How to Choose the Right A/V Equipment for Teaching Fitness Classes Online
By Meredith Simmons
By now, you've probably taught your first class online—maybe even your first dozen. You're getting comfortable in front of the camera, and your customers are starting to turn out in record numbers for classes. You may have made a big decision: I'm planning on live streaming from here on out.
If that's you (or not you, and you're just starting with teaching online), you may be considering upgrading your audio-visual equipment to improve the quality of your pre-recorded and live streamed video. Here are three pieces of advice from businesses who've nailed the high-quality content game.
Go back to the beginning
When you first opened your studio, you probably had someone wire for sound and lighting, right? Give them a call. Joanna “Magik” Majcherkiewicz, DJ and owner of UNDRCARD Boxing in Toronto and Calgary, Canada, recommends starting there. "Call whoever set up your sound to start with—they will navigate your space nimbly."
Your A/V person will know exactly what you're working with—so they'll be able to create a plan customized to your space and your needs. For example, they'll know if the microphones you originally purchased to teach work with your video platform—or if you never had a microphone, they'll know what can quickly patch into your existing audio system.
Your lighting contractor will be able to advise you on how to change or update what you have to make your space better to live stream from, like changing the type of lightbulbs you need or purchasing a ring light to brighten dark spaces.
Think about your audience—and where they are watching from
If you don't have an A/V point-of-contact, or what they are recommending is too expensive for you, Majcherkiewicz suggests thinking about what your audience needs. "Those individuals work with professional-grade equipment. Their application is different than someone who is getting it on their phone, laptop, or home TV. If you're producing this tidal wave of content, but they only have a bucket, you may invest too much."
Find out where your customers are watching you from through a quick survey. If you find that they are watching on a high-definition TV, it may be worth investing in higher-end cameras instead of streaming from a mobile device.
Suze Schwartz of Unplug Meditation in Los Angeles kept the streaming kits for her meditation studios simple; she uses as Logitech webcam and a ring light to get the best quality of stream possible. By coupling that with best practices like muting participants for live streamed sessions, she's able to ensure the best audio experience for her customers.
"You don't want them talking while you're teaching," Schwartz said. "And you can't control the audio of other people's backgrounds, even if it's a quiet class, and it's very distracting."
Plan for your sound
When you start considering sound, you need to consider all options for A/V equipment. If your customers are listening to you through surround-sound speakers versus built-in computer speakers, the needs will be different.
Because Majcherkiewicz is a DJ in addition to a studio owner, she knows sound can make or break an experience. When UNDRCARD began planning for live streamed classes, they realized that the audio needs of customers at home were different than they were in the studio, so they cut the bass from their live streamed classes.
While UNDRCARD is making use of their in-studio sound equipment, Majcherkiewicz recommends thinking about what the creatives like podcasters and vloggers are doing. "If your A/V pro is on the high-end and they are looking at things that are top quality, let's flip to the other end," she said.
If you are running your streams through your phone, Majcherkiewicz recommends an iRig that can connect your sound system to your phone. "Plug your gear into that, and it plugs into your phone," Majcherkiewicz said.
Both Schwartz and Majcherkiewicz recommend keeping the experience real and not to make it feel too produced or forced.
"You have to remember, once you're on, you're on—the entire time," Schwartz said.
"People like what's real and raw," Majcherkiewicz said. "Some imperfections are alright."
Read our blog for more tips on how to live stream.