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Personal trainer shares details of his workout with Obama

By Jeremy Diamond, CNN
June 5, 2014 -- Updated 2135 GMT (0535 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jean Ekwa worked out alongside President Obama in Poland and said he was lifting 26-pound weights
  • "As for the technique, I can't honestly say that it's perfect," Ekwa, a personal trainer, said.
  • P90X founder Tony Horton gave Obama a "B-plus, maybe an A-minus" on form
  • Former White House videographer: Obama "just acts the same on and off camera"

Washington (CNN) -- They're not exactly gym buddies, but a personal trainer in Poland can now say he worked out with the President of the United States.

Jean Ekwa was at the Marriott gym with Barack Obama in Warsaw and confessed to some eavesdropping in an interview with CNN's Brooke Baldwin.

Someone in the hotel workout room captured every grunt and stretch of Obama's routine, then leaked the video on Wednesday.

Ekwa said Obama was lifting 25-pound free weights.

"As for the technique, I can't honestly say that it's perfect," Ekwa, a personal trainer, said.

Ekwa noted that everyone present in the gym had been scanned by the Secret Service.

He said when he first saw the roughly 10 agents at the gym, he didn't think he would be allowed in.

"All the people there tried to play it cool," he said. "On the inside I was very excited. I didn't want to do anything that would end up with security guards breaking my arm or something."

While Ekwa couldn't give Obama top marks, fitness guru Tony Horton called his form "pretty good."

"I'd give him a solid B-plus, maybe an A-minus," Horton, creator of the P90X workout, said Thursday on CNN's New Day.

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Horton, whose workout has been adopted by Republican Reps. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Aaron Schock of Illinois, advised Obama to "breathe a little bit more." But said he was glad Obama decided to hit the gym while abroad.

"I'm just thrilled that our President shows up to Poland and ends up doing a workout for a half an hour before going to bed instead of grabbing a Scotch and a cigarette," Horton said.

Comments online ran the gamut, as some Twitter users knocked the weight of the President's dumbbells while others cheered him for staying active.

Gawker, meanwhile, published a list of Obama's biggest workout mistakes: from "wearing long pants" to not lunging far enough during his exercise. The viral website even called him out for using the elliptical machine.

Horton instead focused on the importance of the President's commitment to fitness, which he said helps keep his mind sharp.

First lady Michelle Obama has pushed Americans to get in shape and is working to end childhood obesity by encouraging kids to get active through her "Let's Move" campaign, which she launched in 2010.

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The candid video might have caught Obama off guard, but likely not unaware, former White House videographer Arun Chaudhary said.

It shows Obama calmly perusing the rack of free weights, which he used to lunge and lift and perform an intense set of curls.

"President Obama is somebody who just acts the same on and off camera and has this unique ability just to sort of not care about it," Chaudhary said. "He is very aware that everybody in that gym has a cell phone and that they're probably taking a video."

Chaudhary backed up the Secret Service's claims that Obama was safe, assuring that all hotel guests were without a doubt screened by the President's security detail.

"I think it's unusual for us to see the President working out in a gym, but as a security level it's not different than him getting pancakes at a diner in Iowa," he said.

"For me, this gym tape is almost ... no different than (White House photographer) Pete Souza's photo of the first lady and the President touching heads in the freight elevator on Inauguration Day," Chaudhary said.

The video does show a lanky Obama in a different light than his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, who has been photographed shirtless hunting, fishing and riding horseback.

"This is not him strangling a tiger on top of a horse while he's shirtless," Chaudhary said of Obama. "This is someone doing what they do in a non-glamorous way."

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