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How Gyms Can Create a Premium Home Streaming Experience

Here’s how to bring a high standard of visual and audible quality to your gym’s online content.

During these unprecedented times, the fitness industry is innovating on the fly. With doors closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, personal trainers and health clubs are hard at work providing their members with engaging streaming content, both recorded and live, to provide exercise instruction to people who need to remain physically active for their mental and physical health.

The good news during these anxious times is that the industry has rallied. As reported by IHRSA, in the last few weeks health clubs and industry suppliers have united to help each other through the crisis. And IHRSA will continue providing up-to-date information and resources as the situation changes. Through its coronavirus hub, IHRSA offers articles, webinars, videos, and a forum to help guide industry professionals during the ordeal. IHRSA also provides other resources, including options for virtual and home workouts.

Streaming fitness programming with live instructors fills a void that people sorely need. It’s more than providing exercise instruction. Any human connection is valuable to people now, and trainers and class instructors are like old friends who come to visit to keep their members positive and healthy.

But what a lot of clubs have learned is that delivering high-quality streaming is harder than it looks from a production standpoint. As with health clubs in the best of times, instructors and club managers aren’t experts in video and sound production.

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Getting the Streaming Experience Right

While many people are transitioning to virtual meetings via Zoom, Cisco Webex, and other platforms, clubs find themselves with a different challenge. A high-energy exercise class features background music and an active instructor who’s usually speaking into a microphone while he or she is energetically moving around. This demands more than a static platform that hosts talking heads in a business meeting.

Most people don’t have the type of hardware required for dynamic visual and sound presentations, especially in a live environment. Just as in the club environment, fitness professionals can’t be expected to have thorough knowledge about audio/visual equipment.

Since 1994, AV Now Fitness Sound has filled that void for health clubs and class instructors. Their expertise in installing professional-grade sound and visual systems in club environments has helped many facilities grow their group X programs. Now, AV Now is offering clubs the tools to create immersive and high-quality live streaming experiences as their services transition to digital platforms.

The company offers a number of options in microphones, cameras, and other equipment that can be shipped to clubs or individual instructors. They walk you through the process to choose what’s best for your situation.

“We put together a few different kits and solutions we offer on our website,” says Ken Lyon, operations manager for AV Now. “We do our best to make the packages as simple and user-friendly as possible. Our goal has always been to break this stuff down and make it really easy for nontechnical users. We realize that they shouldn't need to be an electronics expert or a sound engineer to remotely recreate the experience of going to group exercise class.”

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These systems can work on virtually any device. Lyon and his team test their products on iPhone, iPad, Android phones, laptops, and multiple software systems to make sure their packages get the job done. With some instructors using their iPhone or laptops with built-in cameras, they need to know what works best for functionality and quality.

“We start with the least expensive way to get good quality sound into your video feed. But we can also offer more premium packages for people who really want to go all in," Lyon says.

Joshua Haydon, director of business development for AV Now, says that the company has heard from a lot of their clients who quickly needed to be set up for streaming. He knew a lot of clubs were in the same situation and could use assistance from professionals with decades of experience in using this technology for fitness instruction.

“Our customers reached out to us, and it really brought home the point that we needed to spread awareness to the industry that we offer free technical support. We will help them out,” Haydon says.

AV Now offers lifetime tech support and are on call to walk you through setup and problem solving. Their warehouses are open and functioning.

Live streaming classes are here to stay, and will continue to be popular long after the current situation has run its course. To get set up now and for the long term, contact AV Now via their website, send them an email, or call 800-491-6874 for personalized advice.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org