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An Expert’s Guide to Hosting Zoom Fitness Classes

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The last year has been quite the test for the fitness industry. Amid lockdowns and Covid restrictions, gyms and studios were forced to move their offerings online – if you took part in a fitness class through 2020, it was probably from the comfort of your own living room. Over this time, there’s been huge growth in various digital fitness mediums; whether it’s an app offering a recorded class for members to join at their convenience or livestream classes on social media. 

And amidst all this, for independent fitness operators,  there was one major platform taking center stage – Zoom fitness classes. While no one can say for certain what the future holds for digital fitness, it’s evident that Zoom sessions will be sticking around for a while. 

In fact, the online fitness market is all set to witness an annual growth of 33%. At this rate, come 2027, it would be a 59 billion dollar industry. Cardio, strength training, pilates, vinyasa yoga – all fitness and wellness forms have made their foray into the online space. This means that if you’re a fitness trainer, embracing Zoom classes is one of the best ways you can make the most of the situation.

Here, we run through the important Zoom features and some best practices for you. It’ll be useful whether you’re versed in providing virtual classes and looking for ways to improve, or if online classes are totally new to you. Skip ahead to:

6 Essential Zoom Features You Need to Know About 

Downloading Zoom cannot be easier than this – all you have to do is head to this page. But it can take anywhere between a few minutes to a couple of hours for you to get a grip on the software. 

To make life easy for you, we have listed the five most important features you should know about. It’s worth noting that many of these options require you to be a host in the Zoom call. 

1. Mute

The mute option can be used to prevent members from speaking over others. You can do this by going to Security > Allow participants to: Unmute Themselves. You can also mute yourself from the home screen and let your students speak if you want them to engage. 

We have seen quite a few blunders because the mute button wasn’t used properly. So, ensure that you mute others when the training is in full swing.

2. Speaker View

It’s an option that automatically shows the speaker’s video on the forefront. To enable this, you have to click View > Speaker in the top right corner.

The other participants’ videos will be moved to small boxes on the edge of the screen. This option can be helpful when you’re hosting interactive sessions with your students. 

3. Gallery View

Emulating studio experience through Zoom is tough. But the ‘Gallery View’ option is your best bet to get close to a studio session.

It lets you see up to 49 students on a single screen. So, if you have a good internet connection and a big screen, you can even host synchronized exercise routines. Moreover, you can get a closer view of your students’ drills and point out their mistakes. You’ll find the option to enable it in View > Gallery.

4. Pin Video

To prevent all disruptions during fitness classes, you can simply spotlight the instructors’ video. This ensures that only the instructors are visible on the main screen during the session. 

This can be done by clicking on the ellipsis on the video and selecting the ‘Spotlight for Everyone’ option.

5. Screen Sharing

Have a cool training drill to share? Or just want to show off your latest fitness challenge video? The screen sharing option lets you share resources with your members. This includes videos, presentations, digital banners, and more.

All you have to do is open up the file on your computer and hit the ‘Share Screen’ button.

6. Record

We have saved the best for the end of this section! Unlike regular gym sessions, you don’t need an elaborate camera set up to record the class. Instead, by hitting the ‘Record’ button on your screen, you can capture every moment of your session. 

This is a cool feature that can be used to give feedback and increase member accountability. Plus, you can make videos that make for excellent branding material and on-demand content. 

If you want to make better use of this option, you can make video compilations and send them to your students on special days. However, do note that all your students will be notified when you start recording a session.

Now that we have a brief idea of the different options on Zoom let’s look at some best practices.

6 Best Practices for Zoom Workout Sessions 

With a little bit of effort from your end, you can make those online workouts joyful.

Here are six best practices for you. The below-mentioned tips are helpful for both personal training sessions and group fitness classes.

1. Adhere to Digital Discipline

For physical gym sessions, you simply have to be on time at the right place. Also, since you are in a fitness ecosystem, equipment and assistance are readily available. But this isn’t the case with virtual or hybrid sessions.

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In the new world, following Zoom etiquette is of utmost importance. It starts with scheduling the session and sharing the link well in advance. Besides, it’s essential to be prepared with a routine or a drill that would be effective for your online students.

During the session, having another instructor on standby is ideal. They can always take over the class if your internet fails or for any other emergency.

2. Give a Walkthrough

Before Zoom became a household name in the country, studio sessions were the industry norm. So, many of your new and existing customers might not know the nuances of online sessions.

It’s always good to give a complete walkthrough, mainly when running group exercise classes as there could be a few new faces taking part for the first time! Assume that they don’t know anything about Zoom and provide them with a brief. 

You can also prepare a doc or a small explainer video to give clients beforehand. It can come in handy if new members are joining an existing batch of members.

3. Fix Your Ideal Settings

Find a good spot in your living room or studio and turn it into your ‘Zoom zone.’ Write down your schedule and tell your household members that you are not to be disturbed during your class. This will make life easy for you and prevent mishaps.

The ideal spot should have a clutter-free background. It helps in reducing distractions for your students. More importantly, have ample space around you. It’s impossible to perform complex Barre Sculpt moves, HIIT, or Zumba in a cramped environment.

The room should have heavy curtains, cushions, or other objects that prevent your voice from echoing. Natural lighting is preferable since it makes you look better during live streams. The source of light should always be behind the camera so that you remain in focus. 

If you’re using a music playlist, equipment, or streaming software, standardize their settings. Always have them ready to avoid hassle just moments before the class begins.

4. Host Dry Runs 

Most of us didn’t exactly start out as virtual trainers. So, it’s essential to know the practical problems that might arise during these sessions. Hence, dry runs.

Host trial sessions with your closest pals and staff members from time to time. Let them be your test subjects and experiment with your routines. Gauge their response during the sessions. You can tweak the workouts depending on the levels of enthusiasm. 

At the same time, try to get honest views of those attending these trials. In this way, you can perfect your strategy even before your first virtual class.

5. Go Pro

Invest in a professional virtual setup as far as possible. This includes live streaming software and electronic gadgets. They help in enhancing the member experience and ultimately result in better retention.

Try to get hold of a large monitor or a TV. It can be connected to your laptop to give you a better view of the entire class. 

A good pair of speakers should be enough for you. On the other hand, a mixing console and an external audio interface can significantly improve audio quality for those on the other end. Even if you can’t get these devices, you can simply tweak Zoom’s settings for great sound output.

When it comes to video, you can purchase an HD webcam for finer videos and wider shots. You can also add an LED video light to the mix if you feel that the natural brightness of the space isn’t enough. 

6. Get Feedback

It all comes down to this. You might be moving heaven and earth, but it’s all in vain if your members aren’t satisfied. 

Take the time out to talk to your clients after the class ends. Try and understand if they are facing any difficulties when attending live workouts.

As we’re taking the digital route, it’s best to send a survey form to all your clients. Have a good mix of objective and subjective questions in your survey. Ask for suggestions and try to incorporate their recommendations into your routine wherever feasible.

In Summary

Keep testing and tweaking until you find the best version of a Zoom session. At the same time, try to provide a great class experience.

Your clients know that you’re trying your best to recreate a fitness studio environment. So, give yourself a break if something doesn’t go your way. That said, follow the key points we mentioned to see the best results for your gym business.

Here’s a rundown of all the aspects we covered in this article.

  • The online fitness classes market is growing rapidly, so don’t miss out on the opportunity.
  • Zoom has a few valuable functions like ‘mute,’ ‘record,’ and ‘share screen’ that will help you conduct live classes in a smooth manner.
  • Follow the norms of using Zoom and ensure that there are no glitches while streaming your sessions.
  • Provide an overview of Zoom when you start a new batch and ensure that all new members get up to speed
  • Demarcate an area for virtual fitness sessions and have a standard set-up for your workout classes 
  • Organize trial sessions with your staff members and friends to test new routines and for timely feedback
  • Invest in the necessary equipment and software for the smooth functioning of your classes
  • Get timely feedback from all your clients and look for ways to improve your virtual sessions.

Want more tips on running virtual or hybrid sessions? Listen to our podcast with Adam Zeitsiff, the President of Intelivideo and the former CEO of Golds Gym. In this episode, he breaks down online gym offerings for us and gives suggestions to nail hyper-personalization for fitness clients.

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