The Pay It No Mind Challenge: Celebrating Pride With Fitness

A WOD inspired by Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera — activists in the Gay Liberation Movement.

This Sunday, June 28th marks the inaugural Pay It No Mind Challenge (PINMC).

The PINMC is “an independent fitness challenge to honor the life and legacy of Marsha P. Johnson (the “P” stands for “pay it no mind”) and Sylvia Rivera” — self-identified drag queens and activists in the Gay Liberation Movement (GLM) and prominent figures in the Stonewall riots of 1969. Any and all are welcome to participate in the challenge.

Between June 28th and July 6th, participating athletes will perform a WOD inspired by Johnson and Rivera with the goal of raising money for The Ali Forney Center — an organization in New York City whose mission is to “protect LGBTQ youths from the harms of homelessness and empower them with the tools needed to live independently.” 

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with one of the PINMC organizers, Milly Millhauser, about PINMC’s design, inspiration, and future goals. Check out the full interview below:

History of The Stonewall Riots

During last year’s Pride, Millhauser recognized that not everyone was fully aware of its history or why June is Pride month. The PINMC rose out of a desire to educate, increase that awareness, and promote fitness within and around the community.

“I really wanted to create something that honors Stonewall, Marsha P Johnson, and Sylvia Rivera — these incredible people who were so present at the Stonewall riots and did all these things to enrich the LGBTQ community and fight for the rights of the Gay Liberation Movement.”

The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous riots that took place at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar still in business on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, NYC, after a violent police raid took place on June 28th, 1969. It is widely considered a landmark event for igniting the GLM and the modern fight for LGBTQ rights.


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[Related: “Big Floyd” WOD commemorates George Floyd]

Designing The Pay It No Mind Challenge

The main workout was specifically designed with accessibility in mind due to the ongoing quarantine to fight COVID-19 — it is comprised of bodyweight movements and does not use any equipment.

The Workout

6 Rounds for time:

The numbers for the workout were specifically chosen to represent major historical moments from the Stonewall riots. According to Millhauser:

“The 6 rounds is for the month of June — Pride month, 28 is for the day the police raid occurred at the Stonewall Inn, 24 was the age of Johnson …17 was the age of Rivera when the riots happened, and the riots themselves lasted for 6 days.”

The PINMC ends on July 6th, a nod to the day of Johnson’s death at the age of 46 in 1992.

Aside from the main workout, PINMC also has several variations of the workout options if participants so choose.

Functional Fitness Variation

Most notable about this variation is the inclusion of weights. 

6 rounds for time of:

  • 28 dumbbell front squats
  • 24 double-unders
  • 17 push-ups
  • 6 devils press

An explanation and proper technique of the devils press can be seen below from CrossFit Federal Hill’s YouTube channel:

[Related: The best resources for LGBTQ+ strength athletes]

HIIT Variation

6 rounds for time of:

  • 28 jumping squats
  • 24 plank jacks
  • 17  box step-ups
  • 6 burpees

For those unfamiliar with what plank jacks look like, check out the video below from PowerMonkeyFitness’ YouTube channel:

[Related: Rob Kearney on competing against giants and being an openly gay strongman]

Partner Variations

For athletes who would prefer to perform the PINMC, there are three options available.

Option 1

Perform the main workout in a “you go, I go” format — alternating exercises completing all reps, only one person working at a time — but double the rounds, so that each athlete performs 6 total rounds.

Option 2

Perform the main workout in a “you go, I go” format, but split the rounds, so that each athlete performs 3 total rounds.

Option 3

Partners split the reps in each round as needed for a total of 6 rounds.

Running Variation

There are also two different running variations available to participants of the PINMC.

Option 1

Run or walk 1,969 meters (1.2 miles) for time.

This specific number is meant to represent the year the Stonewall riots occurred in NYC.

Option 2

Run or walk 6 miles for time — 6 representing June or Pride month.

All participating athletes are encouraged to share their PINMC videos to their social media with the hashtag #payitnomindchallenge. They are also encourage athletes to donate to the official fundraising page for the Ali Forney Center in the amount it took to complete the workout, e.g. if an athlete completes the workout in 20 minutes, they donate $20.

Feature image via Milly Millhauser’s Instagram page: @ohsnapitsmilly