Success Stories


At CrossFit Dark Horse, we’re in the business of changing lives here in Sherman Oaks. So when we hear great member stories like these, we literally box jump for joy! We hope you’ll be our next success story.

  • Vlada Davydova

    I have only been a member for a month but can say I found my family. Love this gym for so many reasons!

    I have worked out in over 60 different crossfits so far and seen a variety of approaches and attitudes from members, coaches and owners put into it. Dark Horse just gets it right – members are cheerful and friendly, coaches – are knowledgeable, approachable and fun.

    There is no attitude, no ego, no petty drama or favoritism. You are treated with respect and encouraged to do your own best. Every box has athletes of different levels, but here you never feel like “you don’t belong with cool kids”. Want to come and throwdown with coaches – you are welcome!

    Workouts are consistently provided the evening before and even with a short video from the coach explaining how to best approach the wod.

    You are never pushed into buying certain products or personal training sessions. There are plenty of information provided but the choice is yours.

    There is a good amount of members and you can easily find a partner for competitions.

    But it’s not only all about working out. I like that there are out-of-box activities and get-togethers and you are included and welcome. That’s what makes it special too.

    * Results not guaranteed, client experiences may vary.

  • Miki Shelton

    I met Mike almost 4 years ago when I walked into his Fundamentals class. I was definitely “CrossFit curious” but completely intimidated by the clanging barbells, grunts and whoops coming from the other room. Those people were athletes. I was the opposite of that – a sometime exerciser in her late 40’s who preferred long walks and gentle hiking to the kind of intensity on display that evening.

    However, Mike immediately put me and everyone else in that Fundamentals class at ease. With a PVC, he patiently taught us the basic lifts – back squat, front squat, clean, snatch, strict press, push press, jerk – and introduced us to some of the gymnastic and other elements that comprise the sport of CrossFit. Somehow I kept coming back and graduated from the course.

    My first “real” class intimidated the hell out of me. Now we were working with barbells – no more PVC! – choosing weight, figuring out how to scale and racing against the clock. Fortunately for me, Mike was my coach throughout the early weeks and months of learning CrossFit. He always knew what I needed, how to scale for my current ability while still challenging me to reach a little higher and go a little harder. It was because of Mike that I grew in confidence and started to think beyond my non-athletic self-image to imagine that perhaps, someday, I might actually become just a little bit good at this. That I might someday earn the right to consider myself an athlete, too.

    When, at age 47, I decided to take a leap and enter my first competition, Mike was right there, encouraging and supporting me (for the record, I was terrible!). When I discovered I liked competing, he helped guide my training so I could get better at it. And when Mike became the owner of CrossFit Dark Horse, it was never a question if I would follow him. I did.

    The CrossFit Dark Horse community is one of the best I’ve ever experienced. There are athletes of all ages and abilities in our box, and we support each other, raise each other up, and hold each other accountable. We notice if you are gone. We’re thrilled when you are here. We sweat and groan together, working to be just a little bit better today than we were the day before.

    It takes something special to build that kind of community, and I for one will be forever grateful to be a part of it.

    * Results not guaranteed, client experiences may vary.

  • Steph Schlerf

    I’m Steph, a 26 year old young professional working in the technical writing field. For me, exercise was always a burden. Something you had to do in order to pass a fitness test in school, or look cool to your friends in college.

    I was always really bad at being consistent. I tried working out at regular gyms, but it never stuck. My cousins are avid crossfitters and they knew I was in a rut, so they invited me to try crossfit. But I said no, because I was too scared. I’ve always been the chubby, unathletic kid, so as an adult, I wasn’t very active either. In college, I gained about 15 pounds from the stress of being a student, but after I graduated and started working full time, I ended up gaining even more weight.

    I told myself, “Steph, if you gain weight and get to X pounds, you definitely have to change something.” Imagine my surprise when I stepped on the scale and saw I was already 5 pounds heavier than my feared weight. It shook me to my core because I knew my family had a history of weight related health problems. So I googled Crossfit and immediately found Dark Horse.

    It was close by to my new apartment. I had just moved to the area and my nights consisted of Netflix or wine drinking or both. I would work all day, come home, and hop in bed with my popcorn or some other greasy snack. Then I’d watch TV until I went to sleep. I was in rut and needed a change.

    I walked in and the owner was there. He was very nice, especially when I made it clear I was brand new with no experience. Mike explained that I’d be trained in the way all crossfit athletes were trained. He noted that every one has to start somewhere, so why not try it out. That fear I had from being overwhelmed or not “in shape enough” for crossfit suddenly left me.

    I’ll hit my one year mark on December 1st, 2016. I’ve lost 25 pounds and counting. I’ve gained muscle strength I never thought I’d have, and I’ve gained emotional strength from everyone at Dark Horse. The support here is incredible. Everyone wants you to succeed. They literally cheer you on as you work out and it’s the best feeling in the world. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this gym and these people changed my life. They saved me from a spiral of unhappiness and weight gain. Anyone with that fear of crossfit should know that it is worth the shot to see if the workout system is for you. Regardless of your size or workout experience, take the first step and just try.

    * Results not guaranteed, client experiences may vary.

  • Andrew Lincona

    I’m 18 years old going to Los Angeles Pierce College hoping to transfer to UCLA by 2018. I play video games for money and enjoy being in the kitchen learning new techniques and recipes every day.

    I used to play a lot of sports growing up, mostly basketball and football, but in my sophomore year of high school, I stopped. My junior year, however, is when it really started to affect me. I gained weight and stopped being active. Even something small like walking around a park became too challenging.

    The time I became over 205 pounds was when I knew I had to start doing something again. I went to the gym again, but it just felt useless compared to the things that I would do playing sports. So for my 17th birthday, I asked my dad to sign me up for something I have never done before, and that was CrossFit. We both really had no idea what it was or if we could even do it, but I knew I needed a challenge because that’s what drives me to do better.

    We went in to ask questions one day and were told that we could stay and watch what they were doing so we did. I could see how intimidated my dad was, and I was extremely nervous for myself. On the drive back, he asked me if I was sure I wanted to do this and surprisingly my answer was still “yes.” The next Monday, my dad tried it out with me and that workout left both of us so sore that we and probably even told coach Mike thought we weren’t going to come back. But we did, and my dad signed us both up.

    In the first 7 months, I lost 20 pounds, but in total 36. There was nothing like fitting back into my large shirts or my waist going down 2 sizes and even now sometimes having to get a size medium. What was supposed to be a 3-month experience turned into a new lifestyle for me. I fell in love with CrossFit, and now no matter what I have planned, I always make sure CrossFit is scheduled somewhere in my day unless it’s my rest day.

    The best thing about CrossFit Dark Horse is the other members. We each want everyone to get better, but at the same time we don’t want them to beat us, or at least I don’t. They are the friendliest people that you’ll ever meet, and there is no judgment whatsoever. And if there is anything that I learned from my experience, it’s that anyone can do CrossFit. Doesn’t matter if you are overweight or have never worked out before, you can do it!

    * Results not guaranteed, client experiences may vary.

  • Ben Becher

    I was blessed to grow up in a family where health and nutrition were always a priority. These important habits have stuck with me. However, now that I’m 33 with a hectic career in IT, I have very little bandwidth to devote to designing my workout routine. For a long time, this led to repetitive training habits in a typical gym. I never felt like I was properly challenging myself and this was reflected in my stagnant progress. I decided to try Crossfit for the first time several years ago and instantly loved it. Every workout was unique and always challenged me. I never had to think about what I was going to train that day. I simply showed up and pushed myself. An hour later, I was a pool of sweat and felt great. Unfortunately, I moved away from my first Crossfit gym and once again fell into a redundant training regimen. Two years ago I decided to get back into Crossfit and joined Crossfit Dark Horse. This decision has had a very positive effect on my life in many ways.

    After joining CFDH, I started making significant progress on strength and cardio capacity. I’ve also improved at movements I once struggled with (double unders, muscle-ups, hand-stand push ups). However, the biggest improvement has been in overall strength. The guy that used to ignore legs can now squat over 300lbs and deadlift over 400lbs. I’m quite sure I never would have made this progress on my own. This speaks a lot to the merits of the CFDH programming and coaching. Coach Mike’s programming is second to none. There is always a ‘method to the madness’ with progression being the only constant. The coaches are always eager to help you learn movements and suggest improvements to avoid injury or increase efficiency. The owners are also constantly making improvements to the facility and always endeavor to keep the equipment in peak condition. However, beyond the coaching and equipment, the thing that really sets CFDH apart is the community. It is very friendly, diverse, and inclusive where anyone will feel welcome no matter their age, background, or skill level. CFDH is a big blessing in my life and I’m sure many others feel the same way.

    * Results not guaranteed, client experiences may vary.

  • Luke Barnett

    Over the course of making our first film, I put on like 25-30lbs. Was never hugely overweight, but had definitely let myself go. It really hit home when I saw myself in a few pictures and was like, “who the hell is that?”

    Then two different buddies who live on opposite sides of the country, convinced me how fun and awesome crossfit was. It’s totally impacted my life in an insanely positive way. It’s the most fun I’ve had exercising since I played high school soccer. The negatives you’ve probably heard about it are that it’s cultish. I can’t deny this. But to me, it’s not a negative. It’s cultish because you see the same people (who you like) almost every time you go, and you actually WANT to go.

    People say it’s injury prone, and I find this to be the total opposite. It’s a combination of weights, cardio, and plyometrics and the trainers at CFDH are top notch and are there to make sure everyone is learning and practicing proper form. And lastly, it’s expensive. This is also true. At least compared to a 24 Hour Fitness or LA Fitness. It’s about the same as taking yoga or spinning class. But honestly, we only live once and have one body, and the truth is, if I got to a point that I was struggling to pay for it, I would seriously find something else to cut out.

    Lastly, one thing I think is great is that ANYONE can do it. Every workout has scaled down options. Some of my favorite workout buddies at my gym are over 60. If you’re someone who just wants to lose some weight, it’s great, if you’re someone competitive who wants to push yourself, then you can do that too.

    If you want an accountability partner and a fun workout, join CrossFit Dark Horse.  I can’t recommend it enough.


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