WASHINGTON, DC -- With today’s inauguration of Barack Obama as the country’s 44th president and his subsequent move into the White House, some people around Washington, DC, are wondering where he will continue his regular fitness routine.
Obama has been a member of the East Bank Club in Chicago for the last 14 years, according to Simon Meredith, manager of the facility.
“We hope he carries that into the White House,” he says, although he admits that he probably won’t see much of Obama during the next four to eight years. Still, Meredith says, having the next president of the United States as a member of his club is “exciting.”
“He’s a good guy,” he says. “We’ve known him a long time. We see how he operates with our front line staff when no one is watching. He’s intelligent and has great people skills. He’s a great political talent.”
Lisa Hufcut of Town Sports International (TSI), New York, says Obama is a card-carrying member of TSI's Washington Sports Clubs and used the clubs outside of Washington, DC, while on the presidential campaign trail. Hufcut says once when Obama was campaigning, a woman at the front desk of one of TSI’s clubs asked him for his identification when he forgot his keytag, then made him spell out his name.
Steven Schwartz, president and CEO of TCA Holdings (Midtown Athletic Clubs), says that while living in Chicago, Michelle Obama and the Obama daughters, Malia and Sasha, regularly played tennis at Midtown on Sunday mornings. During the campaign, the Obamas played in a separate building guarded by some 15 Secret Service agents, Schwartz says.
Still, other fitness facility operators in the Washington, DC, area hold out hope that the new president may walk through their doors. Kevin Swann, the director of association and branch wellness operations for the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington, says there has been speculation that Obama might want to play some pickup basketball games at the YMCA National Capital branch, located just a few blocks from the White House.
“This is one of the most talked-about topics,” Swann tells The Washington Post. “Will [Obama] come to play ball? Will this be a gym he might choose? There has been a buzz about that.”
On Obama’s whistle-stop tour last weekend that ended in Washington, DC, Obama was spotted working out in the fitness center of Sheraton’s Center City Hotel in Philadelphia. Brad Bauer of Springfield, MO, was working out in the hotel fitness center when Obama showed up.
“He was very cordial and said, ‘Good morning,’ and then he went to town,” Bauer told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “He’s in very good shape. I was very impressed. It’s kind of intimidating to be on a treadmill and you look in the [mirror] and see five Secret Service agents behind you. I’ve never been so intimidated in my life.”
During the presidential campaign, Obama’s aides arranged workouts for him in several dozen states, The Washington Post reports. Once, on July 17 of last year, Obama visited a gym three times within 16 hours, according to the newspaper. He often played pickup basketball games the morning of primary election nights.
Since his election on Nov. 4, Obama worked out regularly at a Chicago luxury apartment complex and even at a military fitness center while on vacation in Hawaii.
In a typical 90-minute workout routine, Obama, 47, devotes half of the workout to weightlifting and the other half to cardiovascular exercises that include a stationary bike, elliptical machine and treadmill, reports The Post. Between his warm-up and cool down, Obama sometimes moves through a dozen different exercises in an hour.
Obama wants to build a full basketball court at the White House and maintain his usual workout routine at least six days a week, according to The Post.