Training Smarter, Not Harder
For Vincent Ramirez, 15, the decision to abandon the brick-and-mortar schoolhouse was less about volume and more about recovery time. After one year at Oskaloosa High School in Iowa, he began homeschooling in the fall after taking home the bronze at his first CrossFit Games appearance last July.
“I feel better now because I can break (training) up into two sessions instead of having to do all the WODs in one session,” he said. “I can give my body a rest between each workout.”
Ramirez fell in love with competition after taking fifth place in a local throwdown in 2014. After following up the performance with a second-place Open finish in 2015, he upped his training from one or two hours each day to around four to prepare for his Carson debut. He did all of the work—multiple strength sessions and metcons—in one jam-packed session after school each day. The work paid off with a podium finish and a newfound passion.
“I found out this is what I truly love to do and want to do for the rest of my life,” he said.
Still, he doubted he could keep up the routine without consequences.
“My body was just too tired to keep on doing that amount of workouts in that short of time,” he said. “(The fatigue) was mostly mental, too, because your mind tells you you’re tired (and) then your body follows your mind.”
Remembering conversations with older teenage athletes at the Games, some of whom had become homeschooled to make more time for training, he appealed to his parents.
His father, Rey Ramirez, was set against it, mostly for fear that Vincent would be unable to play traditional sports if he withdrew from school. Raquel Ramirez, Vincent’s mother, however, was an easy sell.
“I was all for it,” she said. After marrying young and and forgoing many of her own ambitions to have children, she encourages Vincent, his brother and his sister to follow their dreams.
“I always told my kids if you know at a young age what you want to do, all you have to do is tell me, and you can go ahead and try it,” she said. “And he knows. I can see it already. He wants to be a trainer and compete in the CrossFit Games, and I don’t think you need a degree for that.”
The family met in the middle with dual enrollment: While mostly homeschooled by the parents of Will Kminek, Vincent’s friend and training partner, he would remain partially enrolled at Oskaloosa High School, granting him the right to take additional courses like foreign languages at the high school and to play for the football team, which he plans to do next year.
The benefit to schooling from home, Vincent said, is no time wasted on lunch periods or class transition time.
“In school if you get (your work) done, you still have to wait in class,” he said. “So now if I get my English done I can move straight on to history or science or math.”
Ramirez and Kminek typically study two subjects in the morning at Kminek’s home before heading to CrossFit OFC for their first training session. After lunch, they return home for another set of classes and cap off the day with an evening workout.
After eight months of homeschooling, Ramirez is happy with his choice. He sees his school friends at sporting events and on the weekends, and having more time to rest between sessions, he said, has helped him make both physical and mental gains. Since the Games, he’s increased his clean and jerk from 270 to 300 lb. and his snatch from 205 to 235 lb.
“I have more confidence,” he said. “Now since I let my body rest, I can get more energy and I feel more confident.”