Virtual Workout Classes: On-Demand and In Demand
With many fitness studios and gyms closing temporarily due to COVID-19, many studios are opting for virtual workouts and on-demand classes.
iKizmet sat down with Stephanie Moran (owner of CYB Studios) and Jenni Schwartz (owner of Solmark Creative) for a Q&A session about what time and resources went into getting CYB Studios on-demand in less than a week!
Stephanie Moran, owner of CYB Studios, knew when she temporarily closed her doors due to COVID-19, that she needed to continue engaging with her clients -and quickly! A bit overwhelmed by all there was to learn about on-demand content, Stephanie turned to Jenni Schwartz from Solmark Creative to get the studio’s content up and running smoothly and beautifully.
At what point did you decide you needed to take your classes virtual?
Stephanie: When we built the concept of CYB, we always knew part of our programming would be virtual classes. We planned to do it later this year, but when everything happened with COVID-19, we decided the only way we were going to stay in contact with our customers was to take it online.
What were some of the challenges you encountered when first looking into on-demand classes?
Stephanie: Choosing a video streaming service. We had used Vimeo for teacher training content recently. As I was thinking about [on-demand classes] and looking at my options, I had posted about recording classes on Instagram and Jenni responded and asked if we needed help. I said “yes, absolutely!” (Jenni had recently taken another client on-demand and was able to help eliminate the hassle.)
The other hard thing was content. It’s always hard to get it out there. I knew if I had [Jenni] to make [the platform] look and feel like my brand, that I could focus on content. We made the decision [to go on-demand] on Tuesday and were online by Saturday. We filmed 13 classes in one week, which was super crazy! Delivering content without students is such a different experience. Now that we’ve got the content uploaded, just making sure we cross our Ts and dot our Is and that we get all of the right liability waivers signed, music licensing, and our insurance coverage.
How did Solmark start offering on-demand website services?
Jenni: One of my clients, Camp Tampa, came to me about a week ago (just last Sunday, it seems like it’s been much longer!). They had been planning to add some type of at-home platform before [COVID-19] and figured, ‘why not now?’ There was a very big rush to get it done because they had to close their doors -just like everyone else. They came to me with no knowledge of where to start so I spent some time researching different options for them.
What made you go with Vimeo OTT?
Jenni: I admire and trust the brands that are on Vimeo OTT, like Sculpt Society and Core Power Yoga, therefore I knew it was a solid product. I navigated my way through the information online and spoke to Vimeo representatives to put together a package that was affordable to my clients. For example, while you can get your own branded app and live stream through the platform, this is not a priority right now. With Vimeo, you can stream on your phone or TV without the need for a branded [mobile] app. That type of luxury can come later when studios feel more comfortable financially.
Who have been the best resources you’ve found for information?
Stephanie: Solmark was a big one. I couldn’t have done it as quickly as I did without Solmark. She allowed me to get as much content as I did live as quickly as I was able to. She took that pain away instantly, which was one of the biggest hurdles to the questions of “how will I get this online?” and “how will I get this on my website?” Vimeo. ASCAP -they’re the music licensing company. Fitness Career Mastery’s live broadcast (on Instagram). Working with all of those companies and then putting it all together as well as doing my own research online.
What does Solmark offer for clients?
Jenni: The first thing is that my client does not have to spend the time to put this together. We’re setting up the accounts for them and holding their hands. Secondly, we’re making their on-demand
platform look gorgeous, professional, and on-brand for them. When finished, we provide clients with step-by-step video guides so they can upload their video content themselves. I show them exactly what to do so they don’t get overwhelmed. Another piece that I’m offering is creating logo variations for clients to use specifically for their on-demand videos. I’m also offering support to update their studio website to drive traffic to the Vimeo OTT site by setting up pop-ups, banners and adding call-to-action buttons.
What were some of the things that surprised you during your research?
Stephanie: What surprised me the most, is that there are a lot of people out there [offering online content] without thinking of all the precautionary steps to take. Businesses are not thinking about things like music licensing and liability. And there are not a lot of people who know these answers. It was difficult navigating that. There’s a lot more to it than just turning on a camera and pressing record. Even down to teachers needing to teach differently than they would to a full classroom of clients. You have to be aware of your teachers and who you’re putting in front of a camera.
What would you say to studio owners who are debating whether to offer free classes or paid subscriptions?
Stephanie: One: I would say don’t do it unless you want to do it and you have the energy behind it. You need to continually record and put up new content. Does that mean every week, every two weeks? I don’t know yet, I’m still figuring that out. It’s constant work. It’s like running a studio, but behind a screen. You also have to market it and stay connected to your audience. Social media is a great avenue for that.
I would say if you’re going to put the time and effort into making high-quality content, you should charge for it. You would never not charge for your studio offerings, right? And if you’re going to do it for free, that’s fine, just make sure that you have the right protections for yourself. Otherwise, that free [content] and good will you had could turn on you.
It really depends on your level of commitment and your bandwidth. I know I couldn’t have done it as quickly as I did without Solmark. [Jenni] allowed me to get as much content as I did live in that amount of time.
Interested in learning how Solmark Creative could help you take your business virtual and on-demand? Click here to learn more!
About Solmark Creative
Jenni and Mike Schwartz are the creative visionaries behind the top boutique fitness studios around the world. Together they own Solmark Creative, a branding and digital design studio specializing in the wellness space. Jenni established and ran her own design studio for over a decade, while Mike owned and operated a fitness facility in New York City. When Mike sold his business, he and Jenni joined forces and began focusing primarily on the boutique fitness industry. With their individual talents and passion for the industry, they developed the expertise necessary to anticipate and understand the creative and web-based needs of their clients. When they’re not building successful brands, they’re running around with (and after) their two energetic and adorable daughters in sunny, fitness-obsessed South Florida.