Fitness studios pivoted to technological solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The online fitness market is expected to reach $59.23 billion by 2027, growing at a rate of 33.1 percent from 2020 to 2027.
And while your studio may be back to in-person workouts, you might want to continue the convenience of online workouts for your clients.
A great solution for this is hybrid fitness classes, where you’re teaching two sets of students (online and in-person) at the same time during a workout.
Sounds tricky? It definitely can be. However, if done well, you can exponentially grow your class sizes with only a fraction more effort than you’re already putting in.
The following are five tips to create successful hybrid fitness classes that leave all your clients wanting more.
Your setup is critical
Take the time to both setup and test your audio and video capabilities. Different instructors have different preferences, and even those can vary depending on the class type.
For your hybrid fitness classes, you’ll want to ensure that everything in your studio is well lit and that the camera angle makes sense and can orient your online clients well.
When it comes to camera angles, always be open to feedback because there isn’t necessarily the best way that trumps what works best for your clients. Some prefer seeing the class from the front (a very traditional camera angle), others might have an easier time following when the camera angle is in the back of the space and some instructors set up two camera angles for clients to choose from.
Your background is important as well. While every fitness studio is different, it’s important to ensure that no visual distractions are happening in the background. The cleaner, the better. Remember, the visual that you’re live-streaming is representing your studio as a whole. Anything distracting can diminish your brand and/or interrupt the overall focus of your online students.
Just make sure that no matter what the camera angle, there are no cut-off heads (or other important body parts) or awkward angles that won’t make sense for the viewer. A wide-angle camera or even a GoPro can help with this. And, of course, a tripod will keep your camera stable.
Then, it comes down to audio. We highly recommend a Bluetooth headset, but you might want to consider a mixer so that your voice is projecting into what your online clients hear as well as on the speakers in your studio for your in-person clients to hear.
Inaudible audio is a death blow to any online fitness class. They need to hear you, but so do your in-person clients. You might have to experiment with your audio equipment to ensure that both your music and voice can be clearly heard by both sets of clients.
Either way, the best setup will require an investment of time (and possibly money if an upgrade is required) to execute correctly, but it is worth it and one of the most important areas of focus for successful hybrid fitness classes.
Engage with both your online and in-person clients
Just because you have a group of clients in front of you in your studio doesn’t mean that your group of online clients tuning in from home (or anywhere else) don’t matter or are less important.
Both groups of students matter. So, be purposeful with your time before class by welcoming both online clients as they sign on and in-person clients as they walk in. During class, this can be a practice-makes-perfect type of task. Rotate between eye contact with in-person students and your camera. Call out names from both groups. Focus on the movement, safety and motivation cues you’re giving that apply to everyone.
The more you do it, the easier this split attention will become.
Then, after class, don’t ignore either group. Thank individuals as they’re logging out or leaving, and be sure to ask for feedback in real-time. Feel free to unmute the entire online group and let them have their own conversations with each other. You also can send out follow-ups through text or email to show that you care long after class is over.
Of course, this engagement doesn’t have to just be from you. Consider encouraging your entire in-person class to say hello to the online group in the beginning, cheer on during and congratulate after the workout. The more you can unify these two groups, the better.
Consider privacy options
Privacy is actually important for both online and in-person clients. Just because a student shows up to your hybrid fitness class in person doesn’t mean that he or she wants to be seen on camera by your online students.
As you’re planning your camera angle(s), make sure you have a clear area that you can identify as a private, off-camera zone. You never want to make a big deal of anyone wanting to be off-camera or not, so approach it with a general announcement before class, identifying that area for anyone who might prefer it.
You also can incentivize students for being on camera with you, whether that’s a free piece of swag from your fitness studio or a free class, whatever. Just gauge your group for what makes the most sense.
And, of course, attending hybrid fitness classes online doesn’t mean that you want to broadcast yourself (or your space). Zoom makes it easy to turn your camera off. Just be sure to remind your online clients of this option as well.
As far as muting, we recommend starting the class off with everyone muted. Otherwise, you (and your other online students) will be subjected to a lot of potential noise distractions. However, you can always let your online students know that they can unmute and then mute themselves again for questions.
Granted, instructors can get disoriented by the sudden unmuting. However, as long as you’re always thinking about both sets of clients, it should become more normalized.
Also, be sure to upgrade your waivers to include live-streaming as a factor in your hybrid fitness classes.
Account for different spaces and equipment options
Obviously, not all of your online clients will have the same equipment or floor space available to them.
As you’re instructing or offering cues, keep this in mind.
Online students might need stationary or no-equipment options at the same time as you’re instructing your in-person group. This requires a bit of finesse, but more preparation can help this flow as smoothly as possible.
Of course, you also always need to be aware that either group of students can have individuals with existing injuries. You can ask before class for them to let you know so that you can keep those needs in mind.
Option to add a co-instructor
Of course, if you have the budget to double up on instructors for hybrid fitness classes, you can do that.
One instructor can focus on the in-person students, and the other instructor can focus on everything online. This includes individual modifications and corrections for both groups.
Granted, some coordination will have to come into play here. But it’s always an option if a single instructor isn’t able to keep up with the dual multi-tasking.
Hybrid fitness classes can require a bit of juggling. However, the more you plan, prepare and test, the more engaging your workouts will be, both in-person and online.
While you’re improving the quality of your hybrid fitness classes, consider DailyStory. Our digital marketing platform integrates with MindBody and Rhinofit to better serve fitness studios and gyms and offers such features as SMS text message marketing, email marketing, automation, dynamic audience segmentation and more. In fact, our platform can help you better target your contact database by segmenting your audience based on various characteristics. Schedule your free demo with us today.