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 Monday, May 7, 2007




Jason Brader overcame personal obstacles to  become one of the Lehigh Valley's premier athletic performance trainers

Express-Times Photo | Bill Adams   

JASON BRADER hopes to make his mark as a personal trainer.


The conditions inside Jason Brader's facility - a warehouse at 1716 E. Tremont St. in Allentown - aren't always ideal.

There are days they're downright brutal.

"It's not like a Gold's Gym," Brader said smiling, with an apparent sense of pride.

"There aren't mirrors on the walls, it's not a social hangout and there aren't regulated temperatures. We care only about performance and improving performance.

"If it's cold outside, it's cold in here. If it's hot out, it's really hot in here. When you're playing, you can't choose ideal weather conditions or perfect situations."

Brader was a standout football player at Liberty High School and Muhlenberg College. Now he teaches psychology and coaches football at Phillipsburg High School.

The 30-year-old has quickly built a reputation as one of the elite athletic performance trainers in the Lehigh Valley, relying on a relentless work ethic and utilizing state-of-the-art Keiser Fitness Equipment inside his rented warehouse.

F.A.S.S.T. (Functional, Athletic, Strength, Speed, Training) Performance is the official name of Brader's self-started business.

"There's no bitching and moaning here, or you're gone," he said. "It's like a badge of honor to train with us and that's the way I want it."

"For me," said Liberty sports star Dan Persa, one of Brader's prized pupils, "I'm not the type of person who sits around and talks. I want to work. And Jason doesn't give you any breaks. It's demanding and it's a challenge but it's a fun time and it's rewarding."

Brader, who resides in Center Valley with wife Alyson and 21-month-old daughter Alexis, lives life full-tilt from sunrise to sundown.

He drives from his job in Phillipsburg to his gym in Allentown almost daily, and, along with his staff of five, trains more than 70 athletes of all ages - some on an individual basis, others in small groups or camps.

F.A.S.S.T. Performance offers packages with prices ranging from $100 to $160 per month.

"This is my passion," Brader said.

And his passion has become big business. Parents are sending their aspiring athletes to "get an edge" at younger ages, and there is a demand for professional help, according to Brader.

His goal is to make a full-time career out of personal training.

"I really enjoy it," he said. "But I love teaching psychology. Not only do I try to train the body in workouts, I try to teach the mind. I combine the two."

To fully appreciate Brader's enthusiasm and success is to understand his upbringing and background.

He grew up in a poor section of Bethlehem, and both of his parents died 10 months apart while he was still at Liberty. Brader moved in with a friend's family - Paul and Joan Albus, who he credits with keeping his life on the right path.

"I remember our house falling apart, laying in bed at night thinking, 'Is this as good as it gets?' " Brader said. "I refused to believe it was. My mom taught me what hard work was all about, working two or three jobs to make ends meet. My dad was an eighth-grade dropout but I learned from him.

"Then, when my parents died, I was nothing. I was below dirt. It was a tough time."

Thanks to a strong support system and sports, Brader made it through Liberty and decided to continue his education.

"I took the long road to make something out of myself," he said. "I went to prep school, I went to junior college, to Muhlenberg, to grad school at Lehigh. It wasn't always easy but I made it."

Phillipsburg football coach Bob Stem believes Brader's upbringing molded him into a good role model for young athletes.

Brader is an assistant on Stem's staff and is in charge of everything related to physical fitness.

He also was an assistant coach at Phillipsburg in track and field until this season.

"Jason relates well to kids, gets into their head and talks to them," said Stem, who coached against Brader when he was still at Bethlehem Catholic. "He's been there, and he was a heck of a football player himself.

"The thing is, he's not exclusive to the football team ... I've seen him working with our golfers and our basketball players, anyone who has a desire to get better.

"Phillipsburg is lucky to have Jason."

On Mondays during football season, the Stateliners never practice in pads. Stem instead sends his players to Brader.

"Jason runs those kids and he'll work 'em really hard," Stem said. "It's probably the most demanding day of the week for the kids. I'm old now, so I'm easy."

Brader's anything but a pushover to the athletes he trains.

His high-profile clients include Dustin Barno of Easton, an arena football player for the Colorado Crush; Justin Gaymon of Phillipsburg, a nationally-ranked hurdler at the University of Georgia; and Persa, an all-state quarterback who earned a scholarship to Northwestern University.

"I always feel like I'm in the best possible shape entering camp," said Barno, a 6-foot-2, 280-pound defensive tackle for the Crush who typically works with Brader from October to January.

"We train a lot on speed and agility-type things. I've noticed each year my 225 (bench press) reps have gone up and my 40-yard (dash) times have gone down."

Persa is working out with Brader this summer until he leaves for Evanston, Ill., and Northwestern.

"His program's been very beneficial to me," The Express-Times Football Player of the Year said. "I've built strength and speed. He's made me a better athlete."

For the present, Brader is content teaching by day, running F.A.S.S.T. at night and enjoying his family. (The Braders' second child is due this fall.)

For the future, he hopes to make a career out of training athletes to reach their full potential.

"I aim big," Brader said. "I'm a high-risk, high-reward type guy. I don't go into things expecting to fail. I'm going to go for it."



From The Express-Times -- May 7, 2007

Copyright 2007, The Express-Times