Today more than ever, fitness platform subscriptions are replacing gym memberships. Dancers have always been great in-person fitness class instructors; now, they're becoming popular leaders of streamed sessions, too. Why? Because many of the skills required to teach a livestream class are dance-world fundamentals. We know how to motivate a crowd, perform for the camera, and demonstrate perfect form from all angles.
We asked four fitness-platform instructors to share how their dance careers prepared them to lead classes for thousands of viewers.
It's a Natural Transition
All of the instructors we spoke to followed a similar path from dance to fitness: They needed a stable and sustainable career. Teaching streaming classes paid well, made use of their physical skills, and offered the scheduling flexibility they needed.
Modern dancer and Obé instructor Emily Diers first supplemented her dance income waiting tables, but eventually found it exhausting. She was inspired by her mom's example as a fitness professional. "She showed me that I can use my knowledge of movement and the body to support myself" outside of the professional dance world, Diers says.
After dancing for top musical artists, Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby was tired of the entertainment industry's tendency to undervalue dancers, and decided to prioritize financial stability. As someone who already cross-trained, Rigsby was connected to Peloton through a choreographer and fully committed to the opportunity.
It's Still a Performance
As natural performers, dancers shine online. "The performance part becomes even more important, because whatever energy and enthusiasm you're bringing to a live class, some of that energy is inevitably lost through the screen," says Diers.
Like dance performances, most streamed classes are live events, and dancers are well-versed in that kind of pressure. Originally, online fitness studio Sky Ting TV developed pre-recorded classes, but now they produce live, one-take videos. "You don't know what's going to happen, which means the classes have so much more personality," says Sky Ting cofounder Chloe Kernaghan. And live classes require artistry, too. "A great teacher is a great storyteller," says Sky Ting's other cofounder, Krissy Jones.
Cody Rigsby leading a Peloton class (courtesy Peloton)
Prior to COVID-19, Rigsby taught many in-person classes and played off of the energy in the room. Now, when coaching for the camera, "I always perform into that camera as if it's someone I really, really care about," he says. "I truly do believe that I'm rooting for each and every person that takes a class with me"—in person or online.
It's a Powerful Platform
Streaming classes use fewer resources than in-person classes, and usually don't require travel—a plus for dancers committed to sustainable lifestyles. And teaching on a digital platform often means having a larger, more diverse audience than you would in a traditional fitness class (or a traditional performance venue). Since Sky Ting TV, for example, isn't limited to specific geographic locations, it has "a more global audience, reaching more people without having to actually travel," says Jones. That kind of reach is powerful. "Knowing that you have a platform to inspire one person or 1,000 people is an honor," says Rigsby.