Still Cleaning Floors – Tommy Vinas

Last year I had an idea to write-up a young chap who had just started CrossFit and was doing some great things. The outlet I submitted to wasn’t interested in the story and that was not unusual, not everything that gets written gets published. This year, he’s headed to the CrossFit Regional’s and maybe I’ll get to write him up again.

But the lesson for me as a writer is that I didn’t push hard enough to get this published. I thought it was a good story then and I think it’s a good story now. In sports, in CrossFit and in life, sometimes you have to push harder or trust your instinct and get your story out there. I’m still learning.

Check it out, 2014 Open athlete, Tommy Vinas.

Assuming the post 15.5 position. Photo credit: Adam Bow

Assuming the post 15.5 position, Tommy Vinas is headed to the CrossFit Regionals in Dallas, TX. (Photo credit: Adam Bow)

Originally written March, 2014

Tommy Vinas dumps a bucket of soapy water on the rubber mat of the garage gym where he has trained for nearly two years. He and a buddy have about twenty tattered old towels they use to wipe down and dry the floor of the home’s owner and garage gym coach, Jim Steg.

“Jim does a lot for me. It’s the price I pay for free training” says Vinas, a seventeen year old newcomer to the sport of CrossFit.

Having just completed his first Open season, Tommy reflects on his experience and is determined to do better next year.

“After 14.2, I started to take it too seriously and stopped having fun. The Open put me in my place, it showed me where I was compared to other athletes, bigger athletes” says Vinas.

In 1996, the same year Dave Castro graduated high school and Rich Froning turned ten, Thomas Nathaniel Vinas was born in the central valley of Phoenix, Ariz. The middle of three boys, Tommy – as he is known – is a happy-go-lucky baby who is in constant motion and shows signs of athletic promise even as a toddler.

“He hit the ground running and has never stopped” recalls his mother, Lori Vinas, also a CrossFitter.

At the age of six he started swimming competitively and continued on through high school where he made it to the State qualifier. Never one to settle for just one activity, Tommy has tried just about every sport. From tee-ball to tennis, you name it – he’s played it.

“I don’t like to stop moving” says Tommy.

Which is why when he found CrossFit it was a perfect fit. Constantly varied, short, intense workouts attracted the seventeen year-old senior from Verrado High School in Buckeye, Ariz. to the sport.

Invited by a friend when he was fifteen he began working out in a neighbor’s garage gym. Initially interested in “getting fit and looking good,” he remembers his first CrossFit WOD was the benchmark workout Fran – 21, 15, 9 of thrusters at 95 lbs. and pull-ups. He finished the workout in 6:58 and knew he needed to know more.

He started watching CrossFit videos on YouTube and eventually turned his attention to looking up “Games” workouts. Inspired by the elite fitness of the Games’ athletes and the intensity of the workouts, Tommy began to realize a bigger picture. He wanted to make CrossFit his life. Not only to compete, but to train others and help them realize their individual potential as he has done.

“I have to stay determined. This is a lifestyle for me, a constant grind” Vinas says of his newfound passion.

His plans after high school are to attend college and study either Fire Science or kinesiology. His parents are supporting whichever direction he takes and know that whatever he does, he will do it to the best of his ability – and likely more.

“He’s a great kid. He works his ass off. From the word ‘go’ he is a machine and he never misses a workout” says Jim Steg also a CrossFitter and Level One Certified CrossFit Trainer.

Steg runs a CrossFit class five days a week and runs his ship like an old karate dojo. One class at 5:00 a.m. If you are in, you wake up. Strength WOD starts right at 5:00 a.m. followed by a conditioning WOD at 5:30 a.m.

Tommy is not only a participant in the garage, he also has his Level One certification and is responsible for programming Wednesday and Friday WOD’s for the class. Steg’s angle is that performance is more than just the physical and mental parts of the competition. The more you know about the physiology of the movements the more disciplined you become with the technical aspect of the sport.

Physicality and variation in movements are strengths for Vinas, who has whittled his Fran time down to 2:11. But the real test comes from putting your ability on the line against other CrossFit athletes who have been in the game longer and in seeing where you stand on the leaderboard.

Young, but strong and confident, he totaled 355 reps on his first Open workout (14.1 which included double-unders and Overhead snatch). The performance landed him in 116th place in the region after the first week and left him feeling ready for the remainder of the workouts.

But The Open is paved with both milestones and setbacks.

14.2 proved the Castro sentiment “that it was time to go to work” and Tommy found himself in a mental battle with the bar after he ripped during an early round of chest to bars.

“Once you rip, your grip goes and you can’t pull hard enough for the chest to bar. It gets you all out of whack” said Vinas of his 175 reps in week two of The Open. 14.2.

Vinas finished the Open in 187th place in the South West region after the five workouts, but this is just a starting point for him. Adding in more strength training at 623 CrossFit in Glendale, Ariz., he is “fired up” to do better next year.

“I wake up pumped to come here (garage) every day. I am already training for next year” says Tommy.

Since this was written, Tommy has been training and working (still cleaning floors) at CrossFit Fury with Games veterans from the Bomb Squad in Goodyear, AZ.


Categories: Life Lessons Through Sports


4 replies

  1. Awesome article Priscilla!!!

    Can’t wait to see the next one of him!!!!

    He’s gonna be big!!!

  2. Tommy has the heart of a winner. He is a motivated young man. Great article.

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