You’ve likely seen some. I’ve seen them, too.

I’ve seen them pop up more and more on my social media feeds. Videos of people at the gym in the midst of a workout in a fitness class. I’m not talking about the instructor-created You-Tube videos that are obviously written, created, and choreographed for the sole purpose of sharing. Those are great! In fact, I’ve written on that subject. If you missed it, be sure to check out my post right here on the NFPT blog, “Getting (Even More) Personal Via YouTube.”

But right now I’m talking about those low-quality, wobbly videos where the footage is shot with a personal device from the back of the room or a far corner, meaning that unsuspecting gym patrons are being filmed surreptitiously.

I admit, because my social media groups have no shortage of fitness enthusiasts, that may have something to do with the sheer number of those types of video postings I see. Perhaps those personally-made 30-seconds-or-less videos of fellow fitness-class participants digging deep and sweating to achieve their goals are shared to convey a message: “Hey, look how hard we’re working! Fitness is fun and tough, but if we can do it, so can you!” Maybe it really is meant to encourage. Maybe it’s meant as a humble-brag.

Whatever the underlying message or motive, it makes me wonder about the amount of privacy we can reasonably expect when in public yet inside a privately-owned facility. What’s more, is it harmless, or is it an inconsiderate invasion to film people working out without their permission? Do all gym goers feel confident or comfortable enough to be featured sweaty and fatigued on random social media outlets?

Here’s the thing: Getting in shape can be a very personal journey for some, and merely entering a gym to exercise around other people, for them, is a major step forward.

I wondered briefly if my thoughts over what could be harmless fun were overreactions. But then a quick phone call to the member-support line of a well-known national gym chain killed any doubt.

I simply asked about the policy on phone-filming fitness classes. What about sharing the videos? Was that allowed? The answer was an unequivocal NO! In fact, the answer can be found in the contract signed by all members, staff, and personnel.

I called only after I’d written the introduction to this piece, and it didn’t surprise me when the representative said some of the same things I’d written and have been thinking about for months now.

She said she wouldn’t be comfortable being filmed while exercising. She went on to explain that if filming occurs in any of their locations, the instructor should stop the occurrence immediately, and if they do not, the operations manager or the general manager should be notified and involved.

My question, actually my entire reason for writing this post, is about finding out how others feel on this subject. Filming unauthorized videos in a gym class is clearly, and rightfully so, against the rules. But, what does the public at large think about it? Is it something you would report to management or, if you are management, put a stop to? Or is it something we all have to come to accept as part of our relatively new social sharing norm?

Let’s talk about it.

Tanisha Rule

Tanisha Rule has a BA in English and is a former Mad Dogg-certified Spinning instructor. She taught indoor cycle and boot camp and has now combined her passions as a full-time writer for the health and fitness industries, check out her site at If she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found happily training for an endurance event, likely after having said, “This is my last one for a while,” because there is no finish line; there is only progress.