Barack Obama is Back!
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Fitness and Relaxation
Obama may be on vacation, but it’s not all lounging in his Kailua home or lavish dinners. Obama is one of the most-fit commanders in chief in history, reportedly working out for at least 45 minutes, 6 days a week. Also on the schedule: golf.
Susan Duprey has both seen and talked to Obama every year he’s been in town. Duprey, who was born and raised on Oahu, is the director of the Windward Choral Society (and the Kona Music Society on the Big Island); her husband, Bryan, recently retired from the Marine Corps.
The first year Obama was in office, Duprey, a self-described gym rat, happened to be pumping iron right next to the commander in chief, who, she says, was just lifting light weights. Duprey is an Iolani School alum, and sitting so close to the president from Punahou, she couldn’t pass up the chance to incite a little school rivalry. “He was putting his weights back … and so I said, “Iolani no ka oi,’” she says. “He had his iPod in and took out one of his earphones and said, ‘Excuse me?’ And I said, “Iolani no ka oi!’ He laughed and said, ‘I got nothing against ‘Iolani!’ and I said, ‘Yeah, sure,’ kind of sarcastically back to him and then we continued on [working out],” she says with a laugh.
As long as you have a military ID, says Duprey, you could be one of a lucky few to sweat it out with the president and first lady. Just leave your phone, camera and change of clothes at home. “You just go in with your workout clothes; you can’t leave stuff in the lockers,” says Duprey, adding that Secret Service agents check over everyone with a security wand before they enter. And there’s no news watching while the POTUS is getting his fitness on, she adds. While the TVs in Semper Fit usually broadcast various news stations, when the president is working out, it’s nothing but sports channels—he is on vacation. On the plus side, says Duprey, “They make the gym spic and span before he comes! It’s great for us.”
Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course
When the commander in chief is practicing his backswing at the Klipper, his schedule and safety come before everyone else’s. It’s not unusual for the course’s other patrons to have their tee times rescheduled, even if they booked weeks in advance. Local photographer John Hook went golfing with his dad during one of Obama’s winter visits and the two managed to keep their original tee time. “We were golfing two holes ahead of him [and] Secret Service would come inspect our golf cart, and [security] wand us and our bags,” he says. Hook says he was able to take photos of the president golfing, and even got to shake his hand.
Duprey, who regularly golfs at the course with her husband, has also been at the Klipper course at the same time as the president. Once, she says, they were coming down No. 7, while he was coming up hole 12. “There’s this notorious place where the ball always goes right into the trees and, of course, he hit it right into the trees,” she says. “I heard him say, ‘That was just terrible! Just terrible!’ And everyone was just looking down.”
Olomana Golf Links
In 2008, when Obama was the Democratic nominee for president, he played at Olomana Golf Club. Former Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporter Gene Park, who was not officially part of the press pool, but a “roving reporter, being somewhat undercover,” he says, was there to witness Obama’s game.
Park stood in line behind Obama at the hog dog stand. “He ordered two cans of Hawaiian Sun Passion Orange, a Powerade, three jumbo hot dogs and a turkey sandwich,” he says, adding that he left a $6 tip. The future president briefly chatted with fellow golfers and a group of visiting kids before hitting the links. Park says Obama made fun of his own golfing ability, or lack thereof. “His game was painful to watch,” says Park. It seems he’s since improved. The big question is: Do you think his friends let him win?
You’d think political journalists would get special access to Obama. Think again. Park has covered Obama’s Hawaii vacations. He was never officially part of the press pool, and he’s glad of it. “Those reporters are smashed into an SUV, and barely ever let out for air as Obama makes his rounds doing what we all know he loves doing,” he says.
Oh, the presidential motorcade. Upon first spotting his cavalcade of armored, black vehicles, there’s excitement: Maybe I’ll get a glimpse of the president! But that elation quickly turns to frustration as his motorcade routinely gums up traffic, sometimes for hours.
When the POTUS is on the island, a good portion of his time is spent at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, working out, golfing; he and the first family even frequent Pyramid Rock Beach across the airfield runway. All this activity requires a large convoy of armored cars, flanked by the military police (MPs) when he’s on base, and by HPD when he’s not. All these cars are bound to create traffic.
“They close the roads on base and they also shut down the gates,” says Tricia Prestridge, who lives on base with her husband and two sons. “If he’s getting ready to come on [base] or leave, they shut everything down.” Luckily, she was only stuck in traffic for 15 minutes one time, and 30 minutes another day. But you can get stopped even if you’re not in a car, she adds. “I also got caught in [traffic] when I was out running. The MPs came on four-wheelers and stopped everyone that was on foot on Mokapu Road leading to the back gate. It was definitely a pain in the rear.”
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