Paul Fabritz was a 5-11 sophomore at Mesa Community College who could barely touch the rim.
Division I offers had once been flowing in, but Fabritz’s basketball career, and overall athleticism, had been hampered by countless injuries. Determined to get in prime physical shape, he took a break from the game to focus all of his time – six days a week, to be exact – and energy into training.
Just a year later, Fabritz was ready to make his return to the court. Only now he felt healthy and strong and had added an entire foot to his vertical.
Yes, 12 inches.
With the goal of one day becoming a trainer, Fabritz had been collecting necessary certifications and attending school for exercise science. He used this experience to develop his own program, centered on preventing injuries and enhancing explosiveness.
“I kind of just used myself as the lab rat. I would just go in and test stuff out.” he told SLAM. “It was kind of self-taught and trial and error. I tried stuff out, and was just like ‘Oh, that got me an inch on my vertical, let’s keep doing that.’ And I put on an inch every month for 12 months straight.”
Fabritz, who was once stretching to graze the iron, was now throwing down windmill dunks with ease. And PJF Performance was born.
Not long after his personal transformation, Fabritz chose to pursue a full-time career in the training industry. He rented out a small gym the size of a garage and began promoting his company on Instagram. Athletes around the world caught on quicker than expected, as Paul was gaining over 1,000 new followers on the platform each day.
The business took off when NBA players, general managers, coaches and agents started to express interest as well. Fabritz moved to a bigger facility out in Anaheim, CA, where former agent and current GM of the Lakers Rob Pelinka connected him with Rockets superstar James Harden. PJF’s client list extends beyond The Beard to include more than twenty NBA players. Phoenix’s Marquese Chriss, Sacramento’s Buddy Hield, and Minnesota’s Tyus Jones are a few of the others.
Fabritz stresses that their regiment is based on a precise science and unique to each athlete.
“One of the things that separates us as a training company are our assessments,” he told SLAM. “We do very detailed scientific assessments.”
These early assessments allow Fabritz and his staff to attack specific deficiencies, rather than adhering to a strict, non-individualized plan.
“Strength and conditioning used to be ‘guess and check.’ You just throw your best exercise and hope they work. Now we can get it down to a science,” he said.
Fabritz cites Harden as an example, explaining how the MVP favorite is distinctively strong for his size and therefore the emphasis is on other areas, such as injury prevention. PJF Performance ensures that Harden’s body isn’t worn out or susceptible to injury come the fourth quarter, once he’s already logged considerable minutes.
While Fabritz is the full-time strength guy, he watches film of his NBA clients and then consults directly with their skill trainers to create a holistic program. The two sides work together in a way that Paul says is rare in training businesses.
The story of Malcolm Lee perhaps best demonstrates the potential of Paul’s system. A second round pick in 2011, Lee started his career with the Timberwolves, but eventually had to undergo surgery on both his knee and hip. The procedures were within weeks of each other, and most were skeptical that the 6-5 shooting guard would ever regain his athleticism.
Teaming up with PJF Performance, Lee not only returned to peak form, but also put seven additional inches on his vertical. The former UCLA Bruin now plays for Tigers Tubingen in Basketball Bundesliga – the top League in Germany.
Lee recommends Fabritz’s program to “any serious basketball player looking to play at a high level.”
“You’ll have to be open minded to new theories and must be willing to put in a lot of hard work,” Lee said. “But the results will be worth it.”