Best Practices for Hosting Workouts Over Zoom

Best Practices for Hosting Workouts Over Zoom

Zoom has helped us all navigate working from home, access virtual classrooms, remotely connect with our doctors, and even share cocktails with friends and family during happy hours. Fitness instructors are also using Zoom to stay connected to their students and help them maintain an “at home” work-life balance. 

Exercise is critically important to our mental and physical health more than ever, and Zoom is an amazing platform for anyone seeking virtual fitness classes or for instructors looking to continue teaching. Here are some best practices for hosting your Zoom workouts, including tips from virtual fitness pros!

Tech recommendations

There’s a lot of technology out there to enable fitness instructors to teach remotely. These general recommendations will help you create the best experience for your clients, but you can certainly use what you’ve got:

  • USB camera: You won’t regret springing for a high-quality USB camera, such as the Logitech Brio. Some devices feature a soundbar and camera with an integrated microphone and speaker, allowing you to teach a class without an external mic (check out the Poly Studio or Logitech Meetup). 
  • USB or Bluetooth speaker: A portable speaker with a built-in mic will pick up sound and deliver professional-quality audio from wherever you are. 
  • Bluetooth mic or wireless headset: Browse Amazon and you’ll find numerous wireless devices that help you instruct with confidence.

Get some earbuds

Check out the Jabra Elite Active 65t wireless earbuds, which are great for workouts and other activities.

Zoom Workouts

Advice on the setup

Not every instructor will have a designated space to teach virtual workouts, but make the most of what you have:

  • Space: Choose a room with decent acoustics, one with a lower ceiling and chairs, curtains, and other furniture to reduce the hollow sound. Also make sure the area is tidy — trust us, it will show!
  • Camera: Make sure you’re framed properly. Ideally, it should be placed at eye level from your default position, but depending on whether you’re doing floor work, HIIT, plyometrics, incorporating machines, and so forth, be conscious that your audience can see everything to follow along. 
  • Lighting: Natural light is the best, and be sure the light is behind the camera and shining toward you so you’re clearly visible.
  • Music: Determine your music needs and put together some playlists on Spotify or another app. Ask yourself:
    • Are your classes beat-dependent, for the moves?
    • Is the music there for simple motivation?
    • Are you teaching yoga, meditation, or another class that doesn’t require music?

You’ll also want to limit as much network traffic as possible so the broadcast is clear. Ask your other household members to limit Netflix or YouTube streaming during your classes.

Pro tips

“I’ve learned that angle and lighting are truly EVERYTHING when it comes to virtual workouts. I have a light I bought from Lowe’s to make sure that we are super visible and bright on the recording. I make sure the computer is higher up, so everyone gets a good view and none of the movements are cut off. I also make sure all the windows are open so we have a ton of light. (The more light, the better!) In addition, since I teach with another instructor, I make sure whoever is leading the class is in front and the other person is behind so it is easy to see who to follow along with.” — Jourdan Baldwin, owner of Denver-based Jourdan Baldwin Fitness and creator of the Gym Quickies app

“Everyone is at home, and there is nothing wrong with having a comfortable, homey feel to your class. One awesome thing about teaching remotely is that we can all set up wherever we feel comfortable and whenever we want! Our yoga teacher teaches from her porch, with a beautiful background. We open the shades for the natural light and set up the computer or camera facing away so that the lighting is perfect. If we teach later classes we use a stage light we purchased. Having quality lighting is super important when teaching over Zoom!” — Jordan Cook, owner of Paragon Body in San Jose, California

Zoom Workouts - Paragon Body

Zoom tips for your virtual workout

Once you’re set up, we recommend logging on a few minutes early to check your connection, sound, and visuals. Create a simple, “Welcome, here are a few tips” slide to share as your students join the class with what they should have on hand and what to do if they have a question. 

Introduce the class just like you would introduce it live: “Hi, my name is Lindsey …” and give them an overview of the equipment, and run through the protocol. After all, we’re all pretty new to this.

“I’ve learned to engage with everyone as they are coming on,” Baldwin said. “Get on about 10 minutes early to chat with people as they are coming in, as it builds community. Saying hello to each person is a big deal and makes everyone feel welcome!”

“It’s also helpful to consider simplifying the workout you might deliver in a gym or studio,” said Erin Zielenski, Zoom solution engineer and group fitness instructor. “Virtual workouts can be challenging to follow, since your participants may be watching or listening on a smaller device, like a tablet or laptop. Keep cues clear and concise, and check on participants to ensure everyone is following the flow.”

Zoom Workouts - Erin Zielenski

We recommend our meeting solutions (vs. webinars) for a two-way interactive experience, which is necessary to safely instruct the class. Here are some tips for using Zoom Meetings like a pro for your fitness classes:

  • Keep it to trusted participants: Don’t share your meeting link in public forums such as social media or post it on your website. Share it only in closed forums where you know everyone or one-to-one to prevent uninvited guests from showing up.
  • Mute all participants upon entry: You don’t want a cacophony of noise as everyone is warming up, so mute everyone initially.
  • Video on: Ask participants to turn their video on, so you can see everyone and ensure they’re following along, just like an in-person class.
  • Sound like a boss: If you’re using a Bluetooth or USB microphone, adjust your Zoom Meeting settings to preserve the original sound to let your mic do its job.
  • Share the music: Click on Share Screen – Advanced – Music or Computer Sounds Only to share the music right from your computer. You’ll be able to adjust the volume within your player and will be able to talk over the music if needed.
  • Require registration: Track attendance, send follow-up class options, and use the opportunity to build your brand. (Here’s how to add registration to your Zoom workout.)
  • Protect the class: Once you’ve greeted the class and are ready to start teaching, you’ll want to keep it interruption-free. You can do this from the Security icon in the meeting controls, and the first two tips also encourage clients to show up on time or risk missing the class altogether. From the Security icon, hosts can easily:
    • Enable Waiting Room
    • Lock the meeting after you’ve started
    • Disable screen sharing for participants
  • Record: Have some clients that missed your live session? Record to the cloud or locally on your laptop, and only publish the Active Speaker View in the recording. 

It’s also cool to periodically unmute class participants to check on them and encourage interaction. Or you can simply ask for a simple thumbs-up if all is going well.

Jourdan Baldwin Fitness over Zoom

Additional considerations

  • For larger corporate fitness businesses, Zoom can work with most apps to help deliver live or on-demand classes. We can integrate with nearly any online platform through our Rest API and SDKs. 
  • Avoid the virtual background. While they’re super fun in most use cases, it’s easy for your movements to get cut off and affect participants’ ability to see the correct form.
  • Display your own watermark on the screen for better branding.

It’s also important to be mindful that you aren’t infringing upon someone else’s material:

  • Don’t live stream or record branded workouts that are not your own original material.
  • Instructors with music needs should make sure they’re complying with licensing laws. Here’s some information on ASCAP and BMI guidelines and tips to “Soundtrack Your Brand.”

Pro tips

Three common ways we’ve seen instructors deliver fitness services to clients using Zoom:

  • Live with remote participants booked via Zoom Marketplace apps like Session
  • Live and recorded for on-demand viewing
  • Recorded for on-demand viewing

Do what works best for you and your clients’ needs.

After the Zoom class

The social aspect of fitness is also just as critical to maintaining motivation, momentum, and community as the workout itself.

“We always take a second after each class to get some feedback from our attendees,” Cook said. “We ask how they enjoyed the class, and if there is anything we can do to improve the class quality for the next meeting. Communicate with your people, because after all, you do this for them!”

Some other tips:

  • Support communication outside classes to thank participants and keep that sense of community.
  • Use Zoom to get together in a non-class environment to bring people together and interact on a more personal level.
  • Make recordings available on your website or in an app.
  • Share snippets on social media to highlight offerings and grow your client base.

Keep instructing over Zoom

We’re all trying to make the best of the current situation, and exercise is critical for keeping up our mental and physical health. Zoom helps ensure studios and clubs can continue delivering services remotely, and Zoom workouts are a great way to continue classes, keep your revenue streams open, and even expand your reach.

Long term, virtual fitness classes will be key to business continuity plans and even a core service offering for members who might be traveling, inclement weather days, or those days when you just can’t make it to the gym. 

Contact a Zoom product specialist today to learn more about leveraging Zoom for virtual workouts, or get started on Zoom for free!

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