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Tough Titsday Powerlifting Meet Group Shots

Jezebel Response

Yesterday Jezebel ran a blog post including portions of an email dialogue between Coach Margie, someone who recently graduated our Foundations program and me. Unfortunately, the article seemed to have a heavy bias against CrossFit and there was no attempt to contact us for the article. Normally I avoid internet drama like the plague, but given the extreme manner in which I, the program and our community was characterized, I thought it prudent to clarify a couple issues before putting the matter to rest.

Denying membership
The reason why I denied her membership was not because she voiced her opinion, nor was it because she took issue with the name of the class. I told her she couldn't join because after several attempts to discuss the issue in a civil manner, including inviting her to the next TTD meet, she continued on to criticize me personally.  As a small business owner, I have the luxury of denying a patron service if I feel they've been unreasonable or disrespectful, and in this instance I felt exactly that. Anyone who's been on our blog knows that we encourage rational and respectful debate on a variety of topics every single day. The idea that I'd kick someone out because they expressed their opinion is completely contrary to our ethos and culture.

The Name: Tough Titsday
I believe that Margie, the class’s creator, summed up our initial perspective best: “It is just as it seems, a subversive, cheeky reclamation of silly vulgarity.” And while that was the intention with which we approached the title, all words will invariably have different connotations and different cultural contexts for different listeners. With that in mind, I believe there is absolutely room for debate about its appropriateness and we're happy to engage in that debate as long as the conversation remains respectful. Perceived or real objectification of anyone is not something to be taken lightly, and I feel confident that anyone who has experienced the class itself or the culture of our gym would tell you immediately that's not what's going on in this instance. We are always open to dialogue and encourage members to provide feedback on all gym matters whether personal or political without fear of retribution. Crossfit South Brooklyn has always thrived on honest and enthusiastic community engagement and will continue to do so moving forward.

Blog Edit
The article accused us of taking down a page with the description of Tough Titsday. This was just patently false. The page is live in our archives and, in fact, I did not read the Jezebel post until after they supposedly "updated" it.

Lastly, I'd just like to thank everyone who called, emailed, posted comments and provided general encouragement to me and Margie yesterday. We were touched by the outpouring of support and happy that anyone who's spent time at the gym or with us knows that we've worked incredibly hard to create an inclusive and professional training environment for everyone who walks through our doors.

From Margie:
Tough Titsday may be my program, my curriculum and something in which I take great pride, but I was fortunate to be part of an organization that actively encouraged me to develop it. When I joined the SBK community in its infancy, I had no idea that I would derive so much personal meaning from acquiring physical strength. At the time, I was one of the few women around, yet I never felt apart from or objectified by my fellow community members. I did what everyone else did and learned what everyone else learned and felt proud of my athletic gains like everyone else. As someone new to physical challenge, this was life changing.

When I started coaching, and our membership became more diverse, I wanted to offer women an opportunity to develop a facility with, and desire for strength. I wanted to share the powerful self-possession I experienced. And I wanted women to feel awesome about it. I've now witnessed many women experience a similar transformation to mine, which has been endlessly gratifying. David, and the other coaches at SBK, have supported this one hundred percent.


LGBT NYC CF is a growing network of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Crossfitters in NYC. We come together to workout and to promote greater visibility of LGBT people in the Crossfit community. 

The first 2 WODs were hosted by Crossfit NYC and Crossfit Hell's Kitchen. The next WOD will be hosted by Crossfit South Brooklyn on Sunday, June 9th at 3pm. We invite all LGBT Crossfitters and allies to WOD with us. 

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Reader Comments (110)

ugh, that sucks.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermichele

why is there a link to our blog? ugh... away, away!

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermichele

As a dedicated young female CrossFitter (29yo and active at my local box for over a year now), I'd like to add that I agree with the woman who was banned from your CF South Brooklyn (identified as 'Rachel' in the jezebel article). 'Titsday' doesn't sound sardonic or subversively raw to me; it sounds crass, cheap and sensationalist. It's for a similar reason that I've never participated in 'Barbells for Boobs'. I wholeheartedly support the mission of women-specific training (or breast cancer research, in the latter case), but I do not condone the sexualized terminology in the title and therefore refuse to participate. I would feel equally squeamish about "Balls to the Wall Balls", or some other crudely named male-specific CF promotion.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCF in CT

I echo the sentiments here from the other members of our amazing community. It is very upsetting given just how much we all know David, Margie, etc. are committed to community and diversity to be attacked like this, and this is an attack on all of us. I for one never would have joined a gym dominated by "bro culture" which like David w/ internet drama, I avoid like the plague. In pursuit of a soft target, it's ironic they chose a CF gym that is so the opposite of what the author is trying to portray.

And while I don't really want to give this clearly agenda fueled "article" any more press than it deserves, I think a good way to refute key points is on Twitter, etc. (instead of on Jezebel) such that people have a chance to read David's response first. I was tempted to comment on the Jezabel site but I've got more important things to do like banging my head against the wall -- the whole point of "articles" like this is to manufacture controversy so that people will spend more time on the site reading/writing comments, even if that means engaging in shoddy "journalism" and borderline slander. They just want more traffic to their article at any cost; better to refute the point and get folks to see David's response first. Here's the tweet I wrote -- feel free to tweet something similar, or RT me: https://twitter.com/brooklynrob/status/331839665890009088. The author has already responded on Twitter and 1) posted David's response. and 2) taken down the part of her post that said that CFSK has deleted the post from last June. So that's progress. See author's response -- https://twitter.com/katiejmbaker/status/331855798378569729

I just wanted to voice my support for you in this dispute. In CrossFit strength and stamina can be developed but the one aspect of a person that is immovable is sense of humor. I applaud your inviting this woman to work out elsewhere. Her dour presence would cast a pall over the box. It is hard enough to WOD with people of good humor.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

I had contacted some of the folks at CFHQ to let them know what was going on and that we'd be putting out a rebuttal. They were very supportive and waited until we put our two cents in before posting it to their social media.

Jezebel modified the article and linked to our rebuttal... however they linked to the wrong webpage..

May 7, 2013 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio


Echoing Michele, you should just keep a video of a Deadlift PR on your phone and show that to anyone sweating you carrying a 30 lb. box. They'll probably shut up and just start acting you for training tips.

Other quick thoughts, some culled from the Jezebel comments:

1. Funny that a Tet Offensive reference and the lead picture being headless, shirtless women in a CF gym that is definitely not ours wasn't considered offensive.

2. Also, why is tit off limits but every variation of douchebag valid?

3. Is it fair to selectively change the complainant's name in a story, but not the business owners and coaches with an actual horse in the game?

4. I'm still just dumbstruck that someone could come in, see how we operate, see our clientele, interact with us, ENJOY THEMSELVES, and then throw it all away over a word.

I love you guys, tits or no.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNoah

@Noah - If you read through the comments on the "article", the woman who owns that photo is offended by the use of her photo and requested the author take it down. *win*

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

In both my professional and personal lives, I work towards gender equity and gender justice, and ending gender-based violence. From my desk today and yesterday, i've been quietly following these blog posts, finally popping in to share some thoughts..

I agree that context matters, and many women who work out at CFSBK, myself included, feel incredibly empowered, safe, transformed, and fortunate. These are no small words. I am grateful to David, Margie, and all of you who lead and shape the CFSBK community.

From what i've read, Rachel's communication style and approach posed some serious challenges to mutual dialogue and understanding. This is unfortunate for many reasons, including that her perspective-- that the name Tough Titsday is offensive-- is valid. When I first heard the name Tough Titsday, i cringed, and i know i'm not completely alone in this. While many of us at CFSBK identify as feminist, our individual approaches to feminism; what we find comfortable or offensive, safe or unsafe; and even how we understand our context, remain diverse.

David & Mngmt, thank you for continuing to insist on inclusivity and healthy dialogue; this helped me know that i could share a less-than-popular opinion here. :) Looking forward to working out tonight.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdeesha

And Marian, CONGRATS!! You should know you've really helped me with my handstands!

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdeesha

While on the subject of names, any chance we can change "Back-off week" to "Crush week, part 2"?

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLuca

Echoing the other comments… David, Margie, as always, you’ve set a great example for all of us in your response. I’m so grateful to have you all as our leaders through this ordeal.

I keep turning around in my mind what, if anything, I can do. Initially, I wanted to write Katie J.M. Baker and try to correct this wrong, but right now I’m leaning towards just keeping on keeping on. Katie clearly had an agenda and wasn’t open to the idea that we aren’t a bunch of d-bags. Like MattyChm feel bad for Rachel, Katie, and any other person who might miss out on CFSBK or Crossfit in general as result of this article. Meeting these haters with pity rather than hatred is probably more powerful anyway.

Last point, for what it’s worth, I don’t think tits is a bad word at all. We all use a variety of slang to describe male anatomy. It’s unclear to me how this is different. It’s a tad vulgar (I might not use it around my grandma), but I don’t think it’s offensive. I must have missed something. Also, I had the same thought as Noah on d-bag and all of its variations. Wouldn't that be more offensive because it implies that women are dirty? Don't know. Still doesn’t offend me. There are bigger fish to fry IMHO.

Can’t wait for TTD3 and I’m definitely in for any merch.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKMo

I'm proud to call myself a feminist - a word that in and of itself ludicrously inspires an absurd amount of vitriol and angry-word-spewing in the same vein as the nonsense on Jezebel at the moment - and it crushes me that this article is masquerading as a piece that defends women against objectification. Titsday is, like Margie said, a tongue-in-cheek appropriation and a clever name for an event that celebrates female strength and puts women on a pedestal - hey, literally, for the winners! - and to me, has no implications of misogyny or inappropriate undertones.

Are there some words which shouldn't be tossed around in casual conversation and are offensive to some demographics? Sure. But this isn't an instance where that logic holds.

As Noah rightfully pointed out, I think it's pretty hypocritical to yammer on about not respecting women and then post a headless picture of them as the lead image on an article. Objectification, indeed. It's really easy to sling mud and lob criticism when it's born out of willful ignorance, especially from behind a computer screen.

Rant over, and now I'm merely echoing what many have said before me, but David and Margie, your responses have been graceful and eloquent throughout this ordeal, both initially to Rachel and here on the blog. I consider myself lucky to know the two of you as coaches, and I consider myself even luckier to know the two of you as friends.

Don't let the haterz get you down. This tough-titted broad, for one, feels truly privileged to be part of such an amazing community.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney


May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStella

Just wanted to give some opinions from another affiliate...
1 - Tough Titsday sounds awesome. Wish I would have thought of it myself.
2 - Jezebel author was clearly biased and did NO research. She called CF a "boys club". WTF?
3 - I actually stumbled across the Jezebel article yesterday before HQ posted about it and after reading it (even the biased Jezebel version) thought to myself I would have responded to that client in the same exact way. CF is about community. You don't need someone like that ruining the atmosphere and great community that you obviously have going!

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlima

Blip on the radar that will be gone if you blink. This is an odd lot.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJR

I'm also wondering if I should regrow my "man-tits" as a show of solidarity with the Tough Titsday -- CrossFit South Brooklyn took them away from me!!

Good Twitter convo going on now. Samir has chimed in: https://twitter.com/EyeOnThePitch/status/331869478705065986

Deesha, funny that I hit publish right around the same time as you, because I think that what I wrote ended up being coincidentally illustrative of the point that you made about diverse viewpoints. :) Your post was wonderful - I can think of a lot of other appropriations of language that have offended me a lot more and I personally am not bothered by Titsday, but you make a salient point that some might be.

I think that had Rachel wanted to have a constructive dialogue about it, Margie and DO would have more than entertained that, which is why it's such a shame that the author of the article didn't reach out to get their thoughts.

Seems like that everyone within CFSBK is at least in agreement that DO et. al try to foster an environment of open and respectful discourse. I'm confident that will continue.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

I've also gotta think that "Rachel" is sitting out there, somewhere in her interwebz castle, thinking "man, if these people are willing to have a multi-day, couple-of-hundred-commented-upon, layered, civil, inclusive, erudite discourse about this topic, maybe they aren't fauxhawked brobags after all. do you think they'd let me buy a punch card?"

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNoah

Whether Jezebel's linking to the wrong page was done deliberately or as an honest mistake, it further exemplifies either the integrity or the thoroughness with which they handle their profession.

Tits and balls.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Yan

I swear this will be my last comment on this (3x a PR for me!)
Michelle, you missed my point a bit. My first post was making a joke of this Rachel ass( much more acceptable than "broad") Joel clearly was able to see this. My second comment was that many of us get too hung up on words, names, implied meaning, euphemism, etc. By choosing the term "broad" I was trying to find a word which I thought, by 2013 would be almost laughable. I mean when was the last time any female member was seriously called a broad??
In the same way, why would a female member by offended by "Titsday"?
Michelle, you stated that if a friend called you that they might get away with it, but anyone else, woe? So is the word offensive or the person using it? And I'm unsure by what you are implying about the demo you could show me, so I'll leave it at that. The "in context" argument is fine on a certain level I guess....but as Michelle mentioned, be careful. As I mentioned before, David and the coaches are absolutely spectacular and the reason why I choose CFSBK .

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRob F

Sorry, today's news. Kerry Washington calls herself "the luckiest broad in hollywood."

Couldn't resist


May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJR

@ Deesha
HQ's posting of the Jezebel article unleashed a storm of feminist-bashing on their FB page. Your post makes me happy that what many of us CFSBKers are talking about post-Jezebel post is how we should understand feminism-- and not whether women should have a right to experience and demand safe athletic spaces!

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSerene

JR...that word is offensive, well maybe in that context it's not...or maybe...I'm so confused!!

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRob F

Not my words. Only time I say broad is in broad street bullies! Maybe if I was in a gangster movie with a tommy gun.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJr

We're on Huffington Post now, too.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCorbett

With the BIG caveat that many of the circumstances are VERY materially different, as well as the motives and backgrounds of the main players, given how many of our community also work int the tech community, I couldn't help but think that this situation has echoes to the recent "Donglegate" controversy. For those who don't code Python by day, here's two articles, with different points of view, to get you up to speed, though a Google search of "Donglegate" will also get you lots more background:



@Kmo and Noah: I'd argue that douchebag is acceptable in a derogatory manner because douchebags are, in fact, harmful to women's health. And as a harmful product, marketed in a way that makes women *believe* they are dirty, it IS a negative thing, and should be hurled at someone as an insult. And I'd also argue that tits isn't derogatory, since as Michele mentioned, context matters. Just because a word is gendered or sex-specific (or even non-clinical) doesn't make it sexist. Rachel's logic that we should whitewash our female-specific events with generic terms is the same logic that gets us birth control advertising with nothing but women eating yogurt doing yoga, and no mention of the fact that they have female-specific reproductive organs. In other words, erasing women's bodies from the picture doesn't address sexism, it just further marginalizes women. If the event was called "Pretty Pink Princesses Day!", THAT would be offensive, because it relies on harmful stereotypes to suggest that the event is for women, rather than just OWN it. Also, totally agree on the headless pic. WTF.

@Nick H : No, your thoughts ARE important, regardless of sex! "Women's issues" are everyone's issues. Especially in this case, because they just became CFSBK issues. Which is partly why I don't feel bad that the blog has been totally dominated by this conversation in the past two days (apologies to Mare, of course)... BECAUSE NO ONE TALKS ABOUT OUR DAVID OSORIO THAT WAY, GODDAMNIT!

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

When is the next Tough Titsday class? I want in!!

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNadine B

@Nadine -- it was Margie's thing, and Margie's in grad school halfway across the country now, so it hasn't been offered in a while. But...HINT HINT, MeLo and Lady Fox, how 'bout it?

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStella

Thanks Courtney and Serene!

In response to the posts on evaluating context, or degree of offensiveness-- these are highly subjective. There isn't necessarily a "right" answer, but there are ideas that communities agree upon tacitly or explicitly. It's understandably challenging to reach consensus amongst diverse groups..

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdeesha

I want to support DO and ML in this silly and unwarranted situation.

They handled it with grace and level headedness. I would expect nothing less.

The reason most of us are going to CFSBK is because of DO and ML, as well as all the other great coaches who foster an inclusive community the minute someone steps through the hanging rings.

Thanks for a wonderful place to get strong, learn, play and make great friends.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterk2h2

Judging by such a huge outpouring of support from other affiliates I wouldnt be suprised if we unwittingly started a Tough Titsday revolution! I bet we are going to start to see this idea catch on across the country.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMattyChm

Here's what I commented to the The Huffington Post article about this (see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/07/crossfit-tough-titsday-class-south-brooklyn_n_3230768.html). I also cross-posted this to FB.


Member of CrossFit South Brooklyn since 7/12.

There is a sprinkling of a slightly off-color, body-related (male & female) humor in CrossFit which extends to most boxes, including CFSBK. I've always taken it as a way of us disarming ourselves as we work out together, many folks w/ imperfect bodies in close proximity doing physical acts we're not always sure we're capable of. It is also a play on the many weightlifting and CrossFit related words w/ double entendre: WOD, wall ball, jerks, snatch, box, etc.

I have never seen this as "bro culture" (most classes at CFSBK are 50-50 women-men) or misogyny (the "Titsday" class is women only; the name came from the woman coach of said class, Margie).

You probably couldn't find any gym more committed to diversity, community, and inclusion. Folks are casting wild aspirations about our gym w/ no knowledge of the many programs that exist at the gym in order to foster an inclusive community.

People spend a lot of time in their own cliches in Brooklyn. One of the things I LOVE about CFSBK is how everyone - women & men, gay & straight, any color you can think of, young & old, hipster & yuppie, cop & fireman, Brooklyn native & "gentrifiers", strong & "newer", etc. are all made to feel welcome. If folks are looking for a straw man or emblem for CrossFit intolerance, you couldn't have picked a gym more different and ill-suited for that aspersion.

Rob Underwood

Seeing our community join forces to defend our leadership warms my heart. I hate seeing David and Margie's names dragged through the mud and their motivations questioned when in REALITY they have fostered a community in which men and women support and motivate each other. I happily represent the SBK community this month and beyond!!!

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMare (aka Marian)

Perfect response!

I aspire to one day be a part of Tough Titsday and I look to people like Marian for inspiration. Congrats. by the way- great interview.

I am not saying anything new here, but I have been a part of CFSBK for 6 months and have, from the very beginning, felt welcome and encouraged by the coaches and other members. So, thanks guys and gals!!

Amy- this happens to me in work all of the time when I am moving kegs around. Not only that, but it's all like 'lift with your knees!!!' and other similar advice. I guess people are just trying to be helpful, but I hear ya!

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie (the Chick)

My blog today features Noor on the Jezebel/Tits business: http://samirchopra.com/2013/05/07/crossfit-women-and-tough-titsday-a-womans-perspective/

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSamir Chopra

Love the discourse. A community can learn, grow and become stronger through discussions like this. Lets stay focused on the things that make this one great and continue to be thoughtful, open, and inclusive.

I did today's workout in the office with a buddy.

Press 45x5 75x4 95x5 105x3 120x5

Almost had 6 but got stuck and couldn't get my head through. Should have capped it at 5 and saved some for the WOD, because boy did that smoke me.

WOD with 2pood kb, 3 rounds plus 5 kb swings.

Swings went 25, 15/10, 10/10/5, 5
HSPU were broken up into 2s and 3s from the start, and all kipped after the first round

3x10 T2B and some ping pong to cool down

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTodd


One unassisted kipping pullup.

DO, I could not have done it without you. For those who don't know, I'm plenty strong enough, but also plenty uncoordinated. After trying the kipping pullup workshop twice and failing to get myself over the bar, I decided to book myself 1/2 hour of private instruction with El Jefe to troubleshoot. I didn't get over the bar, but he showed me how to practice with a band so that I could get the volume I needed to really learn how to coordinate myself. If he hadn't done this for me, there is no way in hell I would have gotten enough practice to learn how to do it.

I'm hardly a master of the kip now (and who knows if I'll be able to do it again tomorrow), but this is HUGE for me. The HUGEST. Eff the haters. David is awesome.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStella

luca you completely cracked me up.

DO, i'm crazy about you, cfsbk, and everyone there.

that is all.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterariel

STELLA! congrats! wow.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterariel

6:30 with josh and Melissa

115x5x3 felt good. Im ready to graduate from this number. I wish it was Saturday.

Wod 4 rounds nft

Running felt great throughout
4 chin ups with Josh's much needed on two.
33lb lunges 8e

Lunges were my biggest problem. I could've gone heavier but would've just been more wobbley. Even unweighted I don't do these right.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCrystal

Assistance, josh's much needed assistance. I'm sure there are more things to edit but I'm too tired. If I ever win the lottery I'm going to hire a professional rep counter and a blog post editor. Big dreams.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCrystal

345x1 (PR)

Quick workup to a 1RM attempt. Plenty of anger to fuel the lift, went up slow but it went

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy

Awesome response today - perfect response and like everyday so proud I get to come and be apart of it.

Also I agree with the continued props for what an all around baddie Mare is - not to mention one good giggle from her makes the whole day better! Now the IMPORTANT PART I need to get to the gym to lift enough to compete against Mare properly at Titsday ;)

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMel

I told this to Josh, but the standard warmups are great.

The sideshow in the rear-view, I had a lot of fun the past couple of days. One highlight would include getting a cookie from Jeremy's pile during my press work sets on Monday. Someone on the platform said I would need the carbs, so I had this swirly chocolate/vanilla thing, which was very good.

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Honestly, you made the right decisions here. Rachel clearly approached this with the mentality that if she just complains enough, everyone will cater to her worldview. She's welcome to take her business elsewhere, and you're welcome to deny her from attending your gym. Good on ya, CFSB.

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike

You guys are great.
You know you're great (or at least you should),
Your members know you're great.

Continue doing it like its supposed to be done,

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAdrian

I have a lot of respect for anyone who actually writes in to let people know about issues they see with class and business names, etc... it's basically free business consulting. Small businesses rely on public support so if they are offending people, it's best to let them know in a matter of fact way like this person did. I wouldn't attend a class with this name unless I heard so many good things about it that it outweighed it's annoying name! But I also would not have thought to write in about it. So good job writer, way to have guts! And everyone else complaining here - jesus really? She didn't ask you to agree with her, she was just saying what SHE thought. Which is completely valid.

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Great response - clear, informative, and thoughtful.

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy

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