation, discussions with Sport New Zealand and WorkSafe New Zealand, and the expert advice we have received, the REPs minimum physical distancing requirements without the use of face masks when interacting with clients/participants is now 2 metres.

The following new mandatory requirements will be in place for all REPs registered exercise professionals from May 2020.  This will form part of the health and safety requirements of the REPs Code of Ethical Practice:

  • Interactions with clients/participants for a period of 4 minutes or longer (e.g. personal training, group exercise, yoga and other group classes/activities) then the recommended physical distancing is 2 metres.  At 2 metres or greater distancing, face masks are not required.  Where a face mask is used, physical distancing can be reduced to 1m between client and exercise professional. 
  • Where an interaction with clients/participants is of a short duration of 1- 2 minutes (e.g. gym instructor), the minimum recommended distance for this interaction is 1 metre and a face mask is not required. 


  • All recommendations are based on interactions in an indoor controlled environment. Specifically, that contact tracking protocols are in place for individuals present.
  • Individuals should not touch each other.  This includes client/trainer and client/client.
  • Staff should avoid touching any member/client used items used during the exercise session.

These REPs requirements for personal training, gym instruction, and group activities/exercise (including yoga) should be read in conjunction with the ExerciseNZ framework document for full details.

Click here to view ExerciseNZ operating framework document

Face masks – The face masks can be any type; fabric, N95 (respirator), surgeons face masks or visor type (the visor type being potentially more suitable for group exercise where barriers aren’t possible, and the 2 metre distance is unable to be maintained). 

FAQs – REPs COVID-19 REPs Requirements

Q1. Why is REPs advocating for the use of face masks when the government doesn’t require masks to be worn by everyone in a workplace?
A. The governments regulations and guidelines are general for everyone. REPs registered professionals interactions between an exercise professional and client can be close and prolonged. While the government provides overview information around the use of masks, We need to manage the unique and specific risks for our industry and the interactions with the public.  Delivering exercise can often have a higher respiration rate.


Q2. Why does REPs have exceptions to the requirement to wear a face mask?
A. On the basis of our expert advice, and evidence based best practice relating to the risk of transmission of COVID-19, exceptions are provided where the risk has been identified as extremely low to nil.