Early reaction to the government enforced closing of fitness facilities resulted in a fast and floundering response from many fitness professionals.
Some saw the opportunity to gain exposure for their brand while also maximising volume of service by offering free one-way video streams on platforms such as Facebook Live and YouTube.
The consumer response was initially positive but now these businesses need money and the viewer numbers are dropping fast.
Why Viewer Numbers Are Dropping in YouTube and Facebook Live Videos
One-way streamed classes such as Facebook Live and YouTube Live allow text comments but unless the instructor has someone reading them out to the instructor it’s practically impossible to interact with them. They can work for shout outs but are little use for improving the session for class participants.
People want to feel like their efforts are being recognised but if the instructor cannot see or hear anything then they’re forced to carry on with the assumption everything is fine. Reality of any fitness class is that people will have issues with certain exercises due to space, injury or limitations on various movements. If the class communication is one-way then participants quickly feel like they’re no longer suited to the workouts.
After a streamed class is finished people can watch the classes on demand, which is great for some but even less interactive than when on the live stream. The most motivated fitness enthusiasts who have been using gyms without instruction for years can benefit from on demand video thanks to their intrinsic motivation but the average person who has relied on cardiovascular exercise like swimming, cycling, running or friends and fitness professionals struggle to keep up with a class which won’t allow live feedback to the instructor.
The majority of Live Streamed video is watched on-demand and we know how often people finish watching a video on Facebook or Youtube...
Why Video Conferencing is Better than On-Demand Video
An Appointment to Exercise
Unlike on-demand video workouts, live classes require us to book in and attend. While these sound like limitations, many class attendees say they’d never prioritise their exercise if it wasn’t for that appointment in their diary.
On attending a class you know you’re going to have others there to interact with. Friends are great at keeping us accountable and this just doesn’t happen with on-demand workouts.
YouTube and Facebook video completions are low thanks to the various panels of video thumbnails and notifications which tempt us into abandoning a video. When working out, most people will take any opportunity to abandon a workout in the home so having further distractions coming from the screen they’re working out from makes the platform unsuitable.
Video conferencing platforms like Zoom have no distractions. Simply click the meeting link and your device takes you straight to your instructor, 5-10 minutes before the class is due to start. Zoom has no side-panel of other meetings you might like to join, it’s like you’re actually in a real meeting or fitness class.
Just you, the instructor and other class participants.
On arriving to the class you’ll likely be welcomed, maybe even introduced to the other class members. Some instructors may ask if you’ve got any injuries and suggest alternative exercises.
Don’t want to discuss your situation in front of class participants?
You can chat privately with your instructor or anyone else in the class before it starts. Another option is to contact the instructor before the class starts so they can adjust the class content to your situation.
Once the class begins you’ll be focussed on carrying out the workout and can actually decide whether you’d like to see other’s in the class or just the instructor. Viewing the instructor only during the demonstrations is a good option but once the exercise period begins it’s nice to see everyone putting in the work and feeding off one another’s effort like you’re in the room with everyone else.
Changing views is very easy on laptop or mobile device.
If you’re in a small class with friends, including your instructor, turning your video on means you can gain personal technique correction tips which could prevent injury or vastly improve the exercise’s benefit. Your instructor may use your name to suggest you keep your knee back over your ankle during a lunge, the same way they would in a small group face to face personal training session.
In a larger online class the instructor will still be able to see your technique faults but instead of calling you out in front of others, whom you may not know, they’ll likely instruct everyone to ensure, for example, their knee is back over their ankle during the lunge. Those who are already following the cue will be pleased to see they’re already doing it and those who aren’t will appreciate the correction.
Very few fitness professionals started with the idea of running fitness classes which have zero interaction with the participants. We started because we wanted to improve the quality of exercise people are doing but this can only happen is we can respond to what we’re seeing from class members.
Injury Alternative Exercises
If you start getting some kind of pain from a certain exercise then you should tell the instructor or swap the exercise. Some instructors will recommend an injury alternative which is rarely going to aggravate common injuries but still provides benefit.
If this hasn’t been established before the class then your instructor will be happy to suggest a different exercise while the other class participants continue with their workout...only ever going to happen in an online conference or face to face setting.
Another big benefit from Zoom is for the instructor to set themselves up with two or more camera angles. This can be great for participants to see demonstrations in both planes or to get proper close ups for floor based exercises when angle one is in portrait.
Completing a Workout
Online conferencing vastly improves the participant experience, ensuring two way communication is optimised before, during and even after the class.
While the class itself can be fun, most of us relish that moment when it ends most. This can be a rather lonely sensation when following an on-demand workout but as a participant in a Zoom conference session you’ll get to bask in the glory of having given everything and seeing other’s in the class share your moment.
If you’re having a more relaxing finish to the class such as in Yoga’s Shavasana then you’ll be far more inclined to reap the benefits of this if you’re sharing it with others in the moment.
Most instructors will be happy to chat about how the class went and what’s going on with individuals while those who want to head off to the shower can do so when they’d like.
Booking and attending classes with video conferencing capacity can improve your chances of actually attending the class, getting a quality workout, completing the class and feeling great. There are no distractions or risks of being left to figure out your challenges alone and the instructors will be far more invested in keeping you injury free.