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I love reading about celebrity fitness routines, especially when they do workouts which are accessible to us plebes. A lot of celebrities are into trendy workouts like Rise, where you climb a stair master-type device in a group class, or things like aerial yoga, pilates on machines, or bungee fitness. (Those sound cool but they’re just not available and/or are too expensive for a lot of us.) So it’s nice to hear that Barack and Michelle Obama do kickboxing and more traditional types of fitness. People magazine spoke to their trainer of 20 years (they’ve had the same trainer for 20 years?!) and he said that Michelle now has the opportunity to do more group fitness and that both of them like boxing.
Cornell McClellan has worked with Obamas for more than 20 years, and says their dedication to fitness continues to be strong post-White House. The only difference? “I think they smile more,” he tells PEOPLE.
McClellan, who is based in Chicago and moved to D.C. during the Obama administration to train the family — along with any other staff members Barack could persuade — says the former first couple truly love working out…
The main difference now is that the Obamas have more free time to be active. Michelle in particular loves that it’s easier to attend group workout classes.
“She’s been able to do some of the classes that weren’t as convenient when they were in office,” McClellan says. “She can do sociable things and get outside. She loves SoulCycle.”
And as much as Michelle talks about fitness, Barack is equally enthusiastic about it, according to McClellan.
“He works out as much, if not more, as her,” he says. “He really believes in it. One of the things we say when people complain that they don’t have time to work out is, ‘The President of the United States works out every day! You’ve got to find another excuse.’ ”
While McClellan tailors his workouts with the Obamas to their particular interests, he likes to vary their routines.
“With [Michelle] and President Obama, we mix it up a lot,” he says. “We do things with weights, with kettlebells, with bands and tubes and TRXs to keep the body guessing.”
But when they come to McClellan to get moving, a few topics go unmentioned.
“We generally don’t talk about what’s going on with the new administration,” McClellan says, laughing. “But one of the things I used to love to do with the President is making sure we had time to box. And the First Lady will do it, too. For people with high-stress jobs, boxing really works for them. To be able to punch some things.”
I want to know if Michelle’s secret service detail takes spinning classes with her. Like do they just wait outside the room or do they actually do the workout too? I know that former presidents and their wives have security protection for life. (Thanks to Obama, although Trump will probably lift that and make it illegal to work out in the White House or something.). Also, I love both kickboxing and spinning so these two are fitness buffs after my own heart. Tell me Michelle does Zumba too and I know we would be besties. I want to go to one of her bootcamp weekends for friends! I miss them so much. I’m going to do a kickboxing workout and then pour the rest of my water bottle out in their honor. If you want to join me, do one of these kickboxing workouts. If you’re more into dancing and Zumba, here are some recommendations.
When I was at the White House, I often hosted bootcamp weekends for my close girlfriends. It didn’t matter that we were all at varying fitness levels. Our bootcamp weekends were a reminder that if we want to keep taking care of others, we need to take care of ourselves first. And even though I’m no longer at the White House, I've continued this tradition and wanted to share some photos. My girlfriends have been there for me through all kinds of life transitions over the years – including a pretty big one recently! – and we’ve done our best to stay healthy together. Whether it’s a bootcamp or a walk around the neighborhood, I hope you and your crew can find some time this summer to be healthy together.
photos credit: Getty and Pete Souza/Instagram