Should gyms ban the use of cameras? - Full Time Cover

Should gyms ban the use of cameras?

Should gyms ban the use of cameras?

Tiktok, Instagram, fitness influencers – there has never been so much widely available content for the gym and fitness industry. This, for the most part, is a good thing. But as always with the internet, it comes with a But.

On one side, some believe that allowing people to take pictures while working out can make it a more enjoyable experience and boost morale – which is, after all, a big reason why we do it. On the other hand, others argue it’s an invasion of privacy in what can be a nervous environment for many. In a recent survey, almost 40 per cent of health club users think that selfies should be banned in gyms, which is opening up the discussion further.

This debate has been especially heated amongst gym owners and patrons over the last few years. In this blog post, we will explore both sides of this argument and discuss whether gyms should consider banning the use of cameras in their facilities. We will also look at some potential solutions for how gym users can still capture moments without compromising safety and privacy.

What is the law on photography in the UK?

There is no law preventing people from taking photographs in public. If you are taking photographs from private land, you need to have the land owner’s permission,  thus the policy of the gym comes into play.

Most gyms are open to the public, meaning that it does not go against privacy laws to record activities occurring in their common spaces. Generally speaking, it is permissible to observe and photograph what is within the public view, thus taking a picture of someone would probably be considered legal.

A photo of them in the locker room … not so much. And forget about toilet areas.

As long as the subject is a clothed gymgoer in a common public area, however, the law provides little protection from secret social media posts.

Locker Room Selfies

This locker room selfie caused an argument between members

We get it, if you want to put a progress selfie up, locker rooms can have best lighting and mirrors. But absolutely if a member happens to take a photo or recording and catches another member in the background changing, they should delete it.

It is advised the Gym owners have a sign in locker rooms stating no recording, no videos, no photos.

Are you allowed to film in Gyms in the UK?

So, You’re also allowed to take photos in private property that is open to public, such as restaurants, pubs and gyms etc. You will, however, have to stop if the owner/management ask you to.

Gym Policies Come Into Play

It can be down to each gym to have its own policies regarding photography and video. Here are some recording policies at gyms that have locations nationwide:

A gym may prohibit “photography, videotaping, filming or audio recording” of other gymgoers without their consent.

You can have a  general rule which allow personal videos and photos on the premises without approval from its managers, but only in the “public” areas, meaning not in a locker room, steam room, massage room, etc.

Looking at Other Industries

Camera usage on the dancefloor of nightclubs has also recently fallen into public debate. Whilst it could be to protect the carefree environment of the dancefloor, owner of Fabric nightclub , when discussing their ban on cameras, suggested also they wanted to create a feeling of self-expression on their dancefloor.

“Stay in the moment, put your phones away and enjoy the night”

Could lessons be taken from this attitude? Gym’s can no doubt be difficult places for some people – whether conscious about their size or ability in the gym – does the fear of being recorded impact users enjoyment and potential willingness to return? Would doing everything possible to create a welcoming free environment for all users be a priority?

How cameras can impact gym-goers’ privacy

With the proliferation of camera-enabled devices, it’s no wonder that gyms are increasingly being asked to ban their use. It’s important to understand how cameras can impact gym-goers’ privacy.

For starters, many people feel uncomfortable working out in front of a camera, and this can discourage them from going to the gym altogether. Additionally, cameras can be used to record people without their knowledge or consent, which is a major violation of privacy. Some may believe that they invade privacy and can be used to body shame or bully gym-goers.

So while there are certainly some valid concerns about privacy when it comes to cameras in gyms, it’s important to understand the potential impacts before making any decisions.

Gym user being mocked online

Why do people film themselves in the Gym?

Many people record themselves to check their form or add a fitness video to social media. Some gyms encourage photo-taking by awarding members who upload pictures or videos using designated hashtags  Members can of course be excited and want to share their results.

To Improve Form

Much how it is common practice to film your golf swing at the range, it is important to do so in the gym, particularly if you are competing.

It’s basically required, so that you and your coach can look at your form, and also to see if you’re properly adhering to competitive standards. If you are at a gym that has a lot of competitors, recording of sets may well be the norm.

What to Do If Someone Records You at the Gym

If you catch someone recording you with their smartphone (or vice versa), it will likely be up to the individual gym to deal with the problem. Unless you are in an area like a locker room.

Breaking these rules by, for example, filming someone on the treadmill, is likely considered a breach of the gym agreement.

.So the worst that could really happen is that the gym could cancel someone’s membership and kick them out. Bottom line: Recording at the gym and capturing users without consent is poor behaviour, but may be legal in a public, clothed setting.

What to Do If a member complains

Members need to understand not everyone is comfortable being filmed, and there should always be boundaries that need respecting. If someone is caught on camera and doesn’t wish to be, really out of respect the other member should delete and film again.

This is particularly important in private areas such as locker rooms. Likewise if a member is filming another member with the view of shaming them in any way, this shouldn’t be tolerated.


There are many unwritten rules for gym etiquette. Do not spend ages at a machine between sets, wipe down the machine after use, put equipment back, do not set up camp at a station then go off to do several sets elsewhere etc…

Phone usage and filming/photography probably fall into this. Banning use of cameras altogether will negatively impact those that do want to share their results and selfies of their progress, without harming others. Likewise, anyone who wants to film milestone weight lifting attempts or to improve form.

However, members that film in any way that could be harmful to other users; either

filming beginners and mocking their technique, filming in locker rooms where people change or just in any way that would reasonably upset other members should be stopped.