Women on TikTok have taken to filming themselves working out in a bid to catch predatory men in the gym – but people are divided over who is really at fault.
Over the past 18 months, videos with the hashtag #GymCreep and #GymWeirdo – mostly uploaded by UK and US users – have amassed over 100m views on the platform.
Last month, US influencer Gina went viral when she shared a clip of a ‘creepy’ man who positioned near to where she was lifting weights.
She wrote: ‘Watch this creep come over to my personal bubble while doing [dead-lifts].’
As she continues lifting her weights, the clip shows the anonymous older man setting up right behind Gina.
TikTok user Gina said she wouldn’t be returning to her gym when a man chose to work out directly behind her when the rest of the floor was emplty
Feeling threatened by his presence, Gina said: ‘The gym was practically empty and [there are] so many corners to be in and he chose this one.’
She continued: ‘I’ve been in this corner for 10 minutes before him and only had one set left.’
Determined not to let him interrupt her workout, Gina continued her squats in front of the mirror.
In the background, the man – who she accused of ogling her minutes before- is seen moving one weight from side-to-side close behind her.
Explaining why she had got her camera out, Gina added: ‘I started recording him so now we’re all uncomfortable together.
‘He was literally starring at my [bum] before this.’
What’s more, Gina says she felt so threatened by the man’s behaviour that she now doesn’t feel safe returning.
She added: ‘I am never coming back to this gym.’ Urging other women to stay vigilant, Gina captioned the clip: ‘Be careful out there girlies because wtf??’
As the man stood directly behind her as she squatted, the woman wrote: ‘I am never coming back to this gym’
In August 2021, US-based fitness influencer Heidi went viral on the video-sharing platform when she shared a similar clip of her being ‘followed’ by a fellow gym-goer.
In a video that’s amassed over three million ‘likes’, Heidi explained how a ‘creepy old guy kept coming over and staring’ at her as she moved her way around the gym using different equipment.
The clip opens with Heidi doing a mat workout while the older man walks over to sit on a machine next to her. As she pauses for a moment, the man is caught on video looking at her midriff.
Even after she asked her husband to come and lift weights beside her, Heidi added: ‘[The man] CONTINUED to stare’.
Fitness influencer Heidi went viral at the end of 2021 when she posted a video of an older man watching her as she worked out
The man was seen looking at her midriff as she paused during her mat workout. Although he said he was ‘just looking around’, Heidi says he ‘shut up real quick’ when he found out she had been filming her workout
The clip also shows the man looking in the direction of Heidi’s behind as she squats.
Frustrated by his behaviour, Heidi added: ‘I decided to stop working out and stare back. I thought he got the picture. I attempted to do my set.
‘Then I got fed up and went over and addressed him.’
Heidi claims she confronted the man off-camera and told him his staring was making her uncomfortable.
She added: ‘His response was: “I’m just looking around”.
‘I then told him I record my workouts and I have him on film. He shut up real quick.’
She then captioned the clip: ‘Don’t sit there and tell me you’re not doing something when I have proof!’
Fitness influencer Songeta shared a video of herself being starred at by a ‘gym creep’ in late 2021
In the background, an older man is caught on camera starring at Songeta from the step machine. She captioned the clip: ‘A GIRL CAN’T EVEN STRETCH IN PEACE’
Meanwhile, fitness TikToker Songeta also shared a video of herself being starred at by a ‘gym creep’ in late 2021.
The clip – which has amassed over 209,000 ‘likes’ – shows Songeta warming down by doing some stretches on a carpeted area of her local gym.
In the background, an older man is caught on camera starring at her from the step machine.
She fumed: ‘A GIRL CAN’T EVEN STRETCH IN PEACE.’
As she left the gym, the social media star claimed: ‘I finally told him to stop starringgg.’
In 2021, a survey by US company Run Repeat found that 56 per cent of women had faced some kind of harassment while working out.
Speaking to the BBC, UK gym chain Nuffield Heath said they have a ‘zero tolerance approach’ to harassment – which can result in immediate termination of memberships.
Meanwhile, PureGym told the publication: ‘Any allegation of misconduct is followed by an investigation and appropriate action would then be taken based on the evidence and information available.
In serious cases, this could include an individual being banned from the gym or involving the police.’
A fitness fanatic sparked a debate online after critiquing various videos of women claiming to be harassed by men at the gym – insisting they ‘aren’t victims’ just because guys stare at them
Joey Swoll recently caused a major argument after he started responding to TikToks posted by females at the gym who said they were uncomfortable because a man was watching them
In addition, The Gym Group said they have ‘policies in place’ to ensure both employees and members ‘know what behaviour isn’t acceptable’.
Earlier this year, a fitness fanatic sparked a heated debate online after critiquing various videos of women claiming to be harassed by men at the gym – insisting they ‘aren’t victims’ just because guys look at them as they workout.
Joey Swoll, a training coach who splits his time between Los Angeles and New York, recently caused a major argument on the web after he started responding to TikToks posted by females at the gym who said they were uncomfortable because a man had been watching them.
Joey insisted that ‘there is a big difference’ between someone simply ‘looking or glancing’ at a woman and ‘being an actual creep,’ and his claims have left social media divided.
A recent TikTok posted by a woman named Jessica showed her preparing to lift weights when she noticed a man behind her was looking at her.
A recent TikTok posted by someone named Jessica showed her preparing to lift weights when she noticed a man behind her was looking at her
In the clip, Jessica branded the guy a ‘weirdo’ and said she saw him staring at her five different times, making her feel like she was ‘a piece of meat.’
‘Stupid piece of f***ing s***. I hate this, I hate when there’s weirdos, it makes me uncomfortable. Feral, like f***ing feral,’ she said to the camera.
Later on in the TikTok, the man approached her and asked if she needed help putting the plate on her dumbbell, which she kindly declined.
But the interaction made her even more infuriated. She wrote across the screen: ‘What if I just ripped his [penis] out of his socket so he could never reproduce again?’
She then suggested that his actions were all the more outrageous because she is under the age of 21, stating: ‘This is why I don’t want kids. Natural selection better take these weirdos out. He’s going to jail for staring at an underage 21-year-old.’
‘It’s so disturbing and sad I can’t enjoy a simple workout without being uncomfortable,’ she added in the caption.
Joey responded to the video in a post of his own, claiming that while ‘women are harassed in gyms and it needs to stop,’ Jessica ‘was not one of them.’
‘There is a big difference between staring at somebody and simply looking or glancing at them,’ he said.
‘Why did this man look at you? Well you’re in front of him, a little off to the side, you’re in his peripheral.
‘You’re also taking a video with your camera pointed directly at him and you’re talking to yourself.
Joey responded to the video in a post of his own, claiming that while ‘women are harassed in gyms and it needs to stop,’ Jessica ‘was not one of them’
The fitness influencer responded to a viral video of a woman accusing a man of being a ‘gym creep’
‘He’s probably watching you wondering, “What is she doing?” I know I would.’
When it came to the man offering to help Jessica with her weights, Joey called it an ‘act of kindness,’ and slammed her for ‘turning him into a creep’ over it.
‘Any experienced lifter out there knows that when you have a barbell on the ground, if you’re doing hip thrusts or dead lifts, it’s very difficult to put plates on,’ he continued.
‘He sees that you struggled, being an experience lifter and he comes over to try to help you because that’s what kind people do.
‘This is not misogynistic. I have been in the gym for 20 years, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve helped men and women load plates, take plates off, put weights back. It has nothing to do with sex or gender.
Some social media users agreed with Joey, claiming that the man was falsely judged, while others were on Jessica’s side, calling him ‘creepy’
‘You help people because it’s kind to do. And it’s very sad that you took an act of kindness – this man doing something for you, being kind – and turned him into a creep at the gym talking about how you want to rip his reproductive organ off? And that natural selection should take him out? Really?
‘Trying to make yourself out to be a victim, which you’re not. There are women harassed in gyms, you’re not one of them.’
Joey’s reaction to Jessica’s video got more than 59 million views and many people replied with their own thoughts on the matter.
Some agreed with Joey, claiming that the man was falsely judged, while others were on Jessica’s side, calling him ‘creepy.’
‘Agree! Being kind now a days is taken wrong by many young girls in the gym… maybe its because of social media,’ one person wrote.
‘I know from experience. There are creeps at the gym but let’s not make every guy feel that way when it’s just being nice.’