The Obamas have had the same trainer for 20 years and they love to box

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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.”

[From People]

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.

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President Obama with Lt. Cmdr. John Terry at Walter Reed Hospital in 2016.

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Seven years ago today: shooting hoops during a break between meetings.

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Pregame ritual.

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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.

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photos credit: Getty and Pete Souza/Instagram

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48 Responses to “The Obamas have had the same trainer for 20 years and they love to box”

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  1. MousyB says:

    Seeing this and getting nostalgic is just making me sad =( ughhhh

    • tegteg says:

      Omg I had the same reaction. Especially the photo of him on the basketball court when he was in office.

    • mia girl says:

      If these photos are making you feel this way, do not watch the Letterman Netflix show with President Obama. I cried during most of it. I was overwhelmed by how much I miss him, and how even though we thought we knew, we really didn’t know how good we had it.

    • charo says:

      Last night, watching Kamala Harris comment after the State of the Union speech, I thought how she has that Obama elegance and humor.

      And she seems very tough, too. Like a combo of Barack and Michelle all in one.

      She really seemed presidential to me.

  2. tegteg says:

    I miss him. 🙁

  3. Indiana Joanna says:

    Last night I watched You Tube videos of the Obamas entertaining at the WH and Kennedy Center. Stevie Wonder, Aretha, Al Green, Burt Bacharach, Carole King, Lin-Manuel.

    The contrast with this present monster-in-chief is crushing my soul. We will never again see the type of elegance and brilliant spirit that the Obamas brought to the WH.

    • Lela says:

      I made the mistake of falling through the youtube rabbit hole and watched 2 hours worth of Obama interviews and appearances and it makes me so sad. Trump is just a disgrace and can never measure up to the charismatic, empathetic and well spoken man Obama is. (I’m not even American and I mourn for Obama’s presidency)

      • lucy2 says:

        I know, I watched the David Letterman interview on Netflix and just wanted to cry. I also keep wanting to buy Pete Souza’s book of photos, but I know it will just depress the hell out of me.

        I refuse to believe we will never again have people like them leading the country. I refuse to believe that Dump is the new normal.

      • Otaku Fairy says:

        Agreed. We’re all in mourning. 🙁

      • Carmen says:

        I have Souza’s book. I pre-ordered it from Amazon and they sent it the day it was published. Worth every dime.

  4. Hh says:

    When excellent health actually meant excellent health. I’m not saying something is medically wrong/unhealthy with Trump, but he and Obama can’t both be in “excellent” health. Trump might simply be moderately/relatively healthy.

    • charo says:

      DT’s doctor lied repeatedly —

      * he’s NOT taller than Obama, look at the photos of them together!
      * he obviously weighs more than 239
      * he can’t be healthy w/his diet and lack of exercise
      * his mental health is obviously questionable

  5. minx says:

    (quiet sobbing)

  6. Lela says:

    Be president forever!!!!

  7. Veronica says:

    So what you’re saying is that the Obama can easily win a rousing round of fisticuffs.

  8. BlueSky says:

    Please don’t torture me like this! It makes me miss them more 😭

    I can’t get into Zumba, sorry CB. My gym has the Les Mills program so I take Body Combat, Body Attack, and Body Pump. I also got into spinning and really like it and also do a core class. I got into running several years ago too

    • Celebitchy says:

      I love Les Mills especially Body Combat but my Y stopped doing that program and the new one is too easy. I did subscribe to Les Mills on demand for a while but there’s so much free content on YouTube that it’s not worth it. I’m into running too but only when it’s nice out.

  9. Jessica says:

    I had a friend who used to play pick up ball with him during when my friend was an undergrad at University of Chicago. Said cool guy, kinda nerdy, good player. That makes him even higher on my list.

  10. MellyMel says:

    …and I just got sad all over again! I miss them both *sobs*

  11. Tania says:

    Thanks for the youtube videos! Today will be day 31 of exercising every single day. Something I plan on doing for the year of #noexcuses. One of my co-workers does this Orange Theory circuit but that means leaving the house and being among people – something my husband doesn’t want to do on normal days, let alone sweating. So I was trying to search amazon and netflix for cardio workouts to mix things up. My heartrate stays relatively the same on the treadmill unless I’m running 6 miles an hour but at that point I just want our cats to kill me.

    Will check out the videos when I get home to add to my, “must try” list. If anyone has good calorie burning exercise secrets, please share! We’re going on a 2 week cruise in 3 months and I would like to lose at least 7 more lbs!

    • Celebitchy says:

      You can do it Tania! Amazon and Netflix don’t have much but YouTube is full of good workouts for free. Get a food scale it was a game changer for me.

      • Pandy says:

        I have a super cheap food scale that is pretty much useless. I will look into this. Thanks for the tip.

    • Betsy says:

      I should make a commitment to fitness like that. But I have journaled and done Duolingo every day for 31 days, so I’m feeling great about that.

      And for awhile there I was doing so much shoveling I think I got a day or two’s worth of exercise in!

      • Neelyo says:

        I’m doing Duolingo too! I’m trying to relearn my Spanish. Journaling is awesome. I did morning pages when I did The Artist’s Way years ago and still journal every morning because of it.

      • Betsy says:

        @Neelyo yay for Duolingo! I actually took two years of Italian but I was a wretched student so I too am relearning. By virtue of finally getting an Instagram account I’m also doing a lot of art in addition to the journaling (which is really old school journaling lol – light on the deep thoughts because I wallow – so here’s what I did, etc). It’s nice.

        But I need to add regular exercise.

    • Lensblury says:

      Thanks for sharing fitness routines on CB! I’m normally lazy, but whenever I want to get fit and healthy again using youtube programs, my two regular go-to choices are Billy Blanks’ Ab Bootcamp, as well as the various 10 to 12 minute sessions with Tiffany Rothe. I just love her, she seems so positive, but not in the stereotypical annoying fitness-encouragement way. BB Ab Bootcamp is hard, but it worked so well for me that I ordered it on dvd. I knew I had gone up a few levels, fitness-wise, when I realized I could do the program twice in a row (now I’m unfit again, but I usually start my fitness stuff in February). I don’t know if Billy Blanks is still up in full length on youtube, but I can recommend it if you’re looking for core strength and a little bit of cardio mixed in along the way.

    • magnoliarose says:

      Great! Keep going!
      You need those endorphins and stress release now more than ever.
      Once it becomes a lifestyle, your body will crave it, and you won’t feel right until you have worked it for an hour.
      I used to kickbox several times a week but have taken it up again regularly. My inner thighs were sore for a week when I started back, but it is a total workout. Punching and kicking things is a needed release.
      Keep it fun too and mix it up if you ever feel bored.

      If you can fit 15 minutes of yoga, it is even better for the mind.

  12. Scal says:

    If Michele walked into my soul cycle class I would prob pass out from joy. Working out with her seems like it would be so awesome!

    • smcollins says:

      She’d be the best workout buddy! You know she would keep your butt motivated and be fun as hell to hang out with.

  13. Lila says:

    I am a class person I have difficulty with working out on my own. I take 4 classes a week at my gym: Boot camp style class, Yoga Sculpt, Pilates Mat class and Spin class. I live in Chicago and no matter the weather I take mass transportation and walk everywhere.

  14. Morgan says:

    But but, what if he uses up all of his heartbeats? 🙄

  15. anniefannie says:

    I can’t help but think after 20 years this info is being released to troll ” The Girther ”
    Given the Obamas focus on fitness and nutrition I’d imagine the example Trump is setting is appalls them…..

  16. Whatnow says:

    I’ve been trying to exercise more too. Feeling much better so glad for that.

    I’ve checked out Les Mills videos and done some classes at my local Ybut I find all the jumping too much for me and my knees because I’m an old lady lol.

    In my younger days back in the 1980s we did Jazzercise and step aerobics and let me tell you ladies bad for the knees you learn this later on.

    Other ways to raise the heart rate and tone the body without ruining your knees but I say whatever works for you is cool.

  17. Cee says:

    I’ve just begun training again after a 7 month long hiatus and I can barely walk. I wish I hadn’t stopped in the first place LOL

    The Obama’s are my fit inspiration. Michelle’s arms are FANTASTIC.

  18. Mee says:

    The Obamas live in same neighborhood as Jarvanka in DC. Neighbors say Barack jogs all the time with 1 or 2 SSA. You wouldn’t even know it was him. Meanwhile Jarvanka clears out the streets every time they leave. Ugh. Can’t wait for this buffoonery of a family and administration to be over

  19. Va Va Kaboom says:

    I feel silly, but I totally choked up at “they smile more”.

  20. KiddV says:

    I get that being President is a busy job, but if everyone had other people doing their laundry, cooking their meals, running their errands, picking up the kids, etc, AND have a fully loaded gym in their house with a personal trainer, I’m sure more people would find the time to do it. I’ll bet not once did BO have to cancel a workout because he forgot to pick up eggs for the cupcakes he has to make for Sasha to take to school. KWIM? It’s the mundane things like laundry, grocery shopping, errands that take up any free time people hope to have.

    And holy crap do I miss the Obama’s! I teared up just looking at the photos.

    • Tina says:

      Totally agree. The President sets his own schedule, whether that’s workouts at 5am or cheeseburgers in bed at 6:30pm. How many of us could say the same?

    • Ange says:

      The thing is ordinary people who don’t have help with all that manage to exercise too – not to mention the Obamas had a lot more work stuff than your average citizen to even it out. Exercise just has to be on your priority list, if it’s not it’s very easy for it to fall by the wayside.

  21. Jayna says:

    I loved his interview with Letterman. They look like they are having the time of their lives post White House.