How to Start Live Streaming Fitness Classes for Your Community—Today
By Katherine Wernet
The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has upended our lives. During this trying and unsettling time, community is more important than ever. How can you stay connected with your clients and keep up the sense of camaraderie you’ve worked so hard to create with social distancing or even shelter-in-place orders? A great way is to post prerecorded workout videos or live stream your fitness classes.
Your clients need to stay healthy, and fitness is an important part of that. They need to feel the support of the community—even if they can’t be in the studio or gym with you. While live streaming and video workouts aren't the same as taking a class together, it’s the next best thing, and it’s a way to mitigate your clients' feelings of isolation and anxiety.
Whether you offer yoga, cardio dance, or another type of fitness, video is a way to maintain your client relationships and memberships by offering another valuable service—when clients aren’t able to come into your business. Perhaps you considered streaming workouts before this? Or maybe this is the first time you're seriously thinking about it for your fitness studio or gym? When things go back to normal, video can provide an additional revenue stream.
What's the difference between live streaming and pre-recorded workouts?
Live streams are, well, live, while pre-recorded workouts can have a little more editing involved. Not every fitness modality lends itself to an at-home version with a live stream. If your classes in-studio rely heavily on specialised equipment, be creative! Pre-recorded videos of workouts that are complementary to your usual offerings are a great option.
Choose a live stream when:
- You want to stick to your normal class schedule. In this time of uncertainty, routine is key. Keeping to our usual schedule provides a comforting sense of normalcy. Miss your committed 6 AM yoga crew or the noon HIIT loyalists? Get everyone together on the live stream.
- You want to move fast and keep it real. With live streams, there’s no need to edit or post files.
- Your audience can easily do your workout in their living room.
- You want to interact with your clients in real-time. Depending on how you choose to set it up, you can allow interactivity with your class or keep it one way.
Did you know you can use your existing class schedule on Mindbody to allow clients to book digital classes? Read on!
Choose pre-recorded workouts when:
- There's a series of movements that you only need to demonstrate once, but you want your audience to repeat or do as a prescribed routine or regimen.
- You want to be able to choose your best takes and edit the content.
- You want shorter content or even episodes.
- You don't care if the audience watches now or later.
- You want to share a "workout of the day" that clients can do at any time.
- You’re looking to scale.
How to live stream your fitness class
You want to get something out to your clients quickly and easily. There are a few good ways to go about live streaming–from getting the word out about it to filming.
With Mindbody, you can both host live streams and share an on demand library of your video content. Keeping it all within Mindbody means no new logins for your clients, no need to download another app, and no lengthy training for your team. You don’t have to worry about unwanted guests joining the stream, either.
Let your clients know you’re going virtual and set it up in your Mindbody software
An important part of live streaming is making sure there’s someone out there watching. Otherwise, why bother with going live? Let your members know a live stream is coming their way. Share the information on all of your social channels and with an email. Think about who you want to share this with and the benefit for them if they participate. Do you want to target current members? Anyone who’s come in the past 30 days? It’s easy to send targeted communications with Mindbody’s Marketing Suite. Check out this post with the best ways to promote your virtual offerings.
Many businesses that have been forced to close (like Hit the Barre) are opting to replace their regular offerings with live streaming as a way to encourage members to keep their memberships active. You can let people use their existing pricing options (passes) to access these classes or offer new, virtual class packs. For more on how to price your video offerings, check out this post.
You can make live streams part of your offerings on Mindbody. Simply edit the names of your classes in the software to indicate that the class is virtual and is available to join via live stream. Use the word “VIRTUAL” in front of your regular class name. It should look something like “VIRTUAL Mat Pilates” or “VIRTUAL Yoga Sculpt.”
When you use this standard naming (the word “VIRTUAL” in all caps), Mindbody can use enhanced search features in the Mindbody app and mindbody.io to provide additional visibility to your virtual classes.
Make sure you edit the description of the class as well so it’s clear that the class is strictly virtual. Explain in the description that clients who sign up for the class will get a separate email 30 minutes before the class starts with the link to the video. Update the auto reservation confirmation email to reiterate that they can expect an email just before class starts with the link to the live stream.
Film your live stream
You don’t need to go wild investing in a lighting kit and premium camera for this. When it comes to live streaming, a phone (or computer/webcam depending on your setup) will do the trick. Whatever you choose, you want to make sure it’s on a steady surface. If you’re using a phone, consider using a small tripod to make it easy for yourself.
As you’re setting the stage (at your studio, or even your own home), you’ll just want to make sure the lighting is good, and the studio looks tidy. Audio is also important. You want to make sure your viewers can hear the instructor clearly. What about music? Ambient music can make it hard to hear your instructor—so look for a streaming platform that allows for secondary audio inputs. If you do opt to include music, you’ll want to know what music you can post legally. It might be easiest to go for music from sites like Epidemic Sound, which allows subscribers to use over 30,000 songs for one flat, monthly subscription.
Do a test run before you go live and make sure that you can see the moves, hear the instructor, and aren’t distracted by anything weird in the background.
In a time of such uncertainty, it’s critical to help your community stick together. Live streaming may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but remember that it’s probably new to your clients, too. They’ll be happy to see you again and thrilled to get back into their fitness routines. Roll with any mistakes just like you would during a regular class, be honest and straightforward, and you’ll do great. The class must go on!