After two years and countless squats, crunches, push-ups, pull-ups, dead-lifts and other exercises, Whistler's Steve Howell finished just shy of a guaranteed spot at the July CrossFit Games in Los Angeles.
Howell first competed in the CrossFit Nationals in 2010, placing seventh. In 2011 he placed fourth in the Canada West Regionals, and this year moved up to third. Only the top two are guaranteed spots at the Games, with Jeremy Meredith and Lucas Parker repeating as regional representatives following a regional competition at the end of April. Meredith finished the competition in the Richmond Oval with nine points, followed by Parker with 11 and Howell with 26.
Despite being behind after the first five events, Howell kept working hard and won the fifth event.
There were six events in total from April 27 to 30, with two events per day.
The first test was the "Diane," which is a series of dead lift squats (using a 225 pound weight) followed by handstand pushups. The first set is 21 of each, followed by 15 of each, followed by nine of each. The fastest time determines your ranking.
The second test was a 2,000-metre row, followed by 50 one-legged squats (alternating legs) and 30 hang cleans where competitors repeatedly lifted a 225-pound weight from knees to overhead.
Howell said a crowd of about 500 was on hand for the first day and the numbers jumped to 750 on Saturday and Sunday.
The first event on Saturday was four sets of 10 one-arm dumbbell snatches, with each dumbbell weighing 100 pounds, followed by a sprint. The next test was 50 back squats (135 pounds), followed by 40 pull-ups, 30 shoulder-to-overhead lifts (135 pounds), 50 front squats (85 pounds), 40 pull-ups, 30 shoulder-to-overhead lifts (85 pounds), 50 overhead squats (65 pounds), 40 pull-ups and 30 shoulder-to-overhead lifts (65 pounds).
On Sunday, the first event was the snatch ladder with double unders, which are weight lifts from the ground to overhead.
The last event, won by Howell, consisted of three rounds with seven dead lifts (345 pounds), seven muscle-ups (pull-ups to chin, then up to waist), and then three rounds of 21 wall ball shots with a 20 pound ball, 21 toes-to-bar lifts, a 100-foot farmer's carry with two 100 pound dumbbells, and three muscle ups.
"It was a really good competition," said Howell. "I enjoyed the workouts. They were heavy, which is good. There were some complex exercises."
Howell has lived in Whistler full-time since 2009 and started the CrossFit program in 2008. He has just moved to Victoria and he is now training at a large CrossFit gym in the provincial capital.
CrossFit is a fitness movement that has evolved into a sport, combining strength-training exercises with timing. The top event is the CrossFit Games in Los Angeles.
To qualify for a regional, you do a whole different set of activities in your home CrossFit gym with someone on hand to verify times and scores.
CrossFit Whistler also sent a team to the regionals, which placed 14th. Only the top-ranked team in each region gets to go to California.
-With files from John French