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Fitness & Health

10th Feb 2023

Woman called out by fitness influencer says she’s been flooded with death threats and hate

Steve Hopkins

‘Could you imagine if this was the other way around and he did this to you?’

A woman who posted a TikTok claiming to have spotted a “gym creeper” claims she’s been sent death threats after a fitness influencer called her out for shaming the man.

Nora Love posted a video explaining that she had “encountered a gym creeper today” who was “not dressed for a good workout” and was wandering from machine to machine “staring at girls working out”.

The video was then stitched by Joey Swoll (real name Joey Sergo), a bodybuilder who has become internet-famous for, in part, videos that call out women for shaming men when it appears they are doing nothing wrong. Swoll unpicked Love’s narrative on the incident, captioning his video: “You never know someone’s story or what they’re going through. Stop this.”

@thejoeyswollYou never know someone’s story or what they’re going through. Stop this.♬ original sound – Joey Swoll

The self-titled “CEO of body positivity”, who has 6.4m TikTok fans, criticised Love for following the man around filming him and questioning who he was supposedly looking at, as Love’s video did not appear to show him looking at anyone in particular.

“Could you imagine if this was the other way around and he did this to you?” Swoll says in his response video that has been viewed 6.3 million times.

His followers shared his sentiment.

One wrote: “My dad is 69 and just joined my gym to use the pool and sauna. I really hope no one treats him like this.”

Another commented: “I work out at the ymca, and there are a lot of elderly people who wear street clothes, and yes they are lonely, and are looking for conversations.”

A third wrote: “My gpa was ordered by a Dr to start exercising for the first time & he had no clue & learned from watching others.”

Love told Insider that she had received hundreds of hateful messages from the influencer’s fans, including people telling her to kill herself and dox her address. She also said her coworkers and friends have also received harassment and some had felt the need to deactivate their social media accounts.

She said she had suffered repeated panic attacks and feared for her safety.

Love, a real estate agent from Orlando and mother of three, told Insider that her alarm bells went off after she noticed the man staring at a blonde woman at their gym for about 25 minutes, and, after some internal debate, decided to share the video on TikTok where she has about 2,000 followers.

Love claimed her video was taken out of context and given a “fake narrative.”

She told Insider: “He shared my video on his platform with a fake narrative, making me out to be the bad guy … as if I was being rude or cruel, or harassing this sweet old man who was just minding his own business in the gym. Which is not what was happening at all.”

After receiving hateful messages, Love put out another video, trying to provide more context, but claims it was mass-reported so fast it was taken down.

When questioned about challenging the woman’s video by Insider, Swoll directed the publication to a statement he made on Instagram earlier this week.

It reads: “I’ve spent the last couple years creating a platform to do something I’ve been doing all my life – promote a positive gym experience for all. Sometimes that means highlighting great deeds, and sometimes it means bringing to light toxic behaviuor. But no matter the subject of the video, it is always done with an attempt to inspire everyone to do better, and be better.”

Swoll goes on to say “gender has nothing to” with the message he is trying to promote, and that his account has an equal amount of videos on men and women: “I have no agenda other than making the gym a safer place for everyone.”

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Joey Swoll

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