The 7 Pillars To Fitness Content Creation
Ready to build your fitness empire? While the biggest fitness content creators on YouTube might make it look easy, fitness content production is more challenging than it looks. To help you get started and enter this exciting next chapter of your fitness career, here are the seven pillars to fitness content creation.
1. Understanding The Who and the Why
No one launches an online media brand because they want something to show their family and friends. Instead, content creators enter the sphere of digital content because they want to reach an audience.
If you’re a fitness instructor currently working at a local gym, your audience is limited to the members of the said gym who choose to attend your class. However, when you publish fitness video content online, your reach is global. Someone in Australia could take one of your classes, even if you work at a studio in Texas.
So who are the people who do online workout videos? They run the gamut and come from all walks of life. During the Corona crisis, millions of former gym goers turned to online content in order to maintain their health and wellbeing during this unimaginable time in history. Some people just prefer working out in their homes, away from the potential judgment. Other people, such as stay-at-home moms and those who work from home, find digital fitness content creation to be a perfect solution to staying fit without leaving their front door.
As for the “why,” think about the reasons why you want to produce this content. Do you want to simply promote your studio or empire gym? Do you want to reach people on the other side of the globe? Perhaps you just have a passion for fitness and want to help people look and feel their very best no matter their budget or circumstances. The reasons that drive you to create digital content are important, as they’re an integral part of determining and developing your branded content.
Knowing and understanding the Who and Why will determine your / your brand’s signature genre for all your media content online. Think about the top fitness brands — without even hearing or reading their names, you can already picture their entire media landscape. This is your chance to do the same thing. By specializing and creating unique content you can gain a competitive advantage that aligns with your why. Do you want to own the silver sneaker, baby boomer, HIIT, or yoga market? Start by getting crystal clear about the people you are looking to serve and why you are looking to serve them, and everything will fall into place.
2. Determine Your Environment and Your Brand
If you don’t have a background in business, you might be confused by the word “brand.” A brand doesn’t just refer to the label you see on a product; indeed, Coke and Pepsi are examples of “brands,” but that’s not how we’re using the term here. Instead, your brand refers to the tone and feel that your product evokes. To use examples from the fitness world, people like Jillian Michaels evoke the feeling of being trained by a drill sergeant. Her brand is high-energy, a little bossy, and very “just do it.” Alternatively, people like Adrienne Mishler and Mari Winsor are gentle, soft-spoken, and motivational. Their brand is soothing, peaceful, and very zen.
How you determine your brand will be based on the type of fitness classes you teach and on your personality. If you teach yoga or barre, the drill sergeant approach might not be appropriate. If you teach HIIT cardio or kickboxing, speaking in a soft and soothing voice won’t motivate your students to finish such a high-octane workout. Determine the right energy and teaching style for the type of fitness classes you teach and then find a way to interject your own personality into it.
As for the environment you teach from, think about what your perfect studio set would look like. Again, much of this will be influenced by the type of classes you teach, although don’t be afraid to surprise your audience a bit. Not every yoga class needs to be set in a candlelit room and not every HIIT session needs to take place in a big bright one. While your personal brand will influence your environment, here are some tips to keep in mind.
- Don’t rely solely on overhead lighting. It washes people out and makes them look gaunt on camera.
- If you want a moody or candlelit look, this will require additional lighting equipment.
- If you don’t have the budget to afford professional lighting, natural lighting works great. Just make sure that the instructor and the participants are facing the light. You don’t want to be lit from behind aka backlit — otherwise, you’ll look like a silhouette
- Avoid anything “busy,” such as filming in front of murals with patterns and tons of different colors. While it looks cool for a photo or quick clip, an entire 10- to 30-minute workout can be overwhelming and distracting.
- Finding The Talent
If you’re reading this as a gym owner who’s planning on hiring an instructor instead of getting in front of the camera themselves or think about fitness content creation, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, try to work with engaging instructors who have big personalities. Furthermore, remember that an instructor who’s great in front of a live studio class might struggle with being on camera, especially since they won’t have 50 people in front of them to bounce energy off of. Any instructor can get great at being on camera, but it will require some practice and coaching.
If you’re an instructor reading this, what is your biggest “draw”? What makes people want to attend your class? Is it because you have the most difficult class or unique programming, or is it because you’re authentic, or maybe you put the “love” in tough love? If you don’t know — it’s time to take a deep dive into the classes you teach to find out what makes you popular.
After you’ve established what your biggest draw is – you want to amplify that on camera. Realize when you’re on camera, you most likely won’t have blaring music or a packed class on set. Both those elements provide you with a lot of energy to work with. When you’re in front of the camera — it will likely be quiet, closed set with maybe 3-10 people who are just “watching” you. It’s a very different environment and many trainers can get lost in that.
You want to have an “on-camera” persona that’s a heightened version of you. Finding that version of yourself can be difficult and seem “fake” or disingenuous, it takes time to find what works for you.
To help expedite this process, self-taping will become your new best friend. Without other people in the room, film yourself teaching a 10-20 minute class with no music. After you’re finished filming, watch the video and make notes. Did you come across as genuine? Did you change who you are entire? Find what works for you and feels authentic to you and your personal brand.
4. Planning Your Production and Programming
We urge you to follow the Endorphinz pre-production checklist to ensure you’re prepared for the day of your shoot. If this is your first shoot, this isn’t something to be done a few days before you’re scheduled to film. Instead, you should be reviewing this checklist roughly 2-4 weeks before the big shoot. As you film more often and get better equipped with the nuances of production, you won’t need such a long prep time.
As for your programming, you need to create content that is manageable for the viewer and produces the results they want. The instructor and any participants should have rehearsed the routine at least once to ensure that they can perform their own workout while talking, cueing, and staying engaged on camera.
It’s important that instructors keep track of time or that you have a system in place that allows them to keep track of reps. Viewers get annoyed when instructors are off the beat of the music or when they say “20 reps” but actually only do 15. Furthermore, if you have background talent, consider designating one of the background participants as a “modifier” who demonstrates the modified version of every exercise. This is extremely helpful to beginners. If you don’t have background talent, be sure your instructor is able to effectively explain modifications and progressions as needed.
5. Production Day
If you’ve done everything in the pre-production checklist and ensured that everyone is sufficiently rehearsed and ready to go, production day should be a fun and exciting time for all involved fitness content creators.
If you’re going to be filming fitness video content, it’s a good idea to double up instructors. This allows one trainer to film, then take a break while the other trainer films. This enables you to make the most of your shoot day. If you only have a single trainer on-set, not only will you have a lot of downtimes — you’ll also be wasting money and resources.
Remember to allow breaks to anyone on camera when they need it. It’s difficult for even trained athletes to stay energetic and able to speak when they’re doing a strenuous activity over and over again.
Furthermore, always make sure that everything is going smoothly tech-wise. Someone should be monitoring sound levels to make sure that microphones are picking up the right amount of audio. Ensure that your instructor knows which camera is the main one so that they’re not addressing a side camera when they should be speaking direct center.
Never be afraid to be overly thorough in ensuring that the camera is rolling and the microphones are working before you say “action.” It’s bad enough when actors film a take when the camera was malfunctioning. However, when this happens to fitness instructors, they’ve just burned through the energy that they can’t afford to waste during a long day of exerting themselves.
You’re guaranteed to find some little errors here and there. Try to clean them up whenever possible through video editing, but understand that a few minor flaws won’t ruin your finished product.
Depending on your brand and budget, your computer may already have a pre-installed editing software that may work perfectly fine for your needs. Realize that editing will take far longer than the filming of the actual workout – especially if you have multiple angles.
Now if you want to take things up a notch — you can purchase FinalCut or a subscription to PremierePro via Adobe’s Creative Cloud. You’ll have a lot more tools at your disposal to make your videos look more professional.
If you or your brand doesn’t have the time or patience to learn how to edit, you’ll want to seek out a freelance editor to help you with this step of the process. You’ll just have to work out a system of uploading footage, music, brand assets, reviewing/revisions, then finally publishing. This will still take time at first, but once both parties find a rhythm you’ll become a well-oiled machine. You’ll save yourself time so you can focus on what you do best — running your brand.
When it comes to music, you need to first determine the purpose of the video. If you’d like to publish the video and collect ad revenue, you can’t use copyrighted songs and must instead purchase the rights to the music you want or stick to royalty-free tracks. If you’re just publishing the video for exposure and don’t care about losing monetization, use whatever songs you want — but be aware that some record labels will just opt to take your video down or worst case, pursue legal action.
7. Publishing and Monetizing
Going live on YouTube for the first time can be exhilarating, but it can be a bit scary too. The video that you’ve put so much literal sweat into is going to be viewed by people from all across the globe.
You want to make the title of your video as specific as possible. Many digital fitness fans like to search for exactly what they want in the search bar, i.e. “eight-minute arm workout lightweights.” Try to describe your video as accurately as possible in the video’s title. When it comes to the description, it’s a good idea to start with a description of the specific workout and the equipment that it requires. A description box is also a great place for more information about you and your brand, including links to your paid content, gym, or merchandise.
If you’re publishing to your own / your brand’s subscription site fitness content creation, you don’t have to worry so much about optimizing your content to a general audience. It’s fine to give your videos fun titles, such as “Tight & Toned” or “Bondi Burn”. Your subscribers or potential subscribers are likely already familiar with your brand; you can provide a clearer description of the video in the description.
Once you’ve added more videos to your channel or subscription site, try making playlists that group all similar workouts together. People also like challenges, where they’re given an exact schedule of videos to follow for a specific amount of days. When it comes to building your fitness empire online, the sky is the limit.