My first attempt at a Vlog! Here’s 5 tips to keep your zoom classes fresh!

Here are 5 tips to keep your zoom classes fresh.

Hopefully the end is in sight guys! It’s been a long old road this past year or so, from the first initial months of moving our academies online, to those wonderful few weeks where we could re-open in some capacity, to then having to close again!

Zoom has been a godsend for many and thanks to technology many of us have kept our academy doors open – through the virtual world! I know I will never take for granted the atmosphere in my academy again and cannot wait to get back open and see everyone.

Although the end is hopefully in sight – we are not quite there yet and zoom will still be needed for the time being, and hey, maybe we should keep some level of online training available for people – it may not be a bad idea and we’ll be ready for the next global pandemic… yay! 😛

So here are 5 top tips to keep your zoom classes fresh, fun and interesting in a time when many are really suffering from lock-down fatigue.

1 – Bring in guests

Guest instructors have been awesome for my academy! We had 18 of them over a 24 hour period during our 24 hour challenge last summer, but I have always kept bringing guest instructors into our regular adult classes on Zoom.

I’ve done this for a few reasons…

Firstly it gives me a break as teaching online can be a little stressful at times! It’s hard to translate some things online or into solo work and hard to keep the motivation going for people, especially if you’re like me and quite a hands on coach! Every cloud has a silver lining however and it’s certainly improved my teaching ability and taught me some new skills!

Bringing in a guest instructor means you can chill and enjoy learning for the hour rather than having to host the class. I’ve made sure I’ve kept learning this lock-down, signing up with the Minnesota Kali Group for some JKD and Kali I will introduce into my academy at some point. Bringing in a guest instructor takes the pressure off for one lesson and you can just enjoy the process of learning something new or having a workout again.

Secondly – it keeps it fresh for the students. I’ve already said they’re suffering from lock-down fatigue, the last thing you want is for them to get your-face-fatigue too! I think some of my guys have had this for months, but their troopers can keep on training. Bringing in a new instructor, especially from a different style to your own, adds value to your academy, shows you are willing to look outside your own ego and also gives the students a new perspective on something. It’s also great publicity for the guest instructor as to what they do, so a win-win for everyone involved!

I’m always willing to do a guest spot/workout for someone if they’d like so just get in touch!

2 – Use props!

This is must, especially for the kids classes. A 40 minute class with kids where you simply go through drills or patterns is going to get tiring pretty quickly. You can be the most passionate and enthusiastic instructor in the world, but sometimes we all need a little help in the form of a prop or two!

For my junior students (and some adults…) a pirate sword has worked great. We can do virtual evasions where they jump, duck, slip and roll out of the way of the sword cuts, and it can be a good way of learning basic footwork too!

For my adults – along with the pirate sword – we also do virtual pad feeding drills occasionally. This is a great workout for the students and means you can simply pad feed towards the camera, doing a certain number of rounds for a certain length of time e.g. 10 x 2 minute rounds.

Invest in some props and use them to keep your zoom classes fresh! Think outside the box a little and get your students to make their own props too!

3 – Think about more than just classes

A lot of the time people come to your classes for a sense of community as well as the physical aspect of martial arts. This should translate to online as well. Are you simply doing your classes, then logging off, never to be seen or heard from again until the next class? If so, you’re missing an awesome opportunity to build your community stronger through a global pandemic. Be the academy that helped people through this and give as much as you can of your time, energy and brain power!

Use Facebook community groups for your students to post things that are only for current members. It could be drills done from class, or special event e.g. a guest instructor! But it could also be more fun things like links to a zoom quiz night or funny videos/bloopers from your online filming if you are doing any for a course or project!

Build the community up now and you’ll have students who are also friends and big fans of your academy who in turn, speak to their friends, hence building the word of mouth we all love. Plus it’s just a nice thing to do at the moment – be sincere and give to your students, without them you’re just someone with some martial arts skill but no-one to teach!

4 – Set challenges

Challenges have worked great for us in the past, so I think it’s probably time to set another one! Unlucky any of my students reading this! During the first lock-down we completed a 5000 rep challenge – 10 exercises, 50 reps each for 10 days. We then completed our 10,000 rep challenge – 10 exercises, 100 reps each for 10 days. We then set ourselves the 24 hour challenge and not only did we raise £2000 for charity, but 8 of my students all completed the full 24 hours. Trust me, there is nothing that brings an academy closer together than knife drills with a butter knife at 5am after too much coffee slashing away at our zoom screens!

Set challenges for short term, medium term and long term and keep the motivation high in your students.

5 – Communicate

Communicate with your students on a regular basis and I cannot emphasize this enough. Talk to them! What do they like? What don’t they like? What would they like to see or change? They’re the students, you’re there to provide a service – listen to them!

On top of this – communication is key for people’s mental health at the moment, so check in on your students. Some of them may be living alone or struggling with the current circumstances, so if you haven’t seen them in class online for a bit, check in and see how they are and if you can do anything. It takes a minute, but means the world to people – trust me!

Let’s hope we’re out of this pandemic soon and can get back to doing what we all love ASAP. Until then, think about your business and try your best to keep it afloat so there is something to come back to. Also be kind, be human and be there for your students though who have supported you financially and perhaps emotionally this past year too. I hope these tips help you to keep your zoom classes fresh and see out online training until we can open again!

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