How to film high quality fitness videos with your phone

Richard Playfair

In the digital age, content is king, and video content reigns supreme, especially in the fitness industry. With just a smartphone, fitness influencers, personal trainers, and studio owners can create engaging, high-quality videos to captivate their audience. Here's how you can turn your phone into a powerful tool for creating professional-looking fitness videos.

Today's blog is written by Richard Playfair from Sweatlife Films who was kind enough to share the knowledge about fitness video production with us.

1. Basic technicalities

  • Before filming, plan your video with a storyboard or a script. This helps in organizing the sequence of exercises, tips, or routines you want to showcase.
  • Always film in landscape so your audience can cast your video to a TV for the best big screen experience.
  • Make sure your device has plenty of available space to record your video and your battery is fully charged in both your phone and mics.
  • Film in full HD 1920×1080 resolution for great quality video.
  • Avoid filming in 4K resolution. 4K creates big video files that eat up a lot of space on your phone and take ages to transfer, edit and upload to hosting platform like YouTube and you DON’T WANT THAT!
  • Set you phone to air plane or silent mode to prevent any interruptions like messages or phone calls.
  • Practice your intro and outro and start on time so you come across as a professional.
  • HOT TIP: Use a timer app like Seconds Pro to periodize your workout so your workout lasts your planned duration. It can be easy to lose track of time!

2. Mastering the Image

  • Test your camera setup and field of view before you film for real. Mark the edge of your frame with a water bottle or piece of equipment so you never stray out of shot. Try and fill as much of the frame as possible – your participants will appreciate an easy to see demonstration.
  • Choose the right background. Try and film your fitness video in an area that isn’t messy or cluttered so following along is easy to do without distractions.
  • Use a tripod to improve your phone stability. A tripod acts as a stand-in cameraperson, allowing you to record without assistance and to focus entirely on delivering content without worrying about adjusting the camera.
  • HOT TIP: Wear colorful clothes and avoid wearing all black. It’s difficult for viewers to perceive position, depth and distance if the instructor wears all dark colours. So choosing what you wear can help your participants to mirror you more effectively.

3. Lighting Matters

  • Film facing a light source to improve the quality of your image. With plenty of light your camera will create the best picture and keep you in focus.
  • If you’re using extra lighting to illuminate your scene, bring your light as close as possible to you to get the most benefit.
  • Lock the exposure on your camera app so the brightness of your video doesn’t auto adjust with slight changes in light and cause a distraction.

4. Sound is Key

  • Keep the volume of your voice consistent so it can be well heard and don’t whisper even if you’re doing a holistic workout. Your audience can always turn down your volume at their end if they think you’re too loud.
  • For most instructors, filming without music is the best option. This gives your audience the freedom to use any music they choose when they workout according to their mood.
  • Future proof your content and prevent copyright issues or claims and film with no music if you are on a low budget.
  • Focus on delivering great sounding audio instructions from your mic rather than trying to balance a music mix as well.
  • HOT TIP: If you want to use music, add it in editing.

5. Editing Makes Perfect 

  • Shooting Angles. Capture multiple angles of the exercises to give viewers a better understanding of the correct form and technique.
  • Avoid long, uncut footage. Use quick cuts to maintain energy, especially during workout demonstrations.
  • Voiceovers. Record clear voiceovers explaining the exercises, offering tips, or sharing motivational messages.
  • On-Screen Text. Use text overlays for important points, exercise names, sets/reps, or timing. Ensure the text is large and readable.
  • Smooth Transitions. Use simple and smooth transitions between different segments or exercises.
  • Aspect Ratio. Edit your videos in different aspect ratios for various platforms (e.g., 16:9 for YouTube, 9:16 for Instagram Stories)
  • Length. Keep in mind the ideal video length for different platforms. Short and snappy for social media, longer and more detailed for YouTube or your website.
  • Engagement. End your video with a call to action, like encouraging viewers to subscribe, visit your website, or follow you on social media.

he image displays a man in workout attire sitting on a yellow exercise mat in a home setting, giving a thumbs-up sign towards the camera which is mounted on a tripod. The surroundings suggest a spacious living room with natural light, a comfortable couch with yellow cushions in the background, and a relaxed, yet active atmosphere. The man appears to be either preparing for or taking a break from a workout session, and the camera setup indicates he may be filming a fitness video or engaging in a virtual training session.
Fitness entrepeneur recording on-line class

Recommended apps for filming fitness workouts:

  • Filmic Pro: An accessible video camera app for smartphones offering the best quality,  shooting experience and manual controls. It’s used by content creators and Hollywood film teams!
  • Open Camera app (Android): Offers available guide grids, white balance adjustments, and brightness settings. It also maximizes your camera’s capabilities with its different picture taking modes.

Recommended Radio Mics for filming fitness videos:

  • Rode Go Wireless II Kit. If you’re planning to use this, then you’ll also need a Rode SC4:This cable converts the stereo output from the microphone receiver to your 3.5mm jack plug on your device. Without this your phone or tablet won’t be able to record the input signal from your microphone receiver unit.

Recommended Head mics for filming fitness videos:

  • Trantec HM66: Great for both men and women. Great clarity and low noise which is why I use this for filming professional videos.
  • AKG C555: Good for women because it adds more low end sound to your voice giving you more power to cut through the music (Can also be used my men, but you may need to reduce the bass EQ for in studio teaching. You may need to buy an extra adaptor to attach to you mic pack)
  • The double ear SubZero ($43.60) could be a good option as an alternative. I was impressed with the single ear mic (see below) but I’ve not used the full headset. In skin colour it’s more discrete.
  • If you do lots of lying on your back (e.g. Pilates) you may want to consider a single ear headset like this one from SubZero ($13.00). The quality is excellent for the price and with no bar around the back of the head, it won't touch the floor or knock off your head when lying down. The fit can be tricky though sometimes if you have small ears. You can bend the wire to fit better – but be careful you don’t break it!

Recommended Beginner-Friendly Editing Apps for fitness videos:

  • iMovie (iOS/MacOS): User-friendly, offers basic editing tools like trimming, adding music, and simple effects. Great for beginners.
  • Adobe Premiere Rush (iOS/Android/Windows/MacOS): A simplified version of Adobe Premiere Pro, designed for quick editing and social media integration.
  • InShot (iOS/Android): A mobile app that's easy to use for basic editing, adding text, music, and some effects.
  • Quik by GoPro (iOS/Android): Excellent for quickly editing footage shot on mobile or GoPro cameras, with ready-to-use themes and music syncing

The image features a focused woman in activewear engaging with a laptop on the floor. She appears to be in a plank position, leaning on her forearms, suggesting she might be either following an online workout, participating in a virtual fitness class, or possibly coaching clients online. The setting looks like a cozy interior space, possibly a living room or a bedroom, with warm lighting and a bed with a coral pink bedspread in the background, adding a homely atmosphere to the scene
Fitness instructor editing her virtual classes

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