The TikTok trend where women call out #GymCreeps

Woman in gym, representing women calling out gymcreeps on TikTok. (Getty Images)
More women are starting to call out #GymGreeps on TikTok. (Getty Images)

You may have heard of the #GymCreep trend circulating TikTok, with more women speaking out about the harassment they’ve experienced when trying to work out.

While some see the importance of exposing certain incidents and taking a stand against the issue, others aren’t so sure about filming in gyms and sharing it online.

So what exactly is the #GymCreep movement and why have women felt compelled to take action both online and in the real world?

The #GymCreep trend broken down in 10 points

Picture of TikTok app on phone. (Getty Images)
Why are women turning to social media to take a stand against gym harassment? (Getty Images)

What is #GymCreep? The trend involves women sharing clips to TikTok of men they've caught on camera harassing them at the gym, or just videos of themselves speaking out generally about their experiences. The hashtag currently has more than 68 million views so far.

What is #GymCreep type behaviour? Many women have complained of staring, being followed around, inappropriate comments or something more serious. TikTok user @nicoleferrierfitness, for example, said a man once looked down at her chest at the gym and asked her, ‘Are those real?'.

It goes deeper than just a trend. Natalee Barnett, 23, who says she mainly shares overall experiences of herself and others, believes, "The hashtag is important. It shows women are plucking up the courage to speak out publicly. We need to educate people on what happens in gyms."

Natalee Barnett. (Supplied)
'I’ve experienced it all, staring, following, mansplaining, inappropriate comments, and sexual assault', says Natalee Barnett, pictured. (Supplied)

Footage recently showed a woman being attacked. Captured through CCTV (not her own filming), one woman in Florida was attacked by a man, who was then arrested. "My advice would be, to never give up," she says in a BBC TikTok, as the man eventually tired after she fought back.

Watch: Woman fights off creep who attacks her at gym

Most women have been harassed at the gym. Some 56.37% of women have been harassed while working out, a 2021 study by RunRepeat suggests. This is 2.68 times more than men (21%). Of the women who've been harassed, 25.65% stopped using gyms completely or changed where they went.

Women don't feel supported. Some women on TikTok have spoken out about not feeling supported by their gyms, and Barnett agrees. "There have been many, many cases where gym harassment has been reported and nothing has been done. It needs to be taken way more seriously by gyms."

Woman working out in the gym. (Getty Images)
Some women feel as though their experiences haven't been dealt with properly. (Getty Images)

What can men do to help? "Men need to become allies. Seeing women as lesser than in the gym is the start of it all. If men see a woman feeling uncomfortable or another man doing something that makes a woman feel uncomfortable, they absolutely need to call it out," adds Barnett.

There's high demand for women-only spaces. Barnett plans to open The Girls Spot gym to allow women to train safely and comfortably. On her 8 Jan pop-up, she says, "Demand was absolutely insane. About 6,400 women went to purchase a ticket and it sold out within the hour."

Barnett has had requests to bring her women's only gym to LA, Atlanta, South Africa, Dubai, and more. (Getty Images)
Barnett has had requests to bring her women's only gym to LA, Atlanta, South Africa, Dubai, and more. (Getty Images)

A note on privacy. Clinical psychologist and host of The Aspiring Psychologist Podcast Dr Marianne Trent says, "It might feel like the best approach is to film behaviour for a second opinion but recording someone without consent and sharing it online isn’t necessarily okay either."

Woman filming in the gym. (Getty Images)
Some are critical of those who choose to film in the gym. (Getty Images)

A word to the gym creeps. "Do consider that exercise, physical image and personal space can feel deeply personal and that making someone feel unsafe might contribute to low mood or anxiety and may also mean they stop engaging in physical activity altogether," says Trent. "Stay kind, and if in doubt, stay away."

A group of fitness enthusiasts working out together at the gym using rowing machines.
Everyone has the right to feel safe in the gym. (Getty Images)