May is Military Appreciation Month and we’re partnering with the Red Sox Foundation to bring you exclusive content every Friday for Operation Health@Home’s #RedSoxFundFridayFeature. We’re kicking things off this week with Red Sox Athletic Performance Coordinator and U.S. Air Force Veteran Mike Roose who, alongside Red Sox legend Tim Wakefield, played a significant role in developing our own Warrior Health Programs in Boston and Southwest Florida.
Tune in for today’s featured video as our Warrior Health & Fitness Team catches up with Mike to discuss family, training, and how he’s helping Red Sox players stay in tip-top shape – virtually – during these times.
Mike, thanks for joining us today. Please, let’s start out by telling us a little bit about your background. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thanks for inviting me here. It’s a pleasure, it’s an honor. Home Base means a lot to me personally. I’m a Veteran myself, I signed up after 9/11; I’m from New England; so it hits home for me. I went into the military and that started my journey to where I am today. During my time I was deployed to combat zones 4 times, totaling 30 months in both Iraq and Afghanistan throughout my 4-year enlistment. I was lucky to get through that and met a lot of people that were very influential to me – they turned my life into a very positive direction where I wanted to do more and decided to get out, go back to school and finish my degree in exercise science.
As I was finishing up school, I was fortunate enough to meet somebody who got me in the door with the Red Sox. I’ve thrown the last 11 years of my life into this position and into taking care of people. And that’s what it was about for me when I got out of the service – it was all about taking care of people and how to help them take care of themselves. It’s just pretty cool that I get to do it in baseball and we get to be in Fenway Park and the excitement of that. But at the core of it, it’s about taking care of people.
I love that you mentioned talking about taking care of people, I mean that’s one of the reasons we all get into strength and conditioning and that’s what we love to do – take care of other people. We’re living in some unprecedented times right now, there’s a lot of things going on. We know that it’s very important to stay active and stay healthy and sometimes that can be a little bit of struggle. I was wondering if you could just give us some examples of things that you’re doing to maintain those activity levels and being healthy and involving your family, things like that.
It’s been difficult. It’s definitely been a struggle, it’s been a challenge. We’re so used to having resources at our disposal whenever we want. You want to drive over to the gym and work out, you can go to the gym, even if you want to go to a park or go for a run or go to a soccer field. I’m lucky enough right now that I am down in Southwest Florida in Fort Myers but all the parks are closed and all the beaches are closed and all the outdoor activities are closed. I would say, the first two weeks I felt really lost, I had lost all my go-to’s. It got to the point where my wife and I started getting out of whack without our normal routine. I know how important routine is for me personally, I know how important it is even for the athletes that I work with.
So we sat down together and got serious about sticking to a routine. I told my wife, “Hey, we need to have a routine to get us on track,” and what we did was just schedule out our day. We have two small children, we know about what time they were getting up in the morning, so we were trying to get up about an hour before that. We would get up together and we would exercise. We didn’t have any equipment at the time so we were pulling up YouTube videos and doing Pilates or doing yoga together. And then we just started doing really basic bodyweight workouts, pushups, squats, lunges, anything we could really think of.
But as far as taking care of ourselves, we realized after a week the routine was really helping us. It was helping the way we communicate with one another and so we went out and bought just a couple of small pieces of equipment. I have a medicine ball, I have a band and I have a kettlebell and that was even tough for me because I’m used to having weights and I’m used to having all the fancy equipment. But just having that couple of small pieces of equipment gave us more variety in what we could do. And then once we realized, okay, if we’re going to be stuck in the house and doing this, we just try to do more with the kids outside. It was like, “All right, well if the kids are going to get up,” we know when they’re getting up, we would exercise, and then we would actually take them for a walk as soon as I got up because it was getting hot here.
So we would do our bodyweight exercise, which is good and it’s something, but then we would add onto that by just getting the kids out right away, and even just taking a two-mile walk around the neighborhood was good for them. My little boy is two and a half so he can run around and he can run on the sidewalk and that really, really helped us, just help settle my own anxiousness of being stuck in the house all the time. I’m used to being on the go, go, go, go, and that really helped us out a lot.
As one of the strength and conditioning coaches for the Boston Red Sox, what are you doing during this time to help the players stay active and healthy while they’re so spread apart and doing their own thing trying to prepare for the season still?
Everybody’s limited with resources right now. Even the players, very few of them are even lucky enough to have their own facilities at their house. So the majority of them are stuck in the house on their own and so we’re just talking to them about, “Hey, make use of your backyard. What do you have in your backyard or what’s in the neighborhood? Do you have a street where there’s not a lot of traffic where you can go run on, you can do sprints on?” It’s easy for them to, just to throw, even some of these guys don’t have people to throw with and there was like, “Hey, that’s fine. You can throw against a wall somewhere.” So you just have to make use of what we have and that’s all we’re trying to help them out with.
The first step is forming a routine. The second biggest thing is staying consistent with the routine even though it becomes monotonous. So even if you’re doing a bunch of jump squats in the backyard or doing some sprints or whatever it is, if you’re consistent with it then you can still maintain or even improve your health from that.
How are you staying motivated during this time? Can you just tell us a little bit about that and other wellness components or mindfulness components that you’re incorporating into your daily life or day to day.
I think the battle for us in my house and then even the people that I’m close to and talk to, it’s become a mental battle. You’re trying to still be productive at the house, but it becomes difficult. I’ve been working with our team’s mental skills coaches and mental performance coaches, to start doing group chats on Zoom and practice mindfulness. I wish I would be more consistent, but I know if I turn that pre-recorded mindfulness session on my phone and really just stay in that moment for a second, it helps me out. I’m very detail-oriented, I like structure; being in the military I crave structure and that’s what feels right to me and that’s what allows me to thrive.
I think we’ve covered a lot on the importance of fitness and motivation and the other components of wellness to really help us stay in a better spot. But Mike, you’re a Ph.D. student currently, you’re a coach, you’re a husband, you’re a father. How are you finding the time to balance being active and everything else that you have going on right now?
You have to make it a priority, I had to make it a priority. And I slipped the first week was like, and it was really easy to get lazy. But once I realized it was messing up the energy in the house, I was like, “Okay,” I know it’s time to make it a priority. My wife and I sat down and had a conversation together about fitting in activity throughout the day. And we just made a decision together that we felt like if we woke up an hour before the kids were going to wake up, then we could start our day with something productive. And then it ended up lining, it was like a domino effect, all the other dominoes fell for the rest of the day after that because we had a plan, we stuck to it.
After our morning workout, I basically have a five or six-hour block in the middle of the day to work, and then when I’m done with work I’m back to being a dad and I’m back to being a husband, and then we try to enjoy the night. And when we’re really on that routine, you feel better, you feel productive. We started to feel like this time was being productive for us as a family too because we were having time together. We were getting an opportunity to have conversations that we haven’t been able to have because we’re always on the go or even just rolling around in the grass in the backyard with the kids was something that we don’t always make time for.
For me and a lot of people that I talk to, they back that up when they talk about having a routine and having some structure because you can lose sight of everything when you’re just flying by the seat of your pants. And especially when you’re anxious about these times asking yourself, “How long am I going to be stuck in the house? Is it going to be two weeks or is it going to be two years?” People can really get consumed with that and so we just try to focus on just today, let’s get up out of bed, let’s be productive and then let’s make today productive and not care about anything else.
Are you interested in learning more about our Warrior Health & Fitness Programs in Boston and Southwest Florida? Visit www.homebase.org/fitness to learn more about our Red Sox-modeled program, for Veterans, by Veterans.