When he’s not in the midst of caring for patients in the fast-paced emergency department (ED) of Meritus Medical Center, emergency medicine physician Neil Roy, M.D., gravitates to another exciting scene, Brazilian Jujitsu, a combination martial arts and combat sport that focuses on taking the fight to the ground.
Dr. Roy’s wrestling and boxing experience in high school and college provided the motivation for him to try mixed martial arts (MMA). MMA combines standing martial arts, similar to boxing and “ground martial arts” akin to wrestling. He began training at a MMA gym during his residency and soon balanced out his training program with Brazilian Jujitsu classes.
“I quickly realized that in order to be good at MMA, I had to have a strong Brazilian Jujitsu foundation,” says Dr. Roy. Now, five years later, he practices less MMA and focuses on his Brazilian Jujitsu training.
Exercise on a doctor’s schedule
Dr. Roy coordinates his training around his ED shifts. His gym offers morning and evening classes so he can fit in a workout twice on his days off. Despite his busy clinical shifts, Dr. Roy goes to the gym five to seven times a week.
“Brazilian Jujitsu is a whole-body workout,” says Dr. Roy. Every class is combat-sparring and competition based. Workouts begin with 30 minutes of conditioning and stretching, followed by 30 minutes of technique and wrapping up with 30-45 minutes of sparring. It’s a sport that incorporates body weight as resistance. “You're essentially lifting someone else's body weight in every class,” explains Dr. Roy.
Energy for the shift
Increased stamina may be another reason why Dr. Roy turns to Brazilian Jujitsu. In the ED, health care providers remain on their feet for 12 hours at a time and quickly move from patient to patient. The contact sport requires Dr. Roy to stay in peak physical shape which gives him endurance for his long hospital shifts.
“Being healthy and working in the ED go hand-in-hand,” says Dr. Roy. To adapt to shift work and a chaotic schedule, he brings in his own meals in addition to placing exercise as a top priority.
While Dr. Roy will scale back on MMA training because of the impact to his head and hands, he plans to stick with Brazilian Jujitsu for many years to come. “It forces you to remain flexible and is fairly low impact on your joints.” The only caveat: It’s a contact sport. “There's no way around the sparring, but that’s what makes it so much fun.”
By: Meghan Burket and Anne Gill