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Program provides an edge

The difference between athletic success and failure often is immeasurable.

What separates Brett Favre from Bruce Gradkowski can't be measured in speed, strength or weight.

There's a fine line between champion and also-ran.
That's what the International Performance Institute at the IMG Academy in Bradenton is all about.

"We're a one-stop shop in a way," said Sean Flynn of IPI. "We're seven different programs in one."

The idea evolved from similar programs in Europe where athletes weren't treated as meat on the hoof. The Europeans saw human beings that needed not only physical attention, but also care in nutrition, psychology and communication.

IPI's seven areas of concentration include physical, mental, nutrition, sports medicine, regeneration, communication and facilities.

Athletes from 6 to 86 work out at the 300-acre campus year round. While the program is open to anyone, aspiring college athletes and professionals are the focus.

Lakewood Ranch High's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the 16th pick of the first round of the NFL draft pick by the Arizona Cardinals, is working out at IPI. He will head for his first NFL camp soon. Rodgers-Cromartie played cornerback at Tennessee State University.

Another ex-Mustang, Rocky Schwartz, has been at IPI. A safety at the University of Houston, Schwartz is trying to catch on with the Tennessee Titans. He had a brief fling with the New Orleans Saints but was released.

Also, former Bayshore High star SirDarean Adams is at IPI. Adams, who also played at Michigan State, is trying to catch on with an NFL team.

That they're at IMG Academy Athletic & Personal Development programsis a good first step.

"Our overall goal is to take you from where you're at to much further," said Trevor Mowad, director of IPI. "We believe the total athlete is much more than a physical endeavor.

"They eat. They train. They prepare."

IPI's list of alumni is impressive.

Those who train or have trained at the facility include Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox, Gary Sheffield of the Detroit Tigers, Jason Varitek of the Boston Red Sox, Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, Eli Manning of the New York Giants, Fred Taylor of the Jacksonville Jaguars, tennis stars Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and pro golfer Paula Creamer.

The list goes on and on.

"We see on one side a total athlete and on the other side a total person," said Mowad, who formerly was Director of Mental Conditioning at IPI. "The No. 1 myth is that we're only for pro athletes. That's far from the truth.

"Yes, we train pro athletes, but we're also for the businessman or retiree. We'd love to have folks from Lakewood Ranch."

Mowad said IMG Academy Athletic & Personal Development programshas programs for professional athletes, college athletes, high school athletes, executives, juniors and a spouse- relaxation program.

"We're not just for highly trained athletes from Spain," said Mowad. "We're for people from Sarasota, Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch."

For aspiring pros or college athletes, Mowad said IMG Academy Athletic & Personal Development programscan provide an edge that could mean the difference between success and failure.

When athletes enroll, their diet is analyzed and they're put on a program that fits their needs. In addition, they learn the mental aspects of success.

They're also taught how to deal with the media, how to answer questions and interview techniques.

"I've worked with Fred Taylor," said Mowad. "His habits and how he takes care of himself is better than almost everyone.

"He'll be a Hall-of-Famer. That's not bad for someone who most people didn't think would make it four years."

In the IMG Academy Athletic & Personal Development programsweight room, athletes lift and sweat. Several are on the nearby track running sprints.

They're all trying to be the best they can. They're all looking for an edge that will push them past the competition.

It doesn't matter if you're a professional athlete looking for speed or a college player trying to get to the next level.

Or you might be a middle-aged professional man who simply wants to get into shape.

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