Social Media is a great Virtual Tool to pre-record or GO LIVE with your fitness classes. The bonus of this platform is it already has a “Built-In Audience” so you’re already linked to your fanbase, all you have to do is promote and blast-out to your followers and beyond.
Let’s start by looking back a few months ago when clubs and studios were cranking out classes, packed with members, music pumping and Group Fitness Pros were doing what they do best - motivating, connecting and entertaining their members. Many of these trainers were running from Big Box to Boutique Studios teaching multiple classes and transforming lives for the better - both physically and mentally.
Fast forward to a month ago when club owners and instructors were scrambling to quickly get their classes and sessions up and out to their members without any real knowledge of what it takes to master the virtual play. Every other industry was doing the same, pivoting to offer their service or product within the digital space.
We in the fitness industry are blessed to still be able to offer our support, instruction and motivation through our smartphones, laptops and cameras safely from our homes while others have the daunting task of working in hospitals, grocery stores, factories and plants as front line first responders. Anything we can do for others is of equal importance, but it’s crucial to note and appreciate those that are risking their lives while we are safe at home.
Let’s now look at today and what we can do on Social Media to help match the “digital experience” to our brand and vibe. Social Media is a valuable and with the right added gadgets, gear and software you can create a more professional experience. CONTENT IS KING and your members and clients are tuning in their favorite instructor, their personality and unique touch, BUT let’s not forget it’s all about the immersive experience. Instructors and trainers can re-create that “studio vibe” in their home studio direct to their member’s living room.
The TOP THREE Social Media Platforms most Fitness Pros use are Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. These platforms are great tools that come with huge audiences. When using these tools, we need to start strategically thinking about these platforms as not only a marketing medium, but a channel development opportunity. Facebook has made significant upgrades that will allow content creators to connect with more people and now be able to monetize within the app. These platforms now have payment options for FB Events, Multi-Person FB Live Streams, Group Video Chat (+50 People), Portal Available for FB Pages and Groups, IG Live from your Desktop, and now WhatsApp Group Calls for up to 8 people. Read the article in full to see the latest advancements that will make our job as fitness pros a lot easier.
But first let’s cover the basics. There are two approaches on the three platforms mentioned above. One is Live Streaming, the broadcasting of live video to an audience over the internet. It can also be a one-on-one live video chat. Unlike pre-recorded videos that can be cut and edited, live streaming is just that – live and uncensored. The second is Video-on-Demand, a system that allows users to select and watch video content of their choice on their TVs or computers. VOD provides users with a menu of available videos from which to choose.
Meeting your clients and members “LIVE” where they are (at home right now) is fun, interactive and the MOST immersive, visceral experience you can offer online! BUT you can then take these LIVE recordings and add them to an on-going library creating more of an evergreen/VOD offer. Similar to Les Mills offering “back releases” to their instructor base. Creating an on-going and updated library is a valuable revenue stream to consider.
Before you “Go Live” or record your class, take the steps you would do before you enter the studio floor. Strategically plan your class blocking or flow, announce and promote you’re going live with strong descriptions on various channels, have a clear cut, professional intro with which class you’ll be teaching, props needed or any alternative options. Choose a clean space that matches the feel and vibe of your class, be camera ready, deliver a top-tier class and a heartfelt outro – thanking your viewers for taking the time out of their day to be with you. Also remember to have a Call to Action (CTA). If you want to have them back tomorrow or send them to your website to purchase a package. Encourage them to follow you if they aren’t already or maybe check out your website where they can sign up for more classes, see your schedule and discover other services you provide.
The 101 of Facebook, Instagram and YouTube Live-Streaming Options:
As I mentioned earlier we call these platforms “Audience Plus Tool”, these channels already have a built-in audience. On FB you can choose a pre-built audience like ”Friends” or “Public”, or you can use a custom list of specific followers. You can also stream LIVE to a Private FB Group and even charge this select group for your classes. Instagram now gives you the option to limit who sees your Instagram live stream. Go to “Hide Story From” section and choose who you want to hide from your Instagram live stream. You can also tap on “Close Friends” and choose a specific audience of people you want to share your Story with. Below are the basics, but remember the NEW OPTIONS and FEATURES we mentioned above.
Facebook Live gives you 8 hours on desktop and 4 hours on your mobile device. After your live stream has ended, your class will be saved to your timeline as a permanent “On-Demand” video which you do have the option to delete. Again look for the NEW FEATURE with FB Messenger Groups – similar to Zoom!
Instagram Live allows for one hour of streaming but as soon as it ends you can restart another one right away. Once your live video ends, you can share a replay of it to your story, but it will disappear from both your story and profile after 24 hours. Live video replays on your story will include all the likes and comments from your original live video. You can save your live video to your files and watch at a later time to see what worked or didn’t and apply for your next live class. IG allows you to record in BOTH vertical and landscape format. You can also add a strong description and a hyperlink below your video. Right now IG Live is only available on your mobile device, BUT coming soon you’ll be able to access via your laptop or computer.
YouTube allows you to stream up to 12 hours of content, but before you can go live your YouTube channel needs to be verified. It will take about 24 hours to activate your account for live streaming. YouTube has 3 different options for live streaming - Public, Private and Unlisted. If you choose a private or unlisted event you will have to send a link out to your fanbase to allow access.
You can make a virtual event and even schedule and advertise it up to 48 hours before you go live, you can also type in relevant key words to enable greater search capabilities. There is an option to enable Live Chat, and you can promote your event on other social media channels with direct links and can even monetize by running ads. After the event you can pull metrics and edit by adding an end screen with a call to action and upload to your channel as a VOD. You do need 1,000 subscribers to “GO LIVE” on your mobile device but there are 3rd party platforms that allow you to work around that.
I've blogged about the importance of using Royalty Free Music for your online classes to comply with music copyright laws - click here to check out more about Music Licensing.
Just because we are home doesn’t mean we can’t up our game and deliver a top-tier product to our fanbase. If you’re charging, it’s even MORE IMPORTANT to deliver quality content with clear audio in an engaging space that matches your unique offer. Content is KING and your fans will follow you because they LOVE your classes, BUT it’s also important to try to match your ROCK STAR content with a high-quality VOD or LIVE- STREAMED experience.
Check out these preferred Gadgets, Gears and Software to up your digital game!
• Point and Shoot Sony RX 100 V
• DSLR/Mirrorless – Panasonic Lumix GH5
• Webcam Logitech C922 HD Pro Webcam
• Logitech BRIO – 4 K Ultra HD
• Logitech HD Pro C920
• Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000
• Mevo Plus
Lavalier Microphones for Smartphones
• Lavalier BOYA BY-M1
• Rode smartLav+ Omnidirectional Lavalier
• Professional Grade Lavalier Lapel Microphone Omnidirectional Mic
• Lavalier Microphone, MAONO AU100 Hands Free Clip-on Lapel Mic
• FIFINE 20-Channel UHF Wireless Lavalier Lapel Microphone System
• Pro JK MIC-J 044 Lavalier Lapel External Microphone
• Shure CVL Centraverse Clip-On Lavalier Condenser Microphone
• Saramonic Dual Wireless VHF Lavalier Microphone Bundle
Lavalier Microphones for iPad
• Comica CVM-WS50(C)
• FIFINE Wireless Microphone System
• BOYA BY-WM2G
• FULAIM MX20
• Movo WMIC10
• Hey Mic
• View flex Comica CVM-WS60
• Rode Wireless Go
• Rode RodeLink FM Digital
• Elgato Key Light – Professional Studio LED
• Lume Cube Air LED Light
• StudioPRO 3000 Watt Softbox Lighting Kit
• LimoStudio 700W Photography Softbox Light Lighting Kit
• Diva Ring Light Super Nova PRO
• DAHAI Ring Light
• Neewer RL-12 LED Ring Light COMPACT
A good LENS and TRIPOD or STABILIZER is a small but key investment in your digital offer. You can have more freedom of movement with a wide-angle lens and can position your camera easier on a tripod and ensure it doesn’t fall or shake during your LIVE class. Here are our top pics!
Lens for iPhone and Android • Olloclip iPhone 11 Pro ElitePack • Olloclip Multi-Device 3-in-1 • Moment Wide Lens for iPhone, Pixel/Samsung Galaxy • Moment Fisheye Lens • Aukey Ora Smartphone Camera Lens • iOgrapher Wide Angle Lens for iPads
Tripod & Stabilizers • Tripod: Velbon EX Mini 2-Way Pan Head • Tripod: SLIK Video Sprint II Tripod • Tripod: Miller 1846 2-Stage Carbon Fiber System • Ravelli Pistol Grip Tripod ($64) • Stabilizer: Zhiyun Smooth 4 smartphone Gimbal • Stabilizer: DJI Osmo Mobile 2 Smartphone Gimbal
You can also enhance your video with animated titles, text, intros, effects as well as CTA graphics with easy to use Video Editing Software that comes with preset templates. On-demand fitness videos are meant to teach and engage with members when it’s convenient for them. Whether it’s YOGA, HIIT, BARRE or BOXING, it’s not just the overall video that helps motivate or instruct, visuals such as typography or graphics can further engage your audience and help them better understand or prepare for the work ahead. You can do a “count down” or title each move, list equipment needed or track focus. All of this adds an overall professional look and feel people have come to expect.
Here’s the list of our recommended Video Editing Software:
• Adobe After Effects
• Adobe Premiere Pro
• Final Cut Pro
One more quick tip you can use to help leverage and even lighten up your live streaming workload is “Multi-Casting” or “Simulcasting” your videos to various platforms AT ONCE. The software listed below allows you to push your live streamed classes or sessions out to a broader range of platforms by broadcasting and redistributing to multiple channels at the same time. You can stream directly from your webcam or use with streaming software such as OBS Studio or Wirecast Studio. Here’s the list!
Now that you have the broad view of how you can apply extra gears, gadgets and software to deliver a better produced product, you’ll be better positioned among the sea of offers flooding social media. Your #1 objective to have a clear plan with a compelling fitness offer, but by increasing the quality of your videos, you’ll catapult your brand to the next level. Content, Quality, Delivery, Packaging and Pricing are all equaling important to create a quality service and product.
Keep doing with you’re doing, inspiring and connecting with your members and clients through movement. But start to think about the virtual play as a future revenue model even as your clubs and gyms start to reopen.