Fred Smalls Jr., an International Federation of Bodybuilders and Fitness professional bodybuilder, will visit the Spring Expo in Townsend Thursday, March 8 from 3-7 p.m.

Fred Smalls Jr., known as “Delaware’s bodybuilder,” has been a story of triumph, achievement, adversity, positivity, and longevity for over two decades. He’s currently doing some great work in the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area with Snap Fitness, and is also back on the national stage, after what can only be described as the biggest comeback of his career.

Over the years I’ve mentioned that it’s human nature to look for heroes in distant places (television, books, radio, etc.), and overlook the heroes that are all around us, and a part of our daily lives. With thousands of people in Delaware, nationally, and internationally, having successfully changed their lives and health as clients of Fred, you will find many stories from people, some of whom you may know, about how he has impacted their lives.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Fred, he is an International Federation of Bodybuilders and Fitness (IFBB) professional bodybuilder. He is also Delaware’s first and to date only professional bodybuilder to become a finalist in the coveted Mr. Olympia contest, ranking him among the greatest bodybuilders in the world. He was voted #1 personal trainer by the citizens of Delaware four times. He’s also known as the Best Poser in the IFBB, and has won the Best Posing award several times, including a personalized award from Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I interviewed Fred recently. Below is our interview:

How long have you been bodybuilding?

I’ve been bodybuilding since 1994. I took a little break in 2002, came back in 2006 and turned pro in 2010.

How long have you done personal training?

I’ve been personal training since 1994. I started my company Above and Beyond Physiques in 1997.

I know you’ve gone through some adversities the last couple years. Can you talk a little bit about that experience and where you are now?

OK. Well basically between 2013 and 2016 my bodybuilding career was on the rise. My ranking in the world was increasing every year. In 2016 I got very sick from salmonella poisoning. All my major organs started to shut down. I was taken into the hospital shortly before I was supposed to be in the Olympia. I weighed 240 pounds when I went in. I weighed 203 pounds when I was released from the hospital a week later. Years of hard work was basically gone; so I started over and now two years later I’m ahead of where I was then, and I’m getting ready to compete in the Arnold Classic.

What keeps you going?

My family. I want to create a legacy that my kids can be proud of in an industry that only a small percentage of the population will ever do. I’m known as the Best Poser in the industry for bodybuilding. To be the best in the world in anything is pretty cool. Through the bodybuilding shows, I teach my children that if you’re willing to put in the work and willing to be focused and disciplined, you can achieve anything you want to achieve. They’re my primary motivation.

What is one thing you want people to know about you?

That I’m always striving to be better. The reason I got into personal training and nutrition, and helping people, is because the help wasn’t there for me. So, I want to save people from going through some of the hardships I had to go through. Personal training became a passion of mine to help those who are interested in getting healthy, improving their fitness levels, and getting physiques that are superior to most.

I know that you, Above and Beyond Physiques, and Snap Fitness have partnered up in Middletown to bring something fresh to the MOT area. What are your goals? What do you want MOT folks to know?

I see a lot of need in the Middletown area on how to properly eat right and properly exercise. You know I don’t claim to be the best in sports training. What I claim to be is the best in physique transformation. When I say that I mean a lot of people can lose weight and try to be skinny, but the uniqueness of what we do is that we focus on complete body mass and improving not just the number on the scale, but what you look like when your clothes come off – your shape. You’re improving your metabolism, so that when you reach your goals you maintain it, and you’re not struggling to do it over and over again. By teaching you how to eat the right foods, you realize you won’t have to ever eat in a deficit. You just have to eat the right nutrients that your body can actually utilize. When you do that you’re never starving. People are so captivated by the scale they fail to realize that you should focus only on your size. It’s not uncommon for our clients to lose a size a month.

More online and at Spring Expo

Fred’s journey and his influence on people in the state and elsewhere reminds me of Winston Churchill’s quote “Never, never, never, never give up.” It’s a running theme I find in almost everyone who’s a part of his orbit. It’s also a valuable lesson for us all. You can see more of Fred’s story in a seven-part episode on the Generation Iron and Fitness network channel on YouTube.

He’ll also be at the Spring Expo sponsored by the Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday, March 8 from 3-7 p.m., at the Townsend Fire Hall, with Above and Beyond Physiques Middletown and Snap Fitness Middletown. Admission to the Expo is free.

Michael Shaw is a certified master fitness trainer and sports performance nutrition specialist with Above and Beyond Physiques, owner of Shaw Fitness LLC, a member of the Maryland Advisory Council on Physical Fitness, and a fitness and fashion model manager. You can schedule to meet him at Snap Fitness in Middletown or reach him at www.michaelroyshaw.com.