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15 Best Tips For Hosting a Live Or Virtual Fitness Class

22.09.2021

by Catherine Rotman

As virtual group fitness and live workouts online have become as popular as in-person fitness for many, 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, and TikToks, but creating a high quality fitness video comes with a different set of standards. Not everyone is set up with a fitness studio or advanced camera equipment, so you are tasked with the challenge of creating high quality production with limited tools at hand. There are so many important aspects of filming a live fitness class or virtual fitness routine and it can be overwhelming. However, in time, 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 it’s at the top of our list. One of the fastest ways to win over your audience is by simply smiling, starting from 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. 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 broadcasting from

You might be confident about the platform you are uploading your videos 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 an unanticipated 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 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 fitness, there’s always a chance that you could have a first time viewer in your audience. While traffic delays can never be responsible for getting in your way when you have to physically be present somewhere, technology-related mishaps can easily occur. Be sure to give yourself ample time as you would if you were driving just in case you do run into a technical problem before the class begins.

Set up appropriate lighting

Ideal lighting includes daytime hours and 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 mode over 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, since 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 an acceptable 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 it can take up a lot of space 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.

If you don’t have a tripod, set your phone on a flat surface such as a table, and then lean it against another sturdy prop on top of 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, it can be a helpful tool to check for tilted footage and make sure you stay level.

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 dozens of 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.

Choose a setting that minimizes distractions

Be mindful of other distractions in your house or other background noises that can interfere with your filming 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. If you have a pet that is prone to unexpected barking, be sure to keep them in a comfortable setting away from the area you are streaming. 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 someone is following along in a series of push-ups and quickly glances back up at their screen, you want to be the focal point that catches their eye first – not anything else. Finding a blank or minimally decorated wall 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 might require modifications. A great way to connect with your audience and reel in the self-doubters is to address any potential thoughts viewers could be having as you go. A great example of someone who relates to their audience consistently through her program is demonstrated by YouTube Yogi Adiene Mischler, in her virtual Yoga series, Yoga with Adriene.

Speak slowly and clearly

Just as importantly as how you setup your audio and apply background music, articulating how and when you speak is critical. It seems like common sense, but it’s a common and easy mistake to move too quickly through a routine or demonstration. You want to move with a fair balance of silence and pauses so participants don’t feel rushed, and you want to have inflection in your voice to avoid monotony. If you feel jittery at first, try using props to keep your hands occupied such as 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, not your outfit. Avoiding clothing with large wording or quotes that might distract your audience from the routine and the message you are intending.

Practice makes perfect

Be sure to practice as much as possible and shoot your video from different angles. Review your practice clips to make sure you are delivering to your best capability, while also creating the best experience for your users. You can also video yourself even when you’re going through a routine alone and watch it later on. Put yourself in the position 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.

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