Body Politic

Students get to decide which mask they want to punch. (Those are supposed to be Barack Obama and Mitt Romney above.)

Ever wanted to punch a politician? You’ll get your chance at Fit for Office, a new class at Washington Sports Clubs that’s playing with politics.

What It Is: Class doesn’t start with a warm-up. It’s a “primary.” Rather than an exercise circuit, students hit the “campaign trail.” Partner work is “find a running mate.” But beyond the gimmicky names, it’s fitness as usual. And that’s exactly what students want — along with Michelle Obama’s arms. (“I think I have a long way to go,” North Bethesda resident Janice Mandel said at the debut class, where many women expressed their first-lady physique aspirations.)

“I love that it’s so functional,” says instructor Aimee Richardson, referring to the selection of exercises, not the current state of political discourse. And she’s seen the power of tapping into people’s frustrations about the election. “This whole campaign, we live it and breathe it,” she says. “So it ignites more emotion into what we’re doing.”

Moves: If you thought you were tired of “swing states,” wait until you perform them for 50 seconds straight. That’s class lingo for kettlebell swings, which are part of the exercise circuit. “Getting on your soap box” is box jumps, “Paul Ryan Abs” are crunches with alternating oblique twists, and “Balance the Budget” is squatting while on a wobble board. The most popular stop on the campaign trail is “Voter TKO”: Slip on boxing gloves and then decide how to pummel two pads — one wearing a Romney mask, the other an Obama one.

Partner work includes “Crossing Party Lines.” Both of you get into push-up position facing each other, then high-five with your right hands, push-up, high-five with your left hands and repeat. There’s also “Passing the Buck,” aka tossing a medicine ball.

Workout: Shaking hands and kissing babies all day never worked up this much sweat, particularly if you choose the hardest variations of exercises. And your partner won’t let you get away with any dirty tricks. That’s why the class ends a week before Election Day, Richardson jokes: “We want them to be able to recover and be able to lift their arms to vote.”

Crowd: No need to be a political junkie to join in — most people keep their political beliefs to themselves. Even at the punching station, Richardson says, most students keep jabs evenly distributed to get a balanced workout. Watch out, though, if you get paired up with 42-year-old Alexandra Harrington, who enjoyed punching just one candidate’s mask over and over at the debut class. Later on, she didn’t ask her partner her political leanings. “But I should have,” she said. “Maybe I would have thrown that ball harder.”

Offered free to members and the public Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m., through Oct. 31, at Washington Sports Clubs Alexandria (3654 King St., Mysportsclubs.com).

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