March 17, 2012
Karl Dyall Dances to the Top
By Dane Thomas
The Swedish dancer and choreographer is now taking on the 45-49 Division.
The Swedish dancer and choreographer is now taking on the 45-49 Division.

Karl Dyall has gotten the limelight for his dancing and choreography. Now, at 45, he stands out for his work capacity.



Over the years, CrossFit has collected influences from a very wide variety of sports. As the reach of the sport continues to expand, the range of positive influences continues to grow as well. During Week 1 of the 2012 CrossFit Games Open we saw an inspiring performance from a Russian athlete from a sport many of us had never heard of, but the first two weeks of the Open have also seen impressive performances from a Swedish Masters athlete who has literally spent decades in the limelight.

Karl Dyall is in 4th overall in the Masters Men 45-49 Division after 12.4--his 268 rep performance on 12.4 not only sealed off 1st in Masters, but would have earned him 4th in Europe in the Individual Division.

Dyall has been a CrossFit affiliate owner for two years (CrossFit Solid in Stockholm) and he has been a dancer, choreographer, composer, singer and actor since the mid-1980s. He is a very well known figure on the Swedish dance and musical performance scene.

Born to a Swedish mother and a musician father from the West Indies, Dyall had music, rhythm and dance as constant points of reference in a childhood that started in London before moving to the Caribbean and eventually to Sweden at age 11.

As a teenager growing up outside of Stockholm, he played basketball and soccer, but eventually found his way back to dance. He was part of a team that won national championships in breakdancing in 1984 and freestyle dancing in 1986, drawing upon influences from his own musical and cultural experiences, as well those from his older sister who was studying classical dance.

Since then, his career as a performer has included everything from daytime TV to playing the title role in a touring production of Shakespeare’s “Othello.” He has also worked extensively as a choreographer and composer.

In addition to the performing arts, Dyall practiced a variety of martial arts. In his early 20s, he was undefeated for two years in Allstyle (a predecessor to MMA), and he represented Sweden at the Taekwondo Open World Championships in 1991.

So many years of performing at such a high physical level have not been without setbacks. Besides the typical bruises and sprains all dancers and martial artists deal with, Dyall also suffered from stress fractures and a herniated lumbar disc. His accumulating injuries were threatening to put an end his career when he discovered CrossFit in 2006 while performing in a multi-year national touring production of “Singin’ in the Rain.”

He and his co-star found the addition of CrossFit to their daily rehearsals and performances improved physical capacity and reduced susceptibility to injury. Dyall credits CrossFit with helping him to become injury-free after a long career in an injury-laden field. 

After experiencing how well CrossFit worked for them personally, they got their Level 1 Certificates and started an affiliate of their own, CrossFit Solid. After completing Open Workout 12.4 their affiliate team is ranked 3rd in Europe and 119th Worldwide.

Dyall’s individual performances in the Open Workouts are even more impressive, considering he has been fighting illness during the first three weeks of the competition. After 12.3, he admitted to having trouble keeping food down as recently as the day before. “I’ve been happy with my performance so far considering the circumstances. I’ve basically been doing everything I can to recover from this illness since the competition started, so the only workouts that I’ve really done are those for the Open,” he says. “Today, I’m eating a banana after the workout, but I couldn’t do that last week and definitely not after the burpees.”

His attitude regarding this challenge is relentlessly positive. “Under the circumstances, with my feeling ill and all it really makes me appreciate the support that I’ve gotten from my wonderful wife and everybody at the box,” he says. “The fact that I’ve been able to stay in the game despite not performing at my best makes me feel like I have a bit of margin to do even better. Not necessarily enough to be on the very top of the Open ratings, but if I can reach my goal to qualify to the Games, I know that I will be healthy and ready to perform at my best in Carson.”

Dyall says he doesn’t worry too much about what the Open Workouts will be. “I’m neither hoping for nor dreading anything in particular. Just hoping that they come up with something that surprises us all and that can help determine who is most ready for any challenge that comes along.”

Dyall’s amazing combination of strength, body control, flexibility, aerobic capacity and raw determination in the face of adversity has made him one to watch.