Fitness photography Leeds, Pure Gym

Body Change Fitness, documentary photography, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Waz from Body Change Fitness hired me to come and photograph one of his group classes. Waz wanted pictures that captured the atmosphere and energy of one of his fitness classes.

Pure Gym, Leeds

Waz works out of Pure Gym in Leeds, West Yorkshire and this was the location for the photoshoot. I arrived early to see Waz setting up for his fitness class. We had quite a large area to do the photoshoot, the light wasn’t amazing but it was just about good enough for me to shoot. I do like a challenge and this was going to be quite challenging. I didn’t want to set up lights as I was just capturing candidly the class and this would have distracted Waz’s clients. and that’s not my aim, so I just had to push my camera a little more but everything was absolutely fine.


When I am doing anything like this shoot it’s really important to communicate, I had been given a small brief from Waz so I knew what he wanted, he didn’t want posed, false shots, he wanted reality. When his clients came in I introduced myself to everyone and just told them briefly what I was doing. this is a very important part of the process when doing something like this as if I didn’t it would just like I was some weirdo with a camera.

Use the warm up

When I’ am photographing fitness it’s sometimes very important to use the warm-up to find out exactly what is happening. I used this warm-up to work out how each person reacted, which exercises would be the best to capture, which angles work, how the light looks and pretty much everything else.

Start from afar

I was very aware that I was a fly on the wall and that people were actually paying for the class, so anything like this I have a lot of respect for the clients. I start off slowly, at this point I am working on story-telling. I try to keep a bit of distance and capture the whole class. After five minutes or so, everyone gets used to me and they stop worrying and just concentrate on their exercises.

Come in close

After about fifteen minutes everyone was used to me so this meant that I could start getting close to people. When photographing fitness I want to capture the real emotion and to do this you have to get really close. I wanted to capture pictures of people sweating and grimacing and being put through their paces.


After I had captured the story-telling images and some close-up pictures it was now time for playtime. Playtime for me is when I have everything I need and I can get creative. I knew that I wanted to try and capture pictures with loads of action, multiple people doing different exercises and just something a little different. I really like some of these images and it’s my favourite part of any photoshoot.

Demonstration pictures

After the exercise class photographs had been taken it was time to capture some pictures for Waz. These were demonstration pictures for Waz to use on his social media. Waz had a list of exercises that he wanted to photograph so we just got to work. When I am doing something like this I try to create imagery that is simple but effective. I try to use simple composition to ensure that the exercise stands out.

Commercial gyms

When I am working in a commercial gym it’s always important not to photograph other customers, this can be pretty challenging at times but it’s always fun to have a challenge. Pure Gym on Saturday morning wasn’t the busiest so it wasn’t too difficult to achieve but I am always aware of this. I am certainly not one of those photographers who think it’s all about me, in fact, I couldn’t be any further from this.

Personal trainers and fitness photography

I have always enjoyed capturing all kinds of sports and physical activity. I actually used to be a fitness instructor myself so I guess photographing fitness is a natural progression. I know that personal trainers always want a lot of pictures so I am now going to create a package for personal trainers.

If you are a personal trainer or fitness professional looking for some pictures then please give me a shout also check out my fitness website

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John Steel

Apparently a bio here is good for my SEO, so.... I'm John Steel and I am your Yorkshire photographer, from Weddings to family shoots or commercial shots to gym photos, I'm ready to make you look amazing.