The worst thing you could possibly do in the gym is not hoarding dumbbells or failing to re-rack plates; it’s recording yourself. I’m not talking about the people who record themselves for one set to check their form. What I’m talking about is the overwhelming number of social media influencers and wannabe influencers who set up a camera, record every part of their workout, and then post it on social media at the expense of making everyone else in the gym uncomfortable.
The perfect example of why recording workouts needs to end is the recent viral TikTok posted by Twitch streamer Jessica Fernandez. In the video, Fernandez calls a man who glanced at her and offered to help her load plates on her barbell at the gym “feral” and a “stupid piece of f-cking sh-t.”
According to Fernandez, the man, who appeared to be minding his own business, was staring at her “like a piece of meat” during her workout. Anyone who watches the video can tell that Fernandez is either lying through her teeth or completely delusional because the poor man she maligned did nothing inappropriate:
Her video has since been deleted after multiple users called out Fernandez for baselessly trying to destroy the man’s reputation, complaining about “sexualization” when she sexualizes herself all the time on Fanhouse (a competitor app to OnlyFans), and discrediting women who are actually harassed in the gym.
“This guy kept making me extremely uncomfortable at the gym,” Fernandez wrote in the caption. In reality, the only person making people uncomfortable in the gym is Fernandez and everyone else who decides to record their workouts.
Self-absorbed gym girls pretending to be harassed in the gym is an entire genre on TikTok. Women will record their workouts and point out a man benignly glancing in their direction, and then proceed to post a video shaming that man for being a “creep.” There are also women whose gym attire can be described as nothing other than underwear, and yet they record and vilify men who stare at them.
There are even entire social media accounts dedicated to secretly recording and then ridiculing people for either their lack of strength or improper use of gym equipment. Despite being illegal, many male gym influencers will record and post themselves flexing in locker rooms while unsuspecting people are changing in the background.
There’s a disturbing level of narcissism and entitlement that comes from gym influencers. There are dozens of videos showing influencers actually getting angry at people for accidentally walking through their shots or using equipment that they want.
Many people start going to the gym because they are weak or overweight. It takes a lot of courage to enter the gym when you’re starting from zero, which can be embarrassing and discomforting. For clicks and likes, toxic fitness influencers have made it so much worse for gym newbies by creating an environment of intimidation and disrespect. It’s become so bad that some gyms have banned recording, but not enough of them have taken that step.
All the problems plaguing the fitness industry are rooted in narcissism. Wanting to look lean, strong, and healthy is a good thing, but an intense desire for attention and validation at the expense of everyone’s peace in the gym is self-centered and wrong. A study actually found that “narcissists more frequently [post updates] about their achievements,” which could explain why all the worst people feel the need to film themselves working out.
For most of us normal people, setting up a camera and recording yourself and others while working out would be unthinkable. Fear that you’d be perceived as egotistical is enough to deter most of us from doing it, and that’s a good thing.
Apparently, some of the people who record their workouts do in fact have that little voice in their heads telling them to resist whipping out a camera and ring light in the gym, but unfortunately, the internet is assuring them it’s okay. “How to Record Your Workouts in the Gym With Confidence,” reads one article, and “How to Film Yourself in the Gym Without Feeling Akward…” (sic) is the title of a YouTube video on the subject. To all you influencers feeling uncomfortable with your recordings: your brain is telling you your behavior is wrong. Please listen to the little voice in your head, not other influencers!
To anyone who justifies recording yourself and others at the gym, here are some serious signs that you are need to put the camera away and focus on working out instead of getting likes: you’re wearing makeup at the gym, you’re making fun of someone else, you’re illegally recording someone in the locker room, you’re bench pressing or squatting women or other things that aren’t actual weights, or you’re thinking about what will get you attention, instead of what will be a good workout. If you desperately need to do something to feed your ego, consider looking in a mirror. That way the rest of us don’t have to pay for your vanity.
Evita Duffy is a staff writer to The Federalist and the co-founder of the Chicago Thinker. She loves the Midwest, lumberjack sports, writing, and her family. Follow her on Twitter at @evitaduffy_1 or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.