Do you want to make more money? How about more time? More clients? Getting your fitness business online is the key to all of these things.
It's vital more than ever, to move to virtual fitness classes. Even though gyms are opening back up, your business is still vulnerable if you only teach in person.
Also, people now enjoy working out at home- a place they know well that provides convenience and comfort. It can make it very difficult to retain your clients in person and even more challenging to market to new clients.
Luckily for you, we've put together this guide that will help you create your own virtual online group fitness classes or private classes.
Don't worry; we will try and make this easy to understand and implement, so you spend more time teaching students than worrying about technical things.
The four key points we will discuss are:
1) Which platforms should you use?
2)What type of equipment do you need?
3) How do I communicate/market to my students?
4) How do I keep my students safe and protect myself from liability?
Let's get started!
There are plenty of online platforms you can use to host your online classes. Most of these options have a free option that has limitations to the service, but you might not need all the additional bells and whistles.
5 of the most popular options are:
Most of these options have a free and paid version. However, when you are running your online fitness business, you should consider a couple of questions you should be asking yourself when choosing your platform.
1. Do you need to record the class?
This is a beneficial feature that could be used to review your students form and show them areas where they can improve.
2. How long are your classes?
A lot of the free versions have a time limit on your meeting time. If you are signing up for a free version, it won't kick you and your student out if you go over.
3. Consider what your students are most likely using.
You may have a particular favorite on this list. Still, you should also be aware of what your students are using in their personal lives. It's not easy to change people's habits. Plus, it cuts down your chances of having issues with your class.
Zoom has taken over the teleconferencing space. Most people are now familiar with it and have used it to some degree.
For some, the most challenging part of running your fitness classes online will be understanding the technical components.
This could get very complicated, very quickly...but there really are only a few essentials that you will need to make your class enjoyable and effective.
Camera: This is the most essential piece of equipment you will need for your online fitness class.
We recommend using a good-quality DSLR with a lens specifically designed for video capture. Using a wide-angle lens is best to capture your entire room and prevent you from going off-screen.
You will need to have software to hook up your DSLR as your webcam, but some models come with this software free of charge.
Another camera option:
You could also use your phone as a lot of newer phones are equipped with cameras that are high quality and easy to use. The downside is that you have a limited field of view.
However, you can always add a wide-angle lens from a third-party manufacturer if you want to keep your setup lightweight and practical.
Microphone: Sound quality is crucial for operating your virtual fitness class. You'll want to make sure that the sound is crisp and clear, plus students must hear what you are saying over background music or other noise in the room.
There are a lot of options out there for microphones, and they can get quite confusing. The one you will choose will depend on what camera you are using for your class.
If you are using a DSLR camera, we would recommend using a shotgun mic.
You could also you a lavalier mic. This type of mic clips onto your shirt. However, the negative side of this type of mic is if you are working out it might create rustling against your shirt which would be distracting for your clients.
If you are using your phone for your camera, you can plug into your cellphone some great options for microphones. One of the best we have used is the Shure MV88.
If you are streaming your class from your computer's camera, you should go with a USB microphone. This type of microphone will plug directly into your device and work without needing an audio interface or preamp.
There are plenty of affordable USB microphones on the market. With some of the most popular being:
When looking for a microphone, check if the microphone is a dynamic microphone or a condenser microphone.
Condenser microphones are more sensitive and will pick up more indirect sounds. This could be a problem with your audio quality if there are many outside noises where you are teaching.
A dynamic microphone will be pick up fewer outside noises. This would be a better choice of microphone for most online fitness classes.
A space in which you can move around freely without bumping into anything:
You will need a place that has enough space to move around. If you are going to use the room in an apartment or house, make sure there's no furniture or anything that could get knocked over and damage it. It may also help if you set up your class in a space where the lighting is decent, and you won't be spending your time looking for outlets or worrying about lights. You could also have your class outside if your equipment is portable. Just beware of harsh overhead light from the sun. This could create overexposure with the camera and make the picture quality terrible.
A Tripod: A good tripod to hold your camera or phone is crucial. This will keep your image stable and prevent it from getting knocked over when teaching your class.
A strong internet connection: Ensure that your internet connection is fast enough to handle your classes—nothing worse than a slow connection when you're trying to guide someone through a bird-dog.
A Mixer: A music mixer is not necessary to run your class. However, If you think that using the in-built speakers and USB microphone isn't going to cut it, we recommend getting a mixer. A mixer will give you better sound quality and the ability to control things like music for your online stream.
Most mixers will also come with an equalizer and preamp to have more control to make things sound good.
You also have more options for the types of microphones you can use because you're using a traditional XLR connection instead of USB.
If you really want to wow your clients, invest in professional lighting, which can cost anywhere from $300 to $1000.
Professional lighting will make your video brighter and more balanced when filming the class for online viewing. It isn't a necessary expense, but it brings great value to your clients, showing them you care to give them the best experience possible.
If you are recording your sessions, you could easily repurpose them for promotional materials or sell the recorded classes.
As you start to attract more and more clients, your focus shifts from building a one-time sale or program with them to retaining that customer. After all, why work so hard only for a client to stop coming after they get results?
Here are some best practices to make sure your class is fun and professional:
Marketing can seem daunting. But it doesn't have to be difficult when it comes to finding and retaining clients.
Here are some simple ideas to get started with marketing and retention:
-Talk about your class on social media. Share photos and videos of what the classes are like.
-Share with friends, family members, coworkers, etc., that have expressed interest in fitness but never taken action or joined a gym before.
-Collect emails from clients and email people regularly about your upcoming classes.
-Create a referral program. For example, if someone brings a new student, they get half off their next session.
-Offer free first-time classes.
-Create a meetup group
-Simply tell people you meet about your class and how it can help them.
You should be doing everything you would do in a standard class to keep people safe and injury-free. However, injuries do happen. Suppose someone does get injured during a virtual group fitness session. In that case, you should have an emergency plan to ensure all participants' safety.
You need to be covered as an instructor. This means that you should have some type of fitness certification and get professional liability insurance. Also, make sure that your client signs a waiver beforehand. There are plenty of online sites where you can create a simple liability waiver and have it be an e-signature document.
These questions are the most common ones that come up. However, with anything in life, always expect the unexpected.
As we integrate our fitness business online, things will inevitably break. Internet connections will drop, and we might forget we're not wearing pants.
But as we continue to learn and grow, our knowledge of how in-person classes operate will translate online and evolve with us.