I’ve often been asked the same question by club and studio owners, fitness professionals, and education providers: How have I managed to offer all of my fitness services on virtual without spending money on tech? And in particular, how did I overcome sound issues without needing a microphone and sound board?
Let me be clear; I’m not a sound engineer. It took over 100 tests for this to work for me and my personal set-up works with the equipment I already had on hand. That said, if it can help even one more dedicated fitness pro serve those who need them, then I’ll be tickled pink!
So here it is! The set-up I use that required no further tech than what I had on hand:
- My home office is a large space: you’ll need to stand about 8-10 feet away from your camera (my IPhone) in order to be seen head to toe through lateral and vertical movement patterns.
- Keep the wall behind you as clear and unencumbered as possible: it removes distractions and safety hazards for yourself.
- My PC laptop runs Zoom:
- The free version allows up to 100 participants for 40 minutes, I already had the $20/month paid version which I used to run group coaching sessions. This allows me to no longer have a time limit but you can teach 30 minute classes for free if you like.
- When I start the meeting I DO NOT Join with computer audio. I click the X to close that window, sometimes twice. The microphone on my laptop is therefore NOT used which gets rid of feedback.
- I also Turn Camera Off (my photo is on the thumbnail) as this isn’t the camera I use.
- In Zoom Advanced Setting I click Screen Share to play the music and use the LOWEST volume possible. This allows my participants to hear me as well as the music (otherwise the music is way too loud on their end) BUT means that I can barely hear the music coming from my laptop.
- Log into Zoom myself using my IPhone as my camera and microphone are of better quality.
- Mute ALL participants so that their audio doesn’t cut into mine.
- Bluetooth my music from my PC an external speaker, a small pill speaker just like the ones most of us have in our homes: the music volume playing from my laptop is so low, this allows me to hear the music AND puts me on the same DELAY that often occurs with participants. The sound and image waves, that don’t travel at the same speed, thereby match.
- My phone, an IPhone 6 in my case, runs the camera and microphone: they are both of much better quality than my PC allowing for a better audio and visual experience. I therefore join the meeting, just like a participant, from my phone. I turn it horizontally to avoid the black bars on each side and have it on a selfie stick/tripod on my desk (see photo). I bought it a couple of years ago but have also used my IPad on a stack of books and held it in place with tape. As long as it’s at the right height it works. I therefore see myself in a large image, as well as participants who choose to have their cameras on, on my laptop.
In other words: I’m the “host” on my laptop on which I have all the controls and share the music, and I’m the “instructor” on my phone on which I provide video and voice.
Other helpful tips:
- I use “virtual approved” license-free music from the production company that I can play through my laptop. These playlists are often different than the ones we can use on our phones/apps to play in live classes.
- Be near your modem if possible, even restart it if you’re running into issues.
- Close your email server window as to not get the “ding” of emails coming through during your class
- Ask your participants to maximize their WIFI and bandwidth (i.e. not having 3 people in their homes streaming at the same time).
- Spotlight yourself on Zoom so that they can see me more easily (not everyone understands the Speaker View controls).
- Keep your phone and laptop plugged in to their chargers. I learned this the hard way…a couple of times.
- You can of course record the Zoom meeting and send the link afterwards if you wish.
- Test, retest, and retest again! Even once you get it figured out it’s best to test again before starting (record your Zoom for one minute and play it back for yourself) just in case.
It’s worth noting that since we all have different tools, spaces, and tech there is no one solution for that works for everyone but I didn’t spend an extra penny for this set-up, so it’s definitely worth trying before investing big bucks in a new endeavor.
Nathalie Lacombe, M. Sc. Leadership coach and strategic partner. Joyfully taking your leadership and business to the next level!
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