In March of 2020, state mandates in Minnesota completely closed-down all non-essential businesses. Our gym (Skopos Athletics) was considered non-essential, and we were effectively closed from mid-March to mid-June. In that timeframe, the coaches and owners of Skopos were forced to pivot in a way that we had never been forced to do before by offering some kind of online training.
I wholeheartedly believe in the idea that “necessity is the mother of invention”. In this scenario, necessity forced us to spend a lot of time filming demonstrations, writing modified versions of the workouts for equipment limitation, and building a format that was both understandable and useable. All the information was initially programmed and published on SugarWOD, which kept our programming consistent with our normal operating procedures. This hopefully caused less disruption to our clients.
However, once I realized the amount of time required for this venture (100+ hours), my goal was to utilize the time we spent in a way that would continue to be helpful well past the lockdown.
What went into creating the program?
We did this in a few ways. Initially, we connected videos to all warm-ups and separate pieces of the programming within SugarWOD. This allowed us to get the information to anyone with access without the need for explanation, dramatically cutting down on coach time commitments and lengthy Zoom explanations. It also allowed us to give extremely clear and consistent communication across the board to anyone using the material. Regardless of the timeframe, everyone was going to get the same explanation.
How did the program evolve?
Later (after lockdown was lifted), we decided to make access to the information easier by removing the SugarWOD paywall. To do this, we adapted all the programming into an Excel document, converted that to a PDF document, and inserted live links to video demonstrations. Now instead of athletes searching through 90 days of SugarWOD workouts, they could simply do a search function on the document and locate the exact thing they wanted and get to work.
The thoroughness of the project made sure the document was useful well beyond the timeframe for which it was initially created. Every time someone from our gym leaves for vacation or needs to self-quarantine for COVID exposures, we have this document to make them feel connected with the gym and it helps them to continue working when they would normally feel discouraged. It has begun to circulate on its own as members ask each other for good hotel workouts or how they stay motivated when not at the gym.
What other factors go into designing At-Home-Programming?
When looking at a program like this, variance is just about personalization. Individual gyms and owners might need to make changes due to equipment variance, movement compliance, or general purpose. None of that would be extremely challenging to adjust if intent is kept in mind. The programming itself isn’t particularly unique. This could be adjusted to your programming style with ease. Filming the videos, however, will take quite a bit of time. There’s no way around that. That is just going to be raw grunt work.
Building an at-home or online program isn’t an extremely complicated process, but it will require some up-front commitment. We purchased a variety of things to make this work well. Initially, a gimbal with a stand was pivotal to making adjustments and having a nice steady shot. We also purchased an app that allowed us to link a Bluetooth headphone to the phone to get nice clean audio. The response from members with the audio piece specifically was extremely positive. All-in, we probably spent around $500 to get a decent set up, but I already owned the headphones that worked for the project.
Tips on designing your own At-Home-Programming
If you’re thinking about doing something like this one your own, it’s just a matter of trial and error. We reshot dozens of videos for things as simple as posture strangeness, stumbling over words, shots being out-of-center, or lack of scripting. Just keep working through things, try again, and know that your process will perpetually improve as you continue. Best of luck!