Teaching Zoom classes from home with a reliable internet connection, power supply and climate sounds like a dream. But – it’s a challenge when you find yourself on an island!
When we first got to the island, there was nothing. No electricity, no internet and no shelter. In other words, everything essential for running a successful class on Zoom was missing. And yet, with a little bit of perseverance – and lot of creativity – we built an ecosystem that helps me stay connected to my clients.
In our early days there was no way around it – we had to buy a generator. What size? The largest one that would fit in the trunk of my car! A solar grid set-up would have been lovely, but there just isn’t enough sun in our region during the winters to keep us reliably powered up (at least with today’s technology).
We had to run our generator twice a day in order to keep our batteries charged up. Yes – it was loud – but luckily, all our neighbours were in the same boat, especially early in the morning. I figured out that my old lady (2012 macbook) will last for exactly two hour-long training sessions, if fully charged. That meant, I was able to schedule two appointment in the morning and two at night with enough time to recharge the battery in between. I’d catch myself doing the math on how fast my battery depleted during each session – hoping I’d make it at least to the ‘cool-down’ section near the end.
Getting Internet to my ‘Gym’
Once I figured out the power issue, I had to get creative with my internet connection. During the first year (2020), I got a really good data plan for my phone and used it as a mobile hotspot for my laptop. This worked great for a while – provided I was located exactly in the same spot with no clouds, rain or mercury in retrograde.
Unfortunately, things turned out to be a bit more challenging last year (2021). My phone’s internet connection became pretty spotty towards mid-summer (tourists eating up bandwidth?), making it hard to keep a stable enough internet connection for Zoom classes.
After some trouble-shooting, we decided to upgrade to a “smart hub”. This is basically a more powerful mobile hotspot offered in rural areas by some providers. It seems to work better (most of the time) and I can now record the class and share music in the background without seeing everyone in stop-motion.
Zooming Outside in All Weather
The last issue was the weather. Any weather. When teaching in an outdoor environment with electronics nearby, things can become very tricky, very fast.
On a sunny day, I couldn’t see any of the class participants because of the glare on the screen.
On a rainy day, I’d spend most of my time trying to protect the equipment from water damage despite being in a covered space (hello wind!). And then, on a cold day, I was so bundled up that I could barely move. The few times we experienced a hot day, I followed the shade provided by a tree to stay cool. Oh yes, and on a windy day, I couldn’t hear a word my clients were saying because of the tarp flapping back-and-forth in the background (or in my face), sounding like thunder had just rolled in.
Funnily enough, overall, it’s been a great experience and these were just minor setbacks in retrospect. I’ve learned to be flexible and not stress-out (too much) if things don’t go as planned. I also learned so much about technology and its limits.
And – I really grew to appreciate things like reliable internet, power supply and a climate controlled environment.
Jessi Schlegel is a fitness trainer and educator. She draws from a versatile background with a degree in Sports Therapy from Germany and in-the-field business experience as co-owner of a gym in Vancouver (Canada). She currently works as a Personal Trainer, Group Class Instructor, Yoga Instructor, Holistic Nutritionist and Online Coach. With over 18 years of experience, she aims to pass on knowledge and share her passion and experiences with clients and trainers around theworld.