Chestnut Hill fitness expert Japheth Brubaker works here with Lisa Smith, a former client who now lives in Virginia.

by Lou Mancinelli

Chestnut Hill resident Japheth Brubaker (his first name comes from the Bible) went from having high cholesterol and taking blood pressure medicine to developing training and fitness regimens for Washington Redskins players.

Before Brubaker, 38, quit the corporate world in 2008 and trained full-time for four years in cross-training, yoga and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he had low energy, gained weight and was diagnosed with thyroid disease. His job as an IBM consultant for the federal government at the Pentagon was also weighing on his health.

Since then Brubaker has worked on developing training and fitness regimens for everyone from NFL players to Secret Service and FBI agents to children and senior citizens who have trouble with their mobility.

In June, together with his wife, Suzanne, who worked for 10 years as a school psychologist before becoming a certified yoga and reiki teacher, the Brubakers opened Water and Rock Studio, a personalized fitness center that blends fitness, mixed martial arts and yoga at 8109 Germantown Ave., near Hartwell Lane.

The name of the studio comes from the following quote by philosopher Lao-Tzu, founder of Taoism, in approximately 600 B.C.: “Water is fluid, soft and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”

At Water and Rock Studio, the Brubakers offer the experience and knowledge of people who developed body pains and stress, which their jobs didn’t do anything to mitigate, and changed their lifestyles completely. In that change they have so far found their angst eased.

Their studio offers a blend of exercise modalities, from classes in functional fitness and self-defense to yoga and nutrition.

The couple moved from the Virginia suburbs of D.C. to Chestnut Hill with their two-year-old daughter, Quinn, in June. Mrs. Brubaker is expecting a second child this month. She plans to launch a menu of parent and child fitness and yoga classes this winter.

“I was doing all the things that I thought I should do,” said Japheth about his lifestyle when he worked in the corporate world. “I exercised, ran, ate what I thought was healthy food and played sports.”

He had always been active, from his years as a kid on a farm in Lancaster to his time in Manhattan where his family moved when he was nine, and later at Germantown Friends School, where he played three sports when he moved to the area for high school. His active and competitive lifestyle continued at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned an English degree in 1999.

Still, Japheth’s overall health was not great. He was very stressed, and as he described it, “basically constrained to a sedentary lifestyle” spread among the landscape of cubicles and airplanes.

So he quit and devoted four years of his life, “100 percent of his time,” to physical training. He started to compete in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and other competitions, winning awards on the national and international level.

Now Brubaker is a National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified personal trainer, CrossFit Level 1 trainer, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu purple belt, Israeli Krav Maga certified Level 1 instructor, etc., and he is working towards his 200-hour yoga teacher certification.

You might say he is the benevolent Molotov cocktail of trainers. He got his temples knocked in a mixed martial arts match, but he also has a cerebral side and is a published poet as well as the holder of a master’s degree in business administration from Marymount University.

“The feel of that (corporate) environment versus the kind of environment of the moving and physical (nature of fitness and yoga) and my mental health is just astonishing,” Brubaker said.

He went from being a federal consultant to managing a fitness and martial arts center in Loudon, Virginia, near where he and his wife lived. He spent four years there and climbed to CEO of that multi-location business.

His wife, Suzanne, 35, earned a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 2000 and her master’s in school psychology in 2004 from East Carolina University, but she is also a certified 200-hour registered yoga teacher.

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