This week we talk to Barry Ennis and Shay Kostabi, who help fitness studios succeed with their online offering and host the popular Fitness Career Mastery Podcast. In this episode, we talk about creating high-quality live streaming at low cost, the fundamentals of coaching on camera and integrating your online offering into your reopening strategy. Check out their excellent training course Learn to Livestream here.
This episode of The Fitness Founders Podcast can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and anywhere you get your podcasts.
Kevin: How is it going everyone and welcome to The Fitness Founders Podcast. I’m Kevin Mannion, VP Marketing here at Glofox. This week we talk to Barry Ennis and Shay Kostabi, who help fitness studios succeed with their online courses and who host the popular Fitness Career Mastery Podcast. In this episode, we talk about creating high-quality live streaming at a low cost, fundamentals of coaching on camera, and making online a part of your business model after you open back up. Let’s get started.
Shay and Barry, welcome to the show.
Barry: Thank you so much.
Shay: Hi! Thanks for having us.
Kevin: Thanks for coming on; really excited about having you here. I’m really excited about the topic of building high quality, low investment online classes.
Kevin: Really topical thing right now. You both have a very interesting backgrounds. Let’s start by maybe telling me a little bit about your backgrounds.
Barry: Yeah, absolutely. I’d say we sure do. We started off our journey in the fitness industry as teachers, so…
Shay: About 11 and 12 years ago.
Barry: Right. I start off in Los Angeles. Shay start off in New York. My adventure took me internationally quickly. I started teaching yoga in India, and I quickly jumped across the Indian Ocean there to Dubai and helped opened one of the first international.
Shay: Boutique cycling studio.
Barry: Boutique cycling studios from New York which happened to be the same company that Shay was working for.
Shay: So that’s how we met.
Barry: Right. I was in a position there where I started transitioning from teaching into training instructors more, and developing a team, and managing a studio, and Shay had been doing the same thing in New York. You’re the Regional Director of the…?
Shay: Yeah, I oversaw about eight studios and trained all of the instructors in a barre program and I had been doing that for a number of years as well as consulting for some other fitness products and brands on the side. I was a very well-known trainer at the time. I was kind of born during the boutique fitness, the birth of boutique fitness in New York City. I was born as an instructor at the same time, so there’s a lot of opportunity and my career took off very quickly. Barry and I met overseas through that company and remained friends and…
Barry: Both moved to Los Angeles around the same time.
Shay: Yeah. And then we both left that same company and I decided I want to branch out and do my own thing. I’ve been teaching, training, travelling, mentoring new instructors, working with some small studios, and I ended up getting a client in Taiwan that wanted to expand in to China, and so I brought Barry with me and he ended up staying. He was supposed to be there for a few months but loved it so much that he stayed. Same thing, managed the team there, helped build the brands, and I consulted. I came back and forth during that time. While Barry was there, he launched a podcast called Fitness Career Mastery which I was a guest on.
Barry: While I was there training instructors, I just noticed that there a lot of things that I would present to them that were really shocking and impactful for them.
Shay: Things that we take for granted because we’ve been doing it for so long and realizing that there was no other resource to learn these things that they were skills that you really had to learn over time and over a very long time.
Barry: Trial and error.
Barry: The podcast took off, and it was wonderful, but I didn’t have any product or service that I was selling attached to it. It was simply a free hobby of mine.
Shay: And I had come on as a guest a few times and it was this incredible lead generator for me and my business. I would say the increase had doubled over that time which was really exciting, so I came to Barry and I said, “This podcast is incredible but you have no business, you have no products. I have a ton of products, I have a business, I have no time to create lead generators. I’m a one-woman show. Let’s put this stuff together and see what we can do, and Fitness Career Mastery was born.
Barry: Yeah. Coincidentally, we fell in love with each other at the same time.
Shay: So our businesses emerged, our passions emerged on many levels. So now we’re husband and wife consulting team and Fitness Career Mastery is basically an educational platform for both studio owners and fitness professionals. We do consulting 1-on-1 coaching, mentorship for instructors, we have live workshops. We travel all over the world teaching these workshops anywhere from coaching and cueing to musicology, the psychology of motivation and then we provide those online courses as well. And when COVID struck and we went into shelter in place, we we’re building a fitness program that we’re going to launch online. We basically put that in a little box on the side, and pivoted that morning and spent the next 4 days creating our latest course which is Learn to Livestream and have helped hundreds of people all over the world pivot from their onsite businesses to creating a virtual platform successfully on a budget.
Barry: Yeah, something that we have been doing over the course of all these years was a lot of livestreaming and online workout ourselves. We have applied a lot of our knowledge and expertise from that into the course.
Shay: I was on one of the first livestream platforms before it was cool. I mean you could find me on places like AOL and Yahoo, like things that don’t exist anymore, right. People didn’t really understand what it was and I always thought it was really exciting. And then I also I have a background in film and television and in production so I understand that side of it. I’m very super into marketing and business development, and then of course we have the teaching components and the coaching and all of that. We basically put everything together and…
Barry: Create a comprehensive resource to get people online quickly when they needed to pivot.
Kevin: Got it. Now before we dive into the livestreaming, one thing I’m just very curious about is you’re obviously on a mission to make more and more fitness entrepreneurs successful. What are the barriers to that or what are the biggest challenges that you’ve found that people encounter throughout all of these teaching that you have been doing through the years?
Shay: I think the #1 thing is that the traditional certification houses, the places that we go to get our CPTs that are well known around the world teach you what to teach. So you learn a modality, you learn how to not harm someone. Basically, that’s the #1 thing you learn. Don’t kill your clients. That’s like the majority of the test. It’s 50% of the questions. And then you’re left to figure out how do you put an audition together whether live or online like a real, how do you get a job, how do you start to build a resume, how do you put that programming together in a unique way that helps you stand out from the crowd. How do you teach the class, like what are your coaching techniques, your motivational tools? How do you put it to music, what is the power of music, how can you use that to effectively elevate your class experience? How do you operate as an entrepreneur? The majority of fitness instructors in the world are independent contractors. We are not the majority, but it’s 50-50. Still, even as an employee, you do the majority of the legwork on your own. There’s so many things you have to figure out and those… It is so difficult to find a place to acquire, to learn those skills. You can’t learn it in a one day 8-hour workshop with 300 other people. You can’t learn it in that way. Really it takes hands on experience but we all know you’re going to put in your 10,000 hours and it takes a lot of time. Our industry is moving so fast, everything is changing so fast. We were like, how can we sort of give people that shortcut and that doesn’t mean that is easier. It’s actually much harder because you have to put a lot of effort, like condensed, intense effort into really sort of…
Barry: Applying it. Integrating it.
Shay: Yeah, applying and integrating and activating that. You got to stay on top of it but if we could point people on the right direction and we could provide workshops and courses for them to gain those skills then they have a better chance of being successful.
Barry: That’s what we hear time and time again is that people come to a studio with a certain goal – most of the time it is to lose weight – but they stay for a completely different reason.
Barry: It’s because they’ve found a way to relieve their stress. They found a community. They like the person that they’re becoming. They found this inner confidence and strength. We believe that this is really transformative. But, people are not going to continue to go back unless the experience that they have at the studio is captivating, entertaining, transformative and it comes down to these skills that Shay just described that the instructor has. So if they can learn those then…
Shay: Most people come for the studio they’re attracted to the brand, they like the ideal, the promise of whatever, and they stay for the instructor and what happens in that room. And the same goes for an online experience. You’re attracted to something that looks professional. You’re attracted to the branding, the colors, the images that you’re seeing, the promise of what they’re going to deliver into your living room. But you’re only going to stay if the coaches, if the trainers on that platform are really, really good and you connect with them on a deeper level. Otherwise, they’ll figure out, they’ll learn the exercises, they’ll do it on their own. They’ll jump to the next platform. They’ll put you on mute. That’s not the same. After a while they’re not going to re-up their membership, whether it’s in person or online.
Barry: Yeah. That comes down to the coaching as well as like the technical setup as well like how you set up your camera and lights and sound.
Kevin: Okay, that makes a lot of sense. There’s probably a whole podcast in just the entrepreneurship that we can do with those but…
Barry: Oh yeah, absolutely.
Kevin: Let’s take to the streaming from now.
Kevin: The goal for today is to learn how we create this high quality livestreams with a relatively low amount of investment, so maybe tell me, where do we start?
Shay: Let’s just start with the basics. The most important thing on any camera, anywhere, technically, on a technical level, is the lighting and the sound. We don’t need to invest a lot of money in dressing up a set. You don’t have to. We’ve seen studios go to like their local print shop and put their logo up on this giant printed thing. It looks really corny. It looks like you’re sitting in front of a step and repeat. We’ve also seen studios try to utilize their lighting in the studio which can be awesome. If you’ve got beautiful colored LED lighting and you can set up this gorgeous red wash or purple or blue or whatever, awesome. Leave it like that. There’s no point in like hitting the strobes or the blackout that does not translate into somebody’s living room. All of the sudden the instructors in darkness and we’re like in broad daylight with the dog running around. That doesn’t help create the experience. The #1 thing on the text side is to just make sure that it’s well lit and that we can hear you above the music and that the instructor is not shouting.
Barry: Right. Most of these solutions that we’ve seen people jumped to have not provided that sonic experience.
Barry: There’s this tiny microphone on your recording device that’s trying to pick up the music that’s bouncing around the room and your voice is bouncing around the room. And when you find a way, which you can, on a budget to direct both music and your voice into the camera it completely transforms the experience because there’s just something… We talk about this in our coaching cueing course, there’s something great about hearing an instructor just shouting across the room in a monotone voice the whole time trying the reach the lands.
Shay: You’re holding a really great microphone that’s running right into the recording device so it doesn’t sound quite so bad. It’s just so loud. But a lot of times we see in studios, if you are recording in your studio and you want to use your own equipment which is fabulous, you totally can use your own mixer and the headsets that you use in class and you should be using those. You shouldn’t have to buy a ton of equipment. But if you’re just turning that on and then hitting record and that’s not going through your recording device, we as the viewer are just hearing a lot of echoing, the sound from the music starts to cut in and out, and then the instructor because they are usually far away from the camera and they can’t hear… The music is not as loud as in like the real life experience. They feel this need to fill the space with their energy, and so you just got them way back, shouting, come on guys. And it’s like, wow, I got to turn that off.
Barry: Yeah, and the harder we have to work as a viewer to hear, see, and understand you as an instructor, the faster we’re going to check out. And that’s something we want to avoid.
Shay: You basically just need a plug-in to run the sound through your recording device whether that’s your phone, your laptop, or your camera. You do not need a high end professional camera. You can do it on a, especially if you have the iPhone 11 Pro Max whatever. You can just run it through your phone. As long as it’s well lit, it should be fine. We also have to understand that tiny little camera that picks up light, so the dimmer the light on your phone or your laptop the grainier the quality of the video is going to look because it’s just not built for that. But if you have like a Softbox like kit which you can purchase on Amazon, there’s a bunch of them, or your local, like if you have a B&H type of lighting equipment store. You want to buy what’s called The Softbox kit. Two of them is enough. You put one on other side of the camera, facing the person on the screen. You want to make sure that their face is evenly lit unless you’re intentionally going for a dramatic effect. But ultimately remember the viewers in their room, they just want to be able to see your face and hear your voice. And then you can get something called the Rode…
Barry: SC6-L I believe.
Barry: It’s a great little device, plugs right into your phone.
Shay: Super cheap.
Barry: And it allows you to put 2 additional inputs in there. So one can be mic, preferably from a lavalier something wireless that you can wear on your body, and then another one coming from your music source. So you have both going directly into your recording device.
Shay: And those are different everywhere, so you just need to go to, again, your local audio sound equipment store and ask for a cord, “Which cord is going to plug into my mixer in my studio into this recording device?” They’re anywhere from $12-20. Easy.
Kevin: Got it. Okay, I think this is a great lesson. Step 1 is you need to be able to produce something that you can hear the instructions, hear the music, and see the person note that clearly on the screen. Before you try and recreate maybe a full boutique experience that maybe you got going on in your studio right now, or maybe you’re not that, whatever your current setup is, your first step is to just get these basics of the lights and sound right.
Shay: Yeah, that’s the most important thing. We’ve all seen incredible captivating videos online that they’re just sitting at their desk or wherever, the background is not that important, but if we can see them clearly and hear their voices were riveted.
Kevin: Got it.
Shay: But the second piece is that you do want to create a nice clean set. That doesn’t mean do it whatever it doesn’t matter. Clear the room of debris, clear the room with anything that might be distracting. You don’t want to see the pile of laundry in the corner. The other thing that we’ve noticed is that you don’t want like an open door that leads into like a weird back space. This is for anybody who might be under these circumstances setting up their recording in their apartment, or in a strange part of their studio. If you’re shooting in a studio, it’s very easy. Just clear all the equipment, clear everything out of the way. A plain white wall or a plain black drop whatever is fine. It doesn’t have to be…
Barry: Beautifully dressed set.
Shay: Yeah, a full on set. If you have the budget for that, then yes, do it. Put a plant in there, give them a name. Find some equipment to make it as you progress and if you’re really successful and your making some money and you’re like, “I want to reinvest in this”, then that’s the time to do it. But Barry says this all the time, some of the most successful yoga videos on YouTube are a woman in front of a white wall.
Kevin: Sure, sure.
Shay: She’s an incredible personality, she’s got excellent programming, you can see her, you can hear her. Done.
Barry: On that note, going to YouTube and checking out those that are creating very successful online workouts can be a great source of inspiration for you because they’ve doing it for a long time already.
Shay: There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Go to YouTube, look up the most popular instructors and see what they’re doing. It doesn’t have to be like Beach body quality, right, if you’re familiar with that brand or some of the other really big houses that have this whole warehouse sets if that’s not necessary for your brand.
Kevin: Got it. Okay, so we’ve cleaned up the light and the sound, and we’ve cleaned up the set, so now we’re good to go. What’s next on the checklist?
Barry: I think the next piece comes starts to come down to how you’re beginning to coach on camera.
Barry: There’s a really important distinction to be made here, it’s very different to coach what we’re used to. Going into the studio, we have 30 bodies in the room, we’re moving around, we’re sharing our energy around the room. And now we’re in our apartment or in our studio and there’s a tiny camera lens across the room.
Shay: Often far away.
Barry: And we have to find a way to direct all of our energy through that lens to just one person on the other side. There may be thousands that have tuned in but you’re actually only speaking to one person, so making this mental and coaching shift is a bit of a challenge.
Shay: Yeah, so this is coming from somebody who went to college and majored in theatre and then went to New York to a film conservatory, I mean, like I bombed my first semester. I was a very successful theatre actress in California, moved to New York, wanted to study film and all of my teachers were like dial it back.
Barry: That’s a great analogy.
Shay: So it’s the same when you’re in the room, it’s like Barry was saying, you have to fill the space, you have to reach that person in the back row especially like in a cycling class, it’s very dark, you can’t always see their faces and you want to make sure that you’re connecting with them. You have ability to move around the room to look people in the eye, touch them. You’ve got the music booming at the same level in everybody’s ears. It takes a lot of energy. It takes just as much energy to deliver that same kind of feeling on camera but you’ve got to focus it way down. What we see is one of two things: either the instructor is still teaching like they are in the studio and it’s too big and it’s too distracting, they’re jumping all over the place. They don’t have that immediate feedback from the people in the room, so they’re trying to create it themselves and starts to get a little frantic and out of control. The opposite also happens where there’s nobody in the room and they have nothing to feed off of and the music is not as loud and suddenly they have zero personality and their just counting, “And 4, 3 ,2 and switch, 3…” That’s not teaching. Nobody wants to come for that.
You have to find a way to keep that energy, to keep your personality up. Make sure that you’re coaching, that you’re motivating, that you’re finding a way to connect with the viewer… top and out of control. And just remember, I always like to tell people, “It’s just you and like your best friend.” Like how would you teach if it was you and somebody that you cared about very deeply – your mom, your grandma, your best friend – put that person on the other side of the camera and just speak to them. We have to think about language too. You’re not going to get on camera and say, “What’s up you guys?” Unless it’s a livestream where we can see all the participants. So if you’re choosing to do like a Zoom style where people can turn their cameras on, then we can keep saying you guys and coach to the team, we can coach to the group. But if you’re doing on demand videos, pre-recorded, or if you’re doing a livestream where you can’t see your audience, it’s really just you and that one person. So how are you going to talk, you would change your tone of voice, you would change the delivery, you would make jokes, you’d connect, you’d probably share. Think about it’s like personal training. As a personal trainer, we would always share stories in between the sets. I don’t stand there and say, 20, 19, 18.
Barry: Sure up you don’t?
Shay: No, you’re a terrible trainer if you’re doing that. They’re doing the lunges, you’re keeping the count, and you’re sharing a story, and just talk to them.
Barry: And that’s what keeps people coming back.
Shay: Help them past the time.
Shay: I watched a video the other day of a guy. They were doing a thousand lunges, so many lunges. Legs would definitely be burning at this time, and he told a story about Bruce Lee. He’s like, “I love Bruce Lee. He’s one of my idols. He never picked up a weight. He did only bodyweight and look at that guy, he’s ripped. So if he can do it, we can do it. 40 more lunges.” Well, I learned something about that trainer, I learned what he liked, and I learned something about Bruce Lee. That’s cool too.
Barry: Right. This is another great opportunity for you to go do some research from professionals that have already been doing this for years, and years, and years. And it doesn’t have to be within the fitness industry. Look at your news anchors. They’re incredible at making you feel like they’re speaking directly to you.
Shay: MyNews channel.
Barry: They smile a lot which makes you feel really connected with them. Going and looking at The Food Network is another great example too.
Shay: How many times can we learn to make an omelet? You watch that person because you like their personality, you like their style, their flavor, you like how they talk to you. There are plenty of other examples that you can look to. But you really want to start looking at on camera personalities. It’s much, much different than a live experience. You don’t need to be Beyonce at the Staples Center on camera.
Kevin: Okay. I think that’s a great distinction to make for people, just the difference between essentially working a room and working to a camera. Probably the most tangible thing you can do is like, you said, pretend that’s somebody that you know and just get that conversation going, and that’s maybe the easiest analogy for somebody getting started for thinking about how they’re going to do.
Shay: Yeah, and don’t be afraid that because you do that you’re somehow excluding people. Like we can’t speak to everybody anyway, right. We know the saying, “If you’re speaking to everybody, you’re speaking to nobody.” You don’t have to worry about that. Just be authentic and…
Barry: Look at what makes you unique. It’s actually been incredible opportunity for trainers to this time to get more in touch with who they are and what their values are and what their personal mission and cake is on fitness.
Shay: Create a stronger brand identity and it can reach so many more people and have a greater impact. But you can’t do that unless you’ve polished yourself and you refine these techniques. We believe that this is the most important thing. Again, setting up that anybody can learn how to set up the lights and the sound and the camera, anybody can do that. The thing that’s going to make you stand out whether it’s a studio owner listening that has a team of instructors or an independent trainer. You’ve really got to develop your talent on camera, and you have to recognize that in the past, this is something that’s been cultivated over time. It’s not going to happen overnight. But you do need to invest in it. You’re creating these online superstars. You have to invest in them and you have to provide some coaching and some direction for them. Anybody who’s on camera needs a director. You can’t do surgery on yourself. You can’t direct yourself on camera. It is the same.
Barry: I would say as a viewer, that’s absolutely the most important thing. I’m willing to put up with a slightly grainy screen or sound that’s a little bit hard to hear if the instructor is on fire and entertaining me. But if it’s crystal clear video and sound and the instructors just monotone.
Shay: Totally boring then forget it.
Kevin: Yeah. Okay, so coach on camera is obviously massive. I think we’ve got some good pointers there. What else are the big ticket items people need to think about?
Barry: Something we like to do often is just flip it around and talk about what not to do. I think we’ve talked about a few things already like not shouting across the room or not continually counting down reps. But when you’re coaching to this invisible group of people, you have to be very prepared to provide different progressions, meaning ways to make the exercise more challenging or difficult as well as regressions; how to breakdown the exercise into simpler components for people.
Shay: And you have to plan that in advance. You can’t do it on the fly the way that you do in a real class because you’re not seeing everybody. Even if you can see their bodies on Zoom, you’re not going to see it the same way that you see in class. You can’t catch everybody. So you want to make sure that you have to do a little bit more pre-production work. You have to do a little more planning than you would in a real life scenario. One of the other things we see is not being mindful that when you turn your body away from the camera, so you’re asking the person viewing to also turn their body away from the screen. Now, nobody is looking at anybody. We see it a lot, like, don’t try to readjust your programming so that you don’t turn your back away from the camera and you’re not asking the viewer to look away from you so that they have to crane their neck or look between their legs or stop what they’re doing to figure out how they should be doing it correctly.
Barry: A little bit of tape on the floor can help make sure that you’re not falling out of frame or watching with your head cut off or something strange like that.
Shay: I’m just thinking about the viewer’s physical space as well as their state of mind, so being conscious of the fact that they might be in an apartment with neighbors and giving them an option if they don’t want to be a rude upstairs neighbor, like what can they do instead. As well as like any injuries that they may have that you don’t know about. You just want to make sure that you plan ahead and that you’re offering something for everybody, and that you’re keeping them safe even though you don’t have your actual eyes on them.
Kevin: I think it’s a really good point and probably wouldn’t have thought of it but the fact that you can’t see the various levels of skills that people might have in class and you might have not to prepare for that in the past because you could just see and address it. But now you’re going to have to have, for everything we’re going to go through here, I need to be able to accommodate all the different types of people that might join my class.
Shay: One of the other things… and in that preparation, anything that you can do to memorize your content or have a cue card off camera. We’ve seen people literally come on camera with notes which is totally amateur hour or like walking off camera to look at their computer screen like what comes next. If I as a viewer have to wait for you to figure it out, I instantly go, what’s in my refrigerator today. There so many distractions already. Ultimately, you wanted to do anything and everything to reduce the distractions for the viewer at home, so that’s out keeping in mind their physical space and their mental space. For you, this goes back to good lighting and sound. But if we got something weird in the background that’s constantly going to drive the viewer’s eye, and they are like, “What is that?”. They’re not listening to you if you are unprepared and there’s large gaps between the delivery of your content, they are going to start thinking about other things and looking for ways to get out of the work out because it is uncomfortable. Of course, we are always going to do that. There is a reason we come to a studio. There is power in that. I get to turn off everything else and I get to go in the space and there are no distractions except for this workout. That’s gone now, so you have to create that experience through the camera and that ultimately comes mostly through the coaching and just making sure that the environment behind you is supporting that.
Barry: One last pro tip that just came to mind for me is if you’re a studio and you have the ability to have multiple trainers on screen, this can take a lot of pressure off of the one person who’s teaching at the front. There’s a reason why in every fitness DVD you see other people participating. It’s not just because they’re there to have fun and be part of the group. It because it allows the instructor to go over to someone else and use their body as a model for progression, or regression, or something about form. It’s very difficult to coach and cue and use your body as a model all the same time.
Shay: On camera and still appear like presentable because now, again, you are the only thing for them to look at. It’s the only thing. There’s not a mirror in front you or behind you that they can look at themselves. They don’t have a neighbor. There’s not dark lighting. The other thing is that, now you as the trainer, the coach, or whoever that is on the platform needs to be doing almost all. If you are by yourself, you should be prepared to do all the entire workout. The entire workout. You have to move the entire time.
Barry: Which not many of us are conditioned to do.
Shay: No. Instructors don’t do that and they shouldn’t have to. It is not our workout. We demo a few reps. We walk around the room, we have 10,000 other jobs to do in that room, so now you have to get yourself up to a condition where you can teach and talk the whole time and think about all of the other things that this invisible person that you’re talking to might need. So, yes, if you’re in a place where you can get into the studio, you know, we’re talking about after things open up we can get back in. Our suggestion is always to have that back up team. One of the misquote, usually, called the modifier they do the regressions. One is called, superstar, whatever, give them the fun name. They do the progressions and then that way the instructor can take a break. The other people don’t talk so they can do the workout, and then it also provides like some energy because there’s interaction there and there’s somebody to bounce things off of. That’s like the number tip is if you can afford to, and you’ve got to pay those people for their time unless we actually have seen people invite clients, like their trusted clients, their front row people, and then it’s like a free workout so if they don’t mind being on camera and they are super fit and it is fun for them you can say, “Hey, volunteer, you got a free workout with us.” They’ve got to sign some things saying that they’re not going to ask for any money, that they volunteered their time, but your employees, the people that work for you as the studio owner you have to pay for their time. You have to keep that in mind as well because that’s going to inflate your budget.
Kevin: But I think definitely as expectations continue to go up from their customer side, these are the type of things that people are going to have to figure out.
Shay: Yes, yeah.
Kevin: Before we finish I’d like to get your thoughts on just the in-person. You talked about opening up and people are getting back to their in-person gym and studio. How do they juggle all these new online stuff they just have learned how to do with their old business they had two months ago? How do you start thinking about that?
Barry: It’s not easy.
Shay: You just said it, right. It’s not going to be like it was before and it’s not going to be like it was in place. Now, you’ve got two businesses essentially that you have to run.
Barry: You are probably going to have to hire two managers to take care of each platform. You want to keep both platforms running. Don’t just let that online platform go. That’s going to be an incredible additional revenue stream for you. We’ve heard a number of different things. There have been studios that have opened up and then had shut down again. So they’ve been pushing members back unto their online platform. We’ve heard of studios that have opened and now have included their online platform as part of their membership so if clients go on a vacation or if they are on business trips they can continue to take classes.
Shay: And also keep in mind that when we first opened up a lot of places you may only be able to open at like half of your capacity or 25% of your capacity. We have to keep that six-foot distance for a while. So your classes, the fun part is they’re going to sell out fast but you’re not making the same amount of money. So if you can, maybe, live stream those classes so that your people at home can participate even though they’re not actually physically in the space, that’s a huge value add. So you are a waitlist, right, the people that would have signed up are now still paying to take that class so you could consider live streaming your actual classes. You can also start to play with offering different modalities, right. Let’s say you’re a cycling studio. Look, here’s an example, there have been a few cycling studios that have done an excellent job pivoting. They have rented up their bikes and they’re still providing their products, that’s their services. There’s a few that just couldn’t make that happen so they started offering supplemental workouts. They didn’t want to be not be in the game. They didn’t want their clients to go somewhere else, so now they’re offering HIT classes, or yoga, or whatever it is. Now, when you open back up you can continue to offer these other modalities as cross-training. Now, I’ve joined my local cycle studio, I go there for my in real life cycle experience which is so epic but I can do my yoga at home with the same company, with the same instructors, with the same community vibe.
Barry: People I know, and like, and trust. I’m not going to have to go through this daunting process of finding someone else.
Kevin: Finding someone else. Yeah.
Shay: Yeah. There’s so many benefits, there are so many new ways to retain and entertain your clients because you have this new business but you do have to keep in mind that a lot of studio managers quickly pivoted to becoming the virtual platform, their digital managers so that their jobs remain decentral. Well, what happens when your studio opens? That person may or may not be able to do both as Barry said. You may have to have somebody managing your digital platform and somebody manages your studio. You may even have two separate teams of instructors. We’ve found that some instructors just do not do well on camera.
Barry: Even if they are the superstar in the studio.
Shay: Yeah. Your top number one instructor may just absolutely flop when you get him on camera so you may keep them in the studio and you could live stream their experiences but then for your on demand channel you may have another set of instructors which is great because that means you can sort of run two things at once, right. You don’t have to rely on the same, let’s say, five or six instructors to do everything. Of course, if you can, that’s a little more efficient. But you’ve got to carve it out of your schedule the same way you did before. Have a plan in the same way you have a plan for your in-studio experience. What hours of the day would you be recording, right? Obviously when live classes aren’t happening. How often do they come out? Just create that schedule for you and your team the same way that you do with your studio. You kind of have to go back to like before you opened your studio. It’s the same thing but now you’ve got to run them in tandem.
Kevin: Yeah. I think that’s the most important thing whether it’s two managers or almost you need to redesign your business.
Shay: Yeah, you can’t just maintain what you built while you were shut and then re-open your studio. You’ll drive yourself nuts and you’ll run into all kinds of problems and you’ll just face burnouts and overwhelm. You don’t want that.
Barry: Absolutely, the studio owners that we’ve seen that have tried to fit their business back into that same box have really, really struggled when the fact is that this is the time to be creative, to think outside the box and create something brand new and set a fire to that entrepreneurial spirit that made you want to open a business in the first place.
Shay: Just don’t be afraid to allow it to look different than it did before. I think what Barry just said is really important. There’s a lot of people that really want to fit back into their old way of operating.
Barry: Because it’s comfortable and known.
Shay: Because that’s comfortable. And ultimately if the intention behind your service is really strong and you’ve built a strong community, they’re going to go with you wherever you go.
Barry: Yeah, we heard of a studio owner that said, “Hey, now when my instructors are gone on vacation, it’s not a problem anymore when my members are missing them.” They can teach an amazing workout…
Shay: From the beach in Mexico.
Barry: And we’ll put it on our online platform.
Shay: And it adds to the fun.
Barry: Yeah. They can continue to make money while they are on vacation. That’s pretty cool.
Shay: Another way of doing business. It’s exciting.
Kevin: Awesome. Okay. Well, I think we’ll wrap it there. I think we started that with some really tactical steps of getting the light and sounds there. To me, the takeaway is really thinking around redesigning your business now that you figure out how to do this. It’s going to become more and more part of the studio membership. There are challenges there and there’s also huge opportunity. Before we go, just tell me what is the biggest lesson you two have learned in the last three months?
Barry: Keep an open mind.
Shay: Keep an open mind, yeah. One of the last things I just said that if you’re… We have always said that if you have strong core values and you stay connected to the why of your business that when you pivot, and the what and the how have to change that you can still survive. We learned that ourselves. Never in a million years did we think that we would launch the Learn to Livestream course. That was like not even anywhere in our periphery. We just say the opportunity to like, “Oh, actually we can do this.” We didn’t just jump on to capitalize on it. We actually have the skills that we’ve never thought about before. So now we are coaching people or coaching instructors like how to coach and cue on camera. We are consulting businesses on how to set up the technical side and run their business and it’s so exciting.
Barry: Yeah. Your power as an entrepreneur is the ability to create something out of nothing.
Shay: You just have to get to that, we like to use the cycling studio as an example because it is one of the most popular but one of the most difficult business to run. It’s difficult to be successful and it is a modality that is very near and dear to our hearts. As I mentioned before, if you lost all your bikes, if you can’t get the bikes to the people you can still serve. The intention behind your business shouldn’t just be to deliver the best cycling class experience. There are a thousand other studios that say the same thing. What is behind that? Why do you serve that community? Why did you get into the fitness industry in the first place? How do you do it? Why and how do you do that and then what it looks like…
Barry: The manifestation…
Shay: Can change, right? I think just stick to that and then whenever the next pandemic comes up or whatever else we’re going to face in the future then you can go…
Barry: Earthquake, Godzilla.
Kevin: You’re ready.
Shay: Yeah, “Okay, I can still provide a high quality service for my clients. I can serve these people. We are just going to do it like this.” So the what can change a little bit.
Kevin: Good. Got it. Okay, just before we wrap up just remind everybody where they can find you guys and how they can get in touch?
Barry: Absolutely. We talked a lot about today in a very short amount of time, but the fact is that there’s still so much more. We didn’t talk about music licensing which has been a huge issue for studios, or liability waivers, and insurance, or contracts. These are all things that we include in our course Learn to Livestream that we mentioned a few times. If you are interested in learning what we talked about in more depth as well as much, much more, you can go to fitnesscareermastery.com/learntolivestream. We have some other online courses as well. We talked a lot about the importance of being a great coach on camera.
Shay: So we have another course called The Art of Coaching and Cueing, and you can also book a coaching call with us there, and we are Fitness Career Mastery everywhere. So fitnesscareermastery.com/learntolivestream if you are interested in the course. fitnesscareermastery.com/community will take you to our private Facebook page. We have all kinds of interesting discussions in there and we share resources.
Barry: You can search for the Fitness Career Mastery Podcast anywhere you listen to a podcast.
Shay: Spotify, iTunes.
Barry: You are listening to this one right now.
Shay: And @fitnesscareermastery on Instagram. We go live every Monday at 10:00am PST to talk to you.
Barry: Answer your questions.
Kevin: Got it. Barry and Shay, thank you very much for coming on the show.
Shay: You’re so welcome. We’re happy to be here.
Barry: Thank you so much.
Kevin: Thank you.
This podcast is brought to you by Glofox, a boutique fitness management software company. If you want to accelerate growth, work efficiently, and deliver a well-branded boutique customer experience, then find us at glofox.com.