ALMOST AS SOON AS HE WON his congressional seat, Schock threw himself into house-hunting in D.C. While he likes music ("everything from Keith Urban to Justin Timberlake to Rihanna") and extreme sports (his mother is still mad at him for sky-diving when he was in college), his true love is real estate. He bought his first property, a plot of farmland, when he was 18; back in Peoria he now owns a cluster of apartment complexes. In D.C., however, the dream townhouse he coveted never materialized, and he settled on a one-bedroom rental in a relatively unfashionable neighborhood near Nationals Park. Still, he plans to scour the listings again in a few months, when, he says, "a lot of Republicans realize they're not getting jobs, and things are going to open up."
Schock is hoping his romantic prospects will improve too, once he settles in. He's the only one of his siblings not married with children, and is similarly an outlier among his friends. "I had a group of five or six guys, and we hung out and traveledski trips and stuff," he says. "They slowly got picked offmarried, married, married." His pals try not to dog him about his love life. "I think he's got enough pressure as it is," says Shea Ledford, a concrete worker who's been Schock's good friend since high school. Indeed, there's been enough speculation about Schock's confirmed-bachelor status that, as far back as 2004, a Chicago newspaper asked him whether he was gay (his response: "No . . . I'm not."). But D.C. receptions and fund-raisers where the other attendees are, as Schock notes, "two and three times my age" hardly make for a ripe pickup scene. Neither do the baby-kissing events back in Illinois. "There's no line of young ladies at my door every morning," he says. "Maybe when they read my Details profile . . . "
Right now, though, Schock's most immediate concern is the toll Capitol life is taking on himnot emotionally or mentally but physically. Afraid of the congressional "freshman 15," he says as we sit down for lunch, he tries to hit the House members' gym every morning. And although his six-pack abs were recently the talk of Capitol Hill after TMZ published a now-infamous picture of him in a swimsuit, he's worried; his workouts are often impeded by shoptalk and subpar equipment ("The House gym is needy," he says). It's not lost on him that his middle-aged colleagues on the elliptical trainers were young once too. "I used to be able to eat and drink whatever I wanted," he says as he deliberates over whether to order a Coke or a Diet Coke with his cheeseburger and fries. "But now, when I'm in a suit and tie all the time, sitting and being driven, you can just feel your body"he puffs out his cheeks and spreads his arms like a balloon, then lets out a sigh. "I think it's also because I'm getting older."