Heard on the Hill

Taylor: Politics and CrossFit Are Both ‘Masochistic’

Freshman Rep. Scott Taylor and former Navy SEAL does high-intensity workout almost every morning in session

Rep. Scott Taylor has been doing CrossFit since he was in the Navy. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call)

Under Paul “P90X” Ryan’s speakership, House Republicans have been doing group workouts in the morning to bond. But one member is used to an even higher-intensity exercise habit.

Rep. Scott Taylor, the only former Navy SEAL in Congress, said there are similarities between his CrossFit routine and politics.

“If you’re going to be a politician, you’ve got to be a little bit masochistic,” the Virginia Republican said. “If you want to do CrossFit, you’ve got to be a little bit masochistic. Both of them hurt. Both of them, you’re going to get pounded on.”

Working out with Rep. Scott Taylor, former Navy SEAL

When Congress is in session, he takes a class three to four times a week. He has a similar workout schedule when he’s home in Virginia.

“If I go a few days without working out, I feel bad,” the congressman said. “I feel lethargic and not good, and my staff now schedules my workout to make sure that I do it.”

CrossFit, founded in 2000, is a branded fitness regimen that features weightlifting, a lot of squats and high-intensity interval training.

“There’s a guy named … Dave Castro,” Taylor explained. “We started doing CrossFit back when I was in the Navy in Dave’s garage when we didn’t know what the hell we were doing. We were probably doing it all wrong. Now he’s like number two in the company. It’s pretty amazing.”

Castro is the current director of the CrossFit Games.

Rep. Scott Taylor, R-Va., said his staff schedules exercise into his day. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call)
Taylor, center left, here with staffer Scott Weldon, center right, at a Thursday workout, said his staff schedules exercise into his day. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call)

“I didn’t do it consistently from that time, but I’ve definitely integrated CrossFit-type workouts into my workout, and now I’m here in the Navy Yard doing CrossFit,” Taylor said.

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Taylor said it’s similar to his workout regimen with the SEALs in “duration” and “number of reps.”

A wrestler in high school, Taylor joined the Navy after graduation in 1997 and signed up for the SEALs. He completed six months of training in California and served on SEAL Team 4 in the U.S. and Latin America.

Only about 25 percent of SEAL candidates make it through what is known as Hell Week, which is considered the toughest training program in the U.S. military and occurs in the third week of SEAL training.

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Taylor re-enlisted after 9/11. He went to Baghdad as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005 and was a SEAL sniper.

He invited Heard on the Hill to join him for a CrossFit session last week. Arriving for the hourlong workout, he prepared for a day of legislating with an intense 7 a.m. class.

“Make sure you work out your mind and your body,” he said about his devotion to coming to class.

This reporter exercises a few times a week by running or cycling indoors, but had never done CrossFit. While the pace was manageable, the weightlifting portion led to stiff, sore legs for days afterward. 

Aside from this reporter and Taylor, three others attended the class with an instructor who could modify the activities for beginners.

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The session began with a 200-meter run around the building, followed by squats with bands around the knees. The middle of the class was focused on weightlifting.

Before the final — and most strenuous — segment, the instructor asked what music the group wanted to listen to. “‘All the Way Up’ — Fat Joe,” Taylor answered.

The hip-hop and rap fan told HOH in June that “Pump Pump” by Snoop Dogg was his favorite song. 

With the playlist he inspired, the class ended with 15 near-nonstop minutes of cycling, lifting and burpees.

“I feel great,” Taylor said afterward. “It’s a good workout.”

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