Going virtual: insights and top tips from activity leaders!

Date: 25 June 2020   Author: Energise Me

There's no one-size-fits-all solution to this global challenge. We hope that bringing together insights and top tips from virtual activity leaders with different perspectives will help you shape your own virtual destiny!

Virtual exercise classes instructors

Two very different activities. Two very different audiences. One common challenge – adapting to a virtual world!

Momentum is a local charity that provides inclusive dance classes for older adults, wheelchair users and young people. They support those that may not otherwise have the opportunity to dance.

Ruth at Redefine Nutrition and Fitness is a freelance Nutritional Therapist and Personal Trainer who provides personal training and boxercise sessions. She supports women who want help to stay healthy and active.

Read on to find out how these activity leaders approached the tech, pricing and timing for their virtual sessions along with some of their top tips.

Laptop, tablet and phone

Tech

Both quickly opted to use Zoom, saying that it…

  • Provides good quality video for multiple screens.
  • Is accessible using just a link without the need for an app or account.
  • Is straightforward to use and therefore easy to explain to other people.
  • Allows you to see and interact with your participants to check technique and give guidance.

Momentum…

  • Created Zoom YouTube tutorials aimed at some of their less tech-savvy attendees. They were more trusting of a familiar voice than a generic tutorial.
  • Says the Zoom ‘share sound from computer’ button was a great tool for the all-important music for their dance classes.
  • Paid for Zoom membership as Momentum’s dance sessions lasted 1-2.5 hours.

Ruth…

  • Recommends muting everyone on entry to avoid background noise.
  • Encouraged everyone to play their own music as her classes didn’t need specific music.
  • Stuck with the free version of Zoom. She felt keeping her boxercise sessions to 25 minutes fitted the structure of her sessions and kept people engaged.
  • Had no tech equipment except her laptop. She tilts the screen depending on whether participants need to see her face or legs. Top tip: group the exercises of a similar height together so you/participants don’t have to keep moving the camera up and down!

 

money

Pricing

Both chose to deliver their sessions for free, with the option for attendees to make small donations.

Their reasons:

Momentum…

  • To take the opportunity to market what they do and get people involved and committed whilst it’s free.
  • Hope that if people get a chance to see what classes are like first, they’ll be more likely to continue with paid sessions.

Ruth…

  • To reward the loyalty of those that attend regularly and those that opted for vouchers over refunds.
  • Supporting her attendees and continue to “be a part of people’s journeys”.
  • To make sure people don’t forget about her, drop out and never return to being active!
  • Ruth initially delivered the classes completely free. After a lot of consideration, she only recently added the option for voluntary payment.

 

Timing

Momentum…

  • Runs Zoom classes at the same time as the face-to-face classes used to be. Their audience like to have a set routine.
  • Also provides YouTube and Facebook live classes. These can be available at any time, allowing participants to practice in their own time between scheduled classes.

Ruth…

  • Runs Zoom boxercise classes on the same evenings as before. She runs them slightly earlier to fit better around her own and her participants’ mealtimes.

 

Will they carry on with virtual classes?

 

Momentum…

Definitely! To help recruit new members and reach non-local audiences. It also allows them to be more accommodating to those that may benefit from doing classes in their own home.

Ruth…

Probably not. Ruth feels that the in-person social element is the reason most of the women participate in her sessions. She aims to continue her classes and PT sessions at local community centres and in people’s homes as soon as possible!

 

Top Tips

 

Momentum…

  • In the first session, it took 25 minutes to sort out technical issues before beginning the class! Allow extra time for this!
  • If necessary, check-in with participants over the phone before the first session to make sure they know how to join.
  • It can be difficult to connect with younger audiences due to them feeling overwhelmed by schoolwork, a change in routine and a lack of motivation. Keep trying! Some young people love the classes and really appreciate being persuaded to join in!

Ruth…

  • Mute everyone on entry to the videocall to avoid background noise.
  • When having a break for a drink, get people to come back and perform a certain movement or signal when they’re ready. For example, bouncing to keep them moving or a simple thumbs-up.
  • When doing fast exercises like punching, don’t try to count. This can be confusing if there is a delay or a bad connection! Just ask people to do exercises at their own pace for a certain length of time.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask people you know for help! This could be with tech or to practise delivering a session in person or virtually. Having a friend attend a session can also be really helpful. They can be a supportive, familiar face as well as an honest critic!
  • Be prepared! Shut doors, put your phone on silent, ask family members to stay out of the room.
  • Remember: this doesn’t have to be a time to achieve great things! This is a time to survive as happily and as healthily as you can! Focus on what you can change, not what you can’t. Move as much as you can. Look after your mind and body by trying to reduce stress and sleep more. Find things that are fun!

 

To discover more about what Momentum do and how they have been adapting to COVID-19, check out this blog or have a look at their website, Facebook or Twitter.

To find out more about Ruth and Redefine Nutrition and Fitness, visit her website, Facebook or Instagram pages. Read about her personal journey towards a healthy relationship with physical activity and why she does what she does in this blog.

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