Interview: Mike Collier – the man behind Jenson Button
A couple of weeks after Jenson Button was named as the new ambassador for Head & Shoulders, Ape to Gentleman had the privilege of catching up with the man behind his Championship winning form Mike Collier. As well as providing physiotherapy and personal training sessions for Jenson and the McLaren team, Mike also advises Jenson on everything from a fitness, diet/nutrition and psychology. Mike tells us what goes into making Jenson the champion he is and provides tips on how to get his winning mentality.
EA: Mike I understand that you have a busy day ahead so thank you for taking the time to speak to me. First off in a bid to get to know the man behind Jenson Button’s Championship winning form, what made you decide to get into personal training?
MC: Well I completed a degree in Sports Exercise Science at Bath University in 2001 after which I did some work looking into Racing Drivers from the Sports Science point of view, which is how I came up with the team performance system. To my parents dismay I then went back to University to study Physiotherapy degree to help me focus more on that particular niche. After that I worked for the NHS and in Football, but in 2007 I started work with the Honda race team which is where I began to Work with Jenson Button.
EA: You don’t just cater for the physical side of Jenson’s training; you also handle the psychological aspect of racing. What part would you say appearance plays psychologically?
MC: The general concept of looking good helps you to feel good, and helps confidence which is key in elite sports. Between races, the physical side is unlikely to change drastically, whereas mentality is. Therefore preparation is vital and is reflected in the mindset.
EA: Being Jenson’s nutritionist as well, what would you say forms the core of a good diet?
MC: Well speaking from the Drivers point of view, weight and hydration is very important. As the conditions of each race vary significantly, there are fluctuations in weight which we counter using fluid supplements, so hydration is very important from a food point of view.
At the start of the season we keep food diaries to monitor what Jenson eats and the tests are done to ensure he has no reactions to specific foods. All in all a well balanced diet consists of Carbohydrates, Protein and a small amount of fat. Try to eat more frequently; five small meals a day is a good start.
EA: There’s a lot of stigma about poor quality and processed food affecting your skin. In your experience, have you found this to be true?
MC: Not so much through general skin types, but through allergies. We spend a lot of time monitoring Jenson’s food for any allergies. Research shows hydration is key for good skin so I recommend if you’re doing 30 minutes of exercise to have 350ml of water, any longer then combine that with sports fluids.
EA: You must spend a lot of time round the McLaren team, who would you say spends the most time on their grooming/skin care regime?
MC: I guess you want me to say Jenson here don’t you? (Laughs) We’re all very busy but Jenson does take care of himself which is important from a confidence point of view. There is a vodcast coming out shortly by Peter Lux of head & shoulders which will be able to give you more tips regarding male grooming.
EA: Do you have a grooming regime? What’s the one product you can’t be without?
MC: I think shampoo is the key one for me; we do a lot of travelling so it’s important to keep hair clean.
EA: Mike, so we can get to know a bit more about you, here are a few quick fire questions
EA: Dress: Smart or casual?
EA: Footwear; Trainers or Shoes?
EA: Car of choice? Manual or Automatic?
MC: Porsche 911, Manual
EA: Drinks: Soft drink or Water?
EA: Team to win the World Cup?
EA: Are you Backing the Beard?
MC: (Laughs) Mclaren requires us to be clean Shaven, but otherwise I would be, yes.
EA: And finally, if you had one piece of advice you could give to anyone, what would it be?
MC: Enjoy Life!
Thanks for your time Mike, we wish you guys all the best in Valencia, and we’ll see you back here in July for the British Grand Prix.