As shelter-in-place orders started and clubs shut down, we were trying to come up with ideas about how we can help instructors and clubs keep members engaged during this time. 99% of our customer base are either fitness instructors, club owners, or managers.
Before COVID-19 this was our purpose-
"AV Now's purpose is to make sure that instructors can perform the best they can, while the members can have the best-in-class fitness experience. We do this by providing the best sound systems and wireless microphones at any budget. We make sure the club's audio-visual systems are running at 100% uptime, and if the system goes down, we troubleshoot the system as fast as we can and educate instructors on how to fix the issue if it comes up again."
If the club is shut down, how do instructors teach? Almost immediately we began to receive dozens of calls from instructors needing help getting the wireless microphones they bought from us (or from Amazon :D) to work for streaming classes. We decided that we should put all our efforts into finding the best way to stream fitness classes. At the same time, we’re asking: What are people are having trouble with and how can we help?
The most significant part of the project was learning how to quickly evaluate and troubleshoot existing equipment over the phone. We’ve always pushed remote troubleshooting instead of site visits, so we have a core competency to troubleshoot the unexpected without being onsite. We offer tech support and troubleshooting via live chat, email, FaceTime, GoToMeeting, etc. However, an instructor with poor audio quality streaming with Zoom, with a 2013 MacBook Pro, and a Shure BLX system with a Blockrocker as the music source was a new type of tech support call we had to get used to and be able to solve as quickly as possible.
Virtual Instruction and Streaming Solutions
Since there are so many combinations of phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, cameras, mixers, cables, and microphones, we decided to overnight ship as many products as we could to our Operations Manager. He lives out in the country with DSL internet, so that was probably a bad idea on our part. He has a degree in audio engineering and has a recording studio at his house, but most importantly, he takes this very seriously. He’s been able to create a spreadsheet of what products work with what laptops or phones so we can create a compatibility guide. He has found new cables that we will now manufacturer and use to put together low-cost, high audio quality streaming packages. Our next steps, are to work on producing quick videos, diagrams, and best practices so we can quickly provide visual aids for instructors who are new to streaming or looking to improve their virtual classes. We’re in contact with industry partners to host webinars to answer as many questions as possible.
Our lead systems engineer is testing video cameras and encoders/decoders so we can help out with the video portion. Finally, we are working with partners who specialize in how instructors and clubs can monetize streaming fitness classes. The shutdowns have hit the fitness industry hard, and we want to help out in any way possible.
AV Now Staff
Related Blog: Streaming Solutions and Virtual Instruction 101