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How Fred Hatfield inspired me to build my business and become a personal trainer

Joe Ladnier AKA "the Mississippi Monster" details his journey toward becoming a legendary powerlifting and personal trainer with the inspirational help and guidance of Dr. Frederick Hatfield. 

Dr. Fred Hatfield did a squat seminar at my very first powerlifting contest December 5th, 1979 when I was only 15 years old. Fred was living in the New Orleans area. We would travel back and forth from Pascagoula, Ms. to New Orleans training at each other’s gyms.

Four years later, I competed against Fred at the USPF Senior Nationals in Austin, Texas and won first place in the 220lb class setting a new Men's world record in the total and becoming the first lifter in the 220lb class to break the 2100lb barrier.  

I was 19 years old and Fred was 41 years old.  Fred placed second behind me. We then went to Sweden to compete against each other again at the IPF World Championships, where we tied in the total and Fred won the gold because he weighed 1/4lb lighter than me.

Fred urged me to stay in college and finish my degree, but I chose to continue my powerlifting career.  We stayed in touch over the years and he mentored me in my training as well as my business. He talked me into becoming a personal trainer when I was only 16 years old. In the early 90's, Fred talked me into closing my garage to train my clients in my home.

In 1998, Fred convinced me to become part of the ISSA team and get my personal training certification. In 2003, I opened my first commercial gym and began working part-time as the only personal trainer at the Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Ms. where I trained several entertainers.

Sadly Hurricane Katrina forced me to close my gym in 2005. With the advice from Fred once again, he insisted that I stay the course and strive towards my goal of having my own fitness facility again. Through many gym owner friends, I continued training clients in various gyms across the coast until I paid off the debts from my first gym and could afford to open another gym of my own.

In 2012, My wife and I started small doing only personal training in 1,000 square foot building.  A year later, we moved into a 2,800 square foot building.  At the beginning of our third year, we moved into an 8000 square foot building at an old Dollar General Store.  Now in our 6th year, we just signed another two-year lease in the building we are in as our business continues to grow.  We are currently looking for land to construct our own building to expand our business even further.

Fred and I continued to stay in touch over the last 38 years, by phone and more recently through social media. With his advice and mentoring, I have had a successful 38-year career in powerlifting and bodybuilding and in the fitness industry.

In 2015, at the age of 51, I competed and won my 4th World Title in Powerlifting, winning the men's open classic raw division with a squat of 766lbs, bench press of 575lbs and deadlift of 738lbs. These are the largest raw lifts in the world of any 50 year old.

This year, my wife and I attended Fred's memorial service Palm Harbor, Florida and was there to represent all of the powerlifters of his past and it is an honor to be part of the ISSA that he established.

  • Published on January 30, 2018
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