Is this the world’s fittest man?

Victoria weightlifter aims for world CrossFit Games

Lucas Parker stretches his shoulders. The Oak Bay resident is aiming to win the CrossFit Games

Lucas Parker has a knack for extreme fitness

Outside, it’s sunny and hot but Lucas Parker is keeping cool in a dark gym.

A single window spreads its light across the room as Parker power lifts 255 pounds above his head.

“I guess it’s more of a dungeon in here than a health spa,” he says between reps.

The 21-year-old calmly works his way through a dozen power lifts, adding weights as he moves through the first of a three-day CrossFit workout regimen.

He’s also the only person in the Herald Street gym known as CrossFit Zone (it’s really not a health spa).

That he’s alone now is symbolic: Parker wants to be the fittest man in the world.

And he just could be.

He’ll get his chance to find out at the CrossFit Games, a sporting event that is coming out of the shadows.

“Essentially CrossFit is like yoga, or any other fitness discipline,” he explains, in that, like yoga, CrossFit can happen anywhere, as long as you follow its method and principles.

Since it grew in popularity from California earlier this decade, the boot-camp-type high-performance regimen has started popping up in gyms and community recreation centres. It combines gymnastics, cardio and weightlifting with speed, endurance, strength and balance.

“It’s tailored to everyone’s strength,” says Parker, a CrossFit instructor at the gym.

The St. Michaels University School graduate also patrols his old high school gym as an instructor, and studies kinesiology at the University of Victoria.

When it comes to the CrossFit Games, the regimen is as intense as any high performance sport going.

“You think of the fittest person in the world and most might say an (Ironman) triathlete,”

In terms of long distance, yes.

In terms of pound-for-pound strength and endurance, you’d be hard pressed to top a CrossFit Games champion.

Competitors at the regional and world games earn points for performing a variety of challenging workouts in short window of time.

“Everything from dead-lifts to (giant) tire flips.”

Earlier this month, Parker won the Canada West CrossFit Regionals in Vancouver. With it he won $3,000 and earned a spot in the upcoming world Crossfit Games, July 29 to 31 in Carson, Calif.

The winner nets $250,000.

An accomplished rugby player and weightlifter from Oak Bay, Parker chose to focus on the CrossFit Games over other aspirations, including an invite to the Canadian bobsled team’s training camp last year.

“I still feel I’ve got a few years to suss out exactly what sport I want to focus on.”

Winning a quarter-million could help him make up his mind.

Off colour

A recent CrossFit video featured Parker eating McDonalds between workouts. A rare incident for his nutrition-focused diet, all calories count when you’re burning them at a rate as high as Parker is.

Less rare are Parker’s post-workout “ice baths,” a quick dip in the ocean waters off his Oak Bay home.

All crossed up

CrossFit conditioning was started by Greg Glassman, a trainer in Santa Cruz, Calif., with a gymnastics background.

Along with its explosive popularity in the fitness training community, CrossFit has also come under criticism.

Dr. Tony Webster is with the Camosun College centre for sports and exercise at the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence. He’s also a certified CrossFit instructor, having taught it as recently as December.

“There are still criticisms; my own personal angle is it’s fantastic, if it’s applied properly.

“Like any sport, if people get too overzealous and competitive, that can be a danger,” he said.

CrossFit should be done according to each person’s physical capabilities, he added. “The real magic is in the movements, as long as they’re done at a level appropriate to their ability.”

Perhaps the greatest aspect of CrossFit is its variability of workouts, which can be tailored to a specific goal. For Parker, it’s meant an honest assessment of his overall skills, making sure he’s ready for the suprise events of the CrossFit Games.

“(Parker) needs to be good across the board, with no true weakness,” he said.

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