Mike Perry Discusses How He Juggles Running a Gym, Training Jiu Jitsu and Being a Family Man

Mike Perry is a gym owner outside of Boston, Massachusetts that trains a variety of combat athletes.  He also has a family and recently started training jiu jitsu.  Our discussion today revolves around how he schedules and prioritizes his work, training and free time.  Lots of great tips for busy people that are interested in juggling a variety of things.

Follow Mike on Instagram: @coachmikeperry

Full Transcription of Our Podcast with Mike Perry

Mike Perry Discusses How He Juggles Running a Gym, Training Jiu Jitsu and Being a Family Man

Corey Beasley [00:00:02]: Hey guys, is Corey Beasley with fight camp conditioning. I’m excited to have Mike Perry from the skill of strength with us today. Mike, how are you doing?

Mike Perry [00:00:08]: I’m doing fantastic Corey. How are you today?

Corey Beasley [00:00:11]: Great. Thanks for taking the time to join us and talk with us and share some of your experiences. Guys, Mike runs at skill of strength, which is out tell me if I’m wrong, but just outside of Boston?

Mike Perry [00:00:22]: Yeah, so we’re about 35, 40 miles West of Boston in a town called Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Its right next to Lowell, Massachusetts and it’s right on the New Hampshire border. We actually border a Nashua, New Hampshire, so we’re a little bit West, but we can get to the city within about 40 minutes or so.

Corey Beasley [00:00:39]: Very cool. Now Mike, for everybody that’s listening you train a lot of different combat athletes out there at your gym and you’ve done a lot of great work. Who are some of the guys that you’ve work with over the last few years?

Mike Perry [00:00:55]: So as far as combat athletes go in the names that most people would recognize are Rob Font is actually, he was my first full time client. I’ve been working with Rob for about seven years. Calvin Carter, I’ve been working with about three or four. Joe Lozan. Mike Rodriguez, Kyle bochniak, I’ve been with a few years. I’ve the last camp I worked with Randy Costa, Devin Powell. I’ve worked with John Howard in the past. A lot of the bigger names that are based out of New England. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with. So and I currently train a bunch of jiu jitsu far does as well. My school, a gentle art dojo. Raphael Carneiro are really accomplished black belt and not his strength and conditioning coach. And he is my jiu jitsu coach and a handful of other guys that are popping in here and there to help them out. So right now it’s mostly those, a higher level UFC guys and I do help with a lot of programming remotely with some other athletes as well.

Corey Beasley [00:02:02]: So I wanted to talk with you about that, Mike, because over the past I don’t know how long it’s been several months, maybe years, but you’ve all forgotten jiu jitsu yourself, like you said, so you’ve been running a gym you train training guys, you’ve got quite a bit of experience doing this stuff and then you jump on the mat. I really kind of want to talk about you’re juggling, you’re juggling as a business owner, as a husband and father, and then you’re jumping on the mats in addition to all the other stuff you’re doing. So I want to kind of talk about how you’re navigating that.

Mike Perry [00:02:35]:
 Absolutely. First of all, I’m not sure if I’m actually navigating it correctly yet, but I’m trying my best. Honestly, what I do with my schedule is I have my stable of clients that I work with and after that really good base of clients, I really don’t take on too many others just because I’m so stinking busy. But I try to have my clients that I see every week and then my afternoons tend to be a little bit more training on my own or doing some social media, doing some writing, trying to get some articles together, everything else. And then what I try to do is I try to shut it down after working about nine or 10 hours and then try to make the switch so I can take the kiddos to basketball practice and soccer practice and I’m actually now jiu jitsu practice because both of my young boys are doing jiu jitsu. So it’s really about managing my time and trying to, trying to make sure that, if I put something in my calendar that block of time, whether it’s writing or whether it’s training is, is really non-negotiable. So for me, I live and die by my calendar and I tried to do my best to manage it all and sometimes I feel like I’m doing a decent job. Other times, not so much. So I’m a constant work in progress, but so far so good. So we’re just going to keep on trucking along and hopefully we can continue to have success with my athletes and with my gym and at the same time trying to be a good dad and a good husband.

Corey Beasley [00:04:01]: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a lot to juggle. But from your perspective how many days a week are you rolling right now?

Mike Perry [00:04:09]: So I’m usually rolling two to three days a week. It really depends on my schedule. I try to get three training sessions a week at the gym. Two of those days are a little bit harder. They’re competition classes, so they’re usually an hour and a half to an hour and 40 minutes. And that’s usually about 30 minutes or so of technique and drilling. And then usually we roll about 45 minutes to an hour. So it’s a good training session. And I’m training with some high level guys, some Brown belts and some black belts and it’s really tough. Oftentimes I’m the nail, but that’s okay. I actually, I love the challenge. So I think for me, anything more than that I think I’d start to get a little bit too banged up. So two to three times a week is the sweet spot for me.

Corey Beasley [00:04:55]: I think that’s important for a lot of people to kind of figure out because I’ve seen a couple of your posts where you’re talking about how to stay healthy and consistent over time versus just putting out bursts of effort. So I mean, just even creating a schedule is a big jump for a lot of people.

Mike Perry [00:05:13]: Yeah. I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is when they’re doing jiu jitsu, they want to get their stripes, they want to try to fly through belts. So a lot of schools will promote people based off of attendance and how many classes they go to and that that seems to be the norm. But for me I would rather have two to three quality sessions where I feel like I can train hard, I can pay attention and I’m not dogging it. So for me, I like to have those sessions where I feel like I’m very productive. I just don’t like to show up just to get a class checked off. That’s just not me. But I do think that everybody needs to find their sweet spot where they can figure out, how many days a week am I going to be on the mats? And within those days, what are going to be my harder days? I’m going to be maybe sparring a little bit harder or rolling harder. And what are the days where I’m going to back off and maybe drill a little bit more and spend a little bit more time on technique. And I think it’s important for people to understand, how their body reacts because it’s a tough sport and there’s so many moving targets and there’s so many variables when it comes to training. So you have to understand the tendencies of your training partners and you have to be careful with who you choose to roll with because next thing you know, you don’t want this monster ripping your leg off or ripping your arm off and now you can’t work for a while. So I think you have to be fairly deliberate with your decision making so you can make progress with your jiu jitsu and stay healthy at the same time. So again, finding that sweet spot I think is very important for some people. And everyone thinks I just got to be on the mats five days a week. And that’s what I need. Now, for some people that might work, but if you’re 35, 40, 45 years old and just starting jiu jitsu, I’m going to say that five days a week on the mat is eventually going to beat you up and you are going to get injured. So I think you do have to find that sweet spot.

Corey Beasley [00:07:01]: Now, Mike, as a strength coach and for you just talked about it, right? These guys go in and they’re doing three, four, five days or maybe even two days at the beginning and it shocks the system a bit and a lot of guys get a lot of aches and pains and nagging injuries that are just consistent for a long period of time. What are some tips that you have or that you’ve used to kind of organize your strength and conditioning outside the jiu jitsu gym?

Mike Perry [00:07:29]: Well, for me, I really had to put my ego aside because I was at guy early in my career. I wanted to lift heavy and I was really focused on trying to lift heavy and try to put those big numbers up right. And when I started doing that, I was getting decently strong. I was never the strongest guy out there, but I was respectably strong. But what ended up happening is once I started jiu jitsu was putting a toll on my body and I was training really, really hard and I was also still trying to, dead lift, real heavy squat, real heavy press real heavy. And I was just really taking too much money out of the bank account and not putting anything back in. And I ended up with about a year where I was dealing with some nasty back stuff. So I really had to change the way that I train and say to myself, Hey, like what’s my goal? If I really want to get better at jiu jitsu and I want to practice this sport for as long as I can, I need to just make some better decisions. So I really had to dial back the heavy lifting and I spent a lot more time cleaning up my movement patterns and focusing on joint mobility and doing things to make sure that it, my knees were healthy and my hips were healthy, my low back, my shoulders, et cetera. So I really started taking just a little bit different approach so I could still maintain my strength and my movement quality. But not get so banged up.

Corey Beasley [00:08:53]: Yeah, I think that’s important. I think in my head at least, I haven’t visually written in a couple of different big whiteboards in the garage here or were I train the boys and I’ve explained it. I asked them a few, I haven’t drawn a few different ways, but I think of it like one example is like a transmission or a stick shift in a car, right? So it’s having different gears or different speeds for different times of the year. So like what you’re talking about, being able to downshift, so to speak and work on some different qualities versus just trying to be in third and fourth gear, just grinding it out all the time going fast.

Mike Perry [00:09:30]: Yeah, that’s a fantastic analogy. And one of the things I really had to do is take my own advice. Like, what do I tell my UFC guys to do? And I have to make sure that I’m giving them the best direction possible because this is their body that they’re talking about and they use their body to pay their bills and make a living. So I have to be fairly smart and deliberate with my exercise selection in my programming. And eventually it was a smart enough to say, Hey, I’m giving these guys all this great advice and they’re healthy and they’re doing great. I need to start listening to my own advice, which is a sometimes easier said than done.

Corey Beasley [00:10:07]: Yeah. So for you, I mean you spoke about movement quality and strength training properly and what are some specific things that changed as you started rolling more?

Mike Perry [00:10:20]: Well, I have a kind of a history of some low back stuff in my early twenties, I had a couple of disc herniation’s from just being a knucklehead and not training properly. And so I had to be aware of those, that Achilles heel if you will. So I eventually just stopped with really heavy barbell stuff and started switching over to more kettlebell work, more body weight stuff and even some dumbbell work. So I still hit the major patterns, right? I still work in my hands and my squad and my split stance and my single weight training, I just focus on exercises that are going to be a little bit easier on my spine and a little bit just more joint friendly in general. So a lot of people know me as a kettlebell guy, so I spend a lot of time with kettlebells, training with kettlebells, which is for me they really do make me feel a bit more resilient and I feel like I just moved that much better when I’m training with kettlebells. And then, a lot of dumbbell work, a lot of body weight training as well. And just smart training overall for me. Not to say that other people can’t go out and dead lift heavy, but I just know that if I try to do too much and I tried to tax my body too much, I’m going to end up paying for it because I have in the past. So I spend a lot of time doing things like that, but I also just spend a little bit more time. I kind of the little things like, mobility of my big toe, stuff that you tend to jam up on the mats and a knee health. I spend a lot of time making sure that I full range of motion, pain free range of motion with my knee, both end range flection and extension. And I do a bunch of exercises like single leg training that are really going to help me somewhat Bulletproof my knees. And then a lot of shoulder work, a lot of rotator cuff, direct rotator cuff work, a lot of kettlebell exercises like kettlebell arm bars and kettlebell get-ups and cricket arm bars and stuff like that. So I really believe that the shoulder is something that people don’t spend enough time. Bulletproofing and I always have told people, Hey, like if you’re training fighters, I want you to treat them like a pitcher and you want to kind of overbuild the shoulder, overbuild the cuff, spend a ton of time on dozens of rowing variations, et cetera. So I’m really trying to just take my own advice. And it’s been working out. I’ve been knock on wood, I’ve been really healthy over the last year and a half and my jiu jitsu has gotten that much better just because I have more time on the mat.

Corey Beasley [00:12:53]: Exactly. I always say it. I mean if you ask any guys that have ever worked with me, and they all say they’ll laugh and they’ll just be like, Hey, if we don’t show up, I’m in trouble. But consistency is huge, I think that if you go to jiu jitsu and I miss a one, two work out here and there, but over the course of a year, those one and twos become like 30, 40 sessions. And if I know if Mike has 30, 40 more sessions than me and I show up and roll, you’re going to whip me pretty fast.

Mike Perry [00:13:27]: Yeah, it does make a difference and again, I try to be as consistent as I can. I mean, I never missed training sessions on the mats unless I really need to, that’s my time, right? Because I’m always the coach, I’ve always been the coach. And it’s just refreshing to be the student and to just shut up and listen to my coach, go in there and train. And that’s my favorite part. I love, it’s nice to not have to be the coach for a while.

Corey Beasley [00:13:55]: Now, Mike give us some really good tips as far as training as you get an older on the mats but doing some stuff, how you’re training strength wise and Bulletproof and working on the ankles, hips and shoulders and really working on some of those weak links. A little extra. What are some things that you’re doing outside of both gyms, as far as recovery and lifestyle wise, because I know you’re juggling, not only the gym but also a family. What are some ways you’ve kind of worked on some things outside the gym?

Mike Perry [00:14:30]:
 Well, for me the most important thing was a sleep. And for me sleep is the most important recovery strategy slash modality that you can have. And it’s funny because I put my kids to bed between seven and eight o’clock and I mean, right when they go to bed, I’m washing up and hopping in bed and trying to get my eight hours. If I don’t get my, my eight hours of sleep at night, like I can tell within a few days that my body is just grumpy. I wake up and all of those little old injuries just start to poke their head out a little bit. And for me it’s like sleep is not negotiable. Like I honestly, if I don’t get my sleep I just feel like a completely different person. So it’s like I try to get home and I try to do what I can to just stay healthy and again, just get as much sleep as possible. That has been huge for me. And then I think also, for me, just mentally just having a little bit of a quiet time to do something where I’m by myself and I’m not having to do anything necessarily like work related, but just being outdoors a little bit, whether it’s just kind of messing around in the yard, working in the yard or going out in the woods and taking a walk through the woods or whatever. Like those little things for me is a little bit of a mental reset as well. So I feel like it’s important to have that mental reset and that physical reset. So for me, finding that quiet time is important and getting sleep and those are the two things that I’ve made a really good effort to change. And that has been huge for me and I’m going to continue to do that. In addition to trying to eat healthy and not given to my inner fat guy too much.

Corey Beasley [00:16:17]: Everybody got that guy on their shoulder telling them what to eat at night when he’s got the fridge open.

Mike Perry [00:16:22]: Yeah. So I try to do what I can to make the best decisions and then go from there. I mean, I would love to be able to find more time to train a little bit more and get back into like mountain biking, doing some other things. But right now, any of my spare time has been really dedicated towards jiu jitsu. And getting on the mat a little bit.

Corey Beasley [00:16:44]: So Mike aside from that, I mean, we talked about your time on the mat. We talked about some of the ways you’re changing up your workouts so that you’re staying healthy, you’re keeping consistent improving your rest and sleep, so that you’re able to recover from all this volume, all this stress mentally and physically as well as just taking some time to yourself. I think that’s huge point. Everybody wants to grind there’s all these memes all over the place, rise and grind and do all this type of stuff. And I’m all for working hard, don’t get me wrong. But you and I maybe have been doing this a little bit longer than most, and we realize like you’ve all you do is grind. Nobody’s a superhero. It’s going to come to a hole. Right?

Mike Perry [00:17:26]: Yeah, and one thing I’ve learned, and I forget where I heard this quote initially, but it was something along the lines of it’s better to step off a cliff and fall. So knowing when to take a break and knowing when to pull back a little bit is a better strategy than waiting for things to break and waiting for things to go off the rails a little bit. So I’m pretty good at making that call when I need to just dial it down a little bit. But I think one of the things that I’ve also realized is that being a business owner, there’s always going to be other things to do. And you can easily fall into the trap of working for 10 hours straight and going, what else can I do? What else can I do? And I think a lot of people confuse being busy with being productive. And what I’m trying to focus on now is if I’ve got 10 hours where I need to train my clients and get as much stuff done as possible, I’m trying to be as productive as I can in that 10 hours as opposed to just keeping myself busy. I think a lot of people will say, Hey, I work 12 hour days. But it’s like, yeah, within that 12 hours are you actually being productive or is two hours of that, you know, screwing around on social media and watching dumb stuff on Facebook and YouTube. So I’m just trying to get a little bit better with time management. So it’s like if it’s time to train, it’s time to train. If it’s time to work, it’s time to work. If it’s time to be with my family, it’s time to be with my family. So I’m trying to delegate my schedule. So when I am doing something, I’m all in. And when it’s time to rest, it’s time to rest. And it’s been hard because again, as a business owner, it’s very easy to go, man, I could do this, I got to do this, I got 10 finish this. And that’s the danger of being a business owner sometimes is you can always do more. And you can find yourself one in the morning, banging your head against the wall, thinking you’ve got to get more done where your best thing is probably to just go to bed and wake up the next day and start over.

Corey Beasley [00:19:24]: Absolutely. It’s a long-term vision versus that short term. I think it’s important for anybody to hear that. I think what I’ve noticed is as people became a busier people, they tend to get more things done. Like for me, when we had our second boy it became crunch time and it’s like, all right, cool. I’ve got two or three, maybe four hours on a good day to sit in front of the computer or any and get things done. And it was amazing how many things I got done when I was crunched. Where other people that are just free, they don’t have any responsibilities. They can do it whenever they want. They tend to push things off. So I think it’s really good information for not only just people that are busy with their training but that also have a life outside the gym, which is everybody.

Mike Perry [00:20:11]: Yeah, I think time management is something that people unfortunately learn later in life. It’s not a skill that gets taught in high school and I haven’t been to college in forever, so I don’t think they teach it there either. But time management and understanding truly how to manage your time effectively is super important.

Corey Beasley [00:20:31]: Yeah. Well, Mike, I appreciate you sharing with us. For anybody that’s wanting to learn more about what you’re doing or keep in touch with you, what’s the best ways for them to find you?

Mike Perry [00:20:40]: So on Instagram you can find me at coach Mike Perry and I’m always putting some information out there on Facebook, just Mike Perry not to be confused with platinum, Mike Perry, different Mike Perry, but you can always you can always friend me there if you want to reach out and ask them questions. And then my gym is called Skill Strength and again, we’re based out of jumps from Massachusetts. You can check our social media on Facebook and Instagram. And then also I’m lucky enough to work with strong first as a, as a senior kettlebell instructor. And I also work with functional movement systems as a course instructor. So hopefully I’ll get to see some people at certifications and courses as well. So I’m always out and about. And it’ll be good to connect with those people that are trying to learn a little bit more about how to manage the life of a gym owner and a strength coach and an athlete.

Corey Beasley [00:21:36]: Well guys, I’ll definitely put all those links down below so you guys can just click over and stay in touch with Mike and learn more about what he’s doing. But Mike, thanks again. Appreciate it. It’s always fun to talk.

Mike Perry [00:21:46]: Thank you so much, Corey. I appreciate it.