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15 Best Tips For Hosting a Live Or Virtual Fitness Class

With the rise in virtual group fitness and live workouts online, basic video production is playing a greater role for many in the training and teaching world. Instructing fitness classes virtually comes with an extra set of patience and consideration that isn’t always anticipated. Most of us by now are well-acquainted with making Instagram videos, Facebook lives or even TikToks, but creating a high quality fitness video comes with a different set of standards. Not everyone is set up with a fitness studio environment or advanced camera equipment, so you have to be able to make the highest quality production with the tools at hand. There are so many important aspects of filming a live fitness class or virtual fitness routine, it’s a lot to juggle in your mind. With time however, you can learn to become more comfortable and avoiding common complications that can easily arise. Here are the top 15 recommendations we have for anyone looking to host a live or virtual fitness class.

Smile

This is the easiest tip, but also the easiest to overlook and forget, which is why we’re mentioning it first! One of the fastest ways to win over your audience is by simply smiling, especially at the beginning of your video. Smiling will set the stage for a welcoming energy and a warmth, leaving a lasting positive impression on all your viewers. It’s an easy thing to forget about in the middle of prepping the stage and rehearsing what you intend to share with everyone. However, when you make a mistake people are much more likely to move on if you can laugh it off and carry on with a friendly demeanor.

Know the Platform You are Sharing or Broadcasting From

You might be confident about the platform you are uploading your video to, or hosting a live class on, but always remember that even for the most experienced hosts, anything can happen. The last thing you want, is to be scrambling to remember your login information, configure your settings, or spending a longer than anticipated time uploading media in order to meet a deadline. To avoid surprises, it’s best to allow yourself a chance to make sure you are well acquainted with the platform you intend to use for your virtual or live fitness class so that you don’t end up feeling overwhelmed or defeated at the last moment. Charge devices well in advance and consider a backup plan where ever possible for every worse case scenario.

Be On Time

For a lot of the same reasons we recommend for familiarizing yourself with your platform and having a plan B, being on time is an essential quality to a successful virtual fitness class. For everyone who has committed time to tune into your class, it’s easy to lose motivation to show up in the future after one bad experience or first impression especially. Just as with in-person or on-site fitness, there’s always a chance that you could have a first-time viewer in your audience at any time. While traffic delays can never be responsible for getting in your way to be on time, technology related mishaps can easily occur. Be sure to give yourself ample time as you would if you were physically driving just in case you do run into a technical problem before the class begins.

Set up Appropriate Lighting

Ideal lighting includes daytime hours, with softer light. Soft light will depend on the lighting unique to your atmosphere. In bright spaces, too much light can feel overexposing, therefore it is ideal to film in early morning hours or when the sun is setting. If you don’t have a lot of light in your space, an optimal time for filming would be during the middle of the day. If you are unable to film during the day at all, recording in the evening can be achieved with proper lighting around you, rather than behind or above you.

Shoot Your Video In The Optimal Settings

Adjust the orientation of the device you will be filming with to Landscape more rather than portrait mode, in order to align with the orientation of most TVs and Computers. If you opt to use your phone to record, use the camera on the back of your phone, as the front camera’s quality is not as good on most phones.

In addition, it’s important to check the video quality you are filming in. 1080p is a great format for most settings, while filming in 4k can be a time consuming file if you aren’t doing a live class and needing to upload your footage later on, not to mention the space you have. on your device. If you are able to shoot in 1080p, you can usually can provide quality footage without having to worry as much about production slowing down.

Camera Position is Essential

While lighting and background are also key to the quality of your video, avoiding shaky footage is equally important. In an ideal setting, phones or devices used to record should be placed on a tripod or flat surface to avoid shaky footage.

Since most people likely do not have a tripod and filming with the phone will also be a primary way, setting your phone on a flat surface such as a table, and then leaning it against another shorter, heavy object such as short candle, salt and pepper shaker, or anything to prop it up against on the steady surface while still exposing the top of the phone’s camera is a workaround solution. If your phone has a feature that allows you to overlay a grid on your screen, this can be a helpful tool to keep your phone level and check for tilted footage.

Consider Your Audio Setup

When doing any speaking, be sure to speak clearly and at an audible but appropriate volume near your recording device whenever possible. If you need to speak during your routine, make sure you do so as loud as possible without being too loud or losing clarity, pausing if needed to speak audibly. If you still find you are having troubles with audio or you simply want a more professional feel, a microphone for your phone can be a great solution. There are many microphones available for both Android and iPhone in a range of prices.

Use Music Wisely

Music is essential for almost any fitness routine, but sometimes with live broadcasts, it can interfere when there is any sort of lag in connection. In a podcast featured by Glofox with Will Brereton, Co-Founder of Ministry of Fit, he discusses tactics and strategies he has used to bring gyms and studio brands to the virtual space in an authentic way. With regard to music he notes, “It can be very difficult if you are doing a beat base class to do a two-way livestream on Zoom and not have the audio break in places. All the research shows; people will put up with a slightly grainy video as long as the audio is correct. And that’s the problem you get when using music. You can solve it through having an external mixing board and hard lining into the WIFI but those are all really complicated things for the average studio or instructor to figure out.” He recommends in scenarios such as these, either having people bring their own playlists, or using one that he sends out in advance to his attendee list via Spotify.

Pick a place that eliminates distractions

Be mindful of other distractions in your house or other background noises that can interfere and do your best to avoid them by planning ahead and letting others in your space know your intentions. For example, If you think there is any chance someone could ring your doorbell during your live performance, place a note at your door to let potential visitors know. Remember to also keep your phone ringer off so it won’t interfere with your audio.

Keep Your Background Simple

You want to be the forefront of attention to your audience. If they are in the middle of a push-up and quickly glance back up at their screen, you want to be the focal point that catches their eye first – not anything else. Finding a spot against a mostly clear wall, a bookshelf or a soft cozy living room is ideal. Sometimes our living spaces aren’t always accommodating to these needs, so in those cases we recommend considering a community center or nearby studio if possible that can grant you access to be able to film your productions.

Always Have Your Audience in Mind

Consider your demographic as you move and work through your movements. Even if you feel your participants are more willing and able, you’re likely still going to have at least one participant who feels out of place or unsure of themselves. A great way to connect with your audience and even reel in the self-doubters is to address any potential thoughts viewers could be having as you go. A great example of some one who relates to their audience is demonstrated in the popular YouTube Yogi Adiene Mischler, in her on-demand Yoga series Yoga with Adriene.

Speak Slowly and Clearly

Just as importantly as how you set up your audio and how you use background music, considering how you articulate when you talk is important to always remember. It seems like common sense, but it’s a common and easy mistake to move too quickly through a routine or demonstration. You want a fair balance of silence and pauses, as well as some inflection in your voice to avoid monotony. If you feel jittery at first, try using props to keep your hands occupied or use something like a stress ball or sponge to squeeze as you speak.   

Wear Appropriate Attire

It seems like an obvious thing, but playing the part includes attire. When you look the part, you will be more confident and therefore be able to put forth your best version of yourself. Consider as well that you want your viewers to be focused on you and not your outfit, so avoiding clothing with a lot of words or that takes your audience away from the point of showing up.

Practice Makes Perfect

Be sure to practice a few times and shoot your video from different angles and review to make sure you are delivering to your best capability, while also creating the best experience for your users. Often times, it’s extremely helpful to video yourself even when you’re going through a routine alone and watch it later on. Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone who is attending your class for the first time – What would you do differently? What is distracting you? Could you talk slower or faster? Is your lighting too bright or your voice too distant? How does the routine flow within the designated time limit? These are all great things to ask yourself when you review your routine. It can also be helpful to share your video with friends or family members who can offer constructive feedback.

Be Unique

The best thing you can do when bringing yourself in front of an audience is to ultimately be yourself. What inspired you to get into fitness? What motivates you on your journey every day? When you try really hard to fit a mold that doesn’t feel natural, your viewers will feel it. People are able to connect with a personality that is transparent, has humility when mistakes inevitably happen, and most important is charismatic. The online world is saturated with virtual fitness and online workouts, so often time that instructor connection is vital. When your doing a virtual class there are no other distractions that can occur as in a physical setting, so you have a unique opportunity to really connect with your audience. Think of your best moments in fitness and what connected you to those clients or students and from there, incorporate that same energy into your virtual teaching.

Catherine Rotman