How to Start Live Streaming for Your Community—Today

March 17, 2020 Katherine Wernet

Fitness instructor sits next to live streaming recording setup

The coronavirus (or COVID-19) has upended our lives. During this trying and unsettling time, community is more important than ever. How can you stay connected with your clients and keep up the sense of camaraderie you’ve worked so hard to create? A great way is to post prerecorded workout videos or live stream your fitness classes.  

Your clients need to stay healthy, and fitness is an important part of that. They need to feel the support of the community—even if they can’t be in the studio with you. While live streaming and video workouts aren't the same as taking a class together, it’s the next best thing, and it’s a way to mitigate your clients’ feelings of isolation and anxiety.   

Video is a way to maintain your client relationships and memberships by offering another valuable service—when clients aren’t able to come into your business. When things go back to normal, video can provide an additional revenue stream.  

What's the difference between live streaming and pre-recorded workouts?

Livestreams are, well, live, while pre-recorded workouts can have a little more editing involved. Not every fitness modality lends itself to an at-home version with a live stream. If your classes in-studio rely heavily on specialized equipment, be creative! Pre-recorded videos of workouts that are complementary to your usual offerings are a great option.

Choose a livestream when:

  • You want to stick to your normal class schedule. In this time of uncertainty, routine is key. Keeping to our usual schedule provides a comforting sense of normalcy. Miss your committed 6 AM crew? Get everyone together on the livestream.  
  • You want to move fast and keep it real. With livestreams, there’s no need to edit or post files. 
  • Your audience can easily do your workout in their living room. 
  • You want to interact with your clients in real time. Depending on how you choose to set it up, you can allow interactivity with your class or keep it one way. 

Did you know you can use your existing class schedule on Mindbody to allow clients to book digital classes? Read on!  

Choose pre-recorded workouts when: 

  • There's a series of movements that you only need to demonstrate once, but you want your audience to repeat or do as a prescribed routine or regimen.   
  • You want to be able to choose your best takes and edit the content. 
  • You want shorter content or even episodes. 
  • You don't care if the audience watches now or later.  
  • You want to share a "workout of the day" that clients can do at any time. 
  • You’re looking to scale.  

For more on how to create prerecorded video workouts, check out tips from Mindbody's video expert, Christina Libertini.  

How to live stream your fitness class

You want to get something out to your clients quickly and easily. There are a few good ways to go about live streaming–from getting the word out about it to filming and sharing to making the recording available after.

Select a live video streaming solution

When choosing a place to host your livestream, think about where your business already has a strong following. Do you have a Facebook page and active community? Is everyone active on your Facebook? Then go for Facebook Live. YouTube is a great option if your members aren’t particularly active in a particular social network, or if you think they’re going to want to stream on TVs rather than computers or mobile devices.

Let your clients know you’re going virtual and set it up in your Mindbody software

An important part of live streaming is making sure there’s someone out there watching. Otherwise, why bother with going live? Let your members know a livestream is coming their way. Share the information on all of your social channels and with an email. Think about who you want to share this with and the benefit for them if they participate. Do you want to target current members? Anyone who’s come in the past 30 days? It’s easy to send targeted communications with Mindbody’s Marketing Suite.

Many businesses that have been forced to close (like Hit the Barre) are opting to replace their regular offerings with live streaming as a way to encourage members to keep their memberships active. You can let people use their existing pricing options (passes) to access these classes or even offer for free. 

You can make the livestreams part of your offerings on Mindbody. Simply edit the names of your classes in the software to indicate that the class is virtual and is available to join via livestream. Use the word “VIRTUAL” in from of your regular class name. It should look something like “VIRTUAL Mat Pilates” or “VIRTUAL Yoga Sculpt.”

When you use this standard naming (“VIRTUAL” in all caps), Mindbody can use enhanced search features in the Marketplace (the Mindbody app and mindbody.io) to provide additional visibility to your virtual classes. 

Make sure you edit the description of the class as well so it’s clear that the class is strictly virtual. Explain in the description that clients who sign up for the class will get a separate email about 5-15 minutes before the class starts with the link to the video. Update the auto class confirmation email to reiterate that they can expect an email just before class starts with the link to the livestream.

Just before your livestream

It’s easy to remind clients the class is about to start and send them the appropriate link through Mindbody. You can create a quick email list for your class attendees. Fifteen minutes before the start of a class, have the instructor create a shareable link from the streaming service and invite those signed up in an email.  

Pro tip: This could be a good task for your front desk staff.  

Film your livestream

You don’t need to go wild investing in a lighting kit and premium camera for this. When it comes to live streaming, a phone (or computer/webcam depending on your setup) will do the trick. Whatever you choose, you want to make sure it’s on a steady surface. If you’re using a phone, consider using a small tripod to make it easy for yourself.  

As you’re setting the stage (at your studio, or even your own home), you’ll just want to make sure the lighting is good, and the studio looks tidy. Audio is also important. You want to make sure your viewers can hear the instructor clearly. What about music? Ambient music can make it hard to hear your instructor. If you do opt to include music, you’ll want to know what music you can post legally. It might be easiest to go for royalty free music.  

Do a test run before you go live and make sure that you can see the moves, hear the instructor, and aren’t distracted by anything weird in the background.

After your livestream, you can post the video to YouTube, Facebook, or your website. Share snippets of it on your social channels to get your clients excited about the next virtual class.  

In a time of such uncertainty, it’s critical to help your community stick together. Live streaming may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but remember that it’s probably new to your clients, too. They’ll be happy to see you again. Roll with any mistakes just like you would during a regular class, be honest and straightforward, and you’ll do great. The class must go on!

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