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Is It Legal to Record People at a Gym?

Recording people working out at the gym is super lame, but privacy advocates may be dismayed to learn it may not be illegal.

President Barack Obama got a nasty taste of the dark side of secretly being recorded in a gym this week, when a video of him working out at a Polish hotel's gym leaked to the media. According to the Los Angeles Times, a fellow exerciser surreptitiously captured the Commander in Chief keeping fit using his or her smartphone.

It's certainly rude to record people at the gym, but can you get into legal trouble for doing so?

No Privacy in Public Places

Since most gyms are accessible to the public, it is not a violation of privacy laws to record someone in a gym's common area. Typically the law does not prohibit viewing or photographing activities which are outside a person's reasonable expectation of privacy.

Taking a photo of someone on the elliptical, a reasonably public view, would likely be legal. A photo of them in the locker room ... not so much. And forget about the bathroom. Even if it's in a public area, attempting to get an upskirt or up-short photo in a gym could land you behind bars.

As long as the subject is a clothed gymgoer in a common public area, the law provides little protection from secret snaps.

Gym Policies Come Into Play

State and federal laws may be mostly silent on recording people at the gym, but each gym has its own policies regarding photography and video.

Here are some recording policies at gyms which have locations nationwide:

With #gymselfies becoming more ubiquitous, it may be hard for each gym to enforce these rules. However, if you catch someone recording you with their smartphone (or vice versa), it will be up to the individual gym to deal with the problem. Breaking these rules is likely considered a breach of your gym membership agreement, so the worst that could really happen is that the gym could cancel your membership and kick you out.

Bottom line: Recording at the gym may be legal in a public, clothed setting. But is recording people at the gym really worth the risk?

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