Salvo 11.05.2021 10 minutes

Get Fit for Service

Hispanic man weightlifting in gymnasium

Conservatives need to practice what they preach in body as well as mind.

This Republican operative and certified personal trainer has made an unfortunate observation: conservatives are fat. I have seen some of the brightest minds trapped in the most pitiful of bodies. At a recent California Republican Convention, I heard one woman sigh “where are all the men?” The ratio wasn’t the issue. No good posture, she observed, or straight shoulders. No thick forearms. No clean shaves or strong beards. It’s a pattern repeated in ballrooms and conference rooms across the country. If we intend to inherit and advance our nation’s founding ideals, we must not forget that many of the great men of our boat were indeed men of appetites, but also men of vigor and strength.

Sure, there are plenty of drag queen Jigglypuffs out there on the Left. But the contemporary Left wants to be populated with monsters. Form follows function. The aesthetic vulgarity of a 400-pound, blue-haired, mentally ill man who thinks he’s a woman appropriately illustrates the chaotic, unnatural, and ugly spirit of the Left—a feature, not a bug.

By contrast, we as conservatives ought to live out that which we profess to value: prudence, discernment, discipline, and love of beauty. But we’re not doing so. Conservatives are known for their handwringing and whining about the state of affairs in the U.S. In particular, we decry the wholesale assault on the idea of masculinity—the idea of men. 

But manhood is inescapably linked to strength: masculinity and vitality go hand in hand. Even ascetics must possess the basic fitness required for discipline and endurance in harsh conditions. At the think tank dinners and political functions I frequent, too many conservatives are failing to practice what they preach.

You don’t have to be a prettyboy. The airbrushed, Instagram-ready fitness model is fine as an ideal of excellence, but you don’t have to look like Arnold or Zyzz to be fit. You just have to have some muscle on you, and look like you take care of yourself. Too many on the Right are at the same extreme of dissipation we mock in the Left: soft and pudgy, like the beta males we all make fun of with Chad and Wojack memes.

Have Some Self-Respect

Here in California, the bad guys look good. Gavin Newsom looks far better than the candidates we put up. Slimier, to be sure, but lean. I give him that. We as conservatives need to look, feel, and be better. Stronger. Leaner and meaner.

The average man should be hovering around 12-15% body fat. My bet is that most Republican operatives are well in the mid-twenties. Yowza. Yes, Orange Man was a paragon of masculinity for his energy, persistence, and steel jaw in the face of the establishment. But DAMN did the man need to avoid the catered McDonalds.  Out of office, he does indeed seem to be spending more time and energy on his physical health. But we need, and deserve, a challenging, high bar.

And not that long ago, we had one. Get this: on July 16, 1956, President Dwight B. Eisenhower issued an executive order creating the President’s Council on Youth Fitness. 

The Presidential Fitness Test standards were as follows:


  • 1 mile run at a 6:06 pace
  • 55 crunches in 1 minute
  • In 1 minute, do 53 pushups or 13 pullups
  • Agility tests running 30 feet back and forth in 8.7 seconds


  • 1 mile run at 8 minutes and 17 seconds
  • 44 Crunches in 1 minute
  • 1 pullup or 23 pushups in 1 minute
  • 10 second shuttle run

Could you do this?

Or would the average American teenager in the ’50s kick your ass? If so, how are you going to protect yourself, family, and property when bad guys (say, Antifa and other mostly peaceful protestors) come knockin’ on (kicking down) your door?

Benjamin Franklin believed swimming was the most important form of exercise. Lincoln, known for his physical strength, wrestled for his captaincy in the Blackhawk War. Theodore Roosevelt (the TR some cons love to hate) swam naked in the icy waters of the Potomac during his presidency, had boxing matches in the White House and wrestling matches with (thicc boi) Taft.

Presidents lived this way because it was foundational to the American way of life.


So how do we make ourselves fit again?

Make a plan and stick to it. Body weight or iron. Pick and choose. Mix and match—like with the vaccines, but this’ll work. Again, your goal shouldn’t be the perfect thirst trap: you should start with basic, objective standards of physical competence, and you should pick a form of exercise that’ll take you there.

Here are the tools I have found that have made me able to get and stay fit, move better, and lift heavy things. Simple, but not easy:

  • Prioritize your health above else. But but but— I don’t have any time to work out, my job is too demanding! BS. If the factory manager who worked 14 hour shifts 7 days a week for a month straight can hit the gym at 5:30 am, so can you.
  • Constantly varied movements. Run, swim, deadlift, bench, box, skip rope. These are all part of the programming that I give my clients. Physical fitness is meant to give you the baseline level to survive in hostile times with minimal resources.
  • Eat your greens. Like mom said.
  • Lift more, drink less. Typically, young conservatives (particularly in D.C.) will go to the bars to network. Change the rules of the game and meet in gyms. Talk in between sets. You will think more clearly, connect authentically, and develop better ideas as you move.
  • Stand up with your shoulders straight. Jordan Peterson points out the dignity that comes from squaring your shoulders with the world. Practice this alongside daily exercise and proper nutrition, and your confidence will grow.

Finally, get off your ass. Pump some iron. Build muscle and, more importantly, in doing build the strength of character that forms the backbone of a prosperous republic. As conservative BMI goes, so goes the movement—and America.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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