Award-winning filmmaker Vlad Yudin profiles YouTube fitness sensation Bradley Martyn, a charismatic young man who has amassed 10 million followers over his career. But in Yudin’s film Bradley Martyn: The Influencer, Martyn’s career takes a drastic turn of pandemic proportions.
The documentary starts in a typical fashion. Quick clips to show the breadth and depth of Martyn’s influence and then go back to the beginning. When Martyn was six years old, his father hung himself from depression. As a child, Martyn wondered if he was destined for the same fate.
Martyn dropped out of college as a young adult, and his life became somewhat aimless. Soon, Martyn discovered the mental and emotional benefits of weight training at his local gym. He competed in bodybuilding competitions and began appearing on the cover of fitness magazines.
Martyn would go on to open his own gym called Zoo Culture in Woodland Hills, California. Seeing that working out had pulled Martyn out of the “gray” of depression, opening a gym gave him the opportunity to mentor others through their depression. From the gym, he spawned his motivational YouTube channel.
Then COVID-19 happened. California’s restrictive policies forced all non-essential businesses to shut down, including gyms. Seeing the effects of the lockdowns on his clients and their depressions, Martyn decided to reopen his gym, institute safe COVID-19 preventative practices, and defy government threats…the government did not take his actions lightly.
“Soon, Martyn discovered the mental and emotional benefits of weight training…”
As a documentary, Bradley Martyn: The Influencer is about as standard a documentary as it gets. It features talking head interviews with Martyn, his peers, and his grateful clients. Archival footage helps tell Martyn’s back story, and documentarian Yuden follows Martyn around, capturing his subject at work.
For those of us…including me, who had no idea who Bradley Martyn was, Yudin expertly gives a brief overview of Martyn’s life and philosophy and then fills in the blanks throughout the course of the film.
Most importantly, Yudin shows us the man…the person that Bradley Martyn is. This is the story of the documentary. Martyn wants to see people succeed in life, and weight training is the one way he knows that works. He’s characteristic because he loves people and doesn’t want to see anyone go down the path of his father or himself before he discovered the gym.
I also have to say that as someone who had to live through the COVID lockdown in California, the story of Martyn taking on his county health inspectors was awe-inspiring. Rather than roll over and do what the government told him to do, he approached the situation critically. He gathered all the known information about the spread of COVID-19 and took measures to protect his clients. “You can’t live your life not questioning anything,” Martyn states.
Though director Vlad Yudin doesn’t have the budget or equipment for an ESPN 30-for-30 special, Yudin’s low-budget feel to his story simply grounds Bradley Martyn as one of the little guys to find a way to get his message out and change lives as well. Ok…now it’s time to put my unused gym membership to work.
For screening information, visit the Bradley Martyn: The Influencer webpage.
"…You can't live your life not questioning anything..."