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I Was Video Taped at the Gym Today

I tried something new at the gym today. As you may or may not know, I’ve been recently diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and going to the gym has consisted mainly of very long, very low impact workouts. As new medicines are kicking in I’m finding that I can move well again, but I’m cautious to not overdo it.

Today I thought I’d try a new class at my gym. It’s very popular, and it’s taught by the family of a very famous exercise instructor. I was intimidated, but I decided to go ahead and try it anyhow. I wasn’t the only person who looked nervous.

The class was fun but tough to follow. They zigged while I zagged, women around me went right while I went left, but it was warm and inviting. They (it ended up being a husband and wife team) started the class by asking who was there for the first time, and then they did this whole special welcome because that’s how you deserve to be treated…. blah, blah I should’a known it was an act.

As the class went on it became clear that there were about a dozen professional dancers in it. This makes sense, I live in Los Angeles after all, and every prom queen who can shake her money maker lands here at some point. The class was fun, it was great even, and the instructors were so cheerful and earnest that I found myself wishing that they’d make a fortune.

Then came the part of the class where everyone made a big square and folks danced in the middle of it.

Then came the kid with the video camera. He was walking through the class and taping the instructors as well as some of the dancers. They were mugging for the camera and generally enjoying themselves.

And then I asked him, “Why are you taking video?”

“We use it for the dance move of the week, and on facebook and stuff,” he told me.

“You don’t have permission to film me,” I said, still sort of moving my feet and clapping along with the rest of the class.

“I blur everyone’s faces out.” He said.

“That’s not good enough.” I smiled through clenched teeth. “You make sure that no part of me is in your video. You do NOT have permission to videotape me.

And he shrugged, and sort of slouched by the windows while fiddling with his iPhone and Flip cameras.

As I left the gym all of my good feelings had gone away because I was getting more and more concerned that my gym class was actually part of a marketing video. I felt duped, embarrassed and annoyed. I belong to a gym that is nationwide (I assure you, you know their name) and (like almost every one I’ve ever seen) features signs on every wall prohibiting photography. I spoke as nicely as I knew how to the young lady at the front desk. Some of the phrases I uttered were:

Tell your manager this is the most important phone call they can make today

Understand that this is the sort of thing that makes people sue.

Please know that 100 women were videotaped, and I’m being courteous by alerting you to the issue.

Apparently nice doesn’t work. Because this all happened at 11 am, and at 5 pm when I called the gym they were apologetic but hadn’t gotten to the phone calls yet. Six hours later I was only six hours angrier.

And apparently someone else had complained about a man outside the class videotaping, but they were unable to locate him. This unauthorized taping had upset the instructors, the manager assured me. I explained to her that of course, it would upset them since they had their own cameras inside the class. The manager gasped audibly and assured me that they would take this very seriously.

I am told I will have a phone call tomorrow.

Which should be interesting, because I’m pretty sure they’ll get a letter from me in the next few days.

22 thoughts on “I Was Video Taped at the Gym Today”

  1. You need to file suit, or at the very least have your lawyer write a letter insisting that the tapes be destroyed, with an assurance that you are retaining the right to sue for large sums of money should their assurances that all copies of the tapes are destroyed prove false at any time in the future.

    You need to understand where we are in our culture: Some twit is running a website with the largest user base in the world under the presumption that NOBODY IS ENTITLED TO PRIVACY OF ANY KIND…and by “nobody”, I mean “people who aren’t in charge of Facebook”. Zuckerberg is essentially promoting himself as the world’s biggest paparazzi picture/info peddler, and our privacy, like that of every Hollywood star, is for sale. Unlike the Hollywood stars, we do not profit in any way from the sale of our privacy….Zuckerberg profits from it.

    And now that ZBerg has been allowed to do this, every little 16 year old on the planet now seeks to repeat that utterly unethical act, every day, in a thousand ways. It is assumed that you will do nothing, and that nothing can be done. Your privacy is not your own, in the minds of ZBerg and his unsavory emulators.

    A phone call will not fix it. A direct conversation will not fix it. Only the proof that you own your own privacy in a direct and monetary way will fix this.

    This is where we are.

    1. It reminds me of this new move by Facebook (

      Here is a sort of summary from the article

      With “See Friendship”, I can not only see everything between myself and my friends, but all the content shared between two mutual friends of mine, thanks to a handy search function. It lets you enter in the names of any two friends to reveal their entire Facebook correspondence with each other — even if the content dates from before you added either as friends.

      I agree that Zuckerberg and company have very different ideas of privacy than we do.

  2. If I had been there, I would have shielded you with my body and pummeled that kid and pried the camera out of his scrawny hands, yelling, “Victory” as I looked for your approval. Too bad I’m all. the. way. over. HERE.

    If a video does surface, please send me the link before you call and have the FBI remove it. :)

  3. This has nothing to do with Facebook though, and everything to do with the gym. Facebook is just a place to store content: it’s not up to them to ensure you were filmed with your consent: that would be unworkable. If you don’t like Zuck’s terms, you don’t have to use his site. Likewise, if part of the gym’s terms were that you would be filmed when on the premises that would be one thing, but of course that would be ridiculous.

    The bottom line is that when you go to the gym, you don’t consent to have your picture taken or to be videotaped, whether for use on Facebook, a private web site, internally or ANYWHERE. It doesn’t matter: without your consent, they can’t do that without your permission.

    1. Actually it is perfectly legal to videotape/photograph somebody in a public place such as the gym, grocery store or just about any public venue. However, it will be liability issue if a person videotapes while in a business that have signs posted that there is no videotaping allowed.

  4. On our local news last night (ABC7), they had a segment about how aerobics were making a come back and the classes were being led by Billy Blanks, Jr. and his wife. Would that be the class you are speaking of? They had film of a class in progress. You may want to check the website for that station and see if it was the class you were in.

  5. Send a cease and desist letter for the practice of shooting and using video without permission, name the husband and wife (they permitted it), the name or John/Jane Doe identities of the accomplices, demand a percentage of all classes, right of likeness, and also say that you are going to go for class action certification for everyone who’s every taken a class at any location, nationwide.

    Send a copy to the central legal & business affairs, send it from an attorney friend’s letterhead, and then change will happen!

  6. I think this young videographer will not have the guts to publish the video, after you have told him so strictly, “You do NOT have permission to video tape me”. He might have not shown that he cared, but I’m sure he heard you.

      1. See my previous comment. Note that because of where we are, culturally, some people believe that you have no right to privacy. Think about that for a second;
        You have no right to privacy.

        Your continued inaction will confirm that….not only culturally, but legally. If you take no action, you will be on shakier legal footing the next time, and the next, and the next when your privacy is sold. Your inaction grants them the right to do it the next time.
        They profit. You pay.

        Imagine that you owned a beautiful home, with a yard that you landscaped and gardened. Now imagine that some small group of people simply decided to start walking other people’s dogs, for money, through your yard, over your garden, because they got paid to do so, regardless of what you think.

        If you allow them to do that, you will become part of their money making scheme, at your cost.

        Sometimes you’ve got to take a stand.

  7. This blog is kind of annoying. When you signed your waiver at the front desk, you waived your right to privacy. There are surveillance cameras all over gyms to protect them from lawsuits and to keep people safe. They have the right to film you if you are using their facility, and if they want to pay someone to make a promo video, they have a right to do that too. Check your contract. I would bet there is a statement in their about your picture being taken during use. Trust me, if you are as bad as you say you are, they don’t want to put you in a promo video any more than you want to be.

  8. I’ve seen guys take pics of me when I wear yoga pants, to be honest I’m flattered, they must think I look good and I work hard for my physique, as long as he’s not touching me I don’t mind. Especially if he’s cute!

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