Gym Rat in Chief? Obama's Fitness Regimen

Some say Obama is obsessed with fitness, but others say it sets a good example.

ByABC News
December 3, 2008, 6:22 PM

Dec. 4, 2008 — -- Snacks of fruit, pistachios and Fiji water. Grueling cardio sessions at the gym. And ruthless five-on-five games on the basketball court.

Sounds like an obsessive health or fitness nut -- or Barack Obama, who just finished a marathon 21-month campaign to win the presidency.

Since the end of one of the most combative elections in American history, the president-elect is routinely caught emerging from his daily gym workout in his trademark black White Sox cap and white Asics sneakers.

Some headlines -- "Barack Obama Shames Americans With His Elitist Body" -- charge his exercise regimen is obsessive. Or that the man who was so organized and in control on the path to the White House needs a physical outlet.

Still others, such as U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who played basketball with Obama on Election Day, say his behavior on the basketball court provides positive insight into the new presidency.

"In some ways he plays like he leads politically -- even though that sounds contrived," Casey told "He's quietly confident and quietly competitive."

Just this week during the Governor's Conference in Philadelphia, Obama visited a favorite local gym and worked out alongside the regulars.

"He always does cardio, usually the treadmill first for 20 to 30 minutes and then elliptical for the same amount of time," said William Nelson, assistant manager the Philadelphia Sports Club in Franklintown, Pa.

"I didn't see an ounce of fat on him," Nelson, 32, told "He's lean and he looked like he's in great shape."

One jogger at an adjacent treadmill couldn't keep up.

"Barack was just too fast for him," said Nelson, who so resembles Obama he easily portrayed him on Halloween.

The president elect usually combines cardio with strength training, lat pull-downs and back exercises.

"For a thin guy, he's muscular in the chest," he said. "He's never out of breath and the amount of work he does for a man his age, he is above average."

ABC reporters covering the transition say Obama never misses his daily workout. When he is in Chicago, he goes to a gym at his friend Mike Signator's Regents Park apartment building, which is about five blocks from his house, right by Lake Michigan.