Rules for group lessons ‘broadly interpreter’, and so do gyms

There is no lesson in zumba, spinning or bodypump: yesterday the cabinet announced that in the next two weeks people are not allowed to exercise in group classes. But what exactly is a group lesson? Industry organisations NL Actief and Vereniging Yogascholen say they have been working all day to get clear from the ministry what definition applies – and therefore what the consequences are.

Under the new rules, you can exercise with up to two people and an instructor, as long as everyone keeps their distance. There are several groups of these types of sports alongside each other, as long as those groups keep their distance, there is a clear delineation and the groups do not mix. As a result, gyms still see opportunities to continue the group lessons.

โ€œ It is clear that a lesson with music and an instructor is a group lesson,โ€ says Ronald Wouters of NL Actief. โ€œBut is it also a group lesson when several people work individually and remotely in a room on a mat with dumbles while a trainer watches? This is actually the same as people who train individually in a room.โ€

Timeslot instead of lesson

More gyms are struggling with that question. An Amsterdam sports school owner tells them that the group lessons will continue tomorrow. โ€œWe do a sort of crossfit-like lesson, with a brief briefing at the beginning. After that, everyone individually performs the sports exercises, under the guidance of a trainer. To comply with the rules, we replace the word lesson with timeslot and group with training. We really want to abide by the rules and think that this should be possible.โ€

The owner wants to remain anonymous, because the decision to continue the lessons may be sensitive. The name is well known to the editors.

โ€œAs always contradictions and ambiguityโ€

A number of gyms have decided to close the doors next two weeks. Like Rocycle, which teaches spinning lessons in three big cities. โ€œThe most important thing is that care is relieved, so in that sense this is a small sacrifice for us,โ€ says Rogier van Duyn van Rocycle. โ€œBut I do wonder what the difference is between a group class and thirty people in a room. With us people are stuck on their bikes and the instructor is not coming off.โ€

Dance studio Meijers, including locations in Arnhem and Doetinchem, will close the next two weeks. โ€œIt is as always that there are contradictions and ambiguities,โ€ says owner Sheila Meijers. โ€œBut we ourselves decided, in consultation with the teachers, that group lessons are not desirable now. No matter how annoying, the measures are understandable.โ€ Meijers is now back on teaching online.

Yoga schools will probably switch back to live streams as well, because group classes will not be possible over the next two weeks. A hard blow to the industry. โ€œWe have been running half capacity for a while now and can just pay the teachers,โ€ says Marco Rodie of Vereniging Yogascholen Nederland and owner of three yoga schools.

โ€œ Now two weeks of closure means that teachers, who are often self-employed, get the first blow again. And we are now getting the first signals that yoga schools are falling over.โ€

Rules to interpret broadly

The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport says in a response that you can train with one or two people, but not in the form of a group lesson. As to the confusion that exists in gyms, a spokesman says that the rules are always wide to interpret, and that therefore โ€œpeople should also ask themselves whether a particular lesson is possible or notโ€.