By Sarah Jane Clifford
Cornell McClellan is the super enthusiastic personal trainer of the first lady and her daughters. He also works with the president when the president can fit it in.
“They lead by example,” McClellan said at the Capitol Hill celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day recently. “The White House is full of energy. The first family is definitely walking, running and skipping the talk.”
The Chicago fitness consultant started working with Michelle Obama 14 years ago; her husband became a client three years later. Now McClellan commutes to D.C. three or four times a week for workouts at the White House with the first family – and as many staffers as they can coax into the early morning sessions.
“It’s important to them,” McClellan told the Washington Post.
His best performer is the first lady, who he calls a “dynamo” when it comes to fitness and being active. Her daughters know that and are following suit.
The president does the best he can; his “job is just so enormous that he can’t devote all the time he would like to working out. He works out daily, but if he’s got to leave early, he’s got to leave early.”
As a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, it is McClellan’s job to get all Americans moving. With two daughters and two granddaughters, his message at the National Girls and Women in Sports Day celebration was the value of sports for girls – a big topic in 2012, the 40th anniversary of Title IX.
Title IX is best known for creating more opportunities for women and girls to play sports. It requires schools and colleges receiving federal funds to give women and girls an equal chance to play sports and to treat men and women equally when it comes to athletic scholarships and other benefits like equipment, coaching and facilities.
According to the National Women’s Law Center, the number of male and female student athletes has greatly increased since Title IX. The number of male college athletes has increased from 170,384 in 1972 to 208,866 in 2001; the number of female college athletes has increased from 31,852 in 1972 to 150,916 – almost a five-fold increase. The number of high school girls playing competitive sports has increased from fewer than 300,000 before Title IX to 2.78 million in 2001.
Girls playing any sport, McClellan said, leads to better grades, better health, better jobs and the ability to stand up for themselves.
Never missing an opportunity to get people on their feet, he opened his briefing by leading the crowd – including athletes Sarah Hughes, Grete Eliassen, Donna de Varona and Benita Fitzgerald Mosley – in a short routine of stretches, lifts and squats.
“Let’s do a couple more,” he said to groans from the audience. He flashed a big smile. “Excellent!”
In case you’re wondering: Yes, you can hire McClellan as your personal trainer – if he can squeeze you into his schedule in Washington or Chicago. His rate is about $60-an-hour (“it varies”) and he tries to team up workout buddies to accommodate more clients.
If you have information, ideas, comments or suggestions for “World Of Women Sports,” please contact Sarah Jane Clifford at 585/388-8686. Her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Clifford owns and operates The Gymnastics Training Center of Rochester, Inc., 2051 Fairport Nine Mile Point Rd., Penfield, NY 14526