Beezie Madden was my last workout of the week when I flew down to Wellington, Florida, to do this series. By the time I met Beezie and her personal trainer at Tony Fit 4 Life I had gone to the gym with Laura Kraut and Kasey Perry-Glass, and I knew I was in for an ass kicking with Beezie based on Laura and Kasey’s facial expressions when I mentioned Beezie was next on the list. Both just started laughing and wished me well, in much the same way you’d react if a friend tells you about some crazy thing they’re about to try that you know isn’t going to go well for them. So yeah, I was feeling supremely confident about this final Wellington workout venture.
We met Beezie at 6 p.m. on a Wednesday, one of the three times a week she meets personal trainer Tony Cabrales. Beezie and her husband John Madden have worked out with Tony for nearly a decade, and Beezie said they consider Tony an integral part of their team. When the Maddens aren’t in Wellington they’ll send photos of the hotel gym equipment available to them, and Tony will text them workouts. As someone who will use the excuse that it’s overcast outside to not go to the gym, I find this level of dedication inspiring.
Tony said when he devises a workout plan for busy riders like Beezie he doesn’t focus a lot on cardio because she gets that from riding multiple horses every day. Instead he focuses on strengthening exercises. He’ll plan a really hard workout for Mondays, an intense but not quite as hard workout for Wednesdays (thank you, gym Jesus), and a fairly easy workout for Fridays. He also tries to make the most of their time by working multiple muscle groups at once.
Of the three trainers so far, Tony was the biggest stickler on form, which is important when your workout involves weights. I wasn’t aware there were so many incorrect ways to lunge since it’s basically a step sideways, and I feel like I’ve been doing that OK for the past 25 years or so, but boy did I learn! Tony is like the George Morris of gym equitation. He was having none of my “Is this close enough?” nonsense.
When I first told my mom, who isn’t a horse person, that I was going to do these blogs, she said I really didn’t have an excuse not to keep up with these riders, given most were middle-aged, and I was 24. Well let me tell you something, mother: Beezie was knocking out bench presses with two 45-pound dumbbells like they were made of feathers. When it was my turn to give it a try Tony took one look at my noodle arms, moved the 45 pounders out of the way, and gave me two 10-pound weights, which he later demoted even further to just a metal bar with no weight on it because my form was so bad. I think this was the equivalent of getting put on the longe line and told to post with your hands on your head—that’s where I’m at in my gym skill level.
I think my favorite moment of the workout came when Tony took us over to this machine where you put your feet on a platform and press it up. He told me Beezie was going to do it with one leg at a time, and then I was going to get on it and barely be able to move it with both legs.
I’m always up for a challenge, and I was pretty confident I could prove Tony wrong on this one, because whenever I do work out I usually go running, and that works your legs. Surely I could use twice as many limbs as Beezie and move this platform with relative ease, right? Guys, I can not even begin to tell you how hard I was laughing when I sat down on this thing and realized Tony was 100 percent correct—it took everything I had to move this stupid thing with two legs, and Beezie was kicking it with one. The woman is a beast.
It became pretty clear early on in this workout that I was so far off Beezie’s level I would need a spaceship to catch up, so I employed a tactic that has served me well in life. I’m told I could talk to a brick wall about paint drying, so I put that conversational skill set to work and started peppering Tony with all sorts of questions about the workout and the gym. That way we could stand still and discuss the finer points of things like the importance of nutrition while Beezie was doing a third set of pull-ups.
And speaking of nutrition, Beezie said that while going to the gym is a big part of her fitness routine, what she eats is equally important. Tony helps the Maddens meal prep while they’re in Wellington, so they have healthy snacks and lunches for the shows. Beezie said they try to avoid going out and eating greasy or fatty foods. By contrast, I purchased a T-shirt from my favorite pizzeria because I was such a huge fan of their work (shoutout to Pies & Pints).
In other unrelatable news, Beezie estimated that she has maybe four alcoholic beverages a year. Not per week, not in one wild night on the town with your crew, per year. For contrast, here is a picture of me at dinner immediately after our workout:
I mean, don’t get me wrong; I want to ride my horse well. I just feel like there are so many issues that need to be fixed before a slice of pizza or a beer is really going to start making a difference. Like maybe we could start with not doing 1 1/2 strides in the two, or by shortening our reins a foot. Let’s iron out those minor details, and then I’ll worry about how my dietary habits factor into my domination of the .90-meter jumpers.
Another very suitable distraction came in the way of a certain ASPCA Maclay Finals champion who was working out on the other side of the gym. Madison Goetzmann, Beezie’s long-time student, happened to be at the gym at the same time, doing what looked like a fun, ladder-based workout. I would much rather tap dance across a ladder than incorrectly lift a quarter of the weight Beezie was, so I took a little break to challenge Maddy to a ladder match race. I’d like to say it came down to the wire, but Maddy schooled me pretttttty good.
So yeah, she can ride about a million times better than me and kick my ass in a ladder race, but you come find me in a few years when you’re at a bar trivia night and need to know how many seasons “The Office” was on in both the United States and the U.K., because, girl, I GOT you.
There was one part of this workout that I legitimately enjoyed, and Tony said I wasn’t half bad at: exercises using TRX bands that worked on balance and core strength. It feels a little more like goofing around on a jungle gym than it does working out, which I enjoy.
Tony is a smart man too, because right at the end of the workout when you just want to lay down and die, who shows up but Tony’s adorable dog, Dexter! I would for SURE go to my gym way more often if I could get some puppy kisses with my planks. Hats off to Tony for that savvy business move.
I think it’s settled: I can see myself becoming a person who goes to the gym regularly if my workout buddies can be an Olympic medalist, a Maclay Finals champion and Dexter the dog. Anything less than that offer, and I’m staying on the couch with my Netflix marathon.