Online group exercise classes, how do they work?

Pilates Lennox Head

Written by Bridgid Pearse

April 14, 2020

During this time of COVID 19 and home isolation you may have seen your local gym, yoga or Pilates studios offering live online classes. Certainly in the Byron Bay, Lennox Head, Bangalow and Ballina areas there are some great options. If you have never contemplated doing a live online class and you are wondering how it might work, read on…

There are many great reasons to consider taking a live online class from your local studio or movement teacher:

  1. You are supporting a local business and a local teacher who will be able to keep teaching and be there as an option for you after the crisis is over.
  2. Movement is a great antidote for fear, boredom, depression and anxiety. Having a set time where you will meet with other humans to move with conscious awareness is a tremendously positive thing to do in your day.
  3. It is a way of connecting with the broader community. In a live online class there are other clients in the class as well, you can see and sometimes hear them. At the end of the class some teachers will make time for everyone to have a bit of a chat. This is a great break from isolation.

So how do live online classes work?

Usually you will need to book in or sign up for the class with the studio or teacher. They will send you a link usually via an email. There are a few different platforms that people can use. The most popular one at the moment is Zoom, so I will focus on that one.

Once you have a link to your class you click on it to open Zoom. If you have never used Zoom before, you will need to download it. Opening the link gives you the option to download the software. You can do this before the class if you like. Trying to download the software without the link can be tricky, so I advise people to simply use the link to begin the download, which needs to be confirmed by you.

Most live online classes will require the teacher to be online before you can actually ‘get into’ the class online. Some classes will have a waiting room that will open up from the link, this is so the teacher can check that everyone there is supposed to be there before they allow people into the class.

If you are early and the class won’t open you may have to wait until a few minutes before the class for someone to be in the class. I always start each of my Pilates mat classes 10 minutes early so people have a chance to get settled and check their audio and video before we need to start class.

Your setup:

It depends what class you are doing, for Pilates mat classes I like the camera to be side on to your mat and for clients to be some distance away from the camera so that I can see their whole body.

“In a live online Pilates class it is more important for the teacher to see the client than for the client to see the teacher. And it is more important for client to hear the teacher than for the teacher to hear the client.”

This is because teachers can give verbal instructions or cues for movement, as clients do this movement if the teacher can see you then they can correct the client if they don’t have something right. As long as you can hear the teacher you will get most of the class, if something needs to be demonstrated you can also see the teacher in a Zoom class.

Often teachers in Zoom will mute everyone in the class so that there is not a lot of background noise. Don’t take this personally! It just helps everyone hear the teacher well. You are able to un-mute yourself by clicking on your microphone in the Zoom window.

In the top right hand corner of the Zoom window is a setting for ‘Speaker view’ or ‘Gallery view’. ‘Speaker view’ makes whoever is speaking visible on your screen. ‘Gallery view’ gives you a view of everyone in the class. This is really up to personal preference. Sometimes it is good to see others in the class if the teacher is not demonstrating much but it is also good to just be focused on the teacher.

Other tips for doing live online classes:

  • Make sure your device battery is charged or your device is plugged into the wall
  • You may want to unplug other devices from your wifi to give you the best connection possible
  • Set up your camera side on to your mat to give your teacher the best view of your movement
  • Don’t be right on top of your camera, set the camera back from you so your teacher can see your whole body
  • Be patient, sometimes systems freeze and you may miss a few words, if you can’t pick it up let your teacher know you have missed the direction. You may hold a plank a little longer than you need to while your teacher is frozen but that isn’t such a bad thing is it?

Brigid Pearse is a Pilates and Movement teacher based in Lennox Head offering virtual classes during the lockdown. These are real time classes where Brigid leads clients through an all levels Pilates mat work and movement therapy via the internet. Check out the home page for more details.

Pilates Goonellabah

Thanks for reading!

I am Brigid Pearse, comprehensively certified Pilates teacher, ex-dancer, and mid-life mum. In group classes, workshops and private sessions I help women learn to move well for life.

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