Fitness trainers: apology warranted after images stolen online
Computer security experts say problem is hard to prevent
MADISON, Wis. — A local personal trainer and women he has worked with are asking for a public apology after they said a North Carolina trainer stole their success stories.
Alecia Holzwarth is a trainer who appears in a testimonial on Dustin Maher’s fitness website, showing before and after photos of her doing his MamaTone program.
Maher and Holzwarth said they discovered this week that a trainer in North Carolina named Devan Kline had lifted her photos — as well as those of three other women — from Maher’s site, changed their names and posted them as testimonials for his boot camp programs.
“It’s just random. Who does that?'” asked Holzwarth. “I work hard for my clients, so to have someone blatantly steal somebody else’s work, I would never think of doing something like that.”
Holzwarth is 31 years old with two kids and is an avid runner. But when WISC-TV visited what she said is Kline’s site, it showed her name is Vanessa, and she brags about looking good at 38.
“He’s been using this for about a year to build his business up, and of course I was not happy with it,” said Maher. “I felt the worst for my transformations whose pictures got jacked.”
Maher said he contacted Kline, who took down the photos.
Computer security experts said the problem is rampant and hard to prevent.
“There are different products that people use to make it more difficult to get graphics off the site, but there are ways around all of them with a little effort,” said Mike Masino, a computer security expert with Madison College.
Masino said business owners can try to apply watermarks to graphics on their websites to make them harder to steal or embed their company name in the metadata to help prove that the photo was theirs.
Maher and Holzwarth said they would like to see a public, video apology from Kline instead of him running away from the problem.
“I think his clients need to know,” said Holzwarth. “They should know what he’s doing and that he’s lying and not being authentic and not the trainer he says he is.”
WISC-TV tried to contact Kline, who didn’t return messages. An email Maher said he received from Kline says he admits he lifted the photos when he started his business and intended to replace them with his own clients.