How LPGA star Mel Reid kicked my butt in just 15 minutes

It proved a bit foolish to answer Mel Reid’s questions. The LPGA Tour winner and 35th-ranked player in the world seemed genuinely interested in getting to know me, so I confided in her about the exercise I had been doing during quarantine, not knowing she’d soon use it against me. But fast-forward 30 minutes and there she was, walking away in laughter from the cable-resistance machine.

“This New Yorker and his yoga,” she said. There was an ounce of pity in her voice.

We were in the middle of a 15-minute density workout at Lifetime Performance in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and it was now clear to both of us that my Yoga & Running regimen was insufficient prep. I was granted a taste of what helps make Reid great, and 15 minutes is nothing, right? This 15 felt like 45.

Reid had been billed as one of the fittest women on the LPGA Tour, but she’s unquestionably one of the fittest golfers in the world, period. The kind of pro who earns the qualifier “world-class” before “athlete” in their bio. When asked how she ranked among her peers, Reid said bluntly, “Top three, no doubt.” She cannot be wrong, and might even be humble in the estimation.

We had spent the morning doing a soft-test of that theory. Under the instruction of her trainer Ken Macdonald (and in the upcoming issue of GOLF Magazine), Reid demonstrated a handful of body-weight moves that amateur golfers can do at home to stay fit. Side lunges, seated stretches, basic calisthenics. If you need any reminder that being a model for a tedious photographer is a workout in itself, just try it. 

The afternoon portion involved that density workout where Reid could actually show off her extreme fitness compared to me, the control sample. After a brief warmup, Macdonald laid out the plan. In 15 minutes, we were to do three sets of five exercises:

Medicine Ball Discus Throws x 10

Goblet / Kettle Bell squat x 10

One-leg Push-ups x 5 each leg

Lunge Resistance Rotations x 5 each side

Plank Rotations x 5 each side

All of that, three times, hopefully no breaks. (It’s worth noting that my workout partner was wearing Vans sneakers. Those are her go-to workout footwear. She was about to make me look bad in skater shoes!)

Mel Reid loves working out in skate shoes. Who knew?

Medicine ball throws have long been an intrigue for me. Numerous pros post videos using medicine balls on Instagram, a leading source of plenty of, “Well, I can do that” confusion. The goblet squats felt standard enough for anyone who passed high school Phy. Ed. — Macdonald even complimented my form. The push-ups were simply a more difficult version of normal push-ups, but served a nice introduction to the trouble area that lay ahead: core work.

Sure, you can handle the static squats and push-ups, but can you lunge, rotate, push and pull weight while maintaining balance? And while your workout partner cackles in the background? Can you marry your hips to your shoulders and not let that flabby area you’ve neglected in between make you look like a chump? Good luck.

One set in, Mel was frustratingly sweat-free and smiling while this workout had already changed the color of my shirt. Most impressive was how graceful Reid made everything look. For her the plank that torques your quads, abs, chest and arms was thoughtless, simple movement. Everything her 5-foot-7 frame did was fluid, machine-like and without a hitch. Her golf swing is much the same. Onward to set no. 2!

We’ll spare you most of the details that followed; just know that each move became increasingly difficult. Macdonald pushed the pace and pinpointed my deficiencies because it’s a density workout for a reason. A lot at once, in very little time. Your muscles want to rest, and plebes like me give in to that urge every time. Professionals like Mel don’t. Perhaps you knew that, but apparently I needed a reminder.

The 15-minute workout, unsurprisingly, took us about 21 minutes. I’ll take most of the blame for our lag and blame Mel for most of the laughter. After all, there’s something not-so-funny, oh-so maddening and oh-so golf when someone makes moves you struggle with look elementary. Between the jokes about my hair product and the holes in my leggings, I could have left completely debilitated, but there was really only one appropriate takeaway: Reid is a badass. There was no other conclusion once Macdonald admitted that this density portion is just icing on the cake. It always comes after a full, hour-long body-busting appointment. Thankfully, I wasn’t asked to take part in that.

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