While “Fitstagrams” and fitness pages boom on social media in 2019, it is not uncommon to see people recording their workouts in weight rooms and on exercise mats or posing for the obligatory post-gym selfie. This is not the case at the UA Student Recreation Center, a photo- and video-free zone. Though these restrictions aren’t new, the Rec has emphasized the policy to allow all participants to feel safe and comfortable in the facility, even as social media grows and fitness content creators become increasingly abundant.
The policies at the Rec are being put at the forefront for patrons to be reminded they cannot video or take photographs inside the facility. If a student or organization of any sort wishes to film for something such as a class project, Associate Director Darrell Hargreaves said they will need to submit a formal request to the Division of the Strategic Communication. However, they may or may not receive approval.
The Rec’s mission is to be a welcoming facility for all patrons as they better themselves.
“It’s a point of emphasis right now,” said Hargreaves. “It’s just something that’s recurring a lot in the weight room, so we just brought it back to the forefront of our staff just being mindful of video taping going on in the weight room.”
When filming, a videographer may accidentally catch someone in the background and not realize it until after it is posted online. On the other hand, patrons sometimes film others on purpose, thinking it is funny. The no video policy is put into place to avoid either of these potential circumstances.
“If you’re videoing yourself or you’re taking a selfie, you can include somebody that doesn’t want to be [posted],” Hargreaves said.
Social media has a malicious side, and the Rec wants to avoid having a patron’s image being posted on a social media platform in a negative way, which can occur purposefully or on accident.
Hargreaves added that social media can be positive when it comes to motivation, but the overall positive is going to be keeping the Rec as safe as they can for patrons. Hargreaves said that since the administration and staff at the Rec cannot tell the intent of any video or photo which is utilized for personal use, no filming or photography is allowed.
“When you come into the building, you have an understanding of privacy, alright, so when you’re out there if you’re out in the public, it’s understood that you don’t really have the privacy and you can be videoed, and when you come into the facility you have that [no video policy],” said the Coordinator of Facility Operations Scott Sharp. “And it’s to protect our patrons, we don’t know what you’re going to do [or] what anybody’s going to do with that picture [or] what websites they’re going to be placed on and the maliciousness behind it.”
Sharp said conversations with patrons have taken place when videoing inside the Rec does occur. Patrons usually understand the policy, but they may not always agree.
“We’ve had incidences too where people have been video recorded in our group exercise classes, and maybe they’re trying to better themselves and be better, and that content isn’t being displayed in that manner,” Sharp said.
Sydney Shopp, a freshman majoring in journalism, said she wishes she could record her workouts to ensure she has proper form. She said she believes it would decrease injury because participants will be able to watch their workouts back to see what they are doing right or wrong.
“I don’t like it because I like always like to record myself especially when I don’t have like a coach watching me,” Shopp said. “I used to do like weightlifting and stuff, so it was nice like if I coach in there I can like see myself doing it, but like I get it for like privacy of other people because like they don’t always want to be on video, but I feel like if you’re the only one around then like, and you don’t get anybody else in your video, it should be like fine.”
However, Shopp does understand the policy and realizes why it is in place. Even if someone is doing something wrong, they do not deserve to be recorded and posted on social media or sent to a Snapchat group. Shopp said there is a difference between recording yourself for the better and recording others for the worse.
“You definitely shouldn’t record other people at the gym, Shopp said. “Like if you’re recording yourself, that’s one thing, but like, you shouldn’t like record someone to make fun of them because they are at the gym for a reason,”
The policy is contested by patrons who believe they should be allowed to use their devices as they please. Austin Goodwin, a senior double majoring in advertising and communication studies, said recording content for social media and personal reasons has been around for years.
“It’s 2019, and I think everyone understands how important content is, just being on Instagram myself and publishing that kind of content,” Goodwin said. “I will gladly pay a gym membership, I do pay a gym membership, somewhere else that I can record and do what I want to do freely with my devices.”
Goodwin said recording workouts are not always to be put on social media. Personal trainers record content for their clients to demonstrate how to do exercises. People may want to record themselves for personal records to view their progress and improve their form with their workouts. Goodwin said there is a lot of good aspects used when it comes to recording workouts.
“I can understand if it was 2005 or 2006, and nobody was really doing it and it was kind of out of the ordinary, but to some degree I feel that everybody has posted or recorded some kind of content in the gym and I think that the campus gym should really try to understand that they have to bring value to students to keep them in the gym,” Goodwin said.
There are gyms in the Tuscaloosa area that do not have a no video policy, so those who seek social media content in the gym may leave the Rec and join those gyms. Goodwin said he understands that privacy is an issue and people may be worried about being recorded. So with this policy in place, he said some people may feel more comfortable while at the Rec, however he believes participants should be allowed to record themselves.