How to Deliver Online Classes to Your Members

Published on: 
23 March 20
Posted in: 
12 min read

For the latest resources to help you through the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, take a look at the dedicated COVID-19 Resources section of our Knowledge Base.

Maintaining your community at a time like this is more important than ever. Even if your doors are closed for the moment – it’s no time to give up. As fitness businesses all over the world are navigating the impacts of COVID-19, now is the time to improvise and adapt to motivate your members. 

Luckily, today’s technology can put people in constant communication with each other. Approximately 45% of the world’s population now uses social media, spending an average of 2 hours and 23 minutes a day on various platforms.

Most governments around the world have now directed fitness facilities to close down to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As a result, gyms and studios are adapting to the situation by posting at-home workouts on their social media pages and streaming live classes.  

Recording home workouts for your members is a great way to keep your community together and hopefully keep your retention rates up. You’ll be giving your members something to look forward to the same way they would a class, and by mirroring your regular timetable, members will still be able to stick to a routine while in isolation.

In this article, we’ll walk you through how to plan, create, and promote your at-home workouts. Before we dive in, we’ll look at the benefits of delivering home-workouts and whether you should live stream or pre-record your content. Skip ahead to:

The Benefits of Delivering Online Workouts

Creating digital content is more cost-effective than it’s ever been, and today’s technology means that your business has a community that extends beyond your physical gym or studio. Now more than ever, your members will appreciate your efforts to maintain that sense of community by continuing to deliver a great member experience online. 

The member experience is about continuously supporting customers with exceptional service. It’s about establishing relationships and building communities, so at a time where they can’t get to you, it’s up to you to bring the community to them. In the long-run, engaging members now means they’ll remain loyal. They’ll be back with you when things are running normally again, and they might even bring a few new friends along with them.

Gyms and studios around the world are already transitioning online with famous brands like Orangetheory, Barry’s Bootcamp, and Corepower yoga offering either free live classes, discounted offerings, or limited free trials. The way studios operate is changing, and while this may be only temporary, you need to make sure that you’re still able to be of service to your members during this difficult time.

When it comes to sharing your at-home workouts, you have two options: Live stream or pre-record. So which one should you choose?

Live Streaming or Pre-record?

The answer to this question is simple – both if you can! Covering all options will give your members a greater range of consistency and flexibility. Plus, as you get to grips with home-workouts, you’ll get a sense of which format works best for your community.

Benefits of Live Streaming

Live streaming your classes is excellent for motivating members, as they’ll know others are joining at the same time. Everyone’s in it together – like they would be in class. Depending on the medium you choose for your live streams, members might be able to see and speak to each other as well. Consider using platforms such as Zoom, YouTube Live and Facebook Live.

Another benefit of live streaming is the routine you can create for your members, something that is crucial in a time of such uncertainty. Scheduling your live classes as you would at the gym is a great way to deliver the consistency of an in-studio experience. Some of your members may be working from home at the minute – so they still want that 7 am class before they get to work.

Benefits of Pre-Recording 

Pre-recorded workouts are a great option if you want to grow your existing community. It’s also a format that will give you time to bank a few different options, so you can consistently share content. Think along the lines of uploading a ‘Workout of The Day’ (#WOD) at the same time every day on Instagram. 

This format is valuable to members as it offers flexibility, especially if they’ve not been able to make a live class. With this, it’s good practice to record your live workouts. This way, people who can’t make class can still access the same session at a later date. You can also repurpose the content from your live-streams to promote your home-workouts. We’ll get into that part later.  

Planning Your Workouts

Before you jump in with filming your workouts, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got some basic equipment ready and a plan of how you’ll go about the process. 

Best Practices for Stress-Free Filming

Plan your sessions to avoid any hiccups – you don’t want to come across as messy or unprofessional. Give yourself at least a couple of hours for your first filming attempts, it’ll take time to find your rhythm. Once you’re more familiar with the process, you’ll naturally speed up. But don’t rush in the beginning, it’ll only make the process feel stressful when it doesn’t need to be. 

Whether you’re going live or recording your workouts – it’s crucial to plan them as you would a regular class. 

From the get-go, map out a 7-day schedule for your classes. If you plan on delegating sessions to your trainers, you’ll also need to work together on a staff schedule to keep everyone on the same page and maintain consistency.

As you plan and record more, you can swap different classes in and out. For most fitness business owners right now, moving to digital workouts is entirely new. Just remember that it’s probably new to your members, too, making it the perfect time to work with each other. Ask for feedback, like Ambition Fitness, in the example below:

Make sure you record all of your videos horizontally so you can share them on a variety of channels and they can be accessed on a range of devices and screen sizes and think about where you’re filming your workouts. If you’re unable to shoot from your studio, you want a clean background with no distractions – your setting should be deliberate. Avoid having any clutter and try to have your logo showing somewhere, perhaps instructors can wear your studios branded t-shirts. 

Equipment Checklist

Lights, camera, action! 

You’ll need a few equipment pieces to get started. Long-term, you may want to invest in a few advanced options, we’ve included examples of these and where to find them at a fair price below.

Camera

The camera on your phone or a basic DSLR is perfect for recording your workouts on. To give you a better idea of what to choose, take a look at this list we put together of the best cameras for filming workouts. Whatever camera you have, be sure to check that the device or SD cards have enough storage space on them before filming any exercise. You don’t want them to cut out halfway through! For pre-recorded workouts, choose the highest-quality recording and exporting settings for editing.

Keep in mind that if you’re planning on live streaming with a DSLR, your camera will need a HDMI port, and you’ll need an external converter to USB. This video is useful if you’re planning on live streaming with a DSLR using Youtube live. For a step-by-step guide to live streaming your workouts on Youtube, check out this article from our Knowledge Base.

Sound

The best options for capturing audio, especially for any live streams, are wireless ones. If you don’t have any kind of microphone initially, improvise with what you do have. Film from your laptop and use its built-in microphone, even your phone can work as long as there are no other distracting noises in the background. 

You’re likely moving around a lot and don’t want this to interrupt the quality of instruction, especially long-term. We’d suggest taking a look at wireless earbuds; there are plenty to choose from online at various price points, just be sure to read the product reviews before purchase. The Optoma NuForce BE Sport4 wireless sport earbuds come widely-recommended. Prices vary across retailers but start from around $80, check out their review on TechRadar here.

Lights

If you don’t have access to lighting equipment, natural lighting can work as long as it turns out bright and balanced on camera. Test this out before you go ahead with filming to ensure you have no harsh shadows or dark spots. Prices for professional filming lights online vary, but a quick Amazon search shows options starting from around $40 – a worthwhile investment going forward with your workouts.

Editing

With a massive choice of free video editing software that’s simple to use, you don’t have to be an editing pro or have a big budget to create high-quality videos. The main thing you will need is time. Much like planning and filming your workouts, the more you do it, the better you’ll become. But if you’re new to editing, it’ll take a few tries before you’re entirely comfortable and again – it’s not something you want to rush.

Openshot is a free and easy-to-use option for anyone new to editing. The tool has a range of features, including clip resizing, title templates and creation, and more. All of its elements come together in its advanced timeline, which includes a drag and drop editor. 

Where to Host Your At-Home Workouts

Taking your classes online is a new concept for both you and your members, and there are many channels you can use to host them. Initially, you may want to upload pre-recorded workouts to a variety of channels – think Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube.

In time, you’ll learn where your members want the content, and you may find that one channel stands out as your best option. Let’s take a look at some examples of fitness businesses that are sharing their at-home workouts on social right now.

Barry’s Bootcamp

Barry’s Bootcamp kicked-off their home workouts by holding two Instagram Live sessions for people to join. Members didn’t need to come prepared with any equipment, the workouts were programmed around bodyweight exercises – ideal for those new to home exercise, as they’re unlikely to have a stash of barbells in the living room. 

The brand is continuing to hold up to four live workouts a day on Instagram. The schedule is promoted both on their feed and in a highlight at the top of their profile. 

BamBam Boogie

Bam Bam Boogie has taken its workouts to the video communication platform Zoom. Members are sent an invitation link to join 2 hours before the session, and the studio is running five 30-minute classes a day. Everyone can book classes online, just as they would for a studio class. Sessions are limited to 15 spaces and are filling up quickly – the community is loving the workouts and appreciative that the studio is still delivering:

Promoting Your Workouts

For the time being, your at-home workouts are your entire fitness business. So much like planning each session, you should treat the marketing strategy with the same efforts, planning, and execution as you would if you were promoting your physical studio. 

Word of mouth and user-generated content on social media can play a huge role in promoting your online sessions. Take inspiration from Bam Bam Boogie. As shown in the examples above, the brand is encouraging members to talk about the classes and welcoming feedback. Doing this is helping generate excitement among the community and will encourage new members to sign up. 

User-generated content aside, any footage that you record, be it live or pre-recorded, can come in handy for promotion – just like you’d use photos and videos from your gym.

There’s a host of free online tools that can help you create professional marketing content. The examples below are great for creating infographics and videos. 

Animoto

Website: https://animoto.com/

 

Animoto is a simple to use video making tool. Upload images and video clips to create impressive videos using the drag-and-drop video maker. No video editing experience is required, making this an excellent option for someone new to it. 

Canva

Website: https://www.canva.com/

Canva is a graphic design tool that you can use to create a range of marketing materials. There are hundreds of templates and fonts to choose from, so you can easily match styles to suit your studio. Like Animoto, Canva is very simple to use, so no graphic design experience is necessary.

In Summary

We’ve always stressed the importance of building a community for your gym, and now is the time to really bring it home. Creating home workouts is a great way to connect with members and keep them motivated. Where they’re exercising now may look a little different from your gym, but with the right planning and marketing strategy, you can still deliver an exceptional member experience.

Living room, bedroom, kitchen, or studio – you and your members are still in this together.

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