Camelback Mountain, in Phoenix, Arizona, has a special way of bringing out the “super” in people. You put one foot in front of the other for long enough and you conquer a Mountain. Not to mention on a double black diamond trail! But not everyone pulls off “super” on top quite like Tony and Caitlin, the focus of our February 2020 Community Spotlight Blog
Tank and Barbie
We have a lot of amazing athletes regularly on the Rock… but not many as recognizable for their physiques as Tony Botelho and Caitlin Walker (a fact that can be discerned simply by reading their instagram handles— @tonytank_ and @meatball_barbie). That’s to be expected with a couple that met because Caitlin’s coach told her she “needed to build bigger quads.” Leading her to reach out to Tony to assist with her training. We chatted with these two at Cartel Coffee Labs in Tempe, Arizona (on West University Drive)… between an early morning Camelback hike and going to train on a Saturday
Caitlin grew up in Buffalo, New York as a “tomboy”. Her father was a body builder and she spent much of her youth playing sports. Focusing on field hockey and lacrosse in high school, even getting a scholarship to her first college for lacrosse. Ten years ago this November, she came to Arizona to live with her sister and “see if she liked it.” And did she? “I loved it!” Is her eager reply
Ms. Walker has taken her love of training to a new level in the past five years— earning her IFBB PRO card. You may not know what that is, but let us tell you, it’s really impressive! IFBB is the International Federation of Body Builders. To get a PRO card, requires winning regional contests and qualifiers, followed by earning an invite to the National Championships. Once there, the contestants compete in their weight class and then compete head-to-head to become the overall champion for that year. But don’t for a moment think she’s all beauty and braun and not brains! Caitlin is also in school for dietetics; studying the effects of diet on health. She enjoys being able to help people with the “food aspect” of fitness and physical health
Tony the Tank
Tony grew on the opposite side of the country, born in San Diego, and moved to Seattle at age 12. Both of his parents were, and still are, very active (his mom just visited and summited Camelback three times while here!) His dad was a formerly a full contact fighter and obviously encouraged Tony to train hard and be active in sports. Botelho eventually “got super into body building” when he moved to Arizona ten years ago. Drawn here believing it to be temporary while he got his Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy, the Valley of the Sun agreed with him and he decided to stay
Viewing his Instagram stories will clearly show you, he enjoys life in Arizona quite a bit. And getting to workout regularly at his good friend’s gym is a big part of that. Robert Farrow, who is also Tony’s trainer, owns Deezel Gym/Farrow Competitive Training in Tempe, Arizona. Tony describes it as a warehouse gym with a good vibe. “Not just a body building gym— everyone’s welcome. It’s a very comfortable, positive environment. Not intimidating.” If you’re looking to train in the area, he strongly recommends it!
How Do Super Heroes Fall in Love?
Well, quads are involved, as was mentioned before. Living in the same area for nearly the same amount of time with overlapping interests in body building… these two were bound to bump into each other. Caitlin remembers originally meeting Tony at competitions, where he was acting as a judge. She admits to slightly insta-stalking him, but he has publicly confessed to doing the same since at least July of 2016.
Fast forward down the road to early 2019, when fate takes its course. Botelho and Walker happened to be training at the same gym when her trainer suggested she boost her quad size to progress in her competitions. Caitlin reached out to Tony complimenting his quads and asked him to work-out some time. It was a perfect pick up line for him! They officially started dating in April of last year and now live together with three fury babies, two dogs and a cat. Sadly, they recently had to make the decision to put down Tony’s beloved dog a few months ago; but have since adopted an absolutely precious Boston Terrier rescue with a heart condition. Proving the biggest muscles these two have is their own huge hearts!
Crushing on Each Other on the Camel
Botelho began hiking Camelback a few years after moving here. After intensive body building training and placing 2nd in Nationals, he felt he needed more cardio health in his life. Camelback, as many of us know, was a perfect option! Tony now considers it an integral part of his training. Miss Walker had been on the Camel only once before she went with Tony last spring… on their second date. In a misguided effort to impress him, she pushed herself hard and discovered that the Mountain has a way of humbling us all. “I passed out the first time” she confesses giggling. Tony was a caring gentleman and Caitlin’s temporary embarrassment obviously did no harm to the relationship
Both of them take advantage of Camelback for exercise a few times a week. “It doesn’t feel like I’m doing cardio” Caitlin shares. Tony agrees “Its a great workout.” As regulars, these two enjoy the privilege of repeat rises allowing time to discover the nuanced details of the Camel and personal favorites. She loves going up all the large boulders, making her feel very accomplished; while his favorites are the cave on the Echo side and the rockier portion of the Cholla trail. They both agree early mornings and the sunrises win the prize! Miss Walker states with a peaceful smile, “that’s when I can go and just enjoy nature… that’s my favorite time”
Tony also had his own humbling moment on the Camel last September, right before they were leaving to visit his mom. Proving even superheroes stumble occasionally. A slight misstep at the stair section and he ended up with an avulsion fracture along the side of his ankle. He was able to make his way down and, trying to ignore the injury, went to catch their flight out. But after a 3 hour plane ride, a black and swollen ankle convinced him to take it seriously. Fortunately, he’s an occupational therapist, and after a few months off Camelback, he’s returned to making the rise regularly
So what does Camelback Culture mean to our super lovebirds? We love their answers. “It just represents a positive movement,” Tony responds. “And I use the word ‘movement’ cause it’s like a forward thing to me… I feel like its growing— there’s more people and just this positive atmosphere.” Caitlin smiles and talks about how it is a Community extending beyond the Mountain; even being recognized when she’s out and at work. “Its really cool cause there are people on the daily that say they see me on @CamelbackCulture!”
As we always say, the more we connect, the better off we all are. Camelback Culture thanks Mr. Botelho and Ms. Walker for taking the time to share with us. Wishing these two and everyone a very Happy Valentine’s Day 2020! Hope to see you out on the trail and Crushing On The Camel— cause after all, she’s everyone’s favorite Valentine!
Thanks for joining us!
Thank you for joining us and please check back by for future Camelback Culture Community Spotlight Blog posts. Find our Super Camelback and other merchandise here. Be sure to keep up with the Community by following us on Instagram and Facebook for more Culture - Clothes - Community
Thank you also to the Community members that shared their photos with us:
Caitlin Walker @meatball_barbie)
Tony Botelho @tonytank_
Kaitlin Rowland @kaitlin__rowland
Brandon Budlong @brandonfitfoodie
Jes Shapiro @jes_plus_az
Ben Shapiro @threehundredsunrises
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- Tags: Arizona, Body Building, Camelback Culture, Camelback Mountain, Community, Community Spotlight, Culture, Hike, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Spotlight, Super Heroes