(Does this look familiar?)
By Ren McKnight and Eric Sullivan, GQ
Paul Ryan: Even if you still don't really know who Mitt Romney's VP is (besides his taste in music, his favorite books, and his tailoring preferences), you probably know that he's a fanatic for P90X. That the Wisconsin congressman does it every day, and even leads classes on the stuff.
You probably also have an idea of what P90X is: a nauseatingly tough, non-stop, hour-long barrage of exercises meant to keep your heart rate up and your muscles confused. And if you've seen that picture of Ryan with his shirt off, looking lean and mean, you know it's gotta work.
We decided to send our own soldier into the P90X trenches with Ryan, to be his long-distance battle buddy for the next 90 days -- or at least until the election. We want to be there beside him feeling the painful buildup of lactic acid. We want to feel the fear of landing flat on our face when we attempt that last diamond push-up. We want to descend to the hopeless depths of work-out hell, and there, to peer into Paul Ryan's soul.
Introducing Eric Sullivan, assistant to GQ's Editor in Chief, and your guide through P90X purgatory. Let us enter on the deep and savage road.
Dear Congressman Ryan,
You are a fitness god. Your visible abs must number more than the length of your most recent federal-budget-slashing plan (which clocks in at a Grover-Norquist-just-felt-it-move 73 pages). You likely protect your own Secret Service team from ne'er-do-wellers, jihadists, and liberals.
See, the P90X workout is destroying me. And I have no idea how you pull this workout off every morning.
I thought that I was in decent shape. Two or three visits to the gym each week, a combination of cardio and weights, shapely-ish biceps. Surely I could beat a 42-year-old congressman from Wisconsin in a battle of strength.
Now I'm pretty sure you could arm-wrestle me with your thumbnail.
Day one was all confidence. Unwrapping the plastic casing on the box set was downright easy; popping in the DVD a piece of cake. Then I began and immediately felt like I was on the wrong side in the Spanish Inquisition. Pull up after pull up, push up after push up, only the slightest of breaks, non-stop muscle-searing pain for one hour.
And then I reached Ab Ripper X.
Ab Ripper X, as you well know, is the 15-minute contortion-fest that P90X guru Tony Horton (who looks like the love child of Don Draper and Matthew Lillard) proudly states puts you through three hundred thirty nine abdominal exercises. Three hundred thirty nine. By the end, my bowels were about to slip out of my belly and onto the floor. One day down, eighty-nine to go.
The rest of the days have gone by in a blur. Arms and shoulders. Legs and back. Yoga. Even a form of martial arts known as Kempo. Thousands of wall squats, crescent lunges, calf raises, concentration curls, side kicks and punches later, all I have to say is: this better make me chiseled.
So, Paul -- can I call you Paul? -- I'm now a full week in. One-ninth of the way there. I'm learning a lot from you, and about you. I understand the intensity and focus by which you operate. I understand that the only way to move forward is to push yourself harder than the next guy, and that you are your own greatest limitation. Thanks.
Now can you please learn from us and get a few new suits that fit? Share that hard-earned physique with the citizens of this great nation -- it's the least you could do.