It appears that the ubiquitous gym selfie that we see everywhere may have had its day. In the UK, at least. According to a report in The Guardian, gyms across the country are taking matters into their own hands and banning the use of cameras.
A surge in gym-goers, including influencers and fitness instructors, using their smartphones to capture workout moments for social media posts has led to inadvertent filming of other members. This has apparently led to a rise in complaints about privacy issues and equipment congestion.
Bans on filming
To address these issues, some gyms have implemented strict bans on filming, restricted the times and locations for filming, or instructed individuals to obtain consent from those around them before recording.
Safety and distraction are the primary concerns for gym management. Filming equipment on the gym floor can pose hazards, and the obsession with obtaining the perfect footage often takes precedence over the actual workout, defeating the purpose of being in a fitness studio.
There have also been concerns around online bullying, where some people have been made fun of on TikTok purely for attending a gym. Similarly, there could be safety issues with teenagers being captured on video without consent. The Swiss Gymnastics Association banned suggestive photographs of competitors in a bid to protect their young competitors.
In order to film anyone in a gym, you should really have permission and releases from anyone who may appear in a video. It isn’t a public space, and there are real concerns about privacy.
That being said, freelance instructors who often film their workouts to use for marketing purposes have apparently expressed concerns that they will no longer be able to shoot videos of their work.
There should be ways around that, however. I shot a short promo film for a fitness instructor a few years ago. We got model releases and permission from all 17 people present in the class. It’s really not difficult to do, and people do like to be given advance warning if the session may be filmed.
It’s really just another example of amateurs and influencers complicating things for everyone else. Professional photographers and filmmakers know that they need permission, set up the shoot accordingly, and follow professional protocols.