A PAR-Q is a short questionnaire that attendees fill in prior to their first classes. The answers help you as the instructor ascertain whether the person is in a good physical state to start your classes.
Every single person in your group exercise class should have a PAR-Q form and it should be updated at least every 12 months.
If you are employed by a leisure centre or health club, it is usually part of the membership sign-up process. However, you should always check with the Group Exercise Manager or Gym Manager that this information is being collected and updated. They may have a Health Commitment Statement in place rather than PAR-Q forms. You must always verbally screen participants at the start of each class too.
If you run your own community classes, it is your responsibility to collect these forms every time someone new joins your classes. Not sure where to start with creating a PAR-Q? Use our free template.
2. First-aid provision
It is strongly recommended that every group exercise instructor is certified in first aid.
Why is this? Well, although injuries may occur very occasionally in your classes (or maybe even never, fingers crossed), physical activity is quite high-risk.
EMD UK would recommend instructors attend a 3-day first aid course.
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3. Risk assessments
Risk assessments are an essential part of the health and safety of your group exercise classes. Before you even start the music for your first class, you must have completed a risk assessment.
A risk assessment is a deep dive into the venue you’re working in to identify things that could cause harm to you and your class participants. Once identified, you’ll then work out how these can either be reduced or eliminated.
Can you get away with not having one? In short, no.
As CHAS (Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme) puts it:
“Risk assessments are a legal requirement. All companies and self-employed people are required to consider health and safety risks in the workplace.”
What risks and hazards might you find in a venue? Well, a few. If you teach in a setting that hasn’t been specifically built for group exercise (for example, a church hall), you may encounter:
- Stacked equipment that could fall, such as chairs or tables
- Trailing wires from electrical equipment
- People sharing the space
- Lack of ventilation
Once your hazards have been identified, you will assess how likely they are to cause harm during your classes. You’ll then create an action plan on how to minimise the potential harm.
Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be! Use our risk assessment templates to make your life easier. We have ones for outdoor and online classes too!
And don’t forget, your risk assessments must be reviewed and updated at least annually like a PAR-Q form.
Over to you…
You’ll now understand how to embed health and safety into your group exercise classes. We have a load more resources in our free resource library. Sign up to access here.