- Joey Swoll has been going viral for calling out people who call out others at the gym.
- A woman who was criticized by Swoll told Insider that she received an onslaught of hate as a result.
- She said she had to deactivate all her social media and has suffered multiple panic attacks.
Over the past few weeks, fitness influencer Joey Swoll has become known for his videos that mostly call out women for labeling men “creepers” at the gym. Swoll, who has over six million followers on TikTok, brands himself as the “CEO of gym positivity.”
However, some of his fans aren’t very positive. While many people have dubbed him a “hero” for defending men in gyms, others have pointed to his aggressive fanbase and the way he continues to call out women as a sign that he could be fueling misogyny, which is already widespread on the internet.
A woman who was recently called out by Swoll said she’s received hundreds of hateful messages from the influencer’s fans, including people telling her to kill herself and dox her address. Nora Love told Insider her coworkers and friends have also received harassment as a result. Some, out of an abundance of caution, felt the need to deactivate their social media accounts. She said she fears for her safety and has suffered repeated panic attacks.
Last week, Love found a clip of her video featured on Swoll’s TikTok page. The fitness influencer, who has 6.4 million fans, stitched her video to denounce her actions in them. Love originally filmed an older man at her local gym who she claimed was leering at women at the gym and not doing much working out while he was there.
“There’s no way he’s looking at her,” Swoll says in his video response to Love. “Could you imagine if this was the other way around and he did this to you?” His video has been viewed over 6.2 million times.
Love, who’s a real estate agent from Orlando and mother of three, told Insider that she heavily debated whether to post her original video.
She said her alarm bells went off after she noticed the man staring at a blonde woman at their gym for about 25 minutes. She ultimately decided to share the video to her small TikTok page of around 2,000 followers, which normally featured clips of her working out, and content related to her job, like giving real estate advice and property walkthroughs.
Her TikTok only had about 220 likes when Swoll amplified it to his millions of followers. Love claimed the video was taken out of context and given a “fake narrative.”
“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,” Love alleged. “Which is not what was happening at all.”
Almost immediately, Love was inundated with hateful messages. She said she posted a rebuttal video with more context about the situation, but viewers mass-reported it so fast that it was soon taken down. Love began receiving so much harassment that she was forced to deactivate all her accounts, including TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even her Pinterest page.
“I was getting incessant phone calls,” said Love, whose number was publicly available because she’s a real estate agent. “They were going hard to try to find me with the intention of … making me lose my source of income, making me fear for my safety.”
She said people called her insults and expletives and made death threats against her. She said a stranger showed up at a studio where she had once recorded a podcast at and asked to see her.
Insider reviewed dozens of screenshots of hateful messages and listened to a handful of threatening voicemails she had received.
While the backlash had mostly died down, she said someone as recent as Wednesday called her a racist slur over the phone.
“I’ve never had more panic attacks in my life,” Love said. “These last two weeks of my life have been a living absolute nightmare.”
—Joey Swoll (@TheJoeySwoll) February 9, 2023
When reached, Swoll pointed Insider to a public social media post he made on Wednesday as his official statement.
“If you actually go to my page you’ll see I’ve done an equal amount of videos on men and women because gender has nothing to do with it. I have no agenda other than making the gym a safer place for EVERYONE. Period,” he said in a lengthy tweet that included a screenshot of a previous Insider headline about the matter. “There have been some who have taken it upon themselves to take my words of positivity and create situations of harassment, misogyny, body shaming, or any other version of spreading hate.”
Love’s situation isn’t the first time a hate mob has descended on someone who was called out by Swoll.
Perhaps the most public outrage was directed at Jessica Fernandez, a fellow creator who called a man a “weirdo” and expletives for glancing at her in the gym. After Swoll called her out, she received a wave of backlash and was pressured to apologized for the incident.