Our ‘Lockdown’ Journey
How we adapted our ‘On Broadway’® Dance Fitness classes to the world of ZOOM!
Well then, I never thought i’d be writing a blog about how thankful I am for technology yet here I am!! How times have changed?!
Let’s talk about how we went from this:
In this blog I want to share with you our journey as a business in the fitness industry, the problems and ‘hiccups’ we encountered during our transition to online classes and how we have adapted to overcome them!
I hope that you can relate to our experiences or use our story to help you as you move your business into the ‘new normal’.
Let’s start at the very beginning…. Pre-lockdown.
We transitioned to online classes before lockdown was ever mentioned in the UK. We were very aware that clients were beginning to shield or didn’t feel comfortable coming to classes as the pandemic was beginning to reach us in England. We wanted to make sure that no one missed out on doing what they love through no fault of their own. Straight away we set up ‘Zoom’ and started live streaming our classes to clients who didn’t feel comfortable attending in person.
Before we knew it… hello lockdown!
I’m sure you remember that feeling of fear when we heard that word. I was so grateful in that moment that I had already transitioned to online classes, meaning we could seamlessly continue with classes without it having a huge impact straight away on clients or myself as a business owner.
With that said, lockdown brought with it many emotions. For me, the initial overriding emotion was FEAR. Fear for my business, fear for my instructors and team, fear for my licensees. I don’t know about you, but the best way I can describe it was a grieving process. I felt heartbroken at the prospect of having everything I had worked so hard for in my business over the last 6 years be swept from under my feet through no fault of my own! But gradually, things began to feel better again as we moved through the process. It hasn’t gone back to ‘normal’, but the feeling of heartbreak and grief was put to one side as we navigated through this time. Have you felt similar to me?
Problems we encountered! Eeek!
Ok, I stand by the fact that I am SUPER grateful for technology right now. It has saved our business and given us a brand new way of working. It’s been wonderful for so many reasons…. But you know what technology can be like, right!? We’ve certainly had our fair share of battles with it over the last few months, let me talk you through some of the key issues we faced and how we overcame them!
1. Microphones and music on ‘Zoom’
When we first began our online classes we didn’t use a microphone, we spoke to the laptop screen and played our music through our stereo at our ‘On Broadway’® Dance Fitness Studio. We quickly realised that clients were unable to hear the music properly, it sounded distant and muffled along with our voices. This wasn’t the experience we wanted for our clients who are paying to attend their ‘On Broadway’® Dance Fitness classes online!
Through trial and error (lots of trial and error) we found our Goldilocks porridge.
First of all, we introduced the use of microphones. Although I wouldn’t totally rule out head microphones, we have found that clients get the best sound quality on ‘Zoom’ when our instructors wear a lapel mic. Our clients feedback was that the lapel mic was much clearer and less ‘fuzzy’ with less background noise!
Secondly, music! This is super important to ensure that clients get the atmosphere and buzz from an online class, especially in the world of dance fitness. What’s the point in having music if it can barely be heard? We found that the best way to get music playing loud and clear to clients, whilst still being able to hear us through the microphone, was by sharing our computer sound through ‘Zoom’! (Do this by clicking on share screen, click share computer sound, click advanced then select music or computer sound only). Make sure your microphone volume is up! Works a treat for us!
Wifi was most likely our biggest enemy at the beginning of our online classes journey! We soon realised that the internet at our studio was not strong enough to cope with the demand and it was causing syncing issues left, right and centre. This meant that, from the viewers perspective, I was dancing one part of the routine while the music was on another part of the routine. At least our clients got a good brain workout during that time, eek, ha ha! This was an issue which needed resolving, quick! I got on the phone to an internet provider and ordered us some top speed internet, woo hoo.
HOWEVER, we couldn’t celebrate just yet, it took a good couple of weeks to come into effect at the studio! We therefore made the move to my trusty kitchen at home and began teaching from there for a short time. It may not have been as big as our lovely studio but it sure did the trick as a temporary measure!
Since investing in our internet at the studio we have hugely improved our client experience, it has also improved our sales when doing FREE Online taster classes! (SIDE NOTE- myself and licensees have successfully continued to grow our businesses during this time through doing online taster classes).
When we first began our online live classes, we as instructors felt very alone in the studio suddenly with no clients in the room with us. It sure did take a lot of getting used to, i’m sure many of you can relate to this feeling?
When teaching on ‘Zoom’, all we can see is tiny little boxes filled with clients dancing along with us during class. I chose to use a projector screen so that we could see everyone a little better and make it feel more like they were in the room with us.
This is what it looked like from our end:
It was so heart-warming to see so many women dancing together, even though we were physically apart!
I did, however, start thinking about how this would work going forwards. This set up would just not work if we were to continue with online classes at the same time as having a live class take place in the room when lockdown was over.
For this reason, I changed the whole set up! We now have a tv mounted to the back wall which is connected to our laptop. This means we can see our lovely clients online, without it taking up half of the studio space! See the difference in these pics below:
BEFORE (Projector Screen)
Fast-forward to now! Post-Lockdown!
We are so happy and excited to be teaching classes back at the studio again after four LONG months! What a crazy time it has been! We’ve learned so much, and are continuing to learn, whilst navigating our way through the ‘new normal’.
We have separated our studio out into 2m squares and put a number of measures in place to ensure that our clients feel safe to dance with us at our ‘On Broadway’® Dance Fitness studio.
Check out this video to see our Covid-secure studio:
Is online here to stay??
I never thought at the beginning of this process I would say this but… yes, absolutely!
Our classes are now all streamed live via Zoom for those joining us for online classes at the same time as having clients in the room! It’s an amazing feeling to have our lovely ladies with us in person again but it’s also really exciting that online is now here to stay as a new addition to our packages going forwards!
Our clients have found many benefits to our online classes, allowing them to join in whenever and wherever they are, meaning they never have to miss out on a routine. We’ve had ladies join in from their holidays abroad (see pic below). They can join in from home when they’re feeling under the weather. And finally, looking forward to the future… God forbid we have a repeat of the snow which came with ‘Beast From The East’ or even enter another lockdown, we are ready to provide our clients with their classes through the power of technology!
What I have learned?
I have learned so many things during this time. Here are a few of them in a nutshell:
- I actually ENJOY teaching online classes! I’ve surprised myself with that one!
- I have used this time to think about what I didn’t enjoy in my pre-lockdown life and have worked to eliminate these things from my business. For example, my clients now have an app where they can book their classes (rather than myself or admin team doing this for them). My workload going forwards has now hugely decreased, allowing me to focus on improving the business further and doing the things I love to do!
- I have learned that having my clients and licensee’s relying on me helps me to stay motivated. I could have easily buried my head in the sand when lockdown first happened, it was an overwhelming time! But knowing that if I didn’t get out of bed and work hard, think on my feet, test systems and new ways in which we could work then other people would suffer. Who else struggles with the feeling of overwhelm?
- Finally, I have learned that I am SO grateful for many things. There is light and shade to every situation… you just need to find your light 💡 I’d be lying if I said It’s not been emotional and stressful but I am now trying to ensure that I remind myself of all the great things which have come of all of this too! There is always something to be grateful for and it’s so important that we acknowledge this! It makes you feel so much better!
👏🏼 I am grateful for technology, allowing so many of us to continue to teach online live classes and still provide that hour of escapism and positive energy that we all need.
👏🏼 I am grateful for the way the last few months have forced us to be creative and do things we have never done before, or may have never thought to do!
👏🏼 I am grateful for amazing clients who have stuck by and supported us.
As business owners in the fitness industry we have been, and continue to be, pushed very much out of our comfort zones.
How many of you who are now teaching online classes ever thought you would be delivering your classes in this way? We have been forced into making decisions to quickly ensure that A) we can continue to make a living and B) to ensure that our clients don’t lose out on their all-important escapism and joy that our classes bring them.
We’ve also been forced to take a step back and view our businesses/classes in a different light, which is so beneficial and something we may not have done if we hadn’t been in this situation. I love the way that fitness instructors around the country have pulled together to help one another and also have thought on their feet to keep communities connected.
I strongly believe that the universe has given us this time to reflect, to take a step back from the day to day and view our lives and businesses in a new light. There are many great things we can take from this experience along with the lessons we have learned!
Here’s to new beginnings!
Remember…. The best things are waiting for us outside of our comfort zones!