Inhale, lower your body, push… and stop recording. Many gyms are enforcing rules against members filming their exercise routines due to worries about privacy and excessive equipment crowding the floor.
More and more, individuals such as influencers, fitness instructors, and regular gym attendees are utilizing their mobile devices to capture photos and videos of their fitness journey, workouts, and methods to share on social media. However, this has resulted in issues with unintentionally recording other gym members, inconvenient lighting equipment obstructing the way, and even instances of online harassment.
Some gyms have implemented a ban on the practice, limiting when and where filming is allowed. Others require individuals to obtain consent from everyone in the vicinity before filming.
According to Erin Blakely, a fitness trainer from Worcestershire who has experience with various gym franchises, more and more gyms, particularly in urban areas, are implementing rules regarding camera use. Blakely stated, “Several gyms have regulations prohibiting the use of camera equipment in the exercise space.”
Ensuring safety is a clear priority as equipment on the floor can pose a danger. Additionally, the potential for distraction is high. There is a tendency to focus more on capturing the perfect footage rather than on the actual workout, which goes against the purpose of being in a fitness studio.
Pure Muscles Gym, located in Walthamstow, north London, has implemented a weekend ban on the use of tripods. There are also reports of chains taking action. Members of Virgin Active have been informed that any images that raise concerns will be requested to be deleted. Fitness First has stated that other individuals who may appear in videos or pictures must give their consent.
A representative from PureGym, which operates over 340 gyms in the UK, stated: “It is crucial to respect the privacy of others, which is why our gym policies explicitly state that individuals should not capture photos or videos on the premises without permission. We also request that individuals refrain from sharing comments or images online, including on social media platforms, that could reveal another person’s identity.”
Several videos causing controversy have surfaced on social media, featuring gym-goers being mocked for their looks. In 2017, Dani Mathers, a former model, was sentenced to community service in the US for making fun of a 70-year-old woman showering.
In the past few months, social media influencer Jessica Fernandez issued an apology for referring to a man who simply looked at her and offered assistance as a “weirdo”, resulting in negative reactions online.
According to James Dixon, a personal trainer, smaller privately-owned gyms tend to be more accommodating when it comes to filming. However, he also mentioned that this can be a double-edged sword. While videos can motivate people to improve their health, using the gym exclusively for filming purposes is not acceptable.
He stated that recording lengthy workouts during peak hours and monopolizing equipment negatively affects the experience of others. Additionally, some videos may display incorrect form, leading to potential injury.
While gyms may require members to obtain consent from others, this is not always followed. According to Blakely, in a gym setting where individuals are focused on their physical well-being and development, being unknowingly recorded can be especially intrusive. However, in the rush to capture a moment, many forget to ask for permission.
The implementation of new regulations for filming has caused some trainers to express their disapproval. Dave Readle, from the HiiT Company, which provides training for instructors, states that classes with low attendance may be removed from the schedule. He also mentions that the most effective way to promote these classes is through filming and sharing on social media. However, there have been challenges with gyms not permitting filming.
According to Readle, numerous instructors work for themselves and must advertise their businesses. He stated, “Anyone can make a recording of themselves, even their pet.” He also mentioned that a single incident in a club could lead to a broad ban on filming.
Dixon suggested the idea of designated filming locations as a potential solution. This would allow individuals to avoid being caught on camera if they wish, creating a more balanced environment.