Styles differ but U.S. presidents make fitness a priority

Mon Feb 9, 2015 8:24am EST
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Whether the request was for a treadmill on Air Force One, an elliptical trainer by the White House pool, or a rower adjacent the Lincoln bedroom, when the Oval Office called, fitness trainer Ted Vickey answered.

As the former executive director of the White House Athletic Center during the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Vickey served their fitness demands.

While their styles differed, Vickey said each president made fitness a priority.

“Both Clinton and Bush were big outdoor runners but Clinton would also like to run outside the gates, talking to people,” Vickey recalled. “Bush was a more private exerciser; the elder Bush enjoyed speed golf.”

Although the presidents didn’t use the Athletic Center, which was built for staffers in 1987 under the Reagan Administration, Vickey was familiar with their fitness routines.

Bush used exercise as a way to manage his day, said Vickey, who installed a folding treadmill on Air Force One so the 43rd president could work out on a trip to Colombia.

Vickey also converted a room near the Lincoln bedroom into a fitness center.

“One day the Oval Office called: 'We need you to get us a bike, elliptical and rower, delivered to West Wing and we want it tomorrow,'” Vickey said.   Continued...

U.S. President Barack Obama dribbles the ball past some children while doing some basketball drills, during the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House in Washington, in this April 25, 2011 file photograph.  REUTERS/Jim Young/Files