5 Madison-area locals giving us fit-spiration

Q&As with fitness fanatics who share their 2021 goals, their favorite equipment, post-workout snacks and more.

We chatted with five fitness-focused locals. Here’s what we learned from them:

Alton Cunningham


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• Fitness trainer/boxing instructor at Harbor Athletic Club and Peter Kraus Fitness
• Workout Du Jour: Heavy bag or pad workout
• Lives in: Middleton
• Age: 28

Favorite gym in town: There are a lot of really great gyms in town and I have great relationships with a lot of them. I’ve been a member at gyms like Princeton Club, Anytime Fitness, Peter Kraus Fitness, Harbor Athletic Club, Carbon World Health, etc. I wouldn’t necessarily say I have a favorite, however I’m currently training at Total Athlete Performance in Windsor. They have a great staff and are very detailed in their approach to training athletes.

Ideal workout: My favorite workout is always going to be a heavy bag or pad workout. If you’re looking to relieve some stress or release some aggression , there’s nothing like throwing punches and kicks at a heavy bag or target. Turn the clock on, put your headphones in and crank up the intensity with boxing intervals.

Something people don’t know about boxing: It’s probably the best conditioning workout there is. I feel it doesn’t matter what sport you’re in or what you do for a living, alternating boxing into your regimen is a surefire boost and won’t mess with your current routine or regimen.

Competition history: I have been competing in mixed martial arts since 2014 and professionally since 2017. I stepped away from the sport for a bit to heal nagging injuries as well as to focus on other ventures I have been pursuing, including personal training, plus my startup juicing company, Juiceify. I still have a strong desire to compete and to do it again on the big stage. It’s a door that’s not closed and is something I will reevaluate in the near future. Right now, I’m extremely excited to pursue and to venture more into the fitness and business industry.

More on Juiceify: I recently started a juicing company in January. Juicing has been something I’ve been into ever since I switched to a vegan diet at the beginning of quarantine last year. I tried experimenting with a bunch of green juice recipes, found one I really liked and added it into my usual regimen. I let a few friends and some of my clients try it here and there and received some really positive feedback. Fast-forward to a few months later and I’m looking to share my love of cold-pressed juices with whoever I can. Our website is juiceifyme.com for anyone in the Madison area interested in unpasteurized, cold-pressed juices, and future updates will be on Instagram @juiceifyme.

What’s changed since COVID-19: I fell in love with running outside. Keep in mind I’ve never been much of a runner at all. Sprints were always something I enjoyed because I can test my athleticism, but anything long distance I used to steer clear from, even during training camps for fights. Long-distance running for me has been beneficial for my overall discipline and mindset. Once I learned how to breathe and remain composed, running became really enjoyable for me.

2021 fitness goal: My fitness goals this year currently revolve around getting my body back to 100%. I’ve had some nagging injuries from competitions over the years and I’m looking forward to getting back healthy and testing my competitive and athletic limitations.


Pat Gilles


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• Owner of Pat’s Gym since 2011
• Workout Du Jour: Power and strength endurance and structural workouts
• Lives in: Monona
• Age: 38

Professionally competed in: Sailing and cycling. I also played college golf and hockey.  

Upcoming competitions: Currently I am training for GPP (general physical preparedness). I want to feel functional and great doing any weekend competition. With that tends to come aesthetics as well.

What’s changed since COVID-19: I tend to work out with my wife, Roza Gilles, in our basement more. We usually do “fasted” cardio (meaning we haven’t eaten yet) first thing in the morning to get blood flowing, followed by strength work later in the day. We have a smaller gym buildout in our basement that fits most of our workout demands. Pre-COVID-19, I did all of my workouts at Pat’s Gym.

Ideal workout: I love a good EMOM (every minute on the minute) workout, and it is probably my favorite way to train. They tend to be a grind, but when designed right it will test the memory and those voices in your head telling you that you can’t finish. When those voices enter, the fun begins. Pick five exercises, and for each exercise you have a full minute to complete the desired work.

Here is an example:

1- 10 box step ups with 2x 50/35# dbs
2- 15/12 calories skierg (sub with no push up burpees)

3- 15 Toes to bar (sub with v-ups)

4- 5 Devil press with 2x 50/35# dbs
5- 15/12 calories bike or run
10 rounds (50mins)

Benefits of post-workout sauna sessions: Sauna therapy not only makes you feel amazing, it has also been shown to lower blood pressure and improve endothelial function. It also reduces inflammation and arterial stiffness. It increases cardiorespiratory function and boosts the immune system. From a personal standpoint, I have been sleeping and recovering better with red light sauna therapy, and there are many options if you are interested in exploring it for your home.

Best post-workout snack: I try not to complicate my diet plan and avoid precisely measuring food. However I read the labels on every package to familiarize myself with caloric content, macro-nutrient distribution, and what sort of chemical can be included. I think the meal before the workout is more important than the meal after. To augment real food I tend to have a smoothie drink immediately after finishing training. It varies but typically contains milk/coconut milk, fruit, whey protein and yogurt.

2021 fitness goal: Become the best/healthiest version of myself. One lesson COVID-19 has taught us is that health and wellness are more important than ever.


Betty Guerrero


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Betty G Fitness owner, offering personal training, programming, contest prep and customized nutrition coaching/consulting
• Workout Du Jour: Full-body and superset split (weightlifting)
• Lives in: Madison
• Age: 30

Favorite gym in town: Bucky’s Gym in Oregon

Something people don’t know about bodybuilding: Bodybuilding is a big family and attracts an amazing community of people who legitimately care about and support each other even from miles away! Most of my friends I have met through bodybuilding, and they don’t even live in the same city as me. It’s a beautiful sport full of genuine people, and we are all cuddly bears at heart.

What’s changed since COVID-19: My workouts changed from being very structured to learning how to “work with what I’ve got.” I’ve also learned to be more intentional and take no training session for granted. I never appreciated the impact lifting weights at a gym with other people around me had on my mental health.

2021 fitness goals: I have been on prep for this bodybuilding season for a long time, so my No. 1 fitness goal is to build my strength back up and feel good with my performance while enjoying food and staying healthy!


Autumn Neugent

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Autumn Neugent

Photo by Larry Chua

• Former Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin 2019
• Workout Du Jour: Different every day, including adapted martial arts, arms and abs, legs and back, and seated yoga
• Lives in: Madison
• Age: 41

Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin 2019 platform: Ability awareness — encouraging society to focus on their own and others’ abilities. I am not raising funds for myself to compete but would encourage folks to check out and/or donate to the Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin organization.

What’s changed since COVID-19: I’m actually working out more! Zoom and other platforms have allowed me (and others) to join workouts virtually that we may not have had access to before.

Ideal workout: I’d say my favorite is working out with University of Wisconsin–Madison students at Adapted Fitness. They are anxious to learn from us and are excited to teach us what they’re learning. I’m currently working on my legs to retain and possibly regain some ability.

Something you’d like people to know about adaptive sports/fitness: Adapted athletes are athletes! We may use different methods, assistive equipment and rules, but we are no less an athlete because of this. We all use our unique and diverse abilities to compete. My favorite saying: “Don’t let the wheelchair fool ’ya.”

2021 fitness goal: My 2021 fitness goal is to stay active — to maintain the abilities I have and embrace any abilities I gain!


Kellian Kiron


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• Owner of The Barre Code since 2016
• Workout Du Jour: Barre, strength training and brawl (cardio kickboxing)
• Lives in: Madison
• Age: 33

What’s changed since COVID-19: I’ve had to get comfortable working out at home. As a group fitness junkie, this was a huge struggle in the beginning. But with all the options out there, I’ve found my groove and am able to get in a good sweat from my basement.

Working out while pregnant: I’m definitely learning to practice what I preach and listen to my body. I’m a huge burpee fan, but I’m not doing many of those these days! I’ve made the change to more low-impact workouts instead of our HIIT, or high intensity interval training, classes.

Advice to other pregnant women: Be patient and don’t push yourself. Pregnancy is a workout in itself! You really have to gauge your workouts based on where you were pre-pregnancy. Take your time in movements and rest when you need it.

2021 fitness goals: Get my body ready for a strong delivery of this babe! And to remain strong post-pregnancy so I can lift my girl up and keep up with her.

What They’re Listening To
ALTON CUNNINGHAM: “My playlist is filled with a bunch of old school rap and R&B, some Drake and J. Cole. I love to find underground artists as well. Kid Cudi is a must, Big Sean. I keep a good mix.” • PAT GILLES: “I tend to listen to informational podcasts during my warmups followed by Uzbekistan/ Russian pop genre, which is forced on me by my wife. Once I start going hard, I tend to ignore all background noises.” • BETTY GUERRERO: “It’s half metalcore, half high-energy rap; Megan Thee Stallion followed by Attila.” • KELLIAN KIRON: “My No. 1 ‘get pumped’ song will always be ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry. But I also love me some Lizzo and Ariana Grande to get my sweat on.” • AUTUMN NEUGENT: “I Am The Fire by Halestorm. (Neugent has a tattoo inspired by the song.) [Otherwise,] I’m a ’90s rap and R&B girl. Most rock from any time period, too. I’d say whatever I’m listening to, it’s just gotta be loud!”

Favorite Gym Equipment
ALTON CUNNINGHAM: Resistance bands and dumbbells • PAT GILLES: Concept2 skiErg • BETTY GUERRERO: Barbell • KELLIAN KIRON: 15-pound dumbbells and the SkiErg • AUTUMN NEUGENT: The Nu-Step (think recumbent stairstepper with the addition on arms) and a horizontal squat machine

Post-Workout Snacks
ALTON CUNNINGHAM: Cold-pressed juice and dried fruit • PAT GILLES: Smoothie, typically with milk/coconut milk, fruit, whey protein and yogurt • BETTY GUERRERO: Protein ice cream bowl, often with peanut butter cups and coconut flakes • KELLIAN KIRON: Greek yogurt with berries, peanut butter toast or a protein smoothie • AUTUMN NEUGENT: “OK, don’t judge me, but my friend, Jim, and I always hit a local fish fry (different every week) after our class on Friday. It’s Wisconsin — fried fish and a beer/brandy Old-Fashioned sweet.”

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