Last night a crowd of twentysomethings gathered in a multipurpose room at the Bowery Street Y to spend an hour doing aerobics and giving money to Barack Obama’s campaign. What do the two have to do with each other?
“It’s all about how good he looks standing up on that podium,” said Ben Morse, a 26-year-old originally from Somerville, Mass. “The dude is ripped.”
The event was organized by Lana Wilson, a 24-year-old dance major from Cobble Hill.
“One of the things I like about Obama is that he works out religiously,” she said.
Ms. Wilson registered the event with the campaign Web site and sent out invitations to over 100 friends on Facebook.
Participants were asked to donate $10 to $50 for the event. Ms. Wilson, who also led the class, was wearing tights, two wrist bands and a T-shirt that read “Barack your Body” across her back. “Stamina is going to be a very important part of this campaign,” Ms. Wilson said.
The night began at a furious pace, with spins, leg kicks, and a lot of fist pumping.
“Are you fired up?” Ms. Wilson shouted. The class responded with a rousing cheer. “No, no,” said Ms. Wilson. “The correct response is, ‘Ready to Go!”
During the short midpoint break in the hour-long workout, many of the Obamites were looking a bit flushed.
“Doesn’t Obama smoke cigarettes?” asked Katie Lorah, a 25-year-old N.Y.U. graduate who does public relations for the Highline Project.
“He definitely quit,” replied her friend Karisa Butler Wall, an investment bank staffer who claims to have coined the name ObamAerobics. “When he was our age, he did a lot of drugs too, but now he’s clean.”
“After he wins, then he can get a little fat,” said Mr. Morse. “You eat a couple cheeseburgers, and that gives you a chance to rev up in the middle of your term by getting fit again.”
Some of those present had already learned the hard way that politics and exercise don’t always mix.
“I’m working on the Obama campaign here in Harlem and Washington Heights,” said Rishauna Zumberg. “Being out on the street all day wears you down, and you need a class like this to get back in touch with your body.”
After the break the class got back into high gear. Ms. Wilson had compiled a play list of high-energy tracks from the likes Of Montreal, LCD Soundsystem, and the Obama anthem, “Yes We Can,” by Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas.
Will’s track is a reworking of the speech given by Senator Obama at the New Hampshire primary with lyrics performed by a host of young celebrities including Scarlett Johansson, John Legend, Amber Valletta and Nick Cannon.
Ms. Wilson built the energy to a peak with a little over 20 minutes remaining. “You can do it!” she shouted to the gasping crowd. “Si se puede!” they roared back.
After a final 20 minutes of yoga the group gathered to cool down and chat about the campaign.
“Where are you going for Super-Tuesday?” Ms. Lorah asked Ms. Butler-Wall. “I don’t know, probably go out. I heard Gallery is going to have an open bar.”
“I think the official Obama party is at Tonic,” said Ms. Lorah. “The only thing is like 500 people already R.S.V.P.’d online.” She shrugged. “My life is already so inundated with Obama. I’m just glad to be getting involved in ways that aren’t totally political. Now I just have to figure out a way to work Obama into my meals.”
“And your sleep!” someone quipped.
“It’s funny you mention that,” she said. “I actually had a dream I was on the phone with McCain last night. I kept trying to convince him that his campaign interested me, but he could tell I was lying to him.”
The discussion turned to the Republican side of the race. “None of those guys are fit enough for ObamAerobics,” said Ms. Butler-Wall.
Some felt Romney was probably very fit, but that he was unlikely to show it.
No one mentioned the recently departed Giuliani, but McCain got a few nods for his energy.
“McCain is in pretty good shape for a 78-year-old guy,” said Mike Maggiore, the oldest of the assembled crowd. “You should see his 95-year-old mother, she’s a tough cookie. That’s good genes.”
Donations to the campaign were collected in sealed envelopes, and Wilson estimated the event raised around $300. “It’s not much, but that’s the great thing about Obama’s campaign,” she said. “It’s a grassroots movement, and it’s captured the attention of the youth. What we’re doing for our bodies, Barack is going to do for this country.”