Influencer Alert: Cameras Banned in Some U.K. Gyms

Average age man dressed in a sporty way is in front of his camera in a gym to record a training video for his fans on YouTube.

Bad news for the “fit-fluencer” community in the U.K.: Earlier this month, a number of gyms banned the filming of workouts and announced policies to regulate media creation.

Yes, selfies are now forbidden at Puregym’s 340-plus U.K. locations because cameras are banned.

Virgin Active has put in a policy that allows people to request that influencers delete photos and videos.

And the Fitness First chain requires that people in videos give their consent before they are filmed.

These developments are, once again, a reminder that you’ll need a media policy at your microgym someday.

Maybe tomorrow.

A head shot of writer Mike Warkentin and the column name "Pressing It Out."

First, a few references.

You can read more about the gym-media developments in the U.K. here:

“U.K. Gyms Ban Selfies in Blow to Influencers”

“Gyms Crack Down on People Filming Themselves”

And here’s my previous take on influencer media and gyms:

“TikTok Shaming and Your Gym: Got a Code of Conduct?”

The latest news shows this problem isn’t going away, and you will have to deal with cameras in your gym at some point.

As I see it, you have four main areas of concern:

  • Safety issues created by cameras, tripods and distracted influencers who will do anything to get the perfect shot—including ignoring a coach.
  • Shaming—when influencers publicly call out or mock people in the background of their media.
  • Members who do not want to appear in influencer media.
  • Members who do not want to appear in any media.

The safety issue remains a no-brainer. If someone is creating a hazard, it needs to be dealt with. That one is easy.

Shaming is easy, too. Making fun of someone in the background of your video is just bad behavior. Mean people should be removed from your gym.

You’re going to run into problems with people who don’t want to appear in videos or photos without consent.

It’s relatively easy to solve the problem when you’re producing the media to promote your business. A gym should have a media policy in its waiver or intake package so clients know that owners and staff will create media to promote the gym.

Some members will opt out, and you’ll have to respect their wishes. These people are rare, and it’s usually easy to keep them out of the spotlight: Frame your shot without them or blur a face if you need to. AI makes light work of editing tasks that used to take time, skill and professional software.

When members start filming themselves with others as collateral damage, all bets are off. They can’t know who has or hasn’t signed a media release, and even some who did sign the gym release might not want to be in another member’s video.

The solution? Get a plan in place before you have a problem.

How do you decide what path to take? Review your client avatar.

What’s Best for Your Clients?

Would your top PT client be fine appearing as an “accidental extra” when an influencer starts loudly hammering out an open-gym TikTok that monopolizes space and equipment?

How about if someone just sets up a camera in a functional fitness gym to get some footage of a few Olympic lifts for a small personal account?

What about live broadcasts of high-intensity workouts streamed to Facebook and Instagram?

The perfect plan will be different in every business.

A functional fitness gym that caters to a younger YOLO crowd in a college town might have rules that differ from the standards in a posh access gym that caters to urban professionals. And if your gym serves kids, you’ll need to be even more cautious about what content they appear in.

You can create any plan that works for your business and your ideal clients.

Just remember that every person is now a full-service, on-demand media outlet, and you’d be wise to create your plan before the shy, ultra-private lawyer who does PT appears in the background of an OnlyFans workout video created by a member whose content might be labeled “suggestive.”


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.