The Best Platforms To Host Your Online Gym Classes On A Budget

Virtual classes and online training and support, has come out as king during the year of lockdowns and virtual services.

While these has proven to be very successful as an incentive to keep members paying for their gym membership, and keeping many clubs relevant in the day-to-day lives of their members; this is still uncharted territory for so many clubs and gyms.

One of the biggest questions we constantly receive here, is not what service can I provide my members. Most gym owners are very aware that they need to offer an online service and training of some kind during lockdown. But the real issue has been:

 

How can we continue to deliver our members an online service, without a spending a fortune?

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The Best Platforms To Host Your Online Gym Classes

We’ve taken a look at the 4 biggest livestreaming platforms that you can use to host your online fitness classes and content.

Depending on your budget and your needs, each of these 4 platforms provides you with an amazing way to not only host your fitness classes online, but also help you grow your online prescence.

We’ll look through each of our 4 choices, to give you the pros and cons of each platform:

 

Youtube Live

Facebook Live

Zoom

Twitch

 

 

Using Youtube Livestreams For Your Online Fitness Classes

YouTube is the king of video sites and while YouTube has mainly been home to pre-recorded videos, in the last few years YouTube has started to expand into the world of live streaming.

Because of its widespread popularity and reputation for being incredibly stable, YouTube is on the face of it, a great place to stream your online fitness classes. But let’s take a deeper look…

 

YouTube Live – Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Completely free to use
  • Very stable
  • Ability to schedule livestreams
  • Great social media marketing opportunity
  • Instantly updates all your YouTube followers
  • Basic editing within the platform
  • Simple & easy video content for your YouTube channel

 

Cons

  • No built-in privacy features
  • Whether you can stream depends on your device
  • Lacking in unique customisable features outside of basic video streaming

 

YouTube Live – Cost & Features

Outside of YouTube’s premium service, everything on YouTube is free to use and livestreaming is no exception.

When it comes to livestreaming, it can be done at the click of a button. Instead of uploading a video, you’re given the option to livestream instead. From there you can start streaming right away, or schedule future streams.

When it comes to how you want to stream you can either stream from your webcam, which will directly stream whatever is caught by your webcam, or you can connect YouTube up to an external program, which allows you to add effects and music to your stream.

If you want to increase your streaming quality, you can always attach an external webcam or camera, which YouTube can use as your webcam in order to provide a higher quality stream and audio quality for your watchers.

 

YouTube Livestream Dashboard

 

YouTube Live – Interactivity

As a streaming site, YouTube only allows for you to send video to your audience.

While your audience are able to send messages to you in the chat, the interactivity you can have with your audience is limited to message chat.

Moderating your chat is very easy on YouTube, so if you do have any troublemakers in the chat, you can quickly ban them from commenting, but they will still be able to watch your stream.

 

YouTube Live – Membership Access

This is where YouTube Live has a flaw, although you can easily spin it into a positive.

YouTube Live doesn’t allow you to control who you livestream to. When you start a stream, you simply broadcast it to everyone on the platform. When it comes to moderating, as we mentioned earlier, you can also only moderate the chat. You can’t stop people from watching your stream, outside of stopping the stream entirely.

 

YouTube Live – Extra Benefits & Unique Features

One of the neatest features of YouTube livestreaming, is that any video you stream can be immediately uploaded on your YouTube channel, so you can keep your training content around for others to watch later.

You can even edit and change your content before it goes completely live on your account, to streamline it all to be watched later.

YouTube also allows you to collect donations through your livestreams, so it is possible that you could use this as an additional revenue stream outside of just your member’s payments.

 

YouTube Live – Final Thoughts

YouTube is a really simple and popular way to livestream, so it’s a no brainer for anyone who wants a no fuss way to livestream their classes.

The main downside of YouTube Live is that it restricts which devices you are able to livestream from, depending on how many subscribers you have on your account. If you have less than a 1,000 subscribers then you are unable to livestream from your mobile. While this isn’t the end of the world, it’s very likely that your mobile phone may be the best camera you have available, so be aware you’ll be restricted to your laptop and webcam when it comes to streaming.

There is also the issue that you won’t be able to livestream just to your members. This is great for your marketing, but your paying members might feel like they’re not getting an exclusive experience since it’s publicly available. This might require you to offer your paying customers a little extra to keep them happy.

However, outside of that issue, YouTube is a simple and quick way to stream – while also being a great way to produce video content for your YouTube channel and market yourself to your wider audience.

 

 

Using Facebook Live For Your Online Fitness Classes

 

Facebook Live – Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Completely free to use
  • Packed with features to personalise your streams
  • Ability to schedule livestreams
  • Allows public / private livestreams
  • Great social media marketing opportunity
  • Instantly updates all your Facebook followers

 

Cons:

  • No built-in privacy features

 

 

Facebook Live – Cost & Features

As with Facebook itself, Facebook livestreams are completely free and can be set up in just a few clicks.

Facebook Live gives you lots more options to connect to different streaming services and use a wider array of camera types much easier. You can still use a webcam, but if you want to hook up a DSLR camera and additional sound equipment as part of your stream, Facebook Live makes that far easier, as you can easily stream through other platforms and connect them up to your Facebook Live.

Facebook has also added in all of the fun social media features like stickers and filters that you can already use on your Facebook posts, but within your livestreams.

And if you didn’t need any extra compliments of the system, you can also schedule your livestreams ahead of time and alert all of your Facebook followers when you go live.

 

Facebook Live dashboard Live dashboard

 

Facebook Live – Interactivity

Much like YouTube, Facebook Live doesn’t allow for 2 way video interaction, but it has a fully featured chat system so your members can message you and each other during your class.

This chat feature comes complete with emojis and additional features which make the chat a lot more vibrant on Facebook Live than other livestreaming platforms.

You also have full control over moderating your chat, so you can quickly remove anyone who is causing trouble on your streams.

 

Facebook Live – Membership Access

One of Facebook’s strengths is that you can livestream into different parts of your Facebook account:

  • Business pages
  • Groups
  • Personal pages

Because of this, you can easily split up your streams to target different member types.

If you want to stream something to your wider audience, in order to keep your gym on their mind and get your marketing going, then you can livestream to your general business Facebook page.

Alternatively, if you wish to give some more exclusive content to your paying members, then simply open up a Facebook Group, make it private for just paying members and then livestream to them.

 

Facebook Live – Extra Benefits & Unique Features

One of the most unique aspects of Facebook is that your success and outreach with your livestreams can feed back into your Facebook advertising.

Facebook Live is a new feature for Facebook, and because of that, Facebook will alert more people to a livestream taking place than a simple post or video upload, as this is the best way for Facebook to promote new features.

If your livestream gets you more likes to your Facebook page, then that is even more Facebook users that you can target when you run your next Facebook Ads campaign. Facebook Live has far more long term bonuses to it, than just the stream itself.

 

Facebook Live – Final Thoughts

When it comes to livestreaming, Facebook has a lot of advantages in its corner that go far beyond just how easy its livestreaming service is.

From Facebook live being completely free, allowing you to livestream to different parts of your audience and also giving you the long term benefit of being able to to advertise back to any Facebook followers you pick up along the way – there really is a huge argument that going with Facebook is a terrific idea if your social media focus is Facebook to begin with.

 

 

Using Zoom For Your Online Fitness Classes

Zoom has become a household name throughout 2020, hosting nearly every single class, business meeting and social event throughout the global lockdowns. But Zoom has very quickly also become one of the most popular ways to livestream fitness classes and personal training sessions.

 

Zoom – Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Free options, but restrictive
  • Built in security features for private livestreams
  • Allows public / private livestreams
  • Option to stream to social media also
  • 2 way member interaction
  • Lots of features and settings
  • Record all of your content
  • The addition of breakout rooms to host multiple sessions at once

Cons

  • Costs more to get the most from it, but can be well worth the investment
  • A steeper learning curve because of increased features
  • Restricted to just 100 attendees, even on the lower paid tiers

 

Zoom – Cost & Features

Zoom is notable for being the only service on this list which isn’t completely free. While you can use Zoom for free, there are certain limits in place, most notably that meetings can only last up to a maximum of 45 minutes if there are 3 or more attendees. You are also limited to the number of attendees you can have depending on your membership type.

Presuming you are hosting groups larger than 3, or keeping your classes very short, it’s more than likely that you’ll need to invest in at least a PRO account, which will allow you to host unlimited group meets that can last as long as you want.

Zoom allows you to easily broadcast yourself, while also sharing a screen and delivering music directly from your device, all without having to use any additional programs. When it comes to hosting a professional looking, high quality broadcast, Zoom has all of the in-built features to do all that.

Also, while Zoom costs money, you can always pay on a monthly basis, so whenever you want to cancel your subscription, you can do so without a huge financial investment to discover if Zoom is the right platform for your livestreams.

 

Zoom Pricing Structure

 

Zoom – Interactivity

Because Zoom has been built for business meetings, that means it allows for 2 way video and audio communication, along with a text chat feature.

If you want to livestream your classes or even a personal training consult for your members, then a Zoom meeting gives you more ways than ever to interact with your audience and actually see them perform live.

And of course, Zoom allows you to completely control who is present, so you are free to mute and block anyone who you don’t want interacting or viewing your content.

If you are uncomfortable with your audience being visible on video, you can also block anyone from appearing on camera at all, making it very easy to control your livestream environment.

 

Zoom – Membership Access

Every single Zoom meeting can be password protected  as standard, meaning that you can easily share your livestreaming content with only the people that you want to share it with.

You are even able to make a list before the livestream, where you can make it so only certain Zoom accounts can login to watch your content, although this isn’t very practical as many of your members may never have used Zoom before and therefore won’t have an account to restrict them to.

Unlike the social media livestreaming options, your Zoom meeting can be made completely private, so if you only want to create livestream content and classes for your members, then you can be certain that only your members will receive it.

 

Zoom – Extra Benefits & Unique Features

One of Zoom’s greatest benefits is that you can also link it up to your social media and livestream across multiple platforms at once.

You can livestream to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin and Restream from a single Zoom account. If you want to go beyond your members and stream to literally everyone who has ever heard of your brand, then Zoom social media streaming is a really easy way around that. It also conveniently helps you get around their 100 attendee limit, as social media viewers aren’t counted towards the total.

The recent addition of breakout rooms to Zoom is also an amazing extra for anyone who wants to hold a more complex class. Breakout rooms allow you to split your attendees off into seperate Zoom meetings and then bring them back into a main larger group. This can be a great way to host multiple different workouts and classes at the same time, but all within the same meeting.

 

Zoom – Final Thoughts

It should come as no surprise to anyone that when it comes to livestreaming, Zoom has earned its title as one of the best.

If you want to invest some extra money into your livestreaming platform, then Zoom is one of the best value options out there. And because it’s been built to handle so many different kinds of live events – Zoom is incredibly flexible for any kind of live fitness session or class that you might want to host.

With the additional option to livestream over your social media as well, Zoom really does feel like the best of both worlds, with a small price tag attached.

 

 

Using Twitch For Your Online Fitness Classes

 

Twitch – Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Completely free to use
  • Packed with features to personalise your streams
  • Simple editing within the platform
  • Very stable video quality
  • No upper limit to how many people can watch

 

Cons:

  • No built-in privacy features
  • A slightly higher learning curve than other free platforms
  • No connection to your social media outside of Twitch
  • Less known for fitness videos

 

Twitch Stream Dashboard

 

Twitch – Cost & Features

Like all of the other social media livestreaming platforms we’ve mentioned, Twitch is completely free for you to start using and streaming with.

Twitch is used by tens of thousands of video game streamers a day, and while it is not commonly used for streams outside of this, its requirement to stream high quality video game footage means that it is designed to get people streaming with relative ease and in great quality.

 

Twitch – Interactivity

As Twitch is primarily designed for gaming streams, Twitch interactivity can be as basic or as complex as you want it to be.

Although it comes with a basic text chat feature for your members to get in touch with you (with the ability to moderate and ban users from the chat and your stream), there are multiple fun and interesting features that you can add into the chat, to liven things up a bit.

However, unlike Zoom, there is no 2 way video and audio communication, so while Twitch has a really fun and deep chat feature, that is as much as you’ll be able to interact with your members.

 

Twitch – Membership Access

While Twitch does provide you a way to stream to a private group, unfortunately this requires any viewers to pay you via Twitch in order to get exclusive content.

While this might not be an issue for some gyms who want to go all in on streaming, if your members are already paying you directly for their club membership, it might be an issue to also require them to pay for your Twitch exclusive content.

However, in terms of public livestreaming, Twitch is easy to set up in minutes and you can quickly share your stream on all of your social media channels.

 

Twitch – Final Thoughts

While Twitch is a very solid platform, it’s lack of popularity outside of the gaming community might scare off many of your members.

Twitch is one of the more complex livestreaming services, allowing you to integrate a lot of other platforms and features into your streams; at the cost of a slightly higher learning curve to get the most from it.

However, if you want a quick and easy set up, Twitch can provide that, although it doesn’t offer quite the same feedback into your social media that directly livestreaming from a platform like Facebook might allow.

 

 

And Our Personal Winner Goes To…

Zoom or Facebook Live!

When you break it all down, Zoom and Facebook Live cover all the bases that any gym or club would ever need.

Facebook Live is an amazingly simple service that a gym can use to start livestreaming fitness content completely free and instantly reach most of their members, as Facebook is used by almost everyone at this point. The ability to livestream to groups and pages seperately, also makes it a great way to hit different parts of your membership.

Zoom comes out top for a paid service, simply because it’s a very small investment for some huge benefits. When you combine its high quality streams, the ability to interact with your members via video, control your content’s privacy and also get the benefits of livestreaming to Facebook as well… Zoom is an amazing deal for a gym who wants to livestream on a budget.

 

 

Ashbourne Can Help With Every Aspect of Your Club

Unlike most club management services which just give you some basic software and collect your direct debits, the team at Ashbourne knows that there’s a lot more to managing a successful club than simply collecting payments.

From debt collection, to web design, marketing ideas and more – the entire team at Ashbourne Membership Management is at your disposal to help you succeed and master every single element of being a successful gym.

If you want to chat about what we offer, or simply run through how we can help your particular health club, then get in touch with us and our sales manager Grant will be back in touch to talk through everything.

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