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Your Fitness Classes on Zoom; How To Set Up & Deliver Online Sessions

Huge shoutout to Carly of Project HB who delivered an ace Instagram Live where she shared how she set up her classes on Zoom. You can check out and book her sessions here. See you at DISCOaerobics!
Carly of Project HB delivering her DISCOaerobics fitness classes on Zoom
Photo Credit: Project HB

I know for some of you, you never thought the day would come that you would choose, or need to, deliver Personal Training or your fitness classes on Zoom. But, here we are.

For many of us in the fitness industry, it’s the difference between no income and being able to pay your bills until we’re allowed back out in the world. I’m sure that once the dust has all settled though, some will choose to continue to offer sessions online as it’s just so damn flexible.

Tip – make sure you check with your insurance provider that they will cover you for delivering live online sessions and / or recorded sessions

    Although there are plenty of platforms out there you can use to deliver live fitness classes, it seems that Zoom is the one coming out on top right now. Using my experience of Zoom, along with that of Carly (@projecthb) and some nuggets from a group on Facebook, I’ve put together what you need to know to get yourself set up and ready to deliver your fitness classes on Zoom.

    If you have any more specific questions, please feel to leave a comment at the bottom of the post.

    What is Zoom?

    Put simply, Zoom is a video communication platform. It’s like Skype / FB messenger / Whats App… but on another level. A more professional level to start with.

    Although you do not need an account with Zoom to attend meetings, you do need an account to schedule and host meetings.

    You can download the Zoom app / software onto a laptop or mobile device (iOS and android).

    Getting Yourself Set Up On Zoom

    Setting up an account on Zoom is pretty easy. You just need an email address (prob best to use a business one) and a decent picture.

    Once you’ve registered you can find your Personal Meeting ID under the Profile tab. This is a link you can use on demand for “meetings”.

    Tip – schedule in some time to have a good look around the Zoom platform and fiddle with the settings before your first live session

      Zoom Basic vs Zoom Pro

      I know for many of us, paying out for another service is something we’re trying not to do, in order to reduce our outgoings but there are some benefits to upgrading to the Zoom Pro account.

      Zoom Basic (free)Zoom Pro (£11.99/mth/host)
      up to 100 participantsup to 100 participants
      40 mins limit on group meetingsMeeting duration limit is 24 hrs
      Unlimited number of meetingsUnlimited number of meetings

      The Zoom Pro account comes with added features including (and not limited to):

      • Personalised meeting ID
      • Additional admin controls (i.e on chat etc)

      The main benefit for Fitness Professionals in upgrading is the meeting duration (unless you want to run just 30 minute classes with minimal buffer of time on each side).

      A pro account is on a rolling monthly contract so it can be cancelled if/when you decide it is no longer required leaving you with access to the basic features.

      Other things to consider:

      • Have participants completed a PARQ before attending?
      • Is your music licence free?

      Get Participants Set Up On Zoom

      As mentioned, participants do not need to have an account on Zoom to be able to attend your sessions. They do however, need to have downloaded the app to their laptop or phone in advance of the session.

      Make sure you educate everyone as soon as you can to download the software; consider running a set-up session so everyone can test it out and you can show them around and explain how the fitness sessions will run.

      Taking Payment For Your Sessions

      If you’re not already set up on a booking system like TeamUp or BookWhen then the easiest way is probably to use PayPal. This does come with its own pros and cons in regards to fees payable and disputes that can be raised.

      Another option is to have your participants deposit directly into your (business) bank account.

      Tip – TeamUp (the booking platform) integrates with Zoom as of like, now. You can get your first month free and your monthly payment depends on how many people you have on your books. Prices start from around £39 per month.
        participants of a fitness class on Zoom
        Photo Credit: Project HB

        Practice, Test Run, Practice, Test Run

        If you’re new to Zoom and teaching online then there would be no harm whatsoever in scheduling a test run with friends / family to get some practice and iron out any technical kinks.

        This is also a good opportunity to test out your equipment, your space and sound.

        At the very least, you will need:

        • laptop
        • music source (i.e Spotify)
        • a Zoom account
        • speaker
        • an external mic (would be really, really handy)

        FAQ & Sorting Your Sound


        How many participants should you allow in a session?

        This partly comes down to personal preference and partly to what you are covered for on your insurance. Many of the insurance companies (but not all) are stipulating you must be able to see your participants while delivering the session.
        Carly has been capping her dance fitness classes at 40 attendees, Mum and Baby classes at 15 whilst other fitness sessions (e.g HIIT) are between 20-30. Having 100 people in your session with the need to see them is likely to make your computer crash.

        Can I teach using my phone on Zoom?

        Well, yes, yes you can. But it doesn’t mean you should. Based on feedback, a laptop is recommended; the screen is bigger, and the camera is better. A laptop will also give you more control over the set up.

        What’s the best sound set-up?

        Carly shared with us that she connects a microphone to her laptop and plays music through a speaker which is connected to her phone [phone + speaker > mic into laptop].
        This set up has worked well for her dance classes. For more technical classes she uses a head mic through a speaker [headset & phone through speaker > mic into laptop].

        I’m having trouble with the music cutting out when I speak

        Carly suggested having a fiddle with these settings: mute and stop video > audio settings > advanced > suppress persistent / intermittent background [disable these].

        I play music through my laptop, any tips?

        If you are using computer sound only, make sure you select the volume of music (in Spotify) you want before you share the meeting invite as once you’ve shared it doesn’t register whether you turn the volume up or down. (tip from @aedancefitness)

        Any other sound settings I should be aware of?

        Yup. There’s this one Carly shared to make sound coming out of your laptop (so running in the background on Spotify) come out sounding good quality via the zoom meeting, to participants: [share screen > basic > share computer sound > advanced > music or computer sound only]

        Should I use a password?

        Don’t bother.

        Participants won’t stop talking

        Mute them. Put everyone on mute in the meeting [mute all] and check the box so participants can’t unmute themselves. The end.

        How do I use my phone as a main camera and view my participants on my computer ? 

        Try using your phone to launch the meeting then signing in via your laptop and muting the sound or don’t join the audio on the computer. Let me know if you have a better solution!

        How much should you charge?

        This is your own choice, but you should consider the fact you need an income, the costs of upgrading to a pro account on Zoom, value for money of participants and the fact some people are completely without income right now. I’ve seen fitness professionals charging from £3 up to £10.

        Should I charge for my fitness classes on Zoom?

        Again this is your own choice, but really, no-one should be working for free. There is lots of free fitness content out there but there is no one out there who is quite like you! If you’ve already built up an audience and community before all this, they will likely want to keep supporting you.


        Time To Deliver Your Class!

        Class is scheduled for 6pm. Are you excited?!

        First of all, you need to ensure that all your participants have access to the Zoom session by sharing the link with them. You can either use your Personal meeting ID or you can create a unique meeting ID for each class.

        To generate a unique meeting ID, start a new Zoom meeting around 30 minutes before the start of class (with video off, music on) then email the link to participants. Let them know during the sign up process when you will be sending out the link so they look out for it.

        Tip – having issues with buffering? Turn wifi off on all other devices in your household and have your device as close to the router as possible (@aedancefitness)

          Once participants have all joined the meeting, all that’s left is to do is a quick intro and then jump straight into your session.

          Keep an eye out on your channels before the session incase anyone has any questions. Zoom also has a chat function; I imagine everyone will be too busy sweating to use this but you could potentially utilise it for a few minutes at the end if anyone has any questions.

          If you have another camera (like a GoPro) or even another human being hanging around, set it (them) up to take a few snaps during your session so you can use them later for promotion.

          Encourage participants to take snaps of their own to share on social media which they can tag you in too! User generated content is always handy to have and use at a later date.

          TL;DR – How to Host a Fitness Session on Zoom

          Host a meeting with video on > open application > join with computer audio (sound through computer ) > invite participants > copy invitation > send email with the link


          Optional Recommended Equipment List:


          I couldn’t end this post without using the word unprecedented… so there it is. If there is one thing that will keep us going through out the coming weeks, it’s the willingness and ability to innovate. It doesn’t have to be forever and it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune… but…

          You’ve got nothing to lose by jumping in and giving it a go, right?!

          Elle

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          Huge shoutout to Carly of Project HB who delivered an ace Instagram Live where she shared how she set up her classes on Zoom. You can check out and book her sessions here. See you at DISCOaerobics!

          11 Comments

          1. Sandy
            June 2, 2020 / 20:55

            Hi this has been very helpful and i am not tec savy so I am actually super stressed about teaching my classes over zoom. So I thank you so much for your time. My biggest stressors is that I still am unsure what is the best wireless mic to use for my PC and zoom . If I want to wear a wireless microphone headset which one could you suggest? There are so many different things on line I am very confused. Sincerely Sandy

          2. Deb Abrams
            May 23, 2020 / 18:10

            Hi Elle,

            Thank you for your valuable info. I am teaching 40-minute fitness classes for now, as I didn’t want to pay a monthly Zoom plan until I feel like I have it down smoothly. I am using a Lenovo laptop, which I place on the floor so that my participants can see me standing and also when we get down on the floor. I am totally not tech-savvy at all, and am finding using Zoom to be a huge learning curve for me, as well as completely frustrating! Right now, I am trying to figure out how to get my iTunes music (I’ve read that I have to play my music from the laptop you are using Zoom on) to play during my class. I know how to share the screen, go to Advanced, choose computer sound only, then click share. Then I get stuck trying to get to my iTunes app to bring it up so that I can click on a playlist. I feel completely lost!! Any ideas? Thank you!! Deb Abrams

            • Elle
              Author
              May 23, 2020 / 18:19

              Hey Deb, trust me, it’s been a learning curve for us all! …I’ve mostly been avoiding music (( just play on a speaker if I feel I need to for the mood) but I’ve just seen a way that might help. Firstly, getting the Zoom subscription gives you more time to set up, and takes the pressure off a fair bit. Then you can log on early and sort everything. I’ve seen someone suggest that in iTunes you go to File > Open Stream URL > enter your zoom meeting ID in that box and your participants will be able to hear your music directly. Let me know if that works and if you need someone to test it on, I’d be more than happy to jump on to try and help 😉

          3. Anonymous
            May 7, 2020 / 02:27

            Thank you so much

          4. April 28, 2020 / 15:22

            Thanks so much for this advice. I’ve done several Pilates sessions on Zoom and they have generally worked well although my camera position has been the main issue. I’m going to try using my phone as a camera as you’ve suggested with the laptop showing participants

          5. Mike Sukovic
            April 6, 2020 / 22:08

            Lot of good info here, … but a couple of BIG issues with it:

            1) A word or 2 that acknowledges that getting the right stuff “in a hurry” is darn hard!
            2) Try as I might, I’m not sure what your use of the > symbol means in the all-important section on making sound work.

            It could be you’re referring to Zoom menus … or it could be a VERY crude way of saying what gets attached to what.

            If you’ve done this and it’s gone smoothly, PLEASE recognize that that is the furthest thing from normal. I’ve seen other blog posts and videos that boil down to this: “Zoom wasn’t meant for a Zumba Class.” It’s not like using a screw driver to open a paint can – everybody does that. It’s like trying to bang a nail in with that same screw driver – SO un-ideal as to be painful.

            • Elle
              Author
              April 7, 2020 / 10:05

              Hey Mike, thanks for the comment!

              1)Do you mean buying the right stuff? Personally, I had everything I needed already, the only thing I had to source were lights and they came on next day delivery through Amazon.

              2) oooh when I use the “>” it’s my short hand to represent a sequence of steps. So yup, steps to take / Zoom menus.

              When I wrote the post I hadn’t done a class on Zoom yet, but have since run a few sessions and NOPE, my first one did not go smoothly! Carly (in the pictures) actually jumped on to help me get set up after a bit of a sound issue. But I think the thing that has made it easier for me is omitting music (so far) and being used to (being a consumer of) this kind of content. BUT, absolutely agree, it isn’t the norm for the majority, but I would stress, if someone doesn’t feel comfortable delivering sessions in this way, then definitely don’t! It is very tech heavy, whereas Facebook and Instagram are much simpler! Thankfully, this situation is temporary (albeit with no clear ending right now!)!

              (p.s also, who knows what our new normal will be. I wonder, if there were blogs in the days someone decided to try using a knife to open a paint can, and they wrote it in a post, if someone would say “it’s not normal!” lol …even if opening a paint can with a knife is intuitive, where do we get that intuition from? As now using smartphones are intuitive… a new normal is always on the horizon!)

          6. Dee
            April 4, 2020 / 22:30

            Thank you for the information and support. I trialled a class and I have a delay on the sound on my laptop around 3 seconds ahead of participants.. any thoughts? The visual is fine no delay just the music from the laptop and my mic

            • Elle
              Author
              April 4, 2020 / 23:29

              Hey Dee, it could be don to your internet connection? Be as close to your router as possible, try connecting with an Ethernet cable. It could also be the Zoom servers struggling at busy times. Is your mic connected to your laptop?

              If it’s a class that is not set to music, I just don’t use music and tell participants to have their own playlists ready! Hope this helps.

          7. SJ
            March 30, 2020 / 01:42

            This was invaluable thank you so much 🙏🏾

            • Elle
              Author
              April 4, 2020 / 23:33

              Thanks SJ! Will keep an eye out for your sessions… hopefully can make one although not sure I have any dance ability left in me these days lol x

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