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Is It Legal to Record People at a Gym?

Female athlete using cell phone at gym's dressing room.
By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on
Recording other people working out at the gym is rude, super lame, and creepy. Though, people who want their privacy may be dismayed to learn it may not be illegal.

No Privacy in Public Places

Since most gyms are accessible to the public, it is not a violation of privacy laws to record someone in a gym's common area. Typically the law does not prohibit watching or photographing activities that are outside a person's reasonable expectation of privacy. Taking a photo of someone on the elliptical, a reasonably public view, would likely be legal. A photo of them in the locker room ... not so much. And forget about the bathroom. Even if it's in a public area, attempting to get an upskirt or up-short photo in a gym could land you behind bars. (Although the law is still unclear on this in several states, don't be that person, even if it's legal.) As long as the subject is a clothed gymgoer in a common public area, however, the law provides little protection from secret Snapchats.

Gym Policies Come Into Play

State and federal laws are mostly silent on recording people at the gym. But each gym has its own policies regarding photography and video. Here are some recording policies at gyms that have locations nationwide:
  • 24 Hour Fitness prohibits "photography, videotaping, filming or audio recording" of other gymgoers without their consent.
  • Lifetime Fitness' general rules allow personal videos and photos on the premises without approval from Lifetime or its managers, but only in the "public" areas, meaning not in a locker room, steam room, massage room, etc. Like 24 Hour Fitness, Lifetime also bans photos or videos of other gymgoers without that person's express permission.
#Gymselfies are extremely common, so it may be hard for each gym to enforce these rules. Many people also record themselves to check their form or add a fitness video to social media. You could get in trouble for filming this at the gym if you are not mindful of any rules. To be polite to others, at the very least you should try to make sure no one else is in the scene or ask their permission before you record.

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 membership 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 is weird, but may be legal in a public, clothed setting.

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