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Entries in Teddy Roosevelt (1)


5 Presidents Who Made the White House Their Health Club 

The following post was originally published in the IHRSA Advocate.

Belief in carving out time for physical activity transcends presidential terms and political parties. Here are five former presidents who made the White House their very own health club.

1. Ronald Reagan converted an unused White House bedroom to a gym for daily strength training and cardio. His exercise routines headlined Parade Magazine as How To Stay Fit: The President’s Personal Exercise Program (December 1983). After describing his favorite types of indoor and outdoor exercises, Reagan wrote, “I would urge each of you reading this article to think about how you could get a little more physical activity into your life.”

In addition, Reagan has also been rumored to have been caught exercising on a few occasions. He reportedly said, “If you see somebody jumping up and down on the second floor of the White House, that's me rebounding.”

Because of this, Reagan earns #1 on the list of presidents that transformed the White House into a health club.

2. Gerald Ford exercised daily in the swimming pool he had constructed for the White House in 1975. Before politics, the athletic Ford considered playing professional football for the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions, who were both impressed by his performance at the University of Michigan.

We can only guess that future presidents also made good use of the pool; George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan have all reported that they also enjoy swimming. Ford earns #2 in White House health club design.

3. Teddy Roosevelt had a tennis court built on White House grounds in 1902 and used it frequently. To round out his fitness regimen, President Roosevelt was known to go jogging around the Washington Monument and to enjoy boxing. He earns #3.

4. Herbert Hoover played Hoover-ball—a hybrid of tennis and volleyball using a medicine ball and an eight-foot net. The game was created by White House physician Admiral Joel T. Boone. Hoover completed this workout six times per week. Hoover earns #4, with extra points for including others in the group fitness routine.

5. Calvin Coolidge championed the “Iron Horse”—an electrical machine designed to mimic horse-riding. The Iron Horse, which Coolidge rode in the comfort of the White House, came with multiple settings used to adjust speed. Coolidge rounds out IHRSA’s list at #5 and earns the additional award of “most unique exercise machine installed at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”