Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Put down your phone: How selfies and videos are ruining gym etiquette and invading privacy

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Taking selfies and videos is now as common as sending emails or text messages. While taking selfies and videos in the comfort of your own home or in your own chosen company is a given, what about public spaces with strangers? 

That’s a new world to navigate, as you now don’t only have to worry about “Big Brother” spying on you but also the stranger lifting weights or running on the treadmill next to you. 

While a proud workout photo or video to post on social media or send to your friends or family to keep you motivated on your fitness journey is one thing, people are starting to film videos of themselves in group workout classes and all aspects of the gym experience. 

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Woman taking a selfie at the gym. (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Gyms tackle privacy in the age of social media

While gym rats may be comfortable with the ins and outs of gym culture and have a routine down pat, new members and private individuals alike who are already intimidated by stepping foot into the gym face the risk of being in some random person’s viral social media photo or video without their consent. 

Though some influencers make a conscious effort to position their phones in an isolated way to photograph or tape only themselves or get permission from anyone else in the photo or video before posting, others capture people without their consent.

While hospitals and government buildings have started to post stronger “no cellphone” or “cellphone recording” policies, gyms, and workout studios are also starting to enact new policies to address the impact of selfies and videos. 

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YOGA class

Man and woman doing yoga at yoga studio. (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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Top reasons why you should put the phone down at the gym

While a good workout selfie or video can feel like a personal post-workout reward, below are the top seven reasons why putting your phone down may be an even better reward:

1. Better focus: Unless you’re filming yourself working out to watch later to see how your form has changed over time, not having to worry about what angle to film or who is or isn’t in the shot helps you be more present during the workout. Not worrying about how you’re being filmed also likely helps you maintain better form.

2. Better results: Proper form and being engaged in your workout leads to better results.

3. Safer workout: Focusing helps you with better form for better results and keeps you safer. Anyone who’s done a squat incorrectly can attest to how important form is to getting results, not injuries. That split-second distraction from your phone can lead to chronic or acute pain later. It also creates a safer environment for others by limiting accidents.

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high-five at the gym

Women giving each other a high-five during workout.

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4. Better connection: It’s easy to scroll when there is a lag time between when you enter and start your workout class. But when you put the phone down before class, those few minutes can help you connect with yourself and those around you. You may not be paying attention to your energy levels if you’re busy focusing on taking a selfie or video before class or a cardio session. You could easily overdo it, which can lead you to “throw in the towel” too soon or not soon enough. You can miss connecting with the person next to you or the instructor giving key guidance.

5. Better experience: Most people don’t head to the gym to be reminded about all of life’s challenges, so why not shut off your phone and put those challenges at bay for the duration of your workout? The neighbor on the treadmill next to you likely doesn’t want to hear you complaining about work or your spouse. And to be honest, you probably don’t want to hear about their day, either. 

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MAN WORKING out

Man checking his phone during a workout at the gym. (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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6. Faster workout: Who hasn’t looked on their phone to check the time, only to be sucked into a time warp of notifications and other distractions? If you put down the phone, you’re likely to move through the different exercises faster. While resting intentionally between sets can be helpful for your body, taking selfies and recording videos may derail the momentum of your workout.

7. Protect your privacy and those around you: If you post “live” footage, photos or videos of you working out at the gym or a workout studio, you can leave yourself open to being targeted by unsavory individuals. If you must post, post after you leave the gym and mix up when you post so no one knows exactly where and when you work out. If you don’t care about others knowing your schedule, the person next to you might. 

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Kurt’s key takeaway

People have a lot of strong feelings about phones in workout spaces. While most aren’t trying to harass or intimidate those around them with what feels like an innocent workout selfie or video, some people are mocking other gym goers on social media — a terrible form of bullying that needs to be stopped. While some are looking for an escape from the perpetual feeling of being observed and potentially recorded, some gym goers say having a camera recording their workouts makes them feel safer when the gym is empty, or they’re working out alone. 

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You should absolutely be proud of keeping fit in your workout spaces. While documenting your progress can be a healthy part of it, it is important to be mindful of when, where, and with whom you are doing it. Who knows? Maybe not documenting every workout can create a better workout experience for yourself. 

Do people filming their workouts bother you? Why or why not? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact

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