MX University | Athlete Progression

Checking In With MX University's BJ Burns

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These days, the world of motocross training is at its peak, as half a dozen or so trainers can be found at your local motocross track on a daily basis, which makes for a very saturated and competitive industry. While some of today’s trainers lack the experience and knowledge needed to efficiently and safely help riders progress, there are still a number of programs out there created by credible people that have experienced and/or lived the life of a professional racer, and one of those programs is MX University. Owned and operated by BJ Burns – a former pro in his own right – MX University is an all inclusive motocross school and training program that’s aimed at the rider’s progression on and off the bike, and after beginning his training career alongside Sebastian Tortelli, you’d better believe that Burns is a wealth of knowledge. We caught up with BJ this week to find out more about his program, and to see what separates him from the large crop of motocross trainers.

BJ, tell us a little bit about what it is that you do…
I own MX University, which is an all inclusive motocross school that includes training on and off the bike. That’s our overall mission, but we also do the day to day training with kids from all across the nation.

Ultimately you got your start in the industry as a professional racer. How did you come to make the transition into the training aspect of motocross racing?
As a racer, I was always focused on my technique because I felt it was important to know how to ride the bike properly. As my racing career came to a close, it then turned into, “What am I going to do next?” I eventually fell into a position where I was working on bikes and training kids a little bit alongside Sebastian Tortelli for about three years. Sebastian really opened up my eyes as to how to ride the bike properly, and how to teach that, as well, so that’s eventually how I got into it.

Before you began training though, you were a wrench for a while, right?
Yeah, I was. I worked with Michael Leib as an amateur, and we even won at Loretta Lynn’s. After that, we made the transition into Supercross and I did that for quite a while with Michael.

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The majority of the kids that you train are from another country. How is it that you managed to end up with racers from outside of the country?
Like I said, I started doing all of this with Sebastian and he really opened my eyes to this whole other world of motocross outside of the US. I met Bradley Lionnet (from Zambia) through Sebastian, and once my working relationship ended with Seb, Bradley ended up coming to work with me. Since then, I’ve met a ton of racers outside of the US through Bradley and his friends, so I guess more than anything it’s become a word of mouth advertising type of situation.

But by no means are you training kids strictly from outside of the United States, right?
Right! We don’t necessarily aim to bring in the kids from outside of the United States, that kind of thing just ended up happening. Our program is unique in that it is all inclusive, so it makes sense that I attract people from outside the country. Our mission is to go racing, and we try to provide every step along the way to do that for everyone including local So.Cal riders.

You also train amateur racers, as well, right?
Yeah, I’m actually working with a few B class racers and C class racers, right now. I work with Austin Burke who is a TWMXRS regular that races in the Intermediate class, and we’ve been working together for a few months, now. Working alongside Sebastian, I really learned how to work with every type of skill level because we always had a various range of riders from beginner to the pro level. Whether you’re working with a seasoned veteran or a first-timer, you’re trying to implement the same technique points and fundamentals. Once a rider’s technique develops, the speed will follow suit.

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As we talked about, you began your career in motocross as a racer. Do you feel that knowledge come into play when you’re working with these kids?
Yeah, absolutely! Having that experience of actually lining up for a professional race against the best riders in the world is an unreal experience, so it’s a huge benefit for me and my riders knowing that I’ve been there. I’m not necessarily saying that every trainer should have been a professional racer, but it helps to relate to your riders in that sense. If you’ve experienced it firsthand, you know exactly what to expect and how to prepare your riders. I think if my father and I had more insight going into my racing career it could have lasted longer than it did, but we just didn’t know.

You’ve recently enlisted the help of Ryan Rowell in your program. Talk about what it is that he has to bring to the table…
My specialty is obviously the actual riding and technique on the bike, but when it comes to the fitness side of things I’m not quite as knowledgable. The fitness aspect of racing could best be described as a science these days, so I wanted someone with some background and knowledge to make sure the kids are progressing without overworking themselves. Ryan came into the program with a tremendous amount of knowledge because he’s been there and done it. He’s worked with some exceptional riders and he has some incredible insight into fitness, agility and training properly in order to keep up progression.

Recently, we’ve seen you working with and helping out Dean Wilson. What’s been going on there?
Dean and I have been friends for close to 15 years since he was just a wee lad from Canada, and it’s been great to watch him progress over the years. I’ve always been there to help out Dean, and he’s returned the favor by giving me more racing/riding insight along with helping me grow MX University. Dean is in a bit of a rough spot right now since he still has no ride for 2017, so I’ve been available to him to assist with bike maintenance since that’s extremely important. This way he can focus more on staying fit and staying ready for whatever happens. Having a safe motorcycle is a big deal!

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In closing, motocross trainers are a dime a dozen these days, as you well know. Is there anything that separates you or makes you stand out from the others?
I feel that one of my most valuable assets to my program that separates me from the rest is that I’m very adamant about maintaining and fine-tuning the bikes. Setting up the bike properly to the rider’s specific wants and needs is something that I believe is often overlooked. Even the simplest of set ups or adjustments can make the biggest difference in a rider’s performance. I think having that in my corner is something that separates me from the rest.