You can be forgiven for not knowing how to teach a class online. It is, after all, a new experience for most trainers. But some fitness pros have nailed teaching on the meeting platform.
Below, Virtual Trainer Aficionado, Niko Algieri, co-founders of London’s Equilibrium Total Balance shares five tips that any trainer can use to replicate their virtual training success.
1. Sound Is Critical
If your clients can’t hear you, you’ll lose them.
Algieri is the first to admit that trainers don’t need a fancy camera setup to deliver a good virtual class; in most cases, a camera phone is capable of getting the job done. But if you’re going to invest in equipment beyond your mobile phone or laptop, your first purchase should be a quality microphone. (Algieri and Brockway use Rode Wireless Go mics for their classes.)
2. Coaching Is Still Required
When you’re the only one in the room, it’s easy to forget that you’re not getting paid to work out. Remember: you’re there to offer instruction.
“You can't just be one of those trainers that does and counts. You have to be the coach as well. You have to instruct them,” Algieri warned. “It's exactly the same as if you were teaching a physical class. Everybody counts or nobody counts. You have to watch everybody like a hawk. Remember Jurassic World when Chris Pratt has the clicker and you see the three or four Raptors surrounding him? That's the way you have to teach. Like you constantly have to be on a swivel to watch everyone and it's exactly the same online.”
3. Corrections Are (Still) Part of the Job
“You can't just be Mr. Motivator or Jane Fonda in front of the class, hoping that people follow what you. Some people are better with visual cues, and some are better with audio cues so they need to hear or be told what to do. You have to make sure that you've got all bases covered,” Algieri said.
In physical classes, it’s easy enough to walk around the room and give corrections to clients—reminding them to engage various muscle groups or correct their alignment. According to Algieri, that’s still part of the job description when you’re teaching an online class. Regardless of the screen size, you still need to identify and correct bad technique, use all the TRX cueing tricks you learned in your Suspension Training Course, and cheer clients on when they're nailing it, which means you need to be focused on the screen and not just performing the exercises at all times. While you’re at it, don’t forget to call out clients’ names. Even if you have new people in a group class, you can hover on the screen with your mouse or tracker pad, and the associated names will appear on each square of the gallery grid.
4. Big Class? Find a Partner
There is a limit to the number of participants you can see on one screen, so if you’re regularly topping 20-30 participants in your online classes, recruit a partner who can help you keep an eye on clients. Sure, that’s easier said than done. (Algieri and Brockway are brothers who work together and hence cover each other during big group classes.) But your helper doesn’t have to be in the same room as you to be effective. Consider bringing a second trainer into the class to monitor client form and offer corrections.
5. Don’t Forget the Camera Shy Clients
Offering feedback in online classes assumes that all your clients are going to have their cameras on and center themselves in the frame through class. Realistically, that won’t be the case. That doesn’t mean you can ignore the clients you can’t see. Use those clients’ names during class, and continue offering encouragement. Algieri suggests something along the lines of, "I can't see what you're doing, but I'm sure you’re doing fantastically well. Keep going.”
Coaching online may not be your first choice, but it’s been a great lifeline for gyms and clients during the course of this pandemic. Remember, practice makes perfect, so even if you don’t nail all five of Niko Algieri’s online class tips on your first try, you’ve got unlimited opportunity for improvement.
Want more coaching know-how from TRX professionals? Check out our new TRX Suspension Training Course - Virtual Edition here and look out for the new TRX Virtual Training Course dropping later this month.