The Top 5 Software for Streaming Virtual Training Sessions
Your options for offering live online personal training sessions are plentiful, but which software is best you may ask?
All the options below offer real-time video and audio; but what other considerations are there when selecting a platform for delivering your virtual training service?
Here we break down 5 of the most popular options in terms of the quality and ease of use.
Zoom has seen a surge in popularity since the COVID-19 lockdown. For many personal trainers, Zoom is being highly recommended for everything from live instructed classes to pub quiz nights.
Until recently, Zoom had been criticised for having some issues with security. Due to inadequate privacy procedures, some users had experienced "Zoombombing" with uninvited users crashing their privately hosted meetings. Zoom have since improved their security and privacy procedures to avoid this interference.
Zoom is a free platform to deliver 1 to 1 personal training sessions. Groups of 3 or more joining the same call are capped at 40 minutes. However, the pricing plans for Zoom are quite reasonable if you require longer group sessions.
A paid Zoom account also has a significant advantage of being able to sync to your Facebook live; which allows you to broadcast to your audience on Facebook in real-time.
The quality of the video and audio are both excellent. A significant advantage of the Zoom software is that it allows you to record the meeting - which is useful if you want to keep the content for anytime classes in PT Distinction or marketing purposes. You can also save the audio separately if you're interested in re-purposing for podcasts or transcribing for blogs.
FaceTime is incredibly easy to use software that comes installed on Apple products. One advantage of this is that people can access it on their MacBooks, iPads, and iPhones.
One drawback is that all your clients who use android won't have it, but it is available for free on the Google Play store.
Clients will often prefer to conduct virtual personal training sessions using software they already know and trust. This removes a barrier to entry for some people, and this familiarity might make the difference for them choosing to join in your virtual training or not.
A drawback of FaceTime is that the session cannot be streamed somewhere else and cannot be recorded. So, if you want to keep that video call or re-purpose it, this isn't possible within the software itself.
Skype is well established Microsoft streaming software and a well-known name that people recognise. The free version of this program is enough for the needs of most personal trainers, allowing group calling for up to 10 people at a time.
Like all video streaming software, it allows you to make international video calls on the free version of the software. There is an enormous capacity with a paid Skype account of up to 250 people, but this is unnecessary for most personal training businesses.
Skype permits video recording for everyone on the call and stores the file remotely. You can download that video at any point during the next 30 days and then re-purpose it as you see fit.
Facebook Messenger is available for even people who no longer have their Facebook accounts. It's very likely software that your client already has access to and are familiar with how to use it. This is important as it will cut down on the amount of tech support you're delivering in your virtual training session!
Facebook Messenger recently added an important feature which has made them worth considering for personal trainers offering group sessions. You can now add people to on-going group training sessions without having to hang up and restart the call. It is useful for group sessions as getting everyone together and ready to start at the same time can be one of the trickiest parts of training together online.
You can add up to 50 people at once, but you can only see 6 people at a time. If you're instructing group fitness sessions, this will be an essential consideration for safety. If more than 6 people are on the call, the person talking will be shown on screen.
Recording the video is a little clunky though, and for the personal trainer who needs this feature, some improvements will be needed before it becomes a viable platform for recordings.
Facebook Live is a strong contender if your need for streaming is you presenting to an audience. It's a suitable solution for fitness sessions that you're leading, but you won't see anyone else participating. Your friends will get a notification that you're Live at the time it's happening, and if they miss it, Facebook keeps your Live for people to watch later - meaning your reach is very good on the platform. Keep in mind that Facebook monitors audio for copyright content, so you may not be able to use music in the background.
Facebook Live might be better used to talk to your audience as a one-way form of communication - mainly as Facebook directs a lot of traffic towards lives and you're likely to have a good level of awareness in your audience that you're online. Increasingly it seems like people aren't getting notified of comments on their Lives appearing and are having to use another device to get those questions.
However, if you have a paid Zoom account, you can live stream to your Facebook profile (or business page, or group) at the same time you're on the Zoom call which allows you to have other people on your video call at the same time as you. This may solve the need for an interactive solution.
There are a lot of streaming options available for personal training services, and all of them have excellent standards of service, even on a free account. Choosing the right one for your clients and your business may take a bit of experimenting for you both, but there are lots of options that are quite easy to use.