Lawmakers break a sweat in grueling workout
© Caroline Kelly

"Don't bust your shins," Rep. Markwayne MullinMarkwayne MullinOvernight Energy: Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel | GOP lawmakers push back on bill to make greener refrigerators, air conditioners | Green groups sue Trump over California fracking plans Republicans push back on bipartisan bill to make greener refrigerators, air conditioners Lawmakers beat Capitol Police in Congressional Football Game MORE (R-Okla.), told his fellow lawmakers Thursday morning as they did box jumps at a park on the Capitol grounds.

“I'm actually just going to laugh at ya," he warned with a chuckle.

Mullin, a former professional mixed martial arts fighter, set the tone as a dozen lawmakers and 50 staffers showed up bright and early near the Rayburn office building for a workout session.

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The event was organized by the Men’s Health Caucus, which approached Mullin to lead the session after word spread of his intense morning workouts with other lawmakers.

The Oklahoma Republican jokingly calls them his "cup of coffee."

After a brief introduction the group started with stretching exercises — but don't call it yoga.

"This isn't yoga, I don't mean to do yoga," said Mullin.

They then broke into groups led by Mullin, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Reps. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), and Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Kennedy arrived late to a snappy "Hurry up Joe, I already talked about ya," from Mullin.

The groups then rotated between stations, doing pushups, bear crawls, lunges, “suicide” sprints, and, of course, box jumps.

Also at the workout were Reps. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and Scott Peters (D-Calif.).

"The real star of the work out is Jason Smith, he's a great guy to make fun of,” Mullin said, singling out the Missouri Republican who has lost nearly 80 pounds joining Mullin for his regular grueling workouts.

Amid the friendly banter — “Our team is working way harder than your team!” Noem shot at Mullin — the whole group was soon working up a sweat.

“I think if you get your motor going, you feel like you’ve accomplished something during the day, and the things you can get done before most people wake up set your day on a good path for the rest of the day,” Mullin told The Hill. “If we’re going to be leaders, then you need to treat your body as such.”

Compared to the usual workout routine with regulars McCarthy and Kennedy, Thursday's session was larger and didn’t feature weight training at the end, Mullin said. He and McCarthy sometimes box as well.

“He can’t hit me in the face, but I can try and hit him anywhere I want,” McCarthy said. “Only one of us had to stop the fight because their nose was bleeding,” he added, motioning to Mullin.

“He’s much more of a yeller when not around mixed company, and he was easier on everybody else than he normally is on us,” Kennedy said with a laugh. “I think that he would like to think of himself as a motivator.

"It's guys and girls working out, I don't care if you have an “R” or a “D” in front of your name," Mullin said to the group before leading the last exercise, a four-minute shadow-boxing routine.

"We might disagree about the little things, but we have things in common," he added.