ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, Dr. Squat, Remembering Frederick C. Hatfield

Success Stories

Life and Legacy of Frederick Dr. Squat Hatfield

Reading Time: 10 minutes 27 seconds

By: Dr. Sal Arria

Date: 2017-05-19T00:00:00-04:00

The ISSA family was shocked and saddened this last weekend (5/14/2017) by the passing of one of our beloved co-founders, Dr. Frederick Hatfield, also affectionately known in the fitness industry as "Dr. Squat".

We would like to take this moment to thank our ISSA students and trainers, as well as the entire fitness community for the kind words you have spoken about Fred, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and your blogs. In this article, we pay our final respects to a legend, a man who shaped our industry and left behind a legacy of excellence for us all to uphold.

If you can measure a person's life by their resume, then Dr. Hatfield (1942 - 2017) had much success. As I thumbed through the pages of his resume, still incomplete as it does not include his recent induction into the National Fitness Hall of Fame (2016), I couldn't fathom the depth and breadth of his commitment to and influence upon this industry.

From a 30,000 foot view, Fred was akin to a rock star.

As a competitor, he won his first bodybuilding contest in 1960 and earned many additional sports honors in the years following, including the "Mr. Mid America" title (1976). In 1978 he broke three Pan Am powerlifting records and earned four gold medals in those games. He won three additional gold medals at the North American Powerlifting Championships (1979) and set the world record for the squat that year at 722 pounds. Of course, he then went on to break that record - and many others throughout the years (1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986) with his famous 1014 pound squat, performed at the Budweiser World Record Breakers Invitational Powerlifting Championships in 1987, when he was 45 years old.

As a writer, Fred was the founding editor of Sports Fitness - now Men's Fitness - magazine, which currently reaches over 7.5m readers in print and over 10.9m on He has written more than 60 books and over 200 articles on sports fitness, weight training, athletic nutrition, and sports psychology, which have appeared in such publications as Muscle & Fitness, Powerlifting USA, Muscular Development, and Modern Gymnast.

There is a laundry list of celebrity athletes he trained, including tennis pros, baseball and football all-stars, ballet dancers, pro bodybuilders, figure skaters, surfers, boxers, karate champions, and Olympians. He was the Head Coach for the Men's Varsity Gymnastics Team at Newark State College from 1972-1973, and U.S. Team Co-Coach (powerlifting) in the 1985 and 1987 World Championships. He was also a Guest Coach for the New England Patriots (1991) and an advisor to professional athletes from the World Wrestling Federation - now WWE (1991-1994).

He had advised and consulted for organizations such as the International Federation of Bodybuilders, U.S. Olympic Committee, West German Bodybuilding Federation, Australian Powerlifting Federation, Children's Fitness Network, and Weider Health and Fitness, to name a few.

As a professional in the industry, Fred was the cream of the crop, a recognized professional around the world. In 1969 he was cited in "Who's Who in American Education". He was elected Chairman, Wisconsin AAU Weightlifting Committee (1977-1980), appointed Associate Editor of Review of Sport and Leisure (1977-1982) and Journal of Sports Behavior (1978-1982). He co-founded the International Sports Sciences Association with Dr. Sal Arria in 1988 and was the President of the ISSA until his passing.

Yes, Dr. Hatfield had an outstanding resume.

But if you were to ask Fred, he would have said, the measure of a person's success is much more than what they have done.

A resume is a black and white list of honors, awards, positions, titles, and accomplishments. But what you don't see on his resume are the millions of lives he has truly impacted.

You won't see the names of his students; from the ISSA, University of Wisconsin/Madison, Bowie State College, and Newark State College - now Kean College of New Jersey, who have gone on to be world-famous personal trainers, powerlifters, athletes, and coaches.

Fred's resume doesn't have room enough for the names of all the people who have sought the help of his students to help them gain strength, recover from injuries, perform at higher levels, or compete in various fitness expositions.

The research that he conducted has influenced thousands of researchers since then, but you won't see their names and the impact his work has had on them, their ideas, and the fitness concepts that have been developed based on his foundational works.

Fred changed millions of lives by sharing his knowledge...but he inspired countless others with his passion for the industry and his endless striving for excellence.

Reading his resume impressed me, but reading your social media posts impressed upon me the kind of man he really was - the flesh and blood human being behind the 24-page resume.

See, Fred Hatfield was so much more than what his resume would lead you to believe.

Throughout social media, many of you expressed a deep gratitude for his contributions to the fitness industry. It was obvious that he was passionate about his profession, but the driving factor behind all of it was his love for people.

As his long-time travel partner and co-founder, I'll tell you that Fred had the same enthusiasm and passion whether speaking to a crowd of 800 in an auditorium or a group of 8 in a small gym. He simply couldn't contain his enthusiasm for the science and sport of fitness and he was dedicated to teaching it to anyone who would listen.

Many of you reminisced about having briefly met Fred at this seminar or that competition and how friendly he was, even though he was such a big shot.

You mentioned his sense of humor, his words of encouragement, his support, kindness, and generosity; how the strength of his faith was just as inspiring to you as the strength of his character and body.

You might say that if you throw a stone, you'll likely hit someone whose life has been touched by the life of Fred Hatfield, either through his research, writing, speaking, coaching, or mentoring. Or perhaps a little less directly - through the coaching and training efforts of any one of his hundreds of thousands of students.

We join you all in expressing our deepest sympathies to Fred's family and close friends. The world has lost a true gentleman and scholar. May we follow Fred's example and be great in all we do, not for fame or recognition, but because we cannot conceive of anything less.

I wrote a personal tribute to Fred here and would like to invite others to share their memories on this dedicated page to the memory of Frederick C. Hatfield to honor his life and legacy. You may leave a comment below or email us here for us to post.

Eddie Robinson

RIP Dr. SQUAT Fred Hatfield, thank you for touching my life.

John Gustin

I'll miss the most inspiring posts on Facebook, RIP Fred Hatfield a Brother in the Lord and a giant in the health field.

Jason Prather

I just learned Fred Hatfield just passed away and I am sick to my stomach. He was an idol of mine, I've read all of his books and articles. I had him as a friend on Facebook and the first time he personally responded to one of my posts, I was giddy as a school girl. You will be missed by your family, friends, and fans "Dr. Squat." RIP and God Bless

Richard Ficca

Sometimes you get to meet legends, get to know them, become friends, and be mentored by them. And with Fred Hatfield, it was better than it sounds. Fred's lasting effect in strength sports will be taught at gyms all over this earth and will be passed on from lifter to lifter for the foreseeable future. But some of my favorite lessons from Fred weren't based in iron. Fred could never fix my horrible squat (oh man did he try and I will cherish those memories), but I'd like to think he showed me cues for success in far more important areas such as faith and family. Gloria, Fred will always be part of GBTC and always with us on Sundays; thank you for sharing him with us. You and your entire family are in our thoughts and prayers.

Jason Pierce

It deeply saddens my heart to share that we lost a legend and one of the most influential people in the Fitness Industry. Dr. Fred Hatfield went on to guard the streets of heaven today. It was all so sudden, I just exchanged messages with him this week. He was truly my inspiration. May God bless you Gloria Hatfield and give you and your family peace during these sad times.

Dr. Fred I know we will see each other again one day, because Marines don't die we just regroup. Guard the streets of heaven until we come to relieve your post. You will truly be missed. Semper Fidelis.

Jerry Brainum

I have just learned of the passing of my long-time friend and mentor, Fred Hatfield. Fred was kind enough to provide an endorsement for me when I first began publishing my Applied Metabolic's newsletter, and he also was one of the first to subscribe. I consider Fred one of my writing mentors. When I first began to regularly write for Joe Weider's magazines in the early 80s, The Internet didn't yet exist. As such, I would write my articles on an electric typewriter (computers were not yet in vogue, either) and deliver them myself to the Weider office in Woodland Hills, California. On one such occasion, I was stopped in the lobby by a new hire at the Weider office. He introduced himself, then told me that from now on all articles that I write would have to approved by him, rather than Joe Weider. He then told me that the four articles I had brought with me would not be accepted. He gave no reason, just said that's the way it was. What I didn't notice was that Fred Hatfield had overheard the entire conversation. At the time, Fred was the editor-in-chief of one of Weider's magazines, Sports Fitness, that I hadn't written for. He called me into his office, and promptly told me that he would buy the four articles from me and would I like regular writing assignments at Sports Fitness? Of course, I said yes. Fred was a rare combination of intelligence and world-class athletic ability, having been an elite powerlifter who set world records in the squat.Although I hadn't seen Fred in years, we kept in contact through Facebook. I am deeply saddened and shocked at his death. Another great one-- and a good friend--is gone. Rest in peace, Dr.Squat.

Jeff Alexander

Semper Fi, Devil Dog. Heaven just received one hell of a warrior...

RIP, Fred "Dr Squat" Hatfield 1942-2017

Mark Reifkind

It is with great sadness that I announce that Fred Hatfield " Dr Squat" passed away this morning. Fred was one of the most influential men in my life, a teacher, a role model, a hero and a mentor for me for over 30 years.

One of the strongest, smartest and kindest men I have ever met, I will miss you Doc, :( but you will never be forgotten. You are Legend

Christopher Price

This morning, Dr. Fred Hatfield, known to many as Dr. Squat, passed away unexpectedly. I had not met Dr. Hatfield in person, but here on social media, where I had the privilege of being exposed both to his world-renowned fitness knowledge as well as his profound spiritual knowledge. Add in his wit to boot.

Dr. Hatfield was a giant in the Iron World, as a world record-setting powerlifter, author of dozens of books on exercise science, and both a direct and indirect influence on many famous powerlifters, bodybuilders and Olympic lifters, even Professional Boxers.

He was also a Servant of our Nation, a Marine, a True Patriot, man of profound wisdom, and a Servant of God.

Another Fitness giant, Charles Staley, paid tribute to him today, having been directly influenced by Dr. Hatfield. In so doing, he mentioned about leaving the world better than having found it.

Dr. Hatfield has most certainly left our world a better place, and we are very grateful, as much as we are sad at his parting to his Eternal Home.

Rest in Peace, Dr. Hatfield.

Charles Staley

R.I.P. Dr. Fred Hatfield

In 1991, I was running a weight room at the Duchess County YMCA in Poughkeepsie New York. In the fall of that year I attended the New York State weightlifting championships in New York City and it turned out that one of my idols, Dr. Fred Hatfield, was a "celebrity guest" who came in to hand out the medals to the winners.

To say that I was awestruck was a genuine understatement - Fred was one of the first men to squat 1000 pounds, and I'd been reading his books and articles for years at that stage. I had been looking to get out of New York, and had recently been reading one of Tony Robbins' books, and I remembered a particular chapter that was titled something along the lines of "How To Get Anything You Want In Life." The first page of that chapter simply said "ask". Page 2, "ask with more sincerity." Page 3 "ask better people."

The whole chapter went on like this and I don't know what I said when I went up to Fred, but he must've seen something in me and after a short conversation he said "You know what? My partner Sal Arria and I have just started something called the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), why don't we send you out there to help us get this thing launched? "

Six months later, I was in Santa Barbara, and before long I was writing articles for Muscle & Fitness, hanging out with celebrity bodybuilders and exercise scientists, and basically, getting my feet under me in the fitness arena.

There is an old saying - "luck is where preparation meets opportunity," and looking back on it, it was a very lucky day when I met Fred. So for any of you who feel they have been influenced by me, please know that Fred Hatfield gave me my start in this industry. Fred was an amazing individual and decades ahead of his time. He definitely left this world a better place.

Greg Justice

One year ago (2016) Fred Hatfield was inducted into the National Fitness Hall of honor long overdue.

I had the distinct honor of nominating him as a friend, mentor and living legend of our industry.

Below is part of the speech he gave at the induction ceremony:

Passion is not your need to achieve

Instead it's a burning desire to exceed all bounds.

It is not commitment to excellence.

It's utter disdain for anything less.

It's not endless hours of practice.

It's perfect practice.

It's not your ability to cope.

It's the total domination of every situation in life.

It's not setting unrealistic goals or vague goals.

Because goals all too often prescribe performance limits.

It's not doing what it takes to win.

It's doing what it takes to exceed the bounds of mere convention.

Most of all it's not the force of skill or muscle.

Rather, it's the explosive, often calamities force of will.

Now, if you believe in and practice these things, then for you, winning is neither everything, nor the only thing...For you, winning is a foregone conclusion.

RIP my friend.

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