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How to run a successful Zoom workout

Hilary Achauer

Gym owners are scrambling to figure out how to keep members motivated and engaged after gym closures due to COVID-19. Home workouts are great, but even better are Zoom workouts, where members can see you and their fellow workout partners. CrossFit Flight owner and UpLaunch team member Raelynn Batdorff hosted her first Zoom workout on Tuesday and she has some great tips for coaches running virtual workouts for the first time.

Virtual Coaching 101

  1. Put the whiteboard behind the computer
    Raelynn started her first Zoom class with the whiteboard behind her, but that meant she had to turn away from the computer to look at her workout notes. When you turn away from your members in an in-person class everyone can still hear you, but everything gets more difficult when your voice is coming through a computer speaker. For her next Zoom class, Raelynn said she'll put the whiteboard behind the computer so she can reference it while facing the camera. Think of the behind-the-computer whiteboard as your teleprompter. Her members look at the workout through SugarWOD on their phones -- if you don't use SugarWOD you can tell them to look at the workout on your website.
  2. Disable the waiting room function in Zoom
    If the waiting room function is enabled in Zoom people have to request to be let in to the workout. You don't want to stop coaching class to  let people in! The simple fix is disabling the waiting room function and people can come and go as they please.
  3. Embrace your inner Jane Fonda
    In most functional fitness settings the coaches don't do the workout along with the members -- they're there to coach and keep an eye on technique. When people are working out via Zoom you'll probably only be able to see part of their body, so you can't offer many technique tips. Raelynn said she did the workout with her group to set a pace and do the movements along with the class. This is your chance to pretend you're in an old school aerobics video! 
  4. Ask everyone to put themselves on mute
    You don't want to pick up the background noises in everyone's home, so ask them to mute themselves before starting. This means they can play their own music if they want!
  5. Have class members start their timers at the same time
    Raelynn said she found it easiest to cue everyone to start a timer at the same time. If she held up a timer on her phone it would be backwards, so this was the easiest solution.
  6. Use the same Zoom link every time
    This is your new gym space! Use the same link so people can always find your workouts.

Raelynn said she was surprised to learn how much fun she had in the virtual workout.

"Even though we weren't together in the gym I felt just as much of a connection with my athletes," Raelynn said.

One of the people on that first workout told Raelynn she'd never work out on her own, but the Zoom class encouraged her to stick with her regular noon workout. Raelynn recorded the session and she'll make it available to all her gym members to do the workout on their own time. She said she'd pick different times for her live Zoom workouts so everyone can experience the real-time experience.

Zoom workouts aren't the only way she's staying connected with her members. Every night at 7:30pm Raelynn is hosting a Zoom chat with all of her members. In that 20-minute session she'll check in to make sure everyone worked out and let them know what they can expect for the next day.

Curious about CrossFit Flight's inaugural Zoom workout? Here's what they did:

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