Member Spotlight: Karen Bernat

From Coach Pete:

Nearly 10 years ago Karen and I began our partnership. A partnership that has been more mutual than she would think. Consistency and loyalty have carried us for many years, and it is one of give and take, ying and yang. We couldn’t be more different in many ways, but our similarities have helped us form a great friendship and working relationship. Karen has been through every single up and down with this community for a long long time. She has seen many different versions of myself and the business and she’s still going strong. Our relationship is much more than just fitness. We started with 1 on 1 for many years and through that time we were able to discuss life, faith, love, and everything in between. We took on some of the worlds most controversial topics. Karen has helped me be a better person and coach. Her importance to this community and myself cannot be emphasized enough. Through the years, she has had a hand in many projects and events. Often times her help has been behind the scenes doing the little things that need done. Her main objective has always been to put others first and anyone who has spent time with her knows this. Karen, thank you for sharing your story with us.

1. How has CrossFit impacted your life outside of the gym?

Probably about a million ways but I want to focus on one. It has given me an inner strength that I never had before. The last couple of years have been tough for me, and life has knocked me down a few pegs. I have been dealing with pain, weight gain, and depression. But I have not given up or given in to this “rough spot” in my life. I felt close one time. And it was a CrossFit friend who listened to my craziness- until it even sounded crazy to me.  I have had a period of fewer days at the gym. And I believe once no- twice I stayed away for an entire week. But never have I given up.  Because of the inner strength I have developed, quitting is not an option. So I show up. I do what I can do. And I continue to strengthen my body, mind, and spirit. I continue to do what I have to do and slowly I have come to a much better place. In every area of my life. The gym is my place to shut out the world for a bit and take care of me. I think everyone needs a place like that.

The inner strength helps me to deal with what I call my demons.  (My lack of self confidence, that inner voice that is constantly critical, anxiety, depression, knee pain, a true addiction to sugar) To name a few.
It has been crucial to finding my way back. And I am. It gave me the strength to seek a counselor which gave me the courage to look for acupuncture for my knee pain. Which led me to PT as well.  –Insert plug here for Pure Physio. They are amazing!– Which gave me the strength to fight to be healthy again. Then I had to tap into that inner strength to ask for help with my diet. I really though I could do that myself.  I did it before right?  Wrong!
I am incredibly grateful to have a place that helps me develop strength of all kinds.
Friends and family often remark on my “strength”. They think that I’m strong person and that’s why I love CrossFit. What they don’t understand is that CrossFit made me the person I am. It gave me physical and mental strength I never had before.
2. What was your exercise background prior to CrossFit?
I found fitness just a couple of years before crossfit found me.  At 48 years old I walked into a gym for the first time since high school. I was 450# and could barely move. I started by walking on a treadmill. My first workout was a 15 min. walk at 1.5 mph; some of it on a slight decline. Pete Taylor became part of my journey that first year. He was working as a personal trainer at the gym. He slowly moved me from machines to free weights.  Yes he would make me go in the scary room!  And then began adding some crossfit elements into my workouts.
3.What has CrossFit allowed you to do that you never thought you would?
Short Answer
– Row a Marathon – indoors
– Bike a Marathon – stationary bike
– Ski Erg a Half Marathon (I had to alternate standing and sitting on this one)
– Row 5 Million+ meters.
– Keep fighting through the hardest of times!
4.How has CrossFit changed you mentally?
See answer #1. And it has also made me a more open minded person.  Maybe it is seeing everyone, (Male, female, overweight, young, old, fit; put whatever other descriptor you want here. believer, non believer, straight, gay, black, white, tall, short) Struggle to become a better person, to be the best version of themself. It has helped me to realize that in this life, we are all in it together. We need to cheer each other on. Build each other up. We all have more in common then we have differences. I now truly enjoy being a more accepting person. I love hearing your opinion on deep issues. And guess what? You are not going to offend me.
5. What have you learned about yourself using CrossFit methodology?
I have learned that no matter how far I have traveled in the wrong direction it is never too late to change the direction I am headed.
It’s not easy- but I can face my fears head on.
That I need people.
That it can take me a very long time to learn something new. And that’s ok.
That the hardest fight I’ll ever face is with myself.
6.Why did you start CrossFit? 
Because this guy I was seeing for personal training opened a CrossFit gym.
As I said earlier. Pete slowly began introducing CrossFit into my personal training sessions with him. So I had I pretty good idea of what it was like. But when he told me he was opening a “real” CrossFit gym. I didn’t think that I belonged there. Pete and I had a rather heated discussion about it.  I was scared. I didn’t think I would fit in. On bad days my demons still tell me I don’t fit in. I don’t listen.
Anyone can do CrossFit.  Because you do it at your level and you compete with yourself to become the best you.
7. What is your favorite part of CrossFit Roaster Barbell?
The people!  Their support, their friendship.  I am fully aware that I am a difficult person to get to know. That has even been worse the last 2 years as depression does not help to make you an outgoing person.
Yet I feel fully accepted at CFRB. At my worst times I was at the gym on the bike and I was hoping no one would talk to me. Sometimes I would walk out so that I didn’t cry. Sometimes I did cry. Through all of that no one ever treated me like I shouldn’t be there.
I have gained back over half the weight I lost. No one ever treated me like I didn’t belong there.
I hope it’s because even though i just seemed to be losing battle after battle. They could see that I was still in the war.
And I have learned to love hugs, even sweaty ones.
8. Anything Else?
Yes!  You won’t find a better or more supportive coach than Pete!
He is a huge part of my support system and takes an interest in every member. Just today I heard him ask a member,  so how’s your water intake today?  He’s knowledgeable and not afraid to keep learning. He’s honest. Sometimes I don’t want to hear his honesty. Sometimes it is uncomfortable.  But when I give myself time to think about his comments I understand what he was trying to tell me. I’m rather black and white in my focus, he helps by pointing out that huge gray area in the middle.
I also want to say that I know I was pretty open in answering these questions. You may not have wanted to hear about my struggles.  But that’s me. A rather open book. Because I know I’m not the only one struggling, and to keep quiet about it and pretend I’m not won’t help those other people.  Again we are all in this together. And together we can make it through.
I am finding my way again.  And I know if your struggling you can too!
If you would like to learn more about what we do at Roaster Barbell simply shoot us a message at and lets talk about how we can help you!

Member Spotlight: Kathy Dillon

Kathy joined our community in April of 2018 and her progress in the last year and a half has been incredible. How incredible? Well, possibly life saving. Being diagnosed with diabetes is news that no one wants to hear. Endless medications and complications as well as possible loss of vision and toes through amputation are all worries of diabetics. Fortunately for Kathy, with the right nutrition and lifestyle change, she was able to completely come off of her medications. Currently, Kathy is at 110# LOST and thriving. People like Kathy are exactly why Roaster Barbell exists. We are grateful to have been apart of your journey, Kathy!
1) How has CrossFit impacted your quality of life outside of the gym?
It has changed my life 100%. I used to have to sit down between stores at the mall. I now eat standing up because I have so much energy. I used to feel like I was dragging my body with me. Now I feel like I don’t want to stop walking once I start.
2) What was your exercise background prior to CrossFit like?
Desk job. The last time I was seriously into exercise was the Jane Fonda era.
3) What has CrossFit allowed you to do that you never thought you would do?
Run a 5K. Hated it, but I did it.
4) How has CrossFit changed you mentally?
CrossFit has saved my life mentally. My doctor will back me up on this. I want to live. I want to exercise. I want to continue to show up the old me.
5) What have you learned about yourself through training with the CrossFit methodology?
That all my excuses were my fault. I would blame everyone and everything. Even my 55 year old body is changing every week. I have muscles. I’m strong. It works.
6) Why did you start CrossFit?
My walking tapes and faceless gyms were getting old. I have a friend who was taking CrossFit classes.  She told me her weight had not changed. But her body was definitely changing for the better.
7) What is your favorite part of CrossFit Roaster Barbell?
That I don’t have to be the best. Most days I’m the worst . But I’m still learning new things and getting the workout of a lifetime every single day.  The CrossFit community will support you no matter what your skill level is.
8) Is there anything else you would like to add?
Before diet and exercise my A1C was 9.9 . After 8 months of diet and exercise my A1C was 8.1. After 3 months of CrossFit my A1C was 6.2 and 3 months later it was 5.6. That speaks for itself. My doctor was thrilled!
I have been a daughter
a  wife
a mother
a sister
a friend
a lover
a widow
a survivor
All these things make me who I am, but at my last doctor visit she called me an ATHLETE.
Three years ago that is a name this 305 lb. woman only dreamed of.
If you would like to learn more about what we do here at CrossFit Roaster Barbell, shoot Coach Pete an email at to begin your journey and begin writing your success story. We know you have goals, we want to offer you a path to them!