Even with lockdown rules easing, social distancing is still solidly in place and our beloved fitness venues continue to have closed doors. But when one door closes, another (digital) door opens...
For those who usually rely on physical footfall to their venues, lockdown has caused absolute turmoil. Many of those suffering from closed venues have been exploring digital solutions to continue bringing in income, and have been live-streaming their workouts and fitness classes across the nation… and in some cases, the world!
Sure, we are all exceptionally thankful for tech nowadays! But where do you start if you’re not very tech-savvy but suddenly have to begin hauling out various cables, cameras and devices to kick-off your online fitness classes? Or maybe you’ve been hacking your live-stream set-up but know you could provide a better experience?
Fear not. We’ve done a round-up of the best tech and equipment to live-stream your online fitness classes, plus top tips on making your live-stream workouts the best they can be for those participating at home!
The best tech and equipment to live-stream your home workouts
Can I get away with simply using a smartphone?
In some live-streaming circumstances, you can get away with just using your smartphone. But ideally it would be for streaming on social media platforms such as Instagram Live or Facebook Live. Even then, a laptop camera or a portable camera can provide a better experience for your viewers!
The pros of using your smartphone is that it’s super quick to get going, accessible and easy. You just need a decent smartphone with a good camera, a working built-in microphone and potentially a tripod if you fancy going hands-free. Try one of these nifty phone tripods for any of your mobile streams:
- Mini GorillaPod Tripod for Smartphones - £14.95
- SYOSIN Tripod with Detachable Wireless Remote - £12.99
- CCRoom Phone Tripod with Bluetooth Remote Control - £20.99
Should I use my laptop or desktop to live-stream my fitness classes?
In many cases, using your laptop or desktop computer to live-stream classes can provide a great experience! Using your computer in conjunction with applications, such as Zoom, can work really effectively.
Many Move instructors prefer to use a laptop due to its portability… but it’s always handy for your device to have plenty of USB ports in case you wish to hook up more tech.
Our top tips when using a laptop to live-stream your home fitness classes are:
- Ensure it is placed strategically so that viewers can see your body in entirety.
- Practice standing up, sitting down, jumping into burpees, bear crawling on the ground - whatever you’ll be demonstrating to your class participants, be sure they’ll get the full visual of your moves
- Ensure that you can easily access your laptop to let any latecomers in (we’re all human!)
But when should you NOT use your laptop? Don’t use your laptop’s camera function if your laptop has a fuzzy, low-quality camera or if the laptop is old and slow with a full memory (we recommend you to have at least 8GB of RAM). You don’t want your tech to let you down and provide a poor experience visually.
Also, if you have a super noisy fan on your laptop, that will disrupt the sound quality of your class and provide an irritating distraction when people are mid-sun salutation.
Cameras for live-streaming:
If your laptop is a bit worse for wear or you want to be sure you are providing the highest visual quality, then invest in a decent webcam.
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to basic-but-quality web-cams. Many even contain built-in microphones which can kill two birds with one stone.
- LOGITUBO Webcam 1080P Live Streaming Camera (with Microphone) - £55.99
- Razer Kiyo HD Desktop Streaming Webcam (built-in ring light) - £99
- Logitech C920 webcam 15 MP (built-in microphone) - £116.40
- Logitech C922 Pro Stream Webcam (TWO built-in microphones) - £189
- GoPro HERO8 (THREE built-in microphones) - £329.99
Software for live-streaming:
There’s plenty out there, but we recommend Zoom to all our fitness instructors. Our live-streaming service, Move At Home, is closely integrated with Zoom so when a member checks-in for their workout, they get taken straight to the Zoom meeting!
Plus, a benefit of Zoom is that you can switch from having the screen just showing yourself or change to a grid of ALL your participants so you can keep an eye on them.
Zoom also allows you to record your session as well! A fantastically easy way to get your own video content to repurpose for social media content or use within a taster video for potential new customers to see what to expect from your live-streaming classes.
Find out more about how to set-up your own Zoom Account.
Microphones for live-streaming fitness classes:
Audio is often overlooked when it comes to live-streaming, but it is so important. How can your participants enjoy the workout if they’re struggling to hear your instructions?
If you're using your laptop and/or a webcam, often the built-in microphones can suffice. But alternatively, level up your streaming game with a mic to ensure that no word is missed. And when it comes to fitness, it is key that participants can hear your instructions in case of injury.
There are plenty of handy mics which you can plug directly into your computer or smart device using USB ports. Just note that some don’t have particularly long cables so consider investing in an USB repeater extension cable for more freedom in where you place it.
- Fifine USB Microphone - £49.99
- Blue Microphones Snowball iCE - £54.99
- Blue Yeti USB Mic - £96.69
- HyperX QuadCast Condenser Microphone (Anti-Vibration) - £109.99
- Logitech Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone - £119.99
Alternatively you can go for a wearable microphone. Lapel microphones which news reporters use provide great mobility, although they can pick up the sounds of the room easier. Also not great if your hair or clothing rub up against it, so be sure to carefully select the microphone which meets your live- streaming needs.
Using Zoom and want to play music throughout your session? Check-out our nifty guide on how to do this!
Lighting for live-streaming:
You may not even consider lighting after all this live-stream tech talk, but it is KEY in providing a great experience - your viewers need to SEE you in order to know what moves to do in their workout.
If you don’t want to spend anything on equipment for lighting, just be sure that you select your streaming area carefully:
- No overpowering light behind you (such as a window) or you’ll be a dark silhouette.
- Natural light can be great, but bear in mind that the sun can easily slip behind a cloud casting your stream into gloom and doom.
- Strategically place lamps and other lighting to ensure you are lit as well as possible!
If you want to explore lighting options, we’ve found some great selections that can help give your live-streaming workout a bright glow! The key things to consider are:
- Look for LED lights as they don’t get so hot.
- Make sure it can be manoeuvred easily.
- Adjustable brightness.
- Power - don’t always rely on batteries as they could run out at a crucial moment.
Ring lights can be helpful, however they suit live-streaming better when the streamer is closer to the screen. These are more relevant for those who wish to explore the world of vloggers or going live on social media where you’re closer to the camera.
- Gemwon LED Ring Light - £34.99
- iMartine 10" LED Ring Light with Mic, Tripod Stand and Phone Holder - £49.99
Professional lighting equipment:
If you want an extra helping hand with your lighting arrangements, you may wish to consider professional lighting equipment.
- Neewer 2 Packs Dimmable 5600K USB LED Video Light - £55.99
- Aputure Lantern Softbox - £109
- Nanlite LumiPad25 LED Pad Light - £124.99
Once you've covered all the bases and are fully kitted out with the best equipment to live-stream your classes, then do several practice runs alone and with friends or family. Once you’ve nailed your tech, you’re on your way to being a top fitness streamer! All that’s left is the confidence and enthusiasm, and you’ll smash it.