'My gym filmed me working out and put it on social media. I hadn't consented.'

"Hey, did you know you’re up on the gym socials?", a friend messaged me in a group chat. "Didn’t you tell them you don’t want to be filmed?".

I had, and I’d reminded them after I noticed someone slip in and film the boxing class a few days earlier without letting anyone know. I’d hidden behind my punching bag and then stopped at the front desk to remind them to please not film me.

And yet there I was, front and centre in two videos, doing my best to lift weights and move by body, and letting it all hang out. 

I was mortified. I’d thought I was in a safe space.

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"What does it bother you so much?", another friend in the chat asked. "You’re on social media all the time. What’s the difference?".

It’s true, I’m on social a fair bit, and I don’t edit my pics - often I’m in situations that are a lot more embarrassing and unflattering than the gym video. How I looked wasn’t the problem.

What got me was that I’d allowed myself to be very vulnerable in this space, and I’d then been filmed and shared on a public social media channel where anyone could see it. I had asked not to be filmed. It shouldn’t have happened.


My friends were annoyed too. They kept seeing themselves on social too, but they felt stuck - they didn’t like it, but they didn’t want to ‘make a fuss’.

Not me. While I knew it must have been an oversight, the gym needed to know. Usually it’s a great place to be - the classes are fun and challenging, the instructors encourage everyone to work out as a team and to use each others' energy to bring us all up. And best of all, it feels safe. Well, it had felt safe. It wasn’t feeling like that right now. 

It was late, so I emailed the gym to ask why this had happened.

And then I shared it in my Instagram Stories, because while I was upset, I wasn’t sure if I had the right to be. I was in their gym, after all. Was I being unreasonable? I asked. Precious? Should I just suck it up?

My inbox blew up.

Hundreds of messages poured in, many from women who have explicitly told their gym that they do not consent to being filmed or photographed and who were filmed anyway, with photos and videos of themselves posted on Facebook and Instagram.

This is happening at gyms everywhere. Over and over again. Women are being filmed against their wishes and then being shared on social channels. For some gyms, getting footage up on social has become more important than supporting and protecting the women and men that train there.


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It happened when women had checked a box on the contract to show they did not give consent to be filmed. Many had asked multiple times to not be filmed and yet they were still put up on social media.

I read many messages from women who became so tired of being filmed at a women’s only franchise that they just never returned.

One has an AVO to protect her from an ex-partner and had told her gym that she could not have her location disclosed. Weeks later, she saw herself on their social media channels, filmed and posted without her knowledge.

While many women cancelled their memberships, others were so upset they never went back, and are still paying the fees until their contract expires.

Joining a gym and being vulnerable is a big enough step as it is. We let down our guard there. Many women have finally gotten to the point of being just confident enough to work out in a group environment, and then find themselves exposed online.

They then walk away, because when you’re already feeling insecure and vulnerable, it’s easier to leave than to speak up.

They simply disappear and never go back, let down by a gym that has not looked after them, and has used them for content.


If gyms want women (or teens, or men, or anyone) to work out with them, we need to be able to trust that when we are being vulnerable - when we are sweating, in pain, groaning and in the midst of doing 10 push-ups with our belly hanging over our annoying tights that roll down - that we are not being filmed if we have not given consent.

The gym I go to called me and apologised. They immediately put a policy in place that any filming must be announced to the class so that people like me, who don’t want to be filmed, can opt out. I am so grateful for this, and I know they’ll stick to it.

It’s what all gyms should be doing. It makes sense, it’s such a simple solution and it keeps their customers happy and feeling safe that they – and their peers – won’t see themselves up on social media if they don't want to.

If you find yourself in this position, talk to your gym and ask them to remove the video or photo. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner advises to contact the organisation or business first – you can use this handy template. If they don’t remove the images or video you can lodge a complaint here. You can also get more information on the Privacy Act here

Evie Farrell is usually travelling the world with her daughter but is currently in the 'burbs. You can follow her on Instagram or at

Feature Image: Instagram/@mumpacktravel

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