How Have I Seen SSoD Change In My 10+ Years?
When I reflect on where Studio SWEAT onDemand is today, with the growing team and talent that continue to join us, I think about when we first started at Studio #1 (we’re currently at the 4th studio location). Back then, when I was around 20 years old, I was applying to film school when my college counselor said that someone (Cat, founder of Studio SWEAT onDemand) was looking for a videographer to help her share the studio’s workouts with her friends in Washington state.
So I offered to help, and long story short after doing a couple of videos with my Mini-DV tape camera (this was before everything moved to SD cards and digital), we started plans to make this available to the online world, not just Cat’s friends in Washington. Keep in mind, online fitness streaming wasn’t even a thing like it is today; all at-home fitness classes were still on DVD, and no one to my knowledge had really started to dive into online fitness streaming before Cat did. So being new to this medium, we experimented, made mistakes, found solutions to problems, and continued to improve.
I often reminisce with Cat of these early days by saying “remember when it was just you, me, Brian, and Bethany?” Our behind-the-scenes team was really just us at that time, trying to navigate the online space where no one really ventured to put fitness before. Today, as we’ve grown, we now have teams in multiple areas, such as:
• Customer Support
• Web Development
• App Development
• Social Media/Online Community
• Commercial/Corporate Relations
And one thing about our team that Cat tends to do, which I think is really cool, is take on the trainers to contribute to these areas. For example, trainer AJ is the head of Customer Support, and trainer Jess N manages our social media/online community. Speaking of, another thing that I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see organically grow over the years is the Komrades community. It’s amazing to see this San Diego family, mindset, and energy expand beyond California to the whole world.
Another area that has grown in unexpected ways is my role at Studio SWEAT onDemand.
How My Role Has Changed
Like I touched on above, in the beginning my main focus was and has always been video production (it used to just be called “film”). In high school, I wanted to eventually become a Hollywood movie director/filmmaker. So the whole narrative film process is part of me as a creator and part of my foundation of how I do things in video production. Today, my main focus (where most of my time and energy goes) is still in the production of the videos.
However, in the first couple of years, as the team got more involved in the online streaming space and it started to gain momentum, I naturally took on an additional position: content management.
Content management largely has to do with taking the content I create (videos of classes) and publishing it with all the necessary information specific to each class, on the appropriate days according to the release schedule. This requires knowing what kind of workout it is, whether it needs tags like ‘Low Impact’ or ‘Beginner’, what equipment is needed, securing title/descriptions from our copy editors, getting the SEO tags in there, etc. It’s a lot to manage.
Side note: I actually got an ACE Personal Training Certification so I can better understand the design of workouts to help with editing and content management.
As this position grew, I started to manage some of our digital marketing communications in addition to our video library, now even including our new partner content. Content management also includes archiving all the videos in an organized way (over 1000 videos now), keeping track of how many classes are in each category, editing/managing blog posts, and managing our YouTube channel, where many of current Komrades first found us.
Soon after, as with any company/business that starts to get bigger, we eventually needed marketing. For a time, I was in this position as well. But as we all have different skills and natural inclinations to different things, marketing turned out to not be my thing. Just like what I realized for personal training (or any other discipline), it requires more than just knowledge. In my opinion, with few exceptions, most things that take time, skill, learning, practice, and dedication to master, I consider an art form, and marketing is no exception.
So as we learned that we needed people who specialized in marketing, Cat connected with a local Studio SWEAT member who actually owns a marketing business, and since then they’ve been a huge help and a vital partner in this area.
By this time (and to this day), I had three main aspects of my job: Filming, Editing, and Content Management.
Then, as we were right in the middle of moving to our current studio, the COVID pandemic hit the world.
As you can imagine, our online subscribers shot up during this time, but at the same time it became very difficult to film in a location that wasn’t even complete yet (due to the slowdown and complications of people coming in to work during the pandemic).
We slowly got back into the groove after some major problem solving with the filming “set”, but our new location did add some challenges/opportunities that weren’t really present in the other studios — mainly the position of mirrors and lack of natural light.
In our other studios, we had huge bay doors that could open and let in a ton of natural sunlight, as well as mirrors that bounced the light everywhere, coupled with pretty strong ceiling lights. With this new studio, the placement of mirrors, doors, and other equipment made filming harder than before.
One of the things that has really helped with my position is when we hired Pat as my dedicated filming partner. We also have another videographer on the team named Pat (we promise that being named Pat isn’t a requirement for being on the team!).
Pat is now a vital and extremely helpful part of the whole video production process, now having the title Set Manager, as well as manning the side camera and getting cool movement shots and angles that I couldn’t possibly get on my own, since I have to monitor the main camera.
Having the larger team has allowed me to focus more on editing, as the workload for editing has greatly increased due to the awesome side shots/angles Pat gets (which leads to more decisions in post-production), and other shifts we’ve made in the editing process to improve the product.
All this being said, when you see any content on our website, I have most likely been involved to some degree.
What I See for the Future: My Role, the Team, the Process, and the Final Product
My official job title is now “Director of Production and Editing”. We kept it sort of vague since Production and Editing span across SSoD classes, other videos, blogs, emails, posts, YouTube videos, and anything else that has a touchpoint with the content on the SSoD website.
What I envision and hope is that this small but effective video production team continues to improve on the craft and process, so that I can dedicate more time to video editing since many people over the years have said that I’m really strong in that area, and simply because the editing process is now its own entity as we continue to progress. (I now understand why most Hollywood directors don’t edit their own movies — they have whole teams for post-production.)
As far as the overall product of SSoD and where I think it’ll go, much like when we first started, I really don’t think I can predict what the future will hold. For example, SSoD was recently named Best Fitness App for Variety, which I wasn’t expecting since our main focus was purely on indoor cycling back in 2012. But I think as long as we stick to the core, foundational principles Cat started with back in 2012: genuine “reality TV style”, showcasing real people, real trainers, and real sweat — it’ll remain the Studio SWEAT that people love around the world.
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