Marietta Mehanni

Have you moved to online classes?

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Written by Marietta

August 18, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has been the only global conversation in 2020, and the big question is whether you have pivoted.

The Evolution of Online Group Fitness During the Pandemic

If you are in the group fitness industry, your gym most likely has closed or has reopened with a limited timetable. As Covid-19 exploded around the world, so did online group fitness. Thousands of group exercise instructors launched their budding new businesses online in search of opportunities to connect and provide fun virtual classes that members could partake in. Zoom, Google Hangouts and Facebook Live have been the most popular options and for the first few months, instructors were sharing their strategies on social media about music, sound systems and how to provide the best quality experience that would most closely replicate the live group exercise class, that was now non-existent.

It has been several months since the first frenzied activity of finding resources and methods to teach online and now only the people who have established an effective online presence are still active. These instructors have been able to develop skills that really do make a virtual class feel like a live class. So, what are the top tips for keeping your clients engaged and energised in an online class?

Mastering the Art of Teaching to the Camera

The ability to teach to camera, as if a full class was in front of them.

This is a unique skill. Many instructors rely heavily on absorbing energy from their participants and responding to their encouragement. Yes, this sounds like a contradiction. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way round? The reality is that most instructors feel odd teaching with no one in front of them. They feel that they need people to smile back, to show their enthusiasm and their energy. In a virtual environment, this is not possible. Sure, Zoom or Google Hangouts will provide some engagement, but this is limited, as the instructor can’t hear vocal whoops during the muted workout.

Being able to teach and get just as excited as during a face to face workout, is the key reason why people will return back to a virtual class. If the instructor’s energy is flat with a monotone voice, there is no way this will create motivation to want to join in again. With so many people requiring something positive in their lives, group exercise instructors are perfectly positioned to rise to the challenge to create upbeat, happy vibes in lounge rooms across the world.

How well do you score when teaching to a camera? Do a test video and use the following checklist to see how well you score out of 10

  1. Energy levels – does it capture your attention or would you be distracted to do something else in 5 minutes
  2. Vocal energy and enthusiasm – would you fall asleep listening to yourself or does it captivate your attention
  3. Eye contact – this is REALLY challenging as you have to focus on the camera rather than the image of you at least 80% of the time
  4. Are your demonstrations clear so that people could understand what you are doing. Moving around and showing different angles makes a more dynamic experience.
  5. Are you scripted or natural? Does your verbal communication sound like something that is being read from a board or it is like you are having a real conversation with your class?
  6. When teaching in a one-way stream like Facebook Live, you need to assume that some people don’t know every exercise name or move. Do you break down your movements and choreography in a way that most people would be able to do this in their homes?
  7. Are you doing your own workout? A lot of instructors come up to the camera and yell encouraging words, but are not actually doing anything. I can guarantee you that some people stop moving the second you do. Yes, teaching to camera is physical.

Benefits of Teaching to Camera: From Virtual to In-Person Classes

Learning to teach effectively to camera will not only improve your teaching skills for online workouts, but also become a better instructor when (and if) you go back to teaching live classes. Use this opportunity to sharpen your teaching skills, stay fit and keep your community moving effectively and safely.

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  1. You’re right, teaching to camera is a whole new experience..
    It made me realise how hard we all work face to face and how much I rely on the instant feedback from participants to motivate me. Hats off to you and all the other instructors that went virtual!! We couldn’t have made it through those lock down days with out you!!
    I didn’t take the virtual plunge as an instructor .. probably for all the reasons you mentioned..🤣 but great advice Marietta as always. Sounds like you’re nearly too busy with your virtual work to be “out there” again..
    Even though face to face has its pitfalls I’m still glad to be back.
    Looking forward to the 2 day virtual gig in November.. with you and other international presenters.. one of the good things to come out of COVID. Yay.. 💓

    • HI Trish, thank you for your response and comment. Virtual is not for everyone and it works better for some instructors who are comfortable with the unique classroom expectations and experience. Glad that my virtual sessions were of value to you.


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