Joel Thomas, a national-level bodybuilder and powerlifting champion, grew up in Lake City, Florida with a younger brother and sister. As a toddler, Joel had an abundance of energy, so at age three, his parents enrolled him in gymnastics. At age eight, Joel began competing in gymnastics and did extremely well, and for the next five years, he competed in Florida as well as all over the Southeast. During that time, Joel racked up hundreds of medals and trophies.
The gymnastics team trained 15 to 20 hours per week, so Joel didn’t have much time for anything else other than school. He didn’t mind schoolwork and, therefore, maintained good grades. Nonetheless, Joel’s heart was in sports. At age 13, he quit gymnastics and within two weeks joined the wrestling team. Joel wrestled and competed in weightlifting all four years of high school and placed top 6 in both sports as an upperclassman. He also wrestled at Nationals for Team Florida. Wrestling and weightlifting weren’t enough as Joel played football as a linebacker in the 9th and 10th grades.
When high school ended, so did wrestling and weightlifting, which meant no more competitions. Joel continued to workout and met Toby Irby at Future Fitness in Lake City Florida. Toby talked him into joining his small group of APF and AAPF powerlifters. Toby taught Joel everything about powerlifting and remains one of Joel’s best and closest friends.
Joel competed in powerlifting from ages 18 to 23 and excelled at it. Gymnastics and wrestling built up Joel’s strength at a young age. At 22, Joel bench pressed 518 pounds in the 198-pound weight class at AAPF Nationals breaking the Junior World record. The following year, at just 23 years old, Joel benched an incredible 633 pounds in the 220-pound weight class setting the Junior American record. He would have had to do that lift at Nationals to make it an official World record.
From as early as he can remember, Joel admired the sport of bodybuilding. His father was a competitive bodybuilder standing 6’3.5” tall with an impressive set of arms and a big chest. Although Joel stands only 5’8.5” tall, his father passed on his great genetics for bodybuilding. After injuring himself training for a powerlifting competition at 20 years old, Joel took a short break from the heavy training. His fellow powerlifter, Byrd Abbott, convinced him to diet down and compete at the Mr. Lake City Bodybuilding Show just 22 days later. Joel won the Mr. LC division at that contest and was hooked on the sport of bodybuilding. He continues to compete at the national level and hopes to one day compete on the Mr. Olympia stage.
Joel, with his fiancée Alyssa Crawford, a gymnast and a high school cheerleader herself, feels he has passed on his genetic gift to his two-year-old son, Blaine. Joel says, “He stomps around the house carrying a couple 5-pound dumbbells and his father’s gallon water jug. He has a ‘ridiculous’ set of calves!”
Joel continues to train heavy and pack on quality mass. He hopes to become a professional bodybuilder in the very near future.