What is the etiquette around camera on/off in virtual movement classes?
April 14, 2020 11:51 PM   Subscribe

I’ve been doing lots of Zoom stretching and Pilates while stuck indoors over the last three weeks. And I’m stumped. I’m fine to respect stated preferences but is it ok to keep the camera off and stay on mute if there’s no stated preference or direction from the instructor? Sometimes I just want to dance/stretch/savanassana like no one’s watching.

Some instructors ask for participants to keep camera on and sound on, some ask for camera on, sound on mute. Others ask for camera off and sound on mute. So I don’t really have a sense of what’s usual/standard. I feel a bit odd being ‘hidden’ in classes when there are just 4-5 people. Then on the other hand I worry if I turn on the camera I am slowing down the instructor’s connection? Mostly though I don’t really want to meet five strangers in another city for the first time in tights in my bedroom. What is the actual standard etiquette here? Do instructors care if they can’t see you? (Assume all classes very gentle, injury wildly unlikely.)
posted by t0astie to Human Relations (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If there is no stated preference from the instructor, I'd say do what suits you.

I did a Zoom yoga class last week and it was my impression that the yoga teacher was happy that at least some participants had their camera on - not because she gave any corrections but because it gave her a sense of whether she was going too slow or too fast in her instructions.
posted by rawrberry at 12:26 AM on April 15, 2020

Best answer: I think if they say hello you unmute to say hi back. Otherwise, it's going to depend on the class! In general video on in my view is for the participants, not the instructor - maybe a yoga class where people can get instructor feedback, or another class it might help you feel part of a group doing the activity together.

Basically I don't think we have an etiquette yet that applies for ALL these classes. If you're nervous that you're being rude, go off mute and say hi but let them know you prefer not to join the video. That way the instructor knows you're there and paying attention. Not everyone even HAS working cameras.
posted by Lady Li at 12:32 AM on April 15, 2020

Best answer: There's no universal norms for this yet... In my dance class, cameras-on is standard, but everyone gets muted, while my yoga class is a mix of Skype users and IG Live viewers who can't have cameras or mics on, just view and type in chat. Each class has its own culture and this is still really new for a lot of teachers and class members.
posted by Glier's Goetta at 1:56 AM on April 15, 2020

For my yoga class over Zoom, I have the camera on before and after class, and off during. About half the class of two dozen people has it on, but they take classes in the studio and are well known to the instructor. ETA: The instructor mutes everyone during class, and lets them know they can make as much "embarrassing" noise (grunting, etc.) as they want.
posted by JawnBigboote at 5:19 AM on April 15, 2020

At the beginning of my yoga class, I have both on. I know the instructor well and occasionally see friends in the class, too. I want to connect with the instructor and give a bit of appreciation. I might leave video on during the beginning stuff but I usually turn it off for the bulk of the class so that I don’t distract with whatever I am doing that is not what the instructor is doing. Plus, I move the laptop around for better views and don’t want to worry about what anyone is seeing. At the end of class, I turn it back on to thank the instructor and reconnect. I know that it is helpful to have at least a couple participants with video on for the instructor so if everyone was off, I might leave mine on. Mute always, though! Our instructor says to wave wildly if you need attention.
posted by amanda at 6:45 AM on April 15, 2020

Response by poster: These are all helpful, good to know there hasn’t been some consensus I’ve just... missed.
posted by t0astie at 3:31 PM on April 15, 2020

Best answer: It's nice to have a picture of yourself that shows up if your video is off (which you can set in your Zoom settings, I think under Profile).
posted by selfmedicating at 5:54 PM on April 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

I started doing an online Zumba class and nobody turned on their cameras/mikes until the end to say goodbye. Which I was grateful about because good lord, I must look terrible trying to do moves in my kitchen halfassedly/trying not to kick things. However, the instructor called me out by name last time at the end and I had a freakout, like "What is going on?" and per my usual, "Which Jennifer? Oh, ME?!?" Sigh.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:50 PM on April 28, 2020

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