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Gymgoers wary of camera phones

Cell phones with embedded cameras have created privacy concerns and are getting all cell phones banned from a growing number of locker rooms.

Cell phones with embedded cameras have created privacy concerns that have gotten all cell phones banned from a growing number of athletic club locker rooms.

One of the latest to oust cell phones from changing rooms was the Mount Tam Racquet Club in Larkspur, Calif., according to General Manager Rod Heckelman. It was after a member raised concerns that wireless dialers gabbing away could also be taking photographs, Heckelman said.

The club chose an outright ban on all cell phones rather than just camera phones because "you can't really tell the two apart," Heckelman said.

Cameras in phones have proven to be a popular feature among consumers, and the world's leading

But gyms have become leery of the devices, which can send pictures to other cell phones or post them on the Internet within seconds of the shots being snapped. Although there are only an estimated 3 million people using camera phones in the United States, in June the YMCA suggested its 2,540 branches "ban cell phones entirely, but at a minimum consider banning phones from locker rooms," YMCA spokesman Arnold Collins said.

"There were a number of branches that approached us with concern about this," Collins said. "We haven't heard of a single case of a member being victimized by being photographed."

Collins said it'll be mid-2004 before the YMCA knows exactly how many of its branches have actually been banning cell phones, but several in the San Francisco Bay Area already do ban cell phones in workout areas and locker rooms.