As states relax social distancing guidelines and fitness studios begin to reopen their physical locations, the idea of “hybrid” classes is top of mind for studio owners everywhere. With in-person classes much smaller, and live-streaming here to stay, the hybrid class looks to many like the natural next step.
Since most studios are putting together their first hybrid classes, we asked some of our FitGrid studio partners to share their thinking and advice about what can work best. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Ask your students before creating your new schedule
COVID-19 has changed the way we live, work, and organize our lives. As a result, more clients might have time for earlier classes if they’re working from home. “Do your best to meet the needs of most of your clients, said Heather Erdmann, owner of Pure Body Studio in Houston, TX. “If you’re not sure what those needs are, create and send a poll before building a new schedule.” Polling your community doesn’t have to be complicated. Ask for feedback on social media or send a survey via email to find out what works best for your students.
2. Engage with both virtual and in-person clients
In a hybrid class, you have two sets of students. FitGrid’s suite of community management tools makes engaging with students after class easy. Connecting with both groups during class, however, will take some adjustment. Be aware that the camera has a strong draw, and “make an effort to look at the in-person clients so they don't feel forgotten since you're looking at a camera now as well,” said Chelsea Mozel, co-owner of MVP Dance Fit in Ohio. After all, everyone wants to feel some of the love and attention.
3. Create space for privacy
Not every client will want to appear in your live-streamed classes, so you’ll have to decide how to approach this with your students. FitGrid LIVE integrates with Zoom, making it easy for students at home to mute themselves or turn off their camera. In-person classes require a little more coordination. Erdmann has opted to spotlight a single student or teacher in training on Zoom instead of putting all clients on camera. “In exchange for being the spotlight, [the student gets] the class for free.” Mozel, on the other hand, is taking a different approach by advising studios to “have some designated areas that aren't seen by the camera so clients who don't want to be on video can still feel comfortable in your classes.” Both Erdmann and Mozel upgraded their studio waivers to cover instances of live-streaming.
4. Consider upgrading your AV equipment
To maximize the audio and visual experience for both sets of students, a webcam might not do the trick. Mozel made the decision to invest in equipment upgrades “to continue long term with live-streaming and have good quality for both sets of clients.” Erdmann teaches classical pilates, which isn’t set to music. She has continued to use an iPad to stream and added a tripod for stability. This also helps to keep only the spotlighted student in the frame.
5. Minimize visual distractions
As when live-streaming classes from home, instructors should make an effort to minimize visual distractions in the studio, too. This can make a huge difference in retaining virtual clients. Nicole Lazzerini, co-owner of LVL Fitness in Bakersfield, Calif., has guidelines for how her instructors set up their classes. “We are very picky about how our background is set up for each instructor,” she said. Lighting also makes a huge difference. Set up your camera so your instructor isn’t back-lit and make sure everyone demonstrating is visible throughout the class. There’s nothing worse than trying to follow along at home with headless students!
6. Let your community be together
All the studios we chatted with about their “hybrid” solutions agreed: Giving students the option to join an in-person class via Zoom is good for their business and community. Evolution Power Yoga in Pennsylvania plans to take this approach, “so our community can practice together despite not being able to fit everyone in the studio!” After class, be sure to unmute your students and let them chat amongst themselves. Social interaction is something we’re all craving, whether at home or in the studio, and even just five minutes of social time post-class can keep your community together!
FitGrid has been helping studios live-stream their classes since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. Our experience combined with our suite of community management tools, easy set-up, and seamless integration with Mindbody and Zoom makes FitGrid LIVE the best solution for live-streaming and hybrid classes.
To start hybrid classes and stay connected to clients online and in the studio, sign up for a free trial of FitGrid LIVE.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lindsay McClelland manages social media and influencer marketing for FitGrid. As a self-proclaimed "people person" who loves group fitness classes for the social aspect, she was immediately drawn to FitGrid for its innovation in keeping fitness communities together during a crisis. Her passion for fitness and wellness brands stems from her personal interests as a yoga teacher, competitive marathon runner, and former collegiate swimmer.
FitGrid is a community management system designed for boutique fitness studios to engage clients on a personal level