Banning The Booty: How One CrossFit Affiliate’s Stand Against Skin Is Causing An Uproar

Humans don’t have a great history with being told what to do.

Tell us to pay taxes, and we’ll toss tea in the ocean and declare independence. Force us to drive 65-mph, and be prepared to give us a ticket. Even suggest that we might want to skip cake in the morning because we’re too fat, and we’ll call it a muffin, eat it anyway, and buy bigger pants.

And yet, telling people what to do — with their bodies, none the less — is precisely what 2010 CrossFit Games champion, Graham Holmberg, is doing.

Holmberg owns Eleventh Element (CrossFit Hilliard) in Hilliard Ohio. An affiliate that just told its members no more shirtless workouts or booty shorts. If you’ve ever been to a CrossFit gym, then you know that’s like telling cowboys they can’t wear boots and hats to a hoedown.

Naturally, the internet has done what the internet does: Attack. Most arguments are pro booty (add pro booty to the list of things I never want to write again) but before we crucify Holmberg and crew, let’s look at a few key points. And to clarify, these are more like open-ended thoughts to get us talking like reasonable folks.

Who’s The Boss

Ultimately, whatever Holmberg says goes.

He’s the boss, and that’s how it should be. It’s just that simple.

Being Right Can Also Mean Being Petty

CrossFit affiliates are supposed to be full of loyal friends who can agree to disagree. That’s what friends do. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Do affiliates do everything right? Of course not. Do we all get a little ahead of ourselves sometimes, act harshly and then hope for the best? Yup. And when we do, we all pray our friends will stay beside us, even if they don’t agree with us. Because again, that’s what friends do.

Friends take the triumphs with the failures, and assuming the good at least usually outweighs the bad, they stay. Is it right for someone to impose their views on someone else’s body? Probably not. But you have to ask yourself, even if it’s wrong, is a friend telling you that you gotta keep your shirt on enough to make you bounce? If so, doesn’t that seem, well, petty? Are we really so entitled that we can’t tolerate someone with good intentions asking us to do something completely harmless, even if we don’t agree with why?

I have no clue how the community at CrossFit Hilliard functions. Maybe it’s all business all the time. If so, I get how something like banning tight shorts is the sort of thing that creates a stir. Otherwise, if CrossFit Hilliard pours into their community and genuinely cares, then this entire discussion becomes another countless example of just how sensitive humans have become. Even CrossFitters.

It doesn’t mean CrossFit Hilliard’s policy is right but it does mean, as a people, we’re becoming less tolerant of individuals who take a stand we don’t agree with. There’s no more live and let live. There’s only agree with me, or screw you.

Beat The Heat

A lot of CrossFit athletes are arguing that it’s simply too hot to workout in anything but the scantiest of attire. That’s crap.

I’ve been in a CrossFit box nearly every day for more than a decade, and I’ve trained shirted and skinned, and I’m fine either way. And you will be too. If your argument against Holmberg’s policy is based on temperature, you’re kidding yourself. Our military women and men regularly ruck in full combat gear, beneath scorching desert heat, and they’re just fine. Arguably better — tougher at least — for it. Should you be forced to train in winter gear? No. But could you; yes.

Just admit that you like your body and enjoy being in a place where you can show it off. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There is, however, something wrong about a human who can’t tolerate the heat for five minutes without tossing their shirt. Or someone who just can’t admit that they like the way their butt looks in FLEOS.

What’s Best For The Athlete

Ultimately, performance is all that matters.

Or is it?

Let’s say that the blonde with thicc thighs performs her best when she hikes them high-waisted, short shorts up as far as they’ll go. Good for her. But what happens when the dude beside her performs his best in nothing but a purple thong. Obviously, he’s making everyone uncomfortable and the owner is forced to act: No More Thong-only workouts.

Yeah, it’s an extreme example, but all I’m asking is, where’s the line? And what happens when one athlete performing at their best, keeps another from doing the same simply because of their outfit?

Just a thought.

The Christian Thing

As far as I know, Holmberg is a Christian. And it’s most likely his faith that’s forcing him to ban the booty (and while you’re at it, add ban the booty to the list of things I never want to write again too).

If I had to guess, I’d say that he believes pretty women in tight shorts are tempting the men, and conversely, shirtless bro workouts are seducing the women. Maybe they’ve had a cheater or two, convincing him to eliminate as much skin as possible.

While covering all that cake is great in theory, there’s one big problem; you can’t force religious ideals into a secular world. That’s like going to Walmart and demanding that people do burpees. All it does is piss everyone off. Most Christians understand that you can’t make people believe what you believe. They choose instead to educate by example. And you can’t do that if you’ve driven everyone away.

What If It Was Just The Guys

This point is just for fun. It helps measure the current political climate.

But what if Homberg’s policy only applied to men taking their shirts off? What if women could wear sports bra’s and booty shorts all they want but he just outlawed the elusive male nipple? Would this still be a big deal? Think about it.

Sticking To Your Guns

Still, you gotta hand it to a guy willing to fight the backlash from a million dudes just itching to take their shirts off and show that vertical bible verse tattoo on their rib cage.

Does that mean I agree with it? Nope. Don’t like it at all. But I don’t like the way this community has treated him because of it either. Not the internet haters, not the local backstabbing affiliate owners offering their gym as an alternative to training, and especially not the hordes of holier-than-thou naysayers who have no clue how elegant it can be to navigate so many personalities at one CrossFit box. As CrossFitters, we pride ourselves on our community, right? Then why not start acting like it?



Bunch is one of those rare humans who only talks about what he knows; fitness, food, philosophy, and movies. And puppies.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Josh Bunch

Bunch is one of those rare humans who only talks about what he knows; fitness, food, philosophy, and movies. And puppies.