For the past few days I've been immersed in helping fitness studios research and implement streaming solutions to offset partial or full business closures.
If you are a fitness studio owner or employee, you are likely in the same boat.
I've been fielding so many inquiries on this topic I decided to write this post.
The purpose is to serve as a reference of the options out there. Since most of the people I work with utilize Mindbody software, this list is skewed towards those businesses.
Please share your own experience below in the comments and I will update the list accordingly. If you know of a great tool I missed, please let me know.
This feature is available if you are on the Accelerate or Ultimate plan but not the Essential plan. Mindbody does not host your content, you would need to host your content elsewhere (Youtube, Vimeo, etc).
What this solution allows you to do is charge clients in your Mindbody system for access to your pre-recorded content that is hosted elsewhere. The support article for this feature states that it will not work on mobile devices, but I'm hearing reports that certain users are able to make it work from mobile if they turn off their pop-up blockers.
I know there is a bit of buzz out there right now about this feature but I haven't actually seen this one in action yet. Would love to hear from folks using this and how it's working out for you. Learn more about Mindbody Media Management.
Zoom is a popular online meeting platform that's been gaining market share and growing rapidly in the last few years. A lot of people are familiar with zoom and so have already jumped on the zoom bandwagon for streaming fitness classes. It wasn't built for boutique fitness studios but here we are.
If you choose the Zoom route, I recommended going with the Zoom Pro Plan ($14.99/month/user) and adding the video webinars feature on top of that (additional $40/month/user). The webinars feature gives you better default control over a meeting. In other words, everyone joins the meeting with their audio and video muted. For a fitness class of 50+ people, you don't want everyone's mic turned on, otherwise you may have the background noise from all the students overwhelming the voice of the teacher.
If you want to give your classes away for free and not have much visibility into who is taking your classes, then Zoom by itself is a great option.
Most businesses I know still have bills to pay and need a solution to actually charge for classes. And some might even want to let their existing clients continue using their memberships and packages to book classes using the same interface they are used to using.
Enter Fitgrid. Fitgrid saw this problem coming and they are scheduled to release a solution for it as of 3/18/20. If you are on the Fitgrid platform, you can connect it to your Zoom account. From there your clients will book into classes like they normally do. All clients will need to pre-register for class. Fitgrid then takes care of sending out the meeting link via email to the instructor and to all students signed up for class. It's a pretty clever solution and I look forward to seeing how this rolls out.
If you are not already a Fitgrid client, they are offering a free 30 day trial. Aside from this functionality, Fitgrid has a pretty robust platform that enables instructors to cultivate better rapport with clients, and it allows studios to better manage instructor performance. It's really an awesome tool that I recommend clients look into on its own merits. But for now, since the focus is on getting streaming setup, learn more here about the Fitgrid solution for streaming.
FORTE is currently offering online subscriptions to pre-recorded content. I discovered them on the Fitt Insider podcast. I've been in touch with their founder and I know they are working feverishly on releasing a solution for studios to stream live classes. Keep a close eye on FORTE in the coming days for this big announcement.
Namastream offer solutions for both individual teachers and studios. I know of at least one studio that has been using them for a while and is happy with them.
This might be a good solution for those who have or want a "virtual studio". For existing brick and mortar businesses, there doesn't seem to be an easy way to let your clients use their existing memberships and packages with Namastream.
I've also heard that they are currently not taking on any new clients due to extremely high demand. Although that could change as things are unfolding quickly. Check them out at Namastream.
6. Other Platforms
Dacast, Restream are two others I'm here about. I don't believe they have any integration with Mindbody but these are other options to look into.
Be sure to consult with your attorney and insurance agent to ensure you are covered from a legal and insurance perspective. In terms of music, even if you have paid the licensing fees for using music in your studio for classes, the licenses may not cover the broadcast of that music remotely.
Do your research, communicate to your clients and offer them something. Something is better than nothing, and you'll learn the fastest what works for you once you try something.