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How to shoot a workout video like a professional producer

How to shoot a workout video like a professional producer

The same pandemic that made people prioritize their health also closed gyms and limited movement in a major way, which meant a pivot for fitness and health professionals.

A big part of that pivot: adopting the latest fitness software, like Wix Fit, to train clients remotely. But for trainers used to correcting form in-person and feeding off the energy of live classes, video presented as many challenges as opportunities.

The opportunities are worth working for. Video-on-demand and livestream workouts allow your clients and members to exercise anywhere: from their living rooms, outside or on the road. In fact, 16 percent of Americans say they watched more exercise videos during the pandemic than they did before, according to Statista. And even when the world fully opens up again, hybrid fitness—the blended in-person and digital model many businesses are adopting—means video is here to stay. Up your production game with these pro tips. (You can also visit Wix Learn for more video tips.)

01. Don’t skimp on pre-production

Jon Anderson, senior video producer for Meredith Corporation, who shot workout videos for for three years, reviews every exercise before framing the set. Are you doing lateral moves? Planks? Jumping? “A HIIT workout requires a wider frame, but you can get a tighter shot if you’re only doing floor exercises, like planks,” he says.

Do a test run of your most explosive moves (burpees, squat jumps, plyo squats) to make sure you don’t jump out of the shot. This kind of practice will also help you feel more comfortable on camera. “You can immediately tell the difference between people who prepared and people who didn’t,” Anderson says.

Also important: Make sure you shoot at an angle that allows viewers to see your form. “A 45-degree angle works well for most moves,” Anderson says. But certain exercises, like side planks, look better straight-on. Take note of this in your run-through.

02. Light up the room

Aside from the workout itself, lighting is the most important part of your video. If you’re shooting indoors, find the most well-lit room in your house or gym, then make adjustments. “Put a loosely woven sheet over your window to diffuse any harsh rays,” Anderson says. And if you use a ring light, bounce it off of a white wall so it’s not too harsh. “Diffused light always looks better,” he says.

If you’re filming outside, make sure your light is consistent. “Golden hour is beautiful, but the light changes fast, so you need to be aware of how much time you have,” Anderson says. That’s especially true if you plan on editing your video. “You need as little variation in light as possible, so if you mess up an exercise and want to shoot it again, you’ll need to reshoot at the same time of day so it’s not brighter or darker at certain points.”

03. Adjust your audio

You can get away with not having a mic if you’re shooting indoors, but open air will steal your sound. “Your phone could be 15 feet away, but it will sound like you’re a mile away if you don’t have a mic,” Anderson says. The good news is, Airpods will do the job.

04. Set the scene (but keep it simple)

A dedicated fitness space—even the same spot in your living room if you don't have square footage to spare—will create a cohesive look among your video library.

Aaydah Copprue-Worthey, personal trainer and owner of Mocha Fitness in New Jersey, uses her husband’s barbershop basement as her set. “I don’t shoot at home, because I wear too many hats at home,” she says. A separate space helps both Copprue-Worthey and her clients focus on the workout. “I keep the background welcoming with a motivational quote on a brick wall and some basic equipment. I don’t like too much in the background because you need to be the center of attention as the trainer,” she says. “Don’t distract from what you’re doing.”

05. Be picky with patterns

Choose a look that’s true to your brand, but avoid tight patterns. “Yoga pants with a cool design might look good in person, but there’s a weird illusion on camera called the moire effect,” Anderson says. (Do an image search.) And if you’re not confident in your color choices, just consult the color wheel. “You can’t go wrong with complementary colors.”

06. Use consistent talent

If you’re a gym owner who employs a staff of trainers, be selective and consistent when featuring talent in your videos. People like to form relationships with online personal trainers, just like they do in real life (see: Peloton trainers who have a loyal fan base). Plus, “building trust with your audience is especially important in fitness since you’re dealing with people’s health,” Anderson says. Consider a reoccurring video series with the same host, even if 100 trainers work at your gym.

07. Bring extra energy

“It’s going to feel weird at first, but you need to smile more than you think,” Anderson says. “It looks even weirder on camera if you don’t.” Think of yourself as a performer (because you kind of are). “If you’re in a band, you need to enjoy your music more than your audience does because they’re looking at you to set the tone.”

08. Embrace imperfection

Anderson thinks it's good to embrace a certain level of imperfection in your videos. “You’re doing a difficult activity while you’re talking, so things sometimes go off the rails,” he says, noting that small slip-ups can make you more approachable to your audience. “No one expects a weather person to be completely composed when they're reporting from a hurricane.”

09. Plan for the platform

“Always know what your final deliverable is going to be before filming,” Anderson says. “If you know you want to post your video on TikTok and only TikTok, frame your video vertically.”

But chances are you want to post on multiple platforms to make the most of your shoot. In that case, “you need lots of space on either side of you, so you don’t get cut out of the frame when you crop,” Anderson says. He makes these cuts to cover his bases: 16x9 (wide), 9x16 (vertical), 1x1 (square).

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