I have never seen a man sweat this much.
It’s 6:30 in the morning, and I’m at a small Georgetown yoga studio, stretched out on a mat next to Representative Tim Ryan. The thermostat at the front of the room reads 96 degrees Fahrenheit, and the Ohio Democrat, surrounded by a dozen other middle-aged yogis, has been holding crow pose for the past several seconds. Every time he shifts positions, perspiration runs in thin rivulets down his face and neck.
“You doing okay?” Ryan asks me at one point, with a head tilt that sends a cascade of droplets to the ground.
“I’m good!” I lie.
The congressman has already done a shoulder stand and several complicated, full-body twists, while I have spent the majority of this hot-yoga class nestled deliriously in child’s pose, my forehead pressed to the mat. Every few minutes I look longingly toward the door and consider escaping to the lobby where the air is a reasonable temperature. But then I remind myself of the advice Ryan had given me before class: “Whatever you do, don’t leave the room,” he’d warned, like a coach reminding a player that pain is just weakness leaving the body. “It’s bullshit.”
Tim Ryan is a man containing multitudes. He is, as his contortions would suggest, a dedicated practitioner of hot power yoga and a meditation evangelist, but he sells himself as a champion of the American worker, and he speaks with the plain, sometimes brusque language of his mostly blue-collar constituents. In Congress, he has endorsed tax cuts for corporations, but he also supports progressive goals such as Medicare for all. And he’s a congressional backbencher—a relatively unknown Democrat from a rapidly reddening state. But he says he’s “very much looking” at running for president.