Life is full of obstacles

Life is never short of obstacles. We think we have a clear path and then something unexpected happens completely stopping us. (cue pandemic 2020)

There is nothing linear about our journey here. Each day we are faced with a puzzle that needs to be solved. Sometimes the puzzles are easy and other days we just can’t seem to find the pieces that fit.

Today I want to shine a light on one our members who has had a few curveballs thrown her way and has come out of them on top every time, Kara Rafael.

Spirit Champions – Team Compliance Optional

Kara has been a member at Dark Athletics since 2017. She emailed looking to build strength and came in to try the gym out. After a couple of injuries from trying to go at it alone, she decided having a Coach was a better fit for her lifestyle. More guidance, less injuries.

Kara was very shy at first. In fact I don’t think I had a conversation with her longer than a few sentences for the first 4 years, but Kara would come in almost every day and stay for 3-4 hours doing multiple classes and staying to work on skills.

She was pretty consistent each week. Very coachable and always tried to push herself.

Some major bright spots in the past few years were watching Kara complete the longest muscle ups I have ever seen and watching her twist in ways I didn’t know possible to get under a Snatch!

It truly is remarkable. I have no idea how she pulls off some of these positions or holds them for as long as she does to achieve the full movement, but somehow Kara manages to do some incredible feats of strength that are unmatched by anyone else in the gym.

In terms of obstacles, Kara hit a major hurdle a few years ago.

She was doing great in the gym. If you don’t know, our gym is divided into 2 parts. Fitness and Competitive weightlifting. The fitness side is all in pounds and has very structured classes while the competitive weightlifting side is in kilos and has a little less structure giving the athletes a bit more flexibility.

On rare occasions the fitness athletes will venture over to the other side and work on their weightlifting skills. On this particular day, Kara and I were doing some clean and jerks and she was able to hit a few nice lifts and even a PR! We were all excited and she left feeling pretty good!

My favorite moment – Kara trying to figure out the Nerf Gun

Fast forward a few hours later and we receive a phone call on the gym line from Kara. I didn’t even know she had that number because we almost never used it. When I answered the phone and heard it was Kara I was very confused.

It wasn’t Kara, it was a nurse or doctor inquiring if we noticed any strange behavior from Kara in the afternoon. I obviously told her no and that Kara actually had a pretty great day at the gym. She then informed me that Kara was having a stroke and they were trying to pinpoint when it might have began.

To say I was shocked would be an understatement. Kara spent the next few months recovering and when she came back to the gym we were excited to get her working again!

She spent the next couple of months building back her strength, working on skills and is one of the toughest athletes we have at the gym.

She is a great community member, a great athlete and I am so proud of all the work she puts in and the results she achieves!

Thank you Kara for helping us improve this community and being you!


What was your first impression? How has that changed?

First impression was that it definitely seemed individualized, even in a group setting. The coaches were available and helpful. It definitely didn’t give off that “intimidating CrossFit cult” vibe. I was stoked that the workouts were laid out for you – less thinking involved/time spent planning, which was ideal while in nursing school. Was impressionable enough that I came back the next morning and signed up – First impression still stands years later!

What was your first “bright spot”?

Might not have been the first… but most memorable – the day I somehow hit the first 300 pound deadlift, and then went on for my one and only ring muscle up that was conveniently caught on camera. Or maybe the day I lifted “yellow”…

What are you working on now?

Trying to gain some of my strength back with a return to a powerlifting split! But way better form and less time wasted trying to figure out what to do next this time around. 

If you could go back in time, what would you tell the Dan from 1 year ago?

Probably that it still never really gets easier… but that’s why the one “easy” aspect is to keep coming back – never bored and there’s always something to improve on! And by “something”… really “all of the things”.

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