By Paul Bedard and Nikki Schwab, Washington Whispers.
It didn't make the headlines at the time—first lady Laura Bush's tour of the kids' rooms for Michelle Obama nabbed those—but when the outgoing president gave his replacement the guy's version of the White House look-see, the duo made a beeline to the gym. "They just rushed upstairs to look at the gym," says Mrs. Bush. It's the "guy thing," she adds. And why not? Unlike previous presidents, President Bush is a regular in the gym and on the mountain bike trail and has equipped his gym well. And given President-elect Barack Obama's post-election workout schedule, he looks to be every bit Bush's match. Since being elected, Obama has hit the gym at the Regents Park Apartments near his Chicago home and played some hoops nearly every day, even before his trip to Philadelphia to announce his national security team. Besides basketball, he favors the elliptical, treadmill, and free weights. "Depends on the day," says an aide. And look for the new prez to pull down the nets on the White House tennis courts. We hear he's planning to wheel in a basketball backboard. Unlikely: Leaving the White House to play at the YMCA six blocks away where he worked out during the campaign. "Three or four times ago when he was here, he went in the morning and played basketball at the YMCA across the street," says Satinder Palta, general manager of the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, Obama's District home during the campaign. If he does sneak out, it will be easy to pick Obama out: He typically wears a White Sox or U.S. Secret Service baseball cap, a North Face jacket, Nike pants, and Nike shoes. His bow to Chicago's Nike Town is appreciated by the sportswear apparel maker. But it's not enough to give him his own line like, say, Air Obama shoes. "We focus on athletes," says Nike spokesman Derek Kent. Still, Obama's style is America's style. "On the days when he took his little girls to school and he was wearing his North Face jacket, there was a definite spike in North Face [Internet] views and some spike in sales in Illinois," says Marit Fischer, communications manager for Backcountry.com, an online retailer for outdoor gear.
Illustrations by Joe Ciardiello for USN&WR