As a group exercise instructor, health and safety is a crucial part of your classes. And it starts even before anyone steps into the class.

Meet the PAR-Q form – one of the most essential bits of your sign-up process.

Find out what a PAR-Q is, why it’s important, and how you can get a free template.

What is PAR-Q?

PAR-Q stands for Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire.

It is a simple self-administered health screening tool designed to identify individuals who may need medical clearance before starting a group ex class. It covers topics including:

  • Current health conditions
  • Recent injuries
  • Symptoms that might arise during exercise.

Why is a PAR-Q important?

A PAR-Q is important for three reasons:

  1. Safety First: The PAR-Q is your first line of defence in identifying potential health risks. By having participants complete it, you can be aware of any underlying conditions that might require modifications to your class plan or even a referral to a doctor.
Coach with clipboard talking to a white woman in a blue vest

2. Legal Protection: In the unfortunate event that a participant experiences a health issue during your class, having a completed PAR-Q can demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to assess their readiness for exercise.

3. Personalised Experience: Understanding your participants’ health backgrounds allows you to tailor your instruction. You can offer modifications for those with certain conditions, creating a more inclusive and enjoyable environment for everyone.

What should I do if someone says ‘yes’ to a question?

If an attendee answers ‘yes’ to one of their PAR-Q questions, they will need to gain consent from their GP before taking part in the class.

If someone’s health has changed since they completed their PAR-Q form, it is advised they speak to their GP as a precaution before continuing their group exercise classes.

How do you collect PAR-Q forms?

Every single person in your group exercise class should have a PAR-Q form. The easiest way to manage this is to add it to your sign-up process. If this is not possible, you can email a copy to them, or get them to fill in a printed copy.

PAR-Q forms should be updated at least every 12 months, but we recommend every six months. If someone in your classes says their health has changed, you should ask them to update their PAR-Q.

Remember, health information is sensitive. Treat all PAR-Q responses confidentially and store them securely.

Where can I get a template?

The EMD UK resource library has a ready-made PAR-Q template for you to use. Simply download and you’re good to go. Get yours here.

Working in a leisure centre or health club?

Many fitness operators now have participants sign a Health Commitment Statement, acknowledging that they are responsible for their own health and well-being during exercise. This statement usually goes hand-in-hand with the PAR-Q.

Additionally, it’s wise to start each class with a brief verbal screening. Quickly check in with your participants:

  • Any new injuries since last time?
  • Any changes in medications?

This extra step can catch any recent developments not captured by the initial PAR-Q.

Over to you!

So now you know what a PAR-Q is and why it’s important. Don’t miss this step in your classes! And don’t forget to download your template here.