Let’s make a statement: Gyms are not appropriate places to find dates.
Sure, there are a lot of fit people in tight clothing, sweating and grunting. But any normal person probably wants to be left alone and suffer through their workout without a stranger ogling at their beautiful body. This is exactly why Gymder, self-described as “Instagram/Tinder for athletes,” is a terrifying development in fitness technology.
The idea seems almost innocuous at first. You download a smartphone app, create a profile, and then the app shows you other Gymder users nearby. It’s ostensibly a way to find workout buddies at your local gym, share tips about the best weird protein potion to drink after pumping iron, and even find someone who shares your enthusiasm for healthy living. In the app’s FAQ, Gymder explicitly says that the app is not a dating platform but rather a “platform for fitness.”
Come on. Earlier today, I received an email from Gymder’s press bro, Chris, with the subject line: “Instagram/Tinder For Athletes.” This phrase alone offers a couple of clues about the app’s more nefarious tendencies. First, on the Instagram front, the app requires access to all of your photos. If you don’t accept those permissions, you won’t show up in the location-based home screen that shows any given users other users near them. So that’s useless. Second, on the Tinder front, the app is actually designed more like Grindr, the popular hookup and dating app for men. There’s no swipe left or right functionality—just a home screen that shows you fitness hotties near you and a way to contact them. Oh, and by the way, you can only use the app if you give it permission to track your location at all times, even when you’re not using the app.
If you’re still a bit confused about Gymder’s mission statement, let me fill you in. The press release elaborates on the “Tinder for athletes” mission with this line:
Tinder: Users can meet other users in their surroundings and work out with them. They can see who is in their gym and meet new people in their gym.
And then with this video on YouTube, under the title “GYMDER TRAILER 2016.”
You obviously don’t have to use Gymder, and honestly, you probably shouldn’t. It’s a good reminder to read the fine print on any app you download. Who knows what Gymder is doing with the copious amount of location data and photos it collects from users. (We’ve reached out to the company to learn more about these questions as well as why it’s advertised as Tinder for athletes while denying that it’s a dating platform, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.)
In the meantime, be kind to people you see at the gym. Avoid hitting on them. Most people go to the gym to focus on their own health. Most people don’t want creeps staring at their sweaty selves and wondering if you might have sex with them. That’s creepy as fuck.