Fitness Influencers Need to Pay Rent at Their Gym

by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

No, the title of this article isn’t clickbait… I truly believe that fitness influencers need to pay more than typical members at the gym. Why, because they’re essentially running a business inside of a business.

Now, before you say, “But Matt, they’re paying to use the gym, so why shouldn’t they be able to do whatever they want?” Why? Because that’s not how the world works. If I pay for a bus ticket and get on there with a million pieces of camera equipment, and it interrupts the ability for people to use public transportation and it’s a hazard where people can get hurt, the bus company can tell that person to get lost.

But when you look at fitness influencers today, they’re going to the gym with their camera, tripod, mic, and even some are bringing their own lighting. What do they do? They hog up every machine with their junk and interrupt the flow of everyone else’s workout.

The solution? Gyms either need to start kicking these individuals out of their gyms, or they need to start charging them rent on top of their membership fees. Sound harsh? I really don’t care. This culture where people go to the gym only to film themselves is dumb and annoying to everyone around them. These influencers don’t care who gets in their shot either, meanwhile, they technically need to have people sign consent forms to be shown in their video.

In case you can’t tell, I’m pretty fired up about this, and we’re going to dive even deeper into the topic in this article.

Fitness Influencers and Lights, Camera, Act a Fool

You don’t have to scroll all that far in your social media feed to find someone recording a video of themselves in the gym to put up on their Instagram account or upload to TikTok. And if you scroll a little further, you’ll probably find a video of a fitness influencer getting into a heated argument over someone walking in front of their camera and into their shot.

Here’s the thing… no one cares that you’re filming a video in the gym. They’re there to get in a workout, unlike you, who’s only there to gain attention on social media. While you’re stuck in the virtual reality world of social media with your millions of fake friends and followers, other people are there to improve their health and physique.

Why should they have to work around you with all your equipment and go out of their way to walk around your equipment and not in front of your camera? Who exactly do you think you are? If you’re that popular on social media and this is a full-time business for you, then act like it. Either pay to build your own gym or pay the gym rent.

Pay Rent at the Gym or Get Out

The sense of entitlement today from fitness influencers is off the charts. They think that just because they have thousands or millions of followers that they can just do whatever they want in a gym. That shouldn’t be the case, and gym owners need to step up.

Here’s the sad reality of being a gym owner. If you have a small gym, you’re not making a ton of money each month. In fact, it’s so little that influencers using their gym are probably making more money from the content they shoot inside the gym than the actual gym owner makes each month (that’s the sad truth).

The only people benefiting from fitness influencers shooting content in a gym are the influencers. Now look, if you want to snap a photo of you at the gym, that’s one thing. But don’t go overboard with a full production setup just to get a shot. If you take a selfie in the mirror, that’s fine (after all, the new standard is questioning if the workout even counts if people don’t see you post a gym pic on social media these days).

Far too many times, we all see people walking into the gym with a camera and tripod, and you know exactly what’s about to go down. The tripod takes up the aisle between machines and forces people to walk around everything, you have influencers getting pissed because people are trying to use the machines they’re on or they’re getting in their shots, and the list goes on and on.

So, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for gym owners to tell fitness influencers to stop shooting content, leave the gym, or pay rent.

How much should gym owners charge fitness influencers? Honestly, I don’t care. But make it a good amount of money. There’s no reason gym owners couldn’t charge fitness influencers several hundreds of dollars per month to shoot content in the gym. The downside to this is you’re just making it acceptable for this type of behavior and even encouraging it (so, you have somewhat of a double-edged sword).

Is the answer to ban cell phones and cameras from gyms? That might actually be the best solution to the problem. It certainly would end the nonsense we see online where people are taking videos or images in locker rooms, and you have the random old person’s butt cheeks in the background because the fitness influencer has no consideration for anyone other than themselves and getting the perfect shot of themselves.

I can actually see someone suing fitness influencers for posting an image on social media that includes them in the locker room nearly naked. We’re heading down a slippery slope these days with creating content in gyms. But overall, something needs to be done before every fitness influencer across the globe walks around the gym with a tripod and camera. It’s bad enough that people are wearing the new Apple Vision Pro in gyms and looking like a complete tool. We’re there to get in a workout, not to look all stylish with advanced tech. Imagine spending as much time doing your workout as you do caring about your equipment and getting the perfect shot. What a strange world we live in today.