Top-ranked World of Warcraft pro reveals journey toward fitness: 'I wasn’t prioritizing nutrition at all'

Jonathan Lee
·9 min read

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Welcome to Level Up, In The Know’s look at some of the gaming world’s most interesting content creators — and the tech that helps them get the job done.

Josh “Xaryu” Lujan is a Twitch streamer and a name among names in World of Warcraft. He’s held the game’s coveted Rank 1 title in multiple PvP seasons and is widely considered one of the best Mages in the world. Succeeding in WoW’s PvP mode requires intelligent decision-making like keeping track of the enemy team’s cooldowns and abilities, predicting plays and smart positioning, all of which Xaryu excels in.

Xaryu’s talents aren’t limited to the video game world — the 27-year-old is also able to perform a 290-pound bench press. This is an impressive physical feat for any athlete, but in Xaryu’s case, it’s particularly exceptional. He weighs 145 pounds, which means he’s capable of lifting double his bodyweight.

The top gamer and fitness influencer spoke with In The Know about how he cultivates both his body and mind to peak performance.

The Journey to Rank 1 and Twitch stardom

Xaryu began playing World of Warcraft when he was 12 years old. He eventually became one of the best PvP players on the planet because of the thousands of hours he poured into the game.

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“I think it started as a little bit of an obsession,” Xaryu told In The Know. “I started playing a lot more than I probably should have.”

That passion continued well into college when he would discover Justin.tv, the streaming platform that eventually became Twitch. When Xaryu began streaming from his dorm room, he did so to an audience of only two to three people. But as he continued to make a name for himself on the WoW Arena rankings and grew in skill, so did his viewership.

“I was streaming my push to Gladiator, my first push to Rank 1 within the game which is the top 0.1% of players,” Xaryu said. “And more people wanted to tune in. Then as the years went by, I started getting more and more traction throughout that journey.”

In 2014, Xaryu said he reached 30,000 followers on his Twitch account and was pulling in a few hundred viewers each stream. Unfortunately, this was also when he noticed that it came at the expense of his health.

“I turned 20, maybe 21, and I looked in the mirror,” Xaryu said. “I was 110 pounds, really thin. You know, just basically streaming eight hours a day. I was in college so I was also a full-time student so I just wasn’t prioritizing getting a workout or nutrition at all.”

Devoting all his time to streaming and studying was taking a toll. Xaryu was eating badly, sleeping poorly and not exercising. All three of these factors have been heavily linked to increasing a person’s risk of anxiety and depression, so it’s no surprise that Xaryu “wasn’t feeling 100 percent.”

That’s when he decided to make a big change.

How did Xaryu get so fit? By doing his “dailies.”

Xaryu credits his parents for instilling him with a strong dedication for health and nutrition. When he was 21, they were values that he had to rediscover.

“I was fortunate enough growing up to have two parents that instilled really great values in keeping solid health and nutrition,” he said. “They told me to always move, to always get my workout in every day.”

Oddly enough, his years of playing WoW actually helped him map out his fitness journey. Xaryu went deep into researching all he could find on nutrition, exercise and strength training. In short, he began grinding, just like he would in WoW.

“When should I be sleeping?” Xaryu said. “What should I be eating? How should I be training? I spent the next couple years researching, trial and error on myself, and really just diving into it. And I really, really fell in love with training.”

After years of experimentation, Xaryu settled upon calisthenics as his preferred method of training. Calisthenics training starts off simple with the bread-and-butter movements that everyone grew up doing in gym class such as push-ups, crunches and squats.

But at Xaryu’s level, he can perform advanced techniques that require tremendous overall body strength, balance and endurance. Here he is performing a human flag, one of the benchmarks of an elite calisthenics athlete.

— Josh Lujan (@Xaryu) June 14, 2018someone in stream chat asked if I could do human flag, i didnt know so i tried, here it is!

[IG] https://t.co/Vn0gAoXBBz pic.twitter.com/InHC0R5lv9

How did he do this? He worked at it little by little each day, and over time, those little gains became a massive gain. To put it in World of Warcraft terms, Xaryu was “doing his dailies,” referring to the repeatable quests in the game that progressively make your character more powerful.

The thing about dailies is that they’re simple, easy and consistent — just like fitness. Xaryu and his partner Shannon Contreras, an artist and fellow fitness streamer, applied the idea of WoW dailies to holistic living.

“So, we call them your real-life dailies, right?” Xaryu explained. “Sunlight for 20 minutes, movement for 45 minutes, sleeping for seven or eight hours, right? Getting a gallon of water a day or just staying hydrated throughout the day, eating fruits, veggies and protein… And then that final one is to socialize. Just saying hi to someone you love. That could be texting your mom and saying, ‘Hey, mom, hope you have a great day.’”

By dedicating some of his time to fitness and nutrition, Xaryu said he actually began to play WoW better. To any gamer, this comes as no surprise.

Your brain, your eyes, your hands and your reflexes are all directly affected by your overall physical fitness and health. Regular exercise, proper nutrition and getting plenty of sleep will improve your gaming.

Carving away the unessential

Xaryu is a big proponent of minimalism, so it’s no surprise that he’s also a fan of calisthenics. It’s a fantastic method of exercise where the only equipment you need are your body and maybe some bars.

“I think for me, it’s always been about carving away the unessential,” Xaryu said, paraphrasing Bruce Lee’s famous quote. “It’s one of my favorite quotes.”

To that end, he doesn’t endorse fad diets and eats proteins, fats and carbs all in moderation. He’s compiled a cookbook of the meals he eats which are healthier versions of the dishes he already enjoys: nachos, pizza, tacos and so on.

Xaryu also published a bodyweight program that leads readers through a comprehensive calisthenics program. For example, if you can’t perform a pull-up, you can do assisted bodyweight rows which still work out your back but added assistance with your legs.

“Anyone can get started, no matter your level, even if you’re bedridden,” Xaryu said. “I don’t necessarily like the excuse of, ‘Well, I can’t do that.’ Yes, you can. If it’s a push-up, there’s progressions to get started.”

For his workouts, Xaryu uses dip bars and parallette bars, both from Lebert Fitness. He also uses Femor gymnastics rings and a Prosourcefit pull-up bar.

As for gaming, Xaryu plays on a Lenovo Legion PC, a Logitech G Pro X Ultralight and a pair of ASUS monitors, one at 144hz and another at 75hz. His streaming set-up includes a Shure SM7B mic, a Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro headset, Elgato Stream Deck and a Sony a6000 camera.

This is an impressive list of gear that costs thousands of dollars. However, Xaryu emphasized that this is equipment he accrued during years of streaming.

“It’s a very common thing to think that you need the best equipment,” Xaryu said. “I mean, you look at a stream like [mine] and there’s nice lighting, there’s a nice camera, there’s a nice mic here. I’ve been streaming for eight years now and this setup is truly a blessing. I do want to say though that this was organic growth over many, many years.”

So what sort of equipment should you buy as a fledgling streamer? Well, possibly nothing. You probably already have what you need to get started.

“This is all you need, man,” Xaryu said while lifting up his smartphone. “Your phone, right? You need a computer or phone and you can start going live. You can start creating content up on Instagram, YouTube. For me, I started on my Macbook. From there, I ended up selling my Macbook and then I got a like couple hundred bucks for my birthday presents or something. Then I sold my Macbook on top of that and then bought like a $900 computer, self-built it with a friend of mine. That was my streaming PC for the next three or four years.”

Xaryu is part of a new generation of content creators

As for Xaryu’s future, he’s already living in it.

Xaryu is part of an emerging vanguard of Twitch streamers who are also lifestyle influencers. He isn’t a top WoW player who transitioned to fitness. He is both Xaryu the Rank 1 Gladiator and Josh Lujan the fitness trainer.

His message of pursuing a balanced life is something he wished he heard himself while growing up.

“I have this burning desire to share this kind of stuff because it’s the stuff that I needed to hear when I was a kid,” Xaryu said. “I didn’t hear it from my role models. I didn’t hear it from the people that I looked up to… If I had my favorite YouTuber saying, ‘Hey, guys, get outside and then let’s play some games,’ that would have been pretty impactful for me. So I’m just trying to be the role model that I needed as a kid and I want to share that with the next generation.”

If you’re interested in watching Xaryu, check out his schedule here. He streams World of Warcraft from Monday to Saturday and fitness on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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