A Maltese woman who said she was filmed without her consent by Bulletproof Culture at a local gym has spoken out, explaining what happened and claiming that their apology, which has since been deleted from their page, was simply not enough.
“The apology video for me was a joke, it was only damage control, which is very obvious,” Amanda* told Lovin Malta.
Amanda recounted the story from the beginning. She explained that while she was working out at the “most suitable gym” for her, she was approached by one of the founders of Bulletproof.
There were another two men with him, the co-founder and another TikToker who is known on the platform for trying to pick up women.
The co-founder and the TikToker stayed to the side, “seemingly unnoticeable”, while the initial man went to work out next to Amanda.
He quickly asked her to remove her headphones so that she could talk to him, and then he “attempted to flirt and sweet talk”, according to Amanda.
“I immediately recognised these tactics which are used by the TikToker who was at the gym.”
After she realised what was going on, Amanda sent a message to the man that approached her, telling him that she knew she was being filmed, “since he never asked for consent or approval”.
“I told him that I didn’t want to be a part of his video or be posted on their social media channels. He did not respect my wishes.”
Messages read by Lovin Malta show the man assuring Amanda that her face will not show, “so no one will know who it is”.
However, Amanda maintained that she still does not want that video out there as her voice can be heard and she is frankly not comfortable with having these clips out on social media.
“After explaining that I’m still not okay with it, I contacted the manager of the gym who agreed that it was wrong for them to film me without my consent,” she continued.
The gym subsequently contacted the co-founder who was previously in contact with Amanda.
“He [the co-founder] then reached out to me but kept on insisting to post the video with my face blurred to make me ‘feel better’, but I still said no.”
“I even told him to delete the video. I couldn’t have been clearer than that,” she stated.
“Yet, they went ahead anyway and posted the video to YouTube, my part in the video has since been removed.”
This video also featured other women without their faces blurred, “which shows that had I not gone and told him not to post me, he would have posted it with my face fully visible.”
“Apart from that, the other women also seemed very uncomfortable, which made me wonder if they had asked for their consent.”
Amanda went on to say that the fitness group uploaded a short clip of the video to their Instagram, captioning it part one and saying that the second part involving the founder that flirted with her was coming next, despite her repeated pleads for them not to post the footage.
“I told them that I do not want to be associated with this concept, because for me this does not have anything to do with fitness, and it’s making the gym a very uncomfortable place to train at, especially for women who are being targeted for content.”
Since her urges were being ignored, Amanda felt like she had no other option than to go to the police.
The police couldn’t help her but they did advise her to contact Data Protection Commission. So she did. Amanda called and filed a complaint, but the video remained online.
“The gym even called the fitness group and told them to remove the video but they kept it up. My brother was also in contact with them, and they were very rude claiming that ‘they were busy’ and that they ‘had a meeting and don’t have time for this’, no remorse whatsoever,” she alleged.
After getting no response, Amanda ended up feeling extremely frustrated, so she posted on the group Women for Women on Facebook to seek some advice.
Amanda admitted to being quite reluctant to share her story on social media initially, but after seeking advice from friends who encouraged her to speak out she decided she would.
“How they are approaching the situation is not right at all; a no is a no in any type of context.”
The post ended up circulating outside of the Facebook group and ending up on local news site Sidestreet Malta.
“I was overwhelmed with all the support I received, and couldn’t be more grateful for how everyone stood up for me and the other women.”
However, after the post started making the rounds on peoples’ feeds, the founder messaged her saying she was blowing this whole scenario out of proportion.
Lovin Malta can confirm this.
“He was trying to manipulate me into thinking that I was the one in the wrong and that I was putting a bad image on their brand. Speaking with him resorted to no conclusion, he did not even try to see where he went wrong, only repeating his silly excuses,” she claimed.
So, she stopped responding.
“After all the backlash they were receiving, they came out with an apology video, and it was shortly after this was posted that he [the founder] privately apologised to me, even though it seemed very insincere as he only apologised for any ‘inconvenience’ this may have caused.”
In their public apology, one of the group’s founders stated that their content always has good intentions, however, they needed to “address something quickly”.
He stated that the filmed conversation was “harmless and friendly”.
“She didn’t want to be shown, so we blurred her out and her identity didn’t show. However, after it went live she was unhappy and here, I want to apologise for overlooking the situation and maybe having a lack of empathy. I do not want anyone to feel uncomfortable in a gym experience, so I do apologise.”
In the meantime, he said, they will continue to post “engaging, entertaining, and inspiring content”.
This, Amanda said, was “a joke”.
She stated that it came off as “damage control” and the founder who flirted with her and who she was in contact with following the initial encounter didn’t even appear in the video.
Bulletproof also went live and they spoke briefly about the situation saying that this gym pick-up video is their first of such in three years.
They said it was “harmless” and that they will not address the situation again.
“Fuck the noise, fuck the negativity, and let everyone waste their time,” they concluded.
Speaking to Lovin Malta, Bulletproof explained that they removed the initial apology because of “abusive comments and false accusations”.
“We have a lot of young followers who look up to us and don’t deserve to see anyone act in this manner.”
Meanwhile, “the original video in reference was taken down from YouTube hence no one could see it for themselves, creating an opportunity for such accusations to take place.”
“To wrap this up our apology still stands. Of course, maybe it’s not mentioned in the above. But we had to take these measures due to the circumstances of the situation.”
*The names in this story have been changed.