Gyms Crack Down on Influencer Filming and Photography

As influencers and amateur photographers increasingly use gyms as backdrops for photoshoots and workout videos, health clubs across the UK are starting to fight back. Citing concerns around privacy, safety, and disruption to other members, major chains like Virgin Active, PureGym, and Fitness First have begun implementing restrictions on filming and photography within their facilities.  

The trend of filming gym content for Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and other platforms has grown exponentially in recent years. But gym-goers focused on their workouts often don’t realize or consent to being included in the background of these photos and videos. And elaborate lighting setups and tripods on the floor can create hazardous conditions. 

Pure Muscles Gym in Walthamstow, London instituted a weekend ban on tripods after constant issues. Virgin Active states they will ask members to delete concerning images, and Fitness First insists anyone potentially photographed or filmed must explicitly consent.

According to fitness instructor Erin Blakely, who has worked with major national gym chains:

Safety is an obvious concern; equipment on the floor can be hazardous. Beyond that, the distraction factor is significant. There’s a tendency to concentrate more on getting the ideal footage than on the workout.

The problem spans from casual gym-goers wanting to post their fitness journeys to professional influencers and trainers relying on gym content to build their followings. But personal trainer James Dixon argues their takeovers of facilities cross a line. “When they take over the gym for their videos, it’s not cool,” he said. “Filming long workouts during busy times and hogging equipment ruins the experience for others.”

Controversial incidents have drawn negative attention to the issue, like body shaming or “gym creep” videos posted publicly. While gyms tell creators to get consent, in practice, this rarely happens in the heat of the moment. “In an environment like a gym, where people are focused on their own bodies and personal growth, being unknowingly filmed can feel particularly invasive,” Blakely explained. 

The ideal middle ground gyms aim for is allowing personal photos and videos, while prohibiting disruptive shoots involving extensive equipment and inconsiderate content creation. Some facilities are exploring designating specific filming areas. “It lets people avoid cameras if they want and balances things out,” Dixon said.

But fitness professionals who rely on gym shoots to promote their brands argue the limitations hurt their livelihoods. “You might have an incident in a club and then have a blanket ruling of no one being allowed to film,” said Dave Readle of the HIIT Company training platform. He contends social media clips are the best advertising for instructors facing class cancellations. 

Hobbyist creators pursuing viral content often underestimate the disruptions they cause. As policies evolve, gyms and other facilities are seeking balances that allow personalized filming while blocking intrusive productions. 


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