So you've done your research and soul-searching and are at a point where you want to proceed to develop a DVD. Now the daunting part: How do you do it? Where do you start? What is the process?

Connect With Someone Who Knows the Process
If you've never done this and know nothing about it, you might want to connect with someone who has. Have him or her act as a mentor to guide you through it. There are many nuances in developing a DVD, and in order to even start to develop a budget and embark on the process, you need to know all the steps and ins and outs in order to get the best end product. Hire a consultant, or work with a mentor. 

Create a Budget
Create a line listed budget that includes everything! This will be your "bible" of sorts to guide you through the process and ensure your expenditures are in line. Include a designer, photographer, production team, consultant and a tech. Get quotes so you have all costs, and include wardrobe and incidentals. 

Decide on Your Program/Choreography 
Make sure it's a fit for the consumer at home. The classes you may be teaching in your gym may not translate exactly to the at home exerciser, as fitness DVDs tend to be a little less intense. Decide if you are going to use equipment, and consider what the at-home exerciser may or may not have. Make it as easily accessible to the at home exerciser as possible. Purchase some top-selling DVDs. Review them. Study them. Learn from them. 

Pay attention to the type of choreography they are using, the level of intensity, format, runtime, cueing, the music, set design, packaging, titles and the overall feel of the programming. Also, think about whether you want to use backup talent or not.

Hire a Designer
You'll need to work with a graphic designer to develop your packaging. Your mentor or consultant should be able to guide you to one more designers. The packaging is critical as it is probably all that the consumer will see before purchasing. It needs to communicate your program in a true, accessible and enticing way. Get quotes from designers; talk to them about their ideas and your vision to make sure they are a fit. 

Design for packaging for a single DVD can cost between $1,000 and $2,000 or even more. Design costs will vary, depending on if you need a logo designed or more than just packaging (i.e. inserts, menu screens, website, marketing materials, etc.).

Hire a Production Team and Photographer
Again, your mentor or consultant can help you here. The photographer will be used to take the images of you for the packaging. The production team is critical; make sure you are 100% comfortable with them. Get quotes. Meet with them. Determine what their process is for production and post/edit, as well as their timing. 

Quoting a cost for this is dangerous territory, and I cannot begin to tackle it here. There are so many variables in production costs: program, runtime, location, the production company and various other factors. DVD production costs have ranged from under $10,000 all the way up to well over $100,000!

Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse!
Talk to the production team to find out how they will shoot it so you are prepared. Some shoot in five-minute segments, some shoot straight through. Work this out with them so you are comfortable, and rehearse accordingly. Hire a tech if you've never done this before; there are techs to help you behind the scenes in cueing and counting.

Photo Shoot
The photo shoot is critical as it will drive the results of the packaging, and as mentioned earlier, packaging is critical. Hire a professional. Consider wardrobe that's appropriate for the cover, i.e. what colors you want, making sure it's not too revealing or intimidating, etc. Create a list of poses you want to capture in the shoot. Work with our designer in advance to mock up some covers if possible, to make sure the poses you capture at the shoot work for your vision for the cover.

A wardrobe with no patterns and vertical stances work best. Try to wear neutral colors, if possible, and try not to pose in an overly difficult exercise. Make sure you or the model is accessible, open to the camera, engaging and friendly. 

Video Shoot and Post/Edit
Have the production team walk you through everything in advance. The shoot may only take a day, but the post/edit process can be lengthy and involved. Determine up front how much involvement you will have. Understand the process thoroughly.

After the video shoot and photo shoot, you will work with your designer on the packaging. Make sure your packaging reflects the program, the brand and your vision. Tip: Try to make the title and call-outs benefit-driven (i.e. "fat-burning,""œcalorie blasting"). Be true to the program, and don't overpromise. Use action-oriented words. Be clear on what the programming is and what it can deliver. 

The best way to market a DVD, generally speaking, is by way of good exposure, good PR and a strong package design. If possible, hire a PR person to launch the DVD to market. 

Congratulations! You've done it. You now have a product you can use in many channels that will help accelerate your career!

Kim Kisner runs her own consultant business, Kim Kisner Consulting LLC, which handles fitness product and DVD development, production and distribution as well as branding and marketing overall for fitness professionals. She is also a premier consultant for Sunshine Fitness Resources ( For more information, or to schedule a consulting session, call Kim at 586.445.3190 or 313.333.2163.