Fitness Fail Friday: The Definitive Guide to President Obama's Not-Great Workout

June 6, 2014

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The other day, President Barack Obama worked out at a Marriott Hotel gym in Poland. He impressed us by putting in the work, setting up his own equipment and training early, before a busy day. This is more than we can say for many other political leaders.

Before you start doing the POTUS workout every Wednesday, though, you may want to check out our second-by-second breakdown of the video below. Joining me to discuss the finer points of Obama’s training is STACK’s own Andy Haley, a certified strength and conditioning specialist.

Dustin: First things first. Andy, is this an actual Coldplay song or a fake one?

Andy: Probably fake.

Dustin: But is there a single person on earth who can definitively answer this question? If we played this song for Chris Martin, he’d probably shrug and say, “I'm sure we did that once.” Fake Coldplay absolutely sounds like something like the Warsaw, Poland Marriott gym would play on a loop.

Dustin: We get four seconds of Obama setting up his bench. Just as the video’s about to cut to the next thing, there’s a great moment where he kind of glares around the room like, “Am I really doing this myself? Six secret service guys standing around watching the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA set up his own bench?”

President Obama workout

Dustin: After spending 10 seconds trying convert kilograms to pounds using common core math, Obama finally gives up and grabs two heavyish-looking weights.


Dustin: That was a long yawn.

Dustin: Much to my delight, the music progresses from Probably Fake Coldplay to the Air Force One soundtrack. We don’t know for sure what POTUS listens to through those earphones, but I like to imagine that it is ALWAYS the music that plays right after President Harrison Ford growls, “Get off my plane.”


President Obama workout

Dustin: Andy, I’m sure that you’ve got some thoughts on Obama's form during this exercise.

Andy: His intentions are good—the Lunge to Curl & Press is a full-body strength exercise we recommend for athletes. But, his execution is poor. He’s only lowering into about a half Lunge, which isn’t working his legs and hips anywhere close to a full Lunge. And he seems to sort of throw the dumbbells down from the overhead position as he stands up, which completely eliminates the second part of the rep.


President Obama workout

Dustin: Excellent use of slow motion here to capture Obama looking exactly like that 75-year-old guy at your YMCA who’s always doing Shoulder Raises in his undershirt and khakis.

Andy: Yup, he certainly fits the bill. But, worse, he should probably be working his legs rather than his shoulders. That is, unless he’s concerned about his beach muscles prior to his next trip to Hawaii.


President Obama workout

Dustin: Can we get a better look at that poster?

President Obama workout

Dustin: Thanks, Jean Ekwa from Facebook!

That seems like a very American poster to hang in a hotel in Poland. Although I suppose it’s possible the hotel had it there for years or hung it up to welcome Obama, I choose to believe that the President hung it himself before his workout. Right now, tiny hotel gyms all over the world have giant motivational posters with words that translate to, “Do your best,” courtesy of Barack Hussein Obama.  It’s kind of his thing.


President Obama workout

Dustin: Andy, it seems like maybe Obama could be working a bit harder here?

Andy: POTUS is a busy guy, so I can imagine his time to lift is very, very limited. Step-Ups are a great exercise with huge benefits, but this lackadaisical effort will not give him the best bang for his buck.

Dustin: Another yawn. How early is this workout?

Dustin: Obama keeps going back to those shoulders. How great would it be if he took off his shirt right now to reveal Dwight Howard-like shoulders?

Obama/Dwight Howard


President Obama workout

Dustin: This can’t be right.

Andy: Dustin, you are correct. That most definitely is not right. He’s bouncing up and down and his elbows are bent—two no-no’s when performing this move. Mr. President, there’s no shame in using a lighter weight and doing the exercise correctly.


President Obama workout - Elliptical

Andy: We're getting a bit nitpicky here, because many gym-goers do their cardio workout after their strength session. But, little does the President know that the more cardio he does, the less he can expect from his strength work.  I’ll give him a pass on the elliptical, though. He is 52, after all.

Dustin: Before you’re trusted to protect the President, you need to prove that you can spot a threat hundreds of yards away. Does this cameraman really think he’ll get away with the Filming Over the Shoulder With a Fake Selfie move? We’ve got news for you, buddy, you’re not fooling anyone.

Kids, remember: it’s OK to dream about becoming President of the United States one day. Just don’t train like one.

Read more Fitness Fail Friday:

Dustin Brady
- Dustin Brady is the Web Manager at STACK Media and an avid runner. He received his bachelor's degree in communications from Pensacola Christian College in...
Dustin Brady
- Dustin Brady is the Web Manager at STACK Media and an avid runner. He received his bachelor's degree in communications from Pensacola Christian College in...
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