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Percell Dugger of ‘GOODWRK’: “I give myself mini breaks throughout the day”

For optimal focus, I give myself mini breaks throughout the day. I take about 10 to 20 minutes to check out and do nothing. The constant stimulation of calls, zooms, FaceTime and constantly checking social media and emails can began to lower your level of focus overtime. Instead, I take a quick break away from […]

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For optimal focus, I give myself mini breaks throughout the day. I take about 10 to 20 minutes to check out and do nothing. The constant stimulation of calls, zooms, FaceTime and constantly checking social media and emails can began to lower your level of focus overtime. Instead, I take a quick break away from everything and just become present in my own thoughts. I also take a step outside and get some fresh air. Whether it’s taking a walk or going for a run, both help me center in and redirect my thoughts. Another good habit I’ve developed in ensuring I’m taking my vitamins and keeping a healthy diet.


As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Percell Duggar.

A product of Brooklyn NY, Percell is one of the top coaches and wellness consultants in fitness. Aside from founding the GOODWRK brand, Percell has served as a High School Strength & Conditioning Coach since 2012. In 2018 Coach P was named the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach and Director of Player Development for the College of Mount Saint Vincent Dolphins Women’s Basketball team. In 2019 Percell joined RISE by WeWork as a group fitness instructor. Since Covid-19, Percell has transitioned live virtual workouts on GOODWRK’s online platform.

When he isn’t on the mic teaching classes, Percell serves as the President and co-founder of Fit For Us, an organization dedicated to advocating for, empowering, and servicing Black fitness professionals and underserved communities. Percell’s work within wellness and fitness has been featured on the cover of SELF Magazine, as well as Forbes, Bon Appetite, ESPN’s The Undefeated, LIVE STRONG, and The Root to name a few.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. During my childhood I spent almost everyday outdoors. I loved climbing on trees and going to the playground as often as I could. Growing up I watched my parents worked multiple jobs to help ensure that our family was provided for. Seeing their commitment to their careers and the daily grind helped shaped my idea of success. At a young age I decided success was earned by hard work and dedication. Throughout my childhood I used that mindset to help me get push me through life. I’ve worked hard to get to this place in my life.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

In 2013, I was in a nearly fatal car accident. It destroyed me emotionally and mentally. I felt defeated being unemployed and having to crash at my grandparent’s place. My depression was overwhelming, so I sought out a way to find clarity. I knew exercise would help me breakthrough my blockage, so I decided to start running daily to clear my mind. Running became very therapeutic for me and gave me the space to navigate my thoughts and emotions. During one of my runs, I decided to pursue my career in fitness. Throughout my life I’d spent so much time playing sports and working out that it felt more like a calling. As soon as I started, I began to feel like myself again and vowed to never give up on myself again. I not only started a started new career, but I’ve learned several new skills and I get to help so many others.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

I’ve been blessed to have Thomas Beauford, Jr as one of my mentors. I remember Tom called me once about a complaint he had received from one of my professors. One day my professor noticed wasn’t engaged and asked me to leave. When I was told to get up and leave, I retaliated by saying, “No, but you can.” Looking back, I know it wasn’t the best choice of words, but I didn’t like the idea of being kicked out of a class I was paying for. It was a bit rebellious I can admit but I wasn’t going to leave even though the class felt boring. Tom loved how passionate I was but reinforced how my misguided energy created greater problems for me and my goals. Tom knew how to get through to me in a way that allowed me to not just learn from my mistakes, but channel that defiant and passionate energy for the better.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

The funniest mistake I made occurred when I was hosting an outdoor workout at the park. The problem was I had no signage or branding. I had people sign up for a class they couldn’t even fine. One of the participants told me that people were walking around and wanted to stop by but couldn’t figure out where to go. A month later I had signage, branded apparel, and an online retail store for people to purchase my merchandise and gear from. Sometimes mistakes or embarrassment can really turn around your situation for the better.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

You are not entitled to your success. Your job title, your ideas, the editorial coverage you receive; none of it matters unless you are willing to sacrifice and put in the labor to manifest your success. In addition to dedication, you have to have passion. You have to want to provide a solution and service to others and define what true success looks like to you. When you believe in what you’re doing, nothing can deter you from that success.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Deep Work by Cal Newport. The book reminded me of Walden by Henry David Thoreau, in that it leaned into the idea of isolation as a means of self-discovery and growth. We often visualize success through the lens of scaling and expanding. Deep Work is a reminder that before I set out to execute my strategies of world domination, it’s important that I prioritize meditation, mindfulness, and just take a break before I jump back into work related.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

Audre Lorde once said, “Caring for self is an act of political warfare.” Caring for yourself prepares you for life. My goal with fitness was being able to provide healthy solutions for people in my community. That quotes resonates with me so much because of the glaring health inequalities and disparities that exist for Black people in America. Due to systemic racism issues like heart disease, diabetes, food insecure districts, lack of mental health resources and insurance as well as little access to primary care doctors impact me and my community’s ability to care for ourselves in the best way. Thinking about that quote daily motivates me to continue to work to change that.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

My company, Fit For Us, is continues to expand in incredible ways. We are gearing up to announce some major partnerships with industry leading brands that will elevate the way the wellness and fitness industry engage with Black and Brown people. It will open up new fitness opportunities and resources for those who currently don’t have to access to them.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

It’s important to create good habits because it brings success to your life in so many ways. Sometimes we don’t realize that our bad habits are holding us back from achieving things in our lives. Creating healthy, consistent habits makes you feel better from the inside out. It talks 21 days to create a new habit and break a bad one, and 90 days to form a lifestyle. The moment I decided to change I felt the difference after staying consistent.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Habits have had a profound impact in my success. One of my many habits it is starting my day with a 20-minute meditation. Taking that time to focus and center my thoughts has really allowed me to be more intentional and mindful in all areas of life.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

Taking it day by day and starting small helps when trying to change a behavior and develop a good habit. When processing the new habit, or breaking a bad one, don’t burden yourself with so much at one time. Think about what can change within an hour, then take it to a few days, then a few weeks then next thing you know you’ve completely developed that habit. Identifying what your bad habits are and setting a target date can be helpful, but the date has to be realistic. Giving yourself some grace during the development will help the change come easier.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

I start each day with meditation and a glass of water. From a wellness standpoint, it allows you to enter into your day with a clear sense of purpose and flexibility. A ton of research has been done on how water first thing in the morning helps to stimulate our body and mind. Even if you’re an athlete, being properly hydrated before and during a workout is the optimal way to ensure success. Lastly, reading and enriching my mind. While it’s important to strengthen your body, you also have to strengthen your mind. Ensuing that I’m reading books or listening to audiobooks and podcasts help me learn new ways to aid in my overall goals.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Guided meditations are super helpful for me. Being able to practice stillness is somewhat of a hard skill and can be very challenging for some. I discovered an app called Headspace that offers a variety of guided mediations that have helped me focus on certain tasks and goals. It has been really helpful in the early stages of my journey, and something I continue to do daily.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

Practicing mindfulness and meditation, outlining my goals daily and staying hydrated with alkaline water has really helped me keep a clear mind and excel in my tasks. Whether it’s preparing for business partnership calls or dealing with the stress of Covid-19, these tasks helped me to remain sharp and aligned. In the midst of whatever is happening around me these habits have proven to be invaluable to me.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

The first one is being dedicated to the habit. I like to keep a glass of water by my bed so that it’s available right when I wake up. Once I’m up I sit upright, feet on the floor, hands on thighs, eyes closed and take a series of 5–10 deep breaths. Then I open Headspace and chose a mediation to get me started for the day. I’ve even set alarms on my phone to remind me to take breaks throughout the day to mediate or check my water intake. Every little bit helps.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

For optimal focus, I give myself mini breaks throughout the day. I take about 10 to 20 minutes to check out and do nothing. The constant stimulation of calls, zooms, FaceTime and constantly checking social media and emails can began to lower your level of focus overtime. Instead, I take a quick break away from everything and just become present in my own thoughts. I also take a step outside and get some fresh air. Whether it’s taking a walk or going for a run, both help me center in and redirect my thoughts. Another good habit I’ve developed in ensuring I’m taking my vitamins and keeping a healthy diet.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

When it comes to establishing a healthy diet, I try to meal prep and fill my fridge with healthy options like berries, nuts, salmon and fish. I also did research on the right vitamins for me and figure out what I need most. When it comes to my mini breaks, I plan them into my day. Taking the time to schedule them out is how I’m able to successfully develop that habit.

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

Meditation, divergent thinking, running, journaling. The best moments of flow aren’t obtained thru flicking an on and off switch. The process is organic but takes time to manifest. I would encourage everyone to embrace discomfort and uncertainty by leaning into their running, meditation, or journaling. These moments of isolation and reflection will help you find that rhythm and flow into success.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I would build a network of institutions that aligned to eliminate health disparities and inequalities in the US. Too many Black people are dying because of diabetes and heart disease. Too many people in my community don’t have a primary care doctor or access to mental health resources. And far too many folks in my community live in food in food insecure neighborhoods and counties. I would love to inspire a movement in which Fitness & Wellness truly made the world a healthier place for everyone.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

I would love to have a private breakfast with Jay-Z. His work in criminal justice reform, as well as his new venture in fitness are both aligned with what I’m doing with Fit For Us and GOODWRK. I grew up inspired by his drive and his journey, not to mention his music.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

The best place to follow my work is on Instagram. Readers can find me Good.Wrk (@good.wrk) and FitForUs (@fitforusorg). You can also visit our website https://good-wrk.com/.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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