This past weekend I had some time to reflect on my fitness career and everything that lead me to where I am now with Jada Blitz Training. “Your challenges, if you let them, will become your greatest allies. Mountains can crush or raise you, depending on which side of the mountain you choose to stand on. All history bears out that the great, those who have changed the world, have all suffered great challenges. And, more times than not it’s precisely those challenges that, in God’s time, lead to triumph.” – Richard Paul Evans, A Winter Dream
It began in 7th grade when I was first introduced to the weight room to help with football. I was fortunate at an early age to have great coaches who taught me proper technique and form. Even then I was competitive and had the mentality that no one was going to outwork me. I would be at the gym early in the morning before school and go back after school let out… I was hooked. There were occasions that the coaches had to kick me out of the gym because I was overtraining and they wanted to keep me injury free. I looked at it as the opportunity to create the best version of Justin Draper on and off the football field.
Throughout high school I continued lifting weights and began competing in powerlifting meets. Today, I still hold some of the records at Cleveland Hill High School. Looking back I can thank my coaches and at that time, my future – who is now, my brother-in-law, Trevor Sajdak, for my early successes. They took me under their wings and believed in someone at a young age. In turn, their confidence helped me become more self-confident, be a better football player, and lay the foundation to continue to succeed in many other aspects of my life.
After graduation, I began college at Buffalo State and continued my football career. My knowledge of weight training became more advanced. I was no longer just “going to the gym’, instead I had a distinct purpose every time I stepped through the gym doors. This is where I developed a new level of knowledge backed by a vast skill set, learning how to do programming and progressive overloading. Building what would become the framework for my bodybuilding career.
Growing up, football and sports played a big role in my life. Football taught me a lot more than just X’s and O’s, I learned to respect authoritative figures, how to manage time, teamwork, leadership, work ethic, attitude, sacrifice, and confidence.
I finished college with a degree in Business Management, minoring in Health and Wellness. Following graduation, I accepted a job working as a Personal Training Sales Consultant at World Gym. Following a few months of sales work, I transitioned into becoming a personal trainer. I knew what my strengths were, and I wanted to make a lasting impact on people. During this time, I also started my bodybuilding career. After going to many shows supporting my brother in-law, Trevor, I was intrigued by how conditioned these athletes were. I knew it took a lot more than just going to the gym – it was the diet that was going to be the hard part – – so I did what I knew I needed to do. I researched, I read, I absorbed, and I began dieting for my first bodybuilding show in the Fall of 2006. I entered the novice division and won the overall title. I was hooked.
After my first show I quickly turned around and competed again in Spring of 2007 – now in the open class division. This was be a much greater battle as I was going up against men who had experience in competing before. This show resulted in a class win but a loss for the overall. Thirsty and determined, I went back for it in Fall of 2007. Only to again loose in the overall. I was devastated, but I refused to let this crush my dreams of becoming a Natural Pro Bodybuilder.
Fast forward to Spring of 2008, a fire that couldn’t be extinguished was inside me. Still balancing life, work and family, I stepped on stage leaner and more conditioned than before. I had trained harder, knowing I gave everything I had to be on that stage. Nothing was going to be left unturned.
I went into this show knowing there would be stiff competition. In fact, one of my colleagues from Rochester was going to be competing in the weight class above me, and I knew if I was to win my class, that I would be seeing him in the overall. We each won our classes and went head on for the overall title. As the judges called out quarter turns, the crowd was screaming our numbers, and the sweat was pouring off of us, we were going to have to earn it. As we stood up there patiently waiting for the judge’s decision, we glanced at each other and couldn’t help but smile. It was like time was standing still and I was overwhelmed with feelings. I was announced the overall winner and granted my “pro card”, I was so proud and thankful, the amount of respect I have for everyone in this sport is indescribable. To this day, I remain a natural competitive pro division bodybuilder.
Although accomplishing a natural pro card was a goal of mine, my ultimate vision was to own my own gym. It wasn’t until I met my wife, Ashley, that I left World Gym and went out on my own. I wasn’t scared, I envisioned this happening for years. It was finally time to do what I believe I was destined to do. Placing my complete faith in God , I trusted that He would lead me toward my best interests.
I rented space (1,200 square feet) out of a good friends facility and quickly grew out it. My options were limited at the time, but I knew if I wanted to continue to grow my business, I would have to find a bigger space. That is when I stumbled upon our current location on Transit Road. Mind you, this was a major step in growing the business. I was going from 1,200 to 8,500 square feet . To add to all of the change, Ashley and I were also planning our wedding at the time the build out was going on.
On September 22, 2015, we returned as newlyweds from our honeymoon and just two short weeks later on October 4, 2015, we officially opened up the new location. The amount of emotion I experienced was unbelievable, something I had only imagined years prior was now becoming a reality.
Going from a personal training studio to a full membership gym was a transition. I would be lying if I said we had it all figured out. We learned a lot on the fly – through trial and error, we were able to figure out what suits our clients the best. We are constantly striving to improve and offer the best services, from group classes, seminar events, even our nutrition programs, I take a lot of pride in what we bring to the health and fitness forefront.
Stemming into our personal training services, I am so proud of the team we now have. I am backed by twelve unique trainers that each offer their own knowledge and different areas of expertise to their clients. Training over 550 sessions a week, I hold such a grateful heart for what we continue build at Jada.
It’s been three and a half years since we opened our doors. We have added staff, members, and an overall presence within the community. We have started a meal prep company (Balanced Body Foods) that is now into its second year of business and continued growth. There are so many people to thank, but there’s one special person I would like to mention, and that is my wife, Ashley. She has been my backbone since the day I went on my own. Knowing I have her support allows me to be myself and fulfill my life’s purpose, and I am so excited for the future here at Jada Blitz.