Shifting fitness classes to an online format can be a steep learning curve, even for the most seasoned teachers. There are technical considerations for moving your classes or services online, such as picking the best equipment and software for your purposes, but there’s more to successfully teaching virtual classes than the technology. In this article, we’ll highlight some ways that you can ensure that your students are receiving an experience that is close to what they would expect in an in-person class.
Take time to ensure a clean set-up: When you’re just starting out with conducting online classes, there are a few key elements that you can implement right away to create a sharp virtual presence. Seek as much natural lighting as possible and if it’s allowable in your schedule, conduct or film classes during the daylight hours so you don’t need to rely on as much artificial lighting. Picking the right clothes also matters. You might love your fun patterned leggings but for online classes, it’s best to stick with solid and form-fitting clothes so your students can more easily see the exercises or movements. Be sure to clear out the room or space you’ll be using and as free from noises as possible. This means putting your phone on silent, making sure the washing machine is off, and asking other household residents if they can keep the noise down or go out (though we know that this isn’t always possible—just do your best!)
Welcome your students: Your job in delivering a welcoming experience for your students is just as important in a virtual environment as it is at a studio or fitness center. Activate the virtual room at least a few minutes before the scheduled start time so you can say hello as students join, provide any directions before class such as grabbing props or equipment students might need, and give your guests a chance to settle in before beginning class.
Provide an introduction: Imagine if you were at an in-person class and the teacher walked in at the exact minute that class is to begin and they started the class without any type of introduction to ground the class. It would be a little jarring, wouldn’t it? Any class, virtual or in-person, should have some kind of introduction even if that just means introducing yourself, reminding the class to take breaks, and to drink water.
Make a connection with students: As a teacher, you know that creating a connection with students is important. One way to ensure a connection is eye contact! This is no different from an in-person interaction but in the context of teaching virtual classes, eye contact means keeping your eye on the camera lens. This can feel counterintuitive initially but pretend the camera lens is your student’s face. It might take practice but it’s worth it to make sure your students know that you’re being present with them. Another way to ensure you are maintaining connection is to call students by their name if you have this information. Again, this is no different in the realm of virtual classes. Instruct or encourage your students so they know that you’re just as engaged as ever in their practice. Even if a student opts to keep their camera off during class, it’s still nice to acknowledge the student.
Speak with precision: Speaking slowly and clearly is just a good habit for any type of public speaking, including teaching a class. Especially when delivering classes online, practice enunciating your words, speaking extra slowly and clearly, so your participants are better able to follow along. Along with teaching with precision, make sure to offer plenty of options or alternate movements, especially in cases where you can’t see your students. You want to ensure your students are practicing effectively but above all, safely.
Practice with your students: When you teach in-person classes, you might be accustomed to providing instruction, giving demos, then walking around the class as students practice. In a virtual class, it doesn’t make as much sense to stand in place while your students are moving. This might take some practice but do start working out or moving with your students during a virtual class. If you can see your students, you can stop to see that they are practicing safely, otherwise, start making it a habit to practice while (and what) you teach!
Stick to the schedule: Just because there isn’t another class waiting for you to finish, doesn’t mean ending on time doesn’t matter. Continue to respect everyone’s time so if a class is set to end at 6 pm, make sure that your class is done at 6 pm. If you know that your class is going to run over, be courteous and let your students know that if they need to jump from the class right at the end time, they should feel free to do so. This is a common practice for instructors at in-person classes—another practice to apply to a virtual environment as needed.
Remember, you already know how to make your students feel welcome at your in-person classes and most of those customs look no different in a virtual environment. Setting up your online classes for success will take work, but once you’re ready to get underway with teaching, let us help streamline the process for you and your students! Our all-in-one system makes it easy to set up registration, process payments, and communication with students. Get started with your free website and see how OfferingTree can help grow your business – whether you’re online, in-person, or a bit of both.