by Christian Duque
Everyone loves Sam Sulek. The guy is a blue collar bodybuilder who lifts out of love of the sport. He doesn’t compete and I don’t know that he ever will. It’s not about that for him. He’s a chill dude that likes to eat, train, and talk about his journey on his various social media feeds. This article isn’t about him engaging in a yelling match or being driven out of a PF with the cops. It’s not that kind of situation and this is certainly not that type of article.
Sam didn’t make the lunk alarms go off and he wasn’t throwing weights around. What happened was he was filming in the gym and some busybody felt the need to go report it. Sam recognized that filming in a Planet Fitness wasn’t the right vibe and he acknowledged that the employees were also somewhat apologetic to have to ask him to stop but there was a supervisor on site.
As Sulek summed it up, they were just following orders and it wasn’t personal at all. I think it’s refreshing that he’s able to make that determination. Some guys might play the victim card and unload with some seemingly righteous indignation. That’s not what this guy is about. He’s down-to-Earth and understands that a lot of mainstream people that go to train don’t understand he’s a content creator and/or don’t get the whole concept of social media. Sam ended his filming, finished his workout, and resumed filming once outside.
For my article, I’d like to discuss when and where this type of filming is ok and when it might be better to err on the side of caution. After all, EVERYONE is on social media, many are YouTube partners, and if you want to get views you need to create content people want to watch. When it comes to fitness related content, people want to see their favorite influencers in the gym with actual weights and getting through sets just like everybody else. They want tips from the trenches and they want to know what the best techniques are. Plus, there are any number of new machines coming out and new ways of using existing machines to hit different body parts. Unfortunately, very few influencers have home gyms that have every piece imaginable so they have to go to commercial gyms in order to be able to demonstrate how they train.
The problem is most commercial gyms neither want bodybuilders in there, nor do they want any type of filming going on. Although filming would bring them more business, they are completely opposed to the idea. They would rather not get the extra business, than to allow fitness influencers to set up LED lights and tripods all throughout their facilities.
And this is also because a lot of every day gym goers do not want to see filming going on in the gym. They do not want to be caught in the background of videos and let’s be honest they’re also butthurt that fitness influencers look as good as they do. A lot of people go to the gym to sulk and to feel bad about themselves in the hopes that they will turn it around and start to take charge of their lives. The last thing they want to see is a surfer type with washboard abs making videos talking about how great their lives are. Again it’s sour grapes all day and all night but these people will report you at the drop of a hat.
This is why it’s important to go to bodybuilding-friendly gyms and there are not very many of those left. Many times you have to test the waters like Sam did and be prepared to have someone from the staff ask you to stop. While it’s probably not advisable to try filming at a Planet Fitness or an Anytime Fitness, the same could happen at a Powerhouse or World Gym. These facilities are far more bodybuilder-friendly, but they may also have stringent guidelines about what may be filmed and what may not.
A good idea would be to approach a gym owner or gym management beforehand and explain to them what it is that you are all about. Whether that means showing them your YouTube channel or your website is entirely up to you. If you are a competitor talk to them about the number of shows you have done. Sometimes you can actually find gyms that are very friendly to what you do as long as they know exactly what you’re all about before hand. Explaining to a gym what’s going on as you are doing it is really not the way to go.
Or you can try to fly under the radar.
At the end of the day content creators need to MacGyver it and they also need to be gorilla type DIY creators. They are neither paying the gym for the ability to fill in there and they are also making money from filming that the gyms will never see. Therefore, it’s very much a cat and mouse game that also requires employing a little bit of common sense. If you are a content creator, I tip my hat to you and wish you the best of luck. And luck you will need.