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Shirtless Schock Promotes Health Challenge

Rep. Aaron Schock’s abs are once again in the news. 

The Illinois Republican, who will be the first-ever shirtless politician to be featured on the cover of Men’s Health magazine in June, talked up his fitness regimen Monday on the “Today” show and “Morning Joe.”  

Those appearances launched a nationwide Fit for Life Summer Challenge, spearheaded by the Congressman and co-sponsored by Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines. 

“There’s a way for him to help promote the cause and the photos kind of go along with that,” said Steve Dutton, a spokesman for Schock. “He’s very disciplined about his own habits, and it’s part of the showcase.”

In addition to Monday’s television appearances, Schock will appear on the “Today” show and in other media throughout the summer to monitor participants’ progress. 

“He’s enjoying the opportunity to really talk about it,” Dutton said. “It’s something he’s been involved with for quite a while, as far as making those healthy choices. To be able to promote it on the national scale is exciting for him.”

Very little of the media buzz has focused on Schock’s job in Congress, but he insists the initiative is consistent with his political duties. 

Since so much health care spending goes to treat obesity-related diseases, Schock argues that the country can reduce health spending by making healthier choices. Moreover, the military is turning down one out of four people who try to enlist because of obesity, Schock said in a release. 

“This is a national conversation that needs to be jumpstarted today, and I hope by reaching out through the Today Show and with the support of Men’s Health and Women’s Health that conversation will begin to happen,” the Congressman said in a release. 

This isn’t the first time that Schock’s abs have made headlines. A photo of the Congressman in a bathing suit posted to the entertainment website TMZ went viral in 2009, shortly after Schock was dubbed the “Hottest Freshman Congressman” in 2009 by the Huffington Post. He also posed for GQ. 

The Men’s Health piece began on a lark.

“I called him up and dared him, never thinking he would do it,” David Zinczenko, editor-in-chief of Men’s Health and editorial director of Women’s Health, told Roll Call in an email. “He said he would, but made it clear that he had a really important message he wanted to get across about our nation’s health, so we decided that if we did do a cover it would probably get a lot of attention.” 

The plan seems to have worked, landing Schock television appearances and headlines. But even in Men’s Health, the article focuses more on his appearance than his politics.

“He looks more like a hit man from a European spy thriller than a boring politician,” Stephen Perrine wrote in the accompanying article. “In other words, Aaron Schock is pretty fly for a Republican from Peoria.”

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