Aaron Schock has finally gone public with what was until now the stuff of myth, legend, and blurry TMZ photos: His sensational six-pack abs.
The youngest man in Congress (he turns 30 this month) posed shirtless for the new cover of Men’s Health, unveiled Monday, prompting all kinds of questions, political and aesthetic.
Why’d he do it? To promote a “Fit for Life” campaign, which in a “Today” appearance (see below) the Illinois Republican related to the health-care crisis: “The real problem is rising costs and they’re driven by individual choices, so we’ve got to change the choices.”
How did he get that ripped? A daily 6:30 a.m. ritual of 5-mile runs alternating with cross-training or weights routine.
Was he airbrushed? “There was no need for retouching,” said the cover story’s author Stephen Perrine, who interviewed the lawmaker during his photo shoot. “Congressman Schock’s physique is definitely in the same league” of many professional fitness models, he said.
But how will it play in Peoria?
Hey, no cliche here — that's where Schock is from. The news generated a unsurprising response from the chairman of the Peoria County Democrats. “I think it’s totally inappropriate for a United States congressman to be doing this,” said Billy Halstead, who chided Schock for his support of Medicare overhaul. “Is he trying to say, ‘Take care of yourself, because forget about Medicare’?”
But Tazewell County Republican chair Lowell Schroeder defended the choice. “I think he sets a fine example by staying in shape.” At parades back in the district, he said, Schock is a marvel to watch, the way he zig-zags to shake hands on both sides of the street.
William K. Hall, a poli-sci prof at Bradley University was surprised by Schock’s decision to go shirtless, considering how hard he had worked to “establish political gravitas” at a young age; in previous interviews, the congressman had modestly ducked questions about his physique.
But Karen McDonald, a political reporter with the Peoria Journal Star, said it’s unlikely to hurt him.
“Everything that Aaron does is very methodical,” with a well-calculated impact, she said. Schock, she said, has been “wildly successful in developing his own brand” — cultivating a following beyond typical party lines and voting demographics. Which could be crucial to his political future: Schock’s reliably Republican 18th district (where he won reelection last fall with 70 percent) is at risk of disappearing during redistricting this year.
One final question we never imagined asking: So, uh, how’d the congressman get that scar just below his waist? His press secretary didn’t know and said the congressman wasn’t available to discuss.
Schock is one of a dozen congressmen who are devotees of Tony Horton’s P90X fitness regimen, says Men’s Health. Who else? Our colleague Monica Hesse reported last fall that Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan, Heath Shuler and Bart Stupak are part of the P90X crew on the hill.
Aaron Schock, fastest man in Congress, May 4, 2011
Aaron Schock explains why he posed for GQ, Sept. 19, 2009