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.