This story was one of NZ Herald Lifestyle's top stories for 2021
A fitness influencer has claimed a man took a picture of her from behind while she was working out at the gym – stating it made her feel "extremely uncomfortable".
Julia, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US, was filming a workout for her YouTube channel and captured the whole thing on camera before gym staff allegedly confronted him about it.
The fitness enthusiast was laying on her side facing the mirror while two men wearing face masks – a standard requirement in many gyms in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic – used the weight machines behind her.
One of the men appeared to take out his phone and crouch down behind her, leading Julia to suspect he had taken a picture of her without her consent.
After he denied it, Julia took to TikTok to ask what others think, writing she was "genuinely curious" what others thought because his rebuttal made her feel "crazy".
The response has been overwhelming in her support, with scores of women insisting he should be "banned" from the gym.
"Was filming a workout back in January when this happened," she wrote over the TikTok footage.
In the clip, the man initially appears to be walking past, when he clocks Julia working out and stops. He then appears to hover behind her, crouching down momentarily in what appears to be a moment he allegedly takes a photo.
Julia said she was watching the two men in the mirror as she trained her glute muscles, her face clearly changing once she notices what was going on.
"He denied that he took a picture, which made me feel crazy for thinking about it," she said, before asking viewers what they thought.
Many were outraged, accusing the man of allegedly showing off the photo to a friend behind her. Others apologised that Julia had experienced this behaviour.
"Oh my god you look so scared, that look in your eyes. I'm so sorry," one wrote.
"This is why I don't feel comfortable at the gym," another added.
One raged: "And some men still don't get why women are sometimes nervous to be alone".
Some people suggested Julia report the incident to gym staff, which she said she did.
"He needs to be banned," one commenter said.
She claimed that staff confronted the man after she'd told them what had allegedly happened and that he denied taking the photo.
"He then came back in to tell the staff that he was mad and I just tried not to watch because I was extremely uncomfortable."
The video has been viewed almost 17 million times since it was shared on March 29, clocking up more than 50,000 comments.
In a second video responding to some of the commenters Julia said she "didn't want to report him at first because she was too scared and wasn't 100 per cent sure of what happened".
However after allegedly seeing him do it to the girl on a machine next to her, Julia said she felt compelled to report him.
"They confronted him and he got mad and he left," she said, adding he came back to complain after which left her feeling "extremely uncomfortable".
However he later tracked Julia down on Instagram where he messaged her to deny her claims.
"He also said some kind of rude things and I just didn't respond," she said.