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The Obamas stay fit with Cornell McClellan in that Chicago kind of way; maybe you should too

March 1, 2011 |  4:44 am

Cornell McClellan fitness coach to the ObamasA key element of Chicago politics is that those who move on up the ladder of success take good care of their loyal pals back down below.

That's why Valerie Jarrett, among numerous Chicagoans, has a White House job close to the ex-state senator whose future wife she hired when Jarrett worked for Mayor Richard M. Daley, who allowed Obama to survive within the ruthless urban Democratic machine.

Daley could then call upon Obama's wife to call upon her husband the president to fly Air Force One to Copenhagen to help with their hometown's Olympics bid -- in vain, as it turned out.

Since, to be politically real about it, what clout does a South Side Chicago Democrat have over the International Olympics Committee?

In the least surprising story of 2011 so far, Obama has helped ex-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel become the new mayor of Chicago. And the old Chicago mayor's brother William is Obama's new chief of staff. Moves that look like change but aren't. It's the Chicago Way.

So, perfect sense to learn now that every week President Obama and....

...First Lady Michelle Obama are flying their personal trainer in from Chicago for personal White House workouts. Because they've sweated with this Windy City guy for a decade now. And who could trust any physical trainer in Washington?Obama eating pancakes, file

Not only that, but Obama has also appointed their pal Cornell McClellan to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Recognition which will likely help business.

Not only that but to help make the D.C. trips, you know, worthwhile, the Obamas are none-too-subtly steering staff and friends to sign up for training sessions with this particular professional fitness person because, as everyone knows, everyone should be in shape.

Who would possibly dare to object to that?

In an adoring N.Y. Times profile, Ashley Parker describes McClellan as having "a compact body and an easy laugh" and as "a genial master tormenter who is the secret weapon behind Michelle Obama's famously toned arms."

This fits with Mrs. Obama's personal push to reform the nation's restaurant menus against obesity and have Americans eat healthier, unless they attend her White House Thanksgiving dinner or the Obamas' Super Bowl parties. a famously toned arm

What is less known is the Obamas' drive for staff to sign up with McClellan, who charges around $60 an hour. Parker enthusiastically tells one inadvertently revealing story about the president of the United States suggesting that a staffer use the trainer.

The obedient staffer did -- once. Then, obviously in an un-savvy, un-Chicago kind of way, blew off succeeding appointments with the boss' friend from back home.

However, in between warnings to Middle Eastern countries, President Obama was tracking those missed sessions. Cornell reported them to Barack. The president then chastised the staffer for not attending the fitness workouts -- for his own good, you understand. And the staffer finally got on the Chicago president's pal's program.

One more American changed for the better by this Democratic White House.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition; Associated Press; Samantha Appleton / White House (a famously toned arm).