2020 has been a learning year for us all. I was fortunate that while I had to shut down all of my in-person classes, I was able to move into a virtual setting pretty quickly. The bad side of teaching fitness classes on ZOOM was figuring out how to do so with good music and the ability to cue the class.
My first virtual Zumba classes on ZOOM were not great. The sound was awful, I didn’t have a very big space or any lights, and there were lots of issues with lag (the movement and sound not matching up). And forget about playing music that sounded great and being able to talk to participants at the same time!
Here we are 8 months later and things have come a long way. There are still issues (just last week ZOOM wouldn’t recognize the same HD Webcam I’ve been using this entire time because I needed to update the software), but overall I’ve got a system.
Before I get into the how-to, I want to make it clear that this is not the only way that you can have good sound for both your music and cueing. However, we are all working with different equipment so it’s a learning curve to figure out what works best for YOU.
I have a wireless microphone that connects to my computer via USB and while it took something like 5 months to figure out how to make that microphone work so that you could hear both me and my music, I finally figured it out. And because it looks like ZOOM fitness classes aren’t going anywhere I thought I would put together my method in case it can be helpful for others because I nearly lost my mind in the process.
I use this method for Zumba Toning where I need to be able to verbally cue while also sharing computer sound but it can be used for any class that requires music and verbal cueing.
Teaching fitness classes on ZOOM (while sharing sound & using a microphone WITHOUT a mixer)
While I taught all of my classes virtually from March-July, it was only Zumba Toning and Zumba Gold that continued to puzzle me. Once I figured out how to share computer sound for Zumba I was good to go because Zumba doesn’t have any verbal cueing. For all my other classes (yoga, low impact fitness and body sculpt) I opted to teach without music knowing that my participants can play music on their end if they wish. But Zumba Toning and Zumba Gold? They require me to share my music, but they also need to be able to hear me in order to teach a safe class.
Prior to the pandemic, I was already teaching virtual classes (but not Zumba) so I already owned a wireless mic setup. Those first few months drove me crazy because I knew there SHOULD be a way that my mic that connected via USB would work with my music but either my participants couldn’t hear me, or I couldn’t hear the music or both. So for a while, I gave up. I would plug in my big podcasting app and hope that people could sort of hear me, but it was less than ideal.
One day I had enough and decided if I couldn’t make it work I was going to buy a new microphone and a mixer so I could overcome this issue as I really wanted my participants to have a better virtual experience.
AND I FIGURED IT OUT.
It was like the clouds parted and angels started singing.
One more time I want to state this is NOT the only way nor am I saying it’s the BEST way. It’s just the way that works for me, and it might also work really well for you.
I am using a Macbook Air to host my classes and use iTunes to play my music FROM my computer. In order for these instructions to work you too will need to be using a computer and playing music directly from your computer on iTunes or Spotify or similar.
If you use an iPod, Phone or tablet and plug that into your computer, or stream from your phone or tablet, these instructions will not work for you. Instead, I suggest you check out Zeeksquad.com as Carlos has a lot of tutorials there that may work for you.
This is the exact wireless microphone set I use:
Wireless mic set on Amazon.com
I have no experience with AirPods or other wireless microphones, but lots of people use those successfully, but I don’t know if these instructions will work for you if that is what you are trying to connect.
The computer set up
I don’t know why, but the order in which I do these instructions seems to matter.
Open iTunes (or whatever music platform you are using) and turn the iTunes volume down to approximately 20%
2. Turn the computer volume up to 100%
3. Start playing music
4. Open ZOOM and start your video stream
5. Share computer sound
Lots of people have had great success with the line-in method (find hat tutorial above on zeeksquad) but for me, the sound was always subpar for line-in compared to sharing computer sound. That might not be the case for you, but if you have experienced the same problems as I have, sharing computer sound, especially if you have an ethernet internet connection seems to work just fine.
When sharing sound, I do stop the share after every 2-3 songs and re-share the sound to “refresh” the connection as that seems to help clear and prevent any lag that might otherwise occur.
6. Plugin & turn on the wireless mic (you can do this before step 1 if you like, but it’s not necessary)
7. Click on the ^ next to the microphone icon to ensure your microphone is selected
8. Next click on AUDIO settings at the bottom of that same list
9. Next click on AUDIO on the left-hand bar, and adjust the microphone input volume. In this photo, I have the bar around 100% but you can test with your participants to see what the correct level is for you. It really depends on how loud you speak into your microphone and the quality of your mic. Honestly, I could probably turn mine down a bit, but I went so long with no mic sound I am now paranoid!
Regardless of your setup, unless you are using a mixer, I think the two biggest things are to lower the volume in the music player you are using and make sure the microphone volume is turned up so participants can hear you over the music.
I really hope this has been helpful, and if this helped you figure out your tech for teaching fitness classes on zoom, please let me know! You can find me on Instagram and Twitter @suziconfesses and on Facebook at facebook.com/confessionsofafitnessinstructor
Miranda Palmer says
Thanks for this I have same issues with mic and mixer not great so been only visual cuing, have desktop windows pc with iTunes sharing sound. Music is good. About to buy a fairly expensive mic Yeti blue as another instructor has great sound with this x thanks got your tips. I’ve been teaching on Zoom since March but want to be able to add verbal cues for Gold and Toning. Currently do Toning via livestream which doesn’t need the mic but a bit impersonal. Take care x
I absolutely understand. For a while, I used my big podcasting microphone just so they could hopefully hear me a bit better. It’s so hard because every single person’s set-up is slightly different so there is no one tutorial that will work for every one. I hope this helps you find what works for you!