Women on TikTok have taken over the internet by filming themselves working out in an attempt to catch predatory men in the gym, but many people and experts are divided on who is truly at fault. TikTok videos with the hashtags #GymCreep and #GymWeirdo have received over 100 million views on the platform in the last 18 months and it was also a big catch of attention on other platforms.
Gina, a fitness influencer from the United States, went viral last month after posting a video of a ‘creepy’ man standing close behind her while she lifted weights. The clip shows the anonymous older man setting up right behind Gina as she continues to lift weights. Gina stated that she would not return to her gym because a man chose to work out directly behind her when the rest of the floor was empty.
Heidi, a fitness influencer from the United States, went viral on the video-sharing platform in August 2021 when she shared a similar clip of herself being ‘followed’ by a fellow gym-goer. Heidi explained in a video that has over three million ‘likes’ how a ‘creepy old guy kept coming over and staring’ at her as she moved around the gym using different equipment.
In 2021, a survey conducted by the US company Run Repeat discovered that 56% of women had experienced some form of harassment while working out.
The Gym Creep Controversy On TikTok
Many fitness enthusiasts sparked an online debate after criticizing various videos of women claiming to be harassed by men at the gym, claiming they ‘aren’t victims’ simply because men stare at them.
Joey Swoll, a well-known Tiktok fitness influencer, and fitness coach, recently sparked a major debate when he began responding to TikToks posted by females at the gym who expressed discomfort because a man was watching them. Joey insisted that “there is a big difference” between “looking or glancing” at a woman and “being an actual creep,” and his claims have divided social media.
Jessica Fernandez, a Twitch streamer, posted the most controversial video, which showed her preparing to lift weights when she noticed a man behind her staring at her. In the video, Jessica refers to the man as a “weirdo” and claims she saw him staring at her five times, making her feel “like a piece of meat.”
Later in the video, the man approaches her and asks if she needs help putting the plate on her dumbbell, which she politely declines. She even captioned the video with a lot of curse words and hurtful words. The video quickly went viral, sparking outrage from viewers who claimed Jessica was “not a victim” and that the man was simply trying to help her.
When it came to the man offering to assist Jessica with her weights, Joey called it an “act of kindness” and chastised her for “turning him into a creep” because of it.
To all gym goers out there, make sure you’re not being harassed or sexualized before posting anything stupid that could damage the reputation and dignity of others. Can you imagine how these guys feel after seeing your videos online in which you call them a gym creep despite the fact that they were only concerned about you? Or maybe they were just admiring your rep techniques?
Furthermore, most gyms around the world have already issued a statement saying that this type of behavior is unacceptable and that if it is proven, the gym membership of the plaintiff will be terminated immediately. They also stated that if they encounter harassment inside the gym, they should not be afraid to report it to the gym’s administration.