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In-Person Coaching Versus Zoom: Which is the Best Fit?


The COVID-19 pandemic was a shock to all of our systems. The bustling, fast-paced world came to a halt. We were sent home and told we would return when things came to a resolution. However, as the months and, shockingly, years went by, the world had to find a new normal. That new normal was an online presence that expanded across multiple enterprises. As people slowly went back to work, the world slowly went back to “normal.” 


One of the lessons learned during the Covid-19 pandemic is social media and online platforms can be used to reach a greater audience. For the first time, the greats in their field could be brought to the homes of the general public. All of a sudden through the magic of Zoom and other online platforms, experts, who once seemed unreachable, could now be a mentor brought into the comfort of your home.


But when it comes to in-person coaching versus Zoom, which is the best fit? 


My friends flocked to the opportunity. Now, my acting friend in Delaware could sign up for a one-on-one acting lesson (via Zoom) with a Los Angeles-based acting coach, whose clients included Leonardo Dicaprio. Other Broadway-bound friends said they signed up for classes and private coaching on Zoom with the legendary Linda Eder.


As someone who has given music lessons, I can tell you firsthand that someone sounds extremely different over the internet than in person. My feedback would be completely different and my attention to detail would be compromised. So, as studios opened back up and in-person coaching was now available, I asked: why would people stick with their online options?


Okay, sure: you want to be coached by a legend. I recognize that kind of opportunity. But, is paying for a name via an online option more attractive than a local option or the free option of YouTube?


Honestly, the compromises that occur via an online option (e.g. recording quality, inability to gain all of the information) would cause me to hesitate before taking a Zoom class. Unless there was a considerable price reduction from the in-person option, there isn’t a lot of appeal to an online class. The exception to this is of course a highly specialized, one-on-one session. For example, if you are having an online private session that is interactive and walks you through their approach, this may be a worthwhile investment. However, if you are paying $20 for a general online class with many other participants, I would look for different options - many studios charge $15-20 for an in-person class. If there’s no local option, go to YouTube (I am a big fan of Kathryn Morgan’s ballet classes through YouTube!). For cross-training, I am fortunate enough to be located near a great ballet studio!




As a teacher and coach, I understand why there would be no price reduction. We need to eat! However, with a reduction in transportation costs, an increase in quality of life, and the opportunity to bring in a larger clientele than normal, there needs to be a monetary incentive for people to take advantage of your online services. For example, you could record an in-person class and charge your in-person clients one price and offer the recording viz Zoom to non-local clients at a 30% discount. 


As a student, I am not sure I would take the Zoom option if sound quality is crucial. Specifically, I would rather look for an in-person music teacher rather than take an online option. The online option for music or vocal lessons seems limiting. Similarly, I love going to my in-person ballet class. The teacher can offer me corrections that could not be seen on camera with a sea of participants. 


I want to be in a class where I can be engaged. If I pay for a class, I want to be there 100%. This is hard to do at home. If I am working out at home or taking a ballet class, it’s YouTube for me - especially for at-home ballet. I do not have a full ballet studio and space will be an issue. I do not want to pay for an at-home ballet class and not be able to do grand battements or any center work! For something highly specialized when I know I will have no interruptions and doesn’t require space beyond a yoga mat, I would take the opportunity of a Zoom interaction or class. 


This is not to say don't sign up for a paid Zoom class. By all means, do what you need to do to further your goals. But before you do, ask yourself some questions before you shell out some money for it:


1. Does this class offer something that I cannot get from a local studio or a free resource already existing online?


2. Is the cost of the Zoom class cheaper than the cost it would be in person?


3. Is the Zoom instructor limiting the class size to 20 or less?


4. Does the Zoom instructor intend to record the session to later resell/recycle on their platform?


5. Does my audio/video/internet setup support the Zoom class where I will get the most out of it?


6. Do I have enough space to do the physical component of the class?


7. Does the time zone work for me?


Zoom and other online platforms gave us some semblance of normality during the pandemic and I am extremely grateful. But am I willing to pay someone for something when I can already get a version online for free? How you expand your horizons is completely up to you. This is all just food for thought!


Find the expertise you seek - no matter what the medium - and, as always: glide with purpose!

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