Whether it’s through the Daily Burn Spartan digital workout program, at a Spartan Race or in one of her many fitness classes, hearing about Madeline Dolente is virtually inevitable in the Spartan Race community. More than just a pretty face, Dolente is a fitness professional with 83 different certifications dating back to her first certification in 1998. The Spartan SGX Coach, Obstacle Specialist and Brand Ambassador is one of the stars of Daily Burn Spartan, a Reebok-sponsored athlete, fitness writer and she holds an Executive MBA from Loyola University.
After completing the Daily Burn Spartan workouts, I commented on one of Dolente’s Instagram photos saying “Very interesting profile. I heard about you through Daily Burn Spartan.” A few moments later I received a message from Dolente and we discovered that we were both doing the 2017 New Jersey Spartan Beast. On the Tri-State Beast course, I saw a woman dressed as Wonder Woman and I wasn’t sure if it was Dolente. Post-race, I approached Wonder Woman and discovered that the superhero was in fact Dolente. We kept in touch and I learned a lot more about Dolente’s fitness background, most importantly, that we share a common fitness quest: to learn about WHY certain trends become popular and to be THE source of accurate health information.
“You don’t become an expert by thinking you know things; you become an expert when you learn something and experience it,” says Dolente, whose certifications include ACE-CPT, Spartan SGX, SOS, YogaFit Teacher, ISCA Master Trainer, BOSU Master Trainer, Gliding Master Trainer, Tabata Trainer, and TRX Instructor. “I’ve trained with the inventors of almost everything to learn from the best of the best. When information comes down 10 versions later, it’s watered down. I want to know from the inventor why something is so significant.”
Dolente’s fitness journey started as a high school lacrosse and soccer athlete, then, she wrote a column for her college’s newspaper called, “Getting Fit with Madeline.” By senior year, Dolente was “Ms. Fitness” at Greensboro College in North Carolina as she taught fitness classes and was a fit model. It was during this time that she decided to step out of her comfort zone and join the cross country team, putting her reputation at stake to try (and possibly fail) at something new.
“One day I just told my friend, ‘I’m going to do this cross country race,’ and she said ‘What if you come in last?’ and I had never had considered that,” Dolente says. “I went to the gym where I saw this woman who frequently ran around the neighborhood and I approached her and said, ‘I have to decide by tomorrow if I’m going to join the cross country team. I have a reputation for being the fit woman around campus and it would be mortifying if I came in last.’ She replied, ‘Madeline, even if you come in last, at least you did it.’”
Dolente wound up getting a trophy for a regional competition during her first and only season as a cross country runner.
“You don’t know what you can do until you go out and do it,” Dolente adds. “Here I was putting everything at risk but I couldn’t worry about sucking at cross country.”
BEHIND THE SCENES: DAILY BURN SPARTAN
Dolente’s first Spartan Race was in 2014 and she’s ran nearly 30 Spartan Races and 22 marathons, including earning four Spartan trifectas in 2016. To train for Spartan Races, Dolente does trail running 3-4 days a week, weightlifting five days a week, and trains with an American Ninja Warrior competitor. The endurance athlete tries to run a road race or Spartan Race at least twice a month and she will soon being opening a gym in Arlington, VA with monkey bars, gymnastics rings, a wall and a rope. For aspiring Spartans without these tools, Dolente suggests walking across any overhead bar with your hands.
“Walking across bars using your hands is great for grip strength and substantially helped me on the monkey bars obstacle,” says Dolente. “I have all of my clients hold on to the bar as long as they can and I have them practice one-arm hangs because that’s essentially what you’re doing on the rig obstacle.”
Another favorite technique is walking up an incline using a sandbag, whether the incline be a hill outdoors or a treadmill. This will help Spartans prepare the mountainous terrain and directly transfers to the sandbag and log carry obstacles. One of Dolente’s most challenging workouts came in the form of Daily Burn Spartan, which was shot on location at Joe De Sena’s house. The six-week workout program consists of six different workouts that can be done anywhere using minimal equipment such as dumbbells and a bucket.
“It was so fun and filming it was one of my favorite fitness experiences,” says Dolente. “Getting my ass kicked during the workouts made me confident that this will be great training for people doing a Spartan Race. Training on Joe De Sena’s property it was like, ‘Wow, this is the place where everything started.’”
The first day of shooting consisted of preparation such as setting up the area and getting the outfits coordinated and the next day was 95 degrees Fahrenheit and there were three workouts filmed back to back.
“There were bees coming around my face during planks and burpees,” says Dolente. “It was tough, the food couldn’t have come quick enough on the second day. It was brutal but awesome.”
The positive feedback Dolente receives from being one of the stars of the program which also features Jacqueline Sabas, Jonathon Aragon, and is led by Senior Spartan SGX Coach Kevin Donahue, continues to roll in. One man told Dolente at a Spartan Race that he followed the Daily Burn Spartan program because he worked late and couldn’t get to the gym. Another woman with diastasis recti, where the abdominals muscles separate from left to right, used the Daily Burn Spartan program and wound up as a client of Dolente’s afterwards. The client’s condition has substantially improved, according to Dolente.
“There are going to be times in life that are out of your control, such as staying up late or the kids being up late, but what you can control is making the time to train and with Daily Burn Spartan, you can do it anytime so there is no excuse,” says Dolente. “It’s awesome training to get you proficient and strong enough for a Spartan Race.”
SPARTAN WONDER WOMAN, SGX, SOS
Being an experienced fitness trainer, it’s interesting to hear Dolente’s take on the Spartan SGX Coach and Spartan Obstacle Specialist certifications. She says the Spartan SGX certification is the only one that qualifies you to create programming for each race type (Sprint, Super or Beast) and that Spartan provides the tools to understand the nutrition/exercise physiology behind each race type. As for the Spartan Obstacle Specialist, Dolente “learned a lot” even after having completed many Spartan Races prior.
“I think it’s important that everyone do the J-Hook on the rope climb because of the amount of grip strength needed for other obstacles like the Bucket Brigade and Twister,” says Dolente. “I know tons of dudes who have failed the rope climb because their upper body is shot.”
Wearing a Wonder Woman-themed top and skirt, Dolente is often the center of attention and inspiration on the course. She wears the costume because Spartan Races are her happy time—a few hours to have fun, not be taken so seriously and reply to comments with witty humor.
“I love being out in nature and even when I’m tired, I have to bring my A-Game because people are like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re Wonder Woman,’” says Dolente. “When I was on a mountain, I saw a guy putting on deodorant and I was like, “Really? Deodorant?” and he said, “Yeah, you never know who you’re going to meet’ then I replied, ‘Hey, you might even meet Wonder Woman’ and everyone started cracking up. Or, one woman said, ‘Hey, I love your striped socks,” and I said, ‘Thank you, I wish I had a lasso to bring us all up this mountain.’”
No matter how credentialed Dolente may be, there’s one feeling that rings true across Spartans from any professional background. And that’s the feeling of accomplishing something you previously failed at. Some would say it’s this addiction to achieving seemingly unreachable goals that keeps Spartans coming back.
“There’s something that feels amazing when you get an obstacle that you couldn’t get before,” Dolente says. “When you see that level of progress, it makes you fight harder to do better. That’s what I love about Spartan. I feel like I’m always challenged. If I’m not challenging myself physically and mentally, then how will I improve everything else in my life?
Residence: Washington D.C. area
Spartan Race Brand Ambassador, Reebok Sponsored Athlete
Occupation: Spartan SGX Coach, Group Fitness Instructor