Tony Horton is the creator of the best-selling fitness series: P90X, P90X2, P90X3, Ten Minute Trainer, and 22 Minute Hard Corps. Tony is also a world-class motivational speaker and the author of “Bring It”, “Crush It!” and “The Big Picture”. He promotes healthy living through exercise and proper nutrition and believes that what you fuel your body with is as important as what goes on your body which is why he also teamed up with beauty experts at Ultimate Salon Professionals to create his new hair and skincare line, TH Care by Tony Horton.
Tony is the guy to learn from when it comes to transitioning to a healthy and successful lifestyle and mindset. His professional success can be contributed to many factors including his ability to grow utilizing multiple verticals.
What can you attribute the growth of P90X to?
Well, I think the reason P90X stuck out, above and beyond so many other things that were out there that were trying to create transformation, was that it sold the truth. Based on my, at that time, 20+ years of training celebrities and dealing with personalities and understanding what it took to actually give people what they wanted, it was a much more dynamic approach. It was bodybuilding, yoga, Pilates, core, functional, speed, bounce, range of motion and proprioceptive, and martial arts. It was really sort of learning to be a jack of all trades as opposed to master of one.
You could master something, but then you better have something else in the quiver to pull out so that you can continue to move forward and improve. I think a lot of people were struggling in general because they were expecting that just running was going to be the answer to give them what they wanted, or just Pilates, just yoga, or just bodybuilding, but it’s all about sort of longevity and quality of life and high function. That requires moving at multiple planes, using minimal equipment, doing things in the convenience of your home, just trying to piece together the perfect puzzle.
What kind of response did you receive from consumers when you first launched?
Initially, it didn’t do well. P90X wasn’t the most popular product right out of the box because people saw it. It was intimidating and it was. We have a very low success rate with P90X unfortunately, but the few people who figure it out, they finally get the boom, get the message, get the light that goes off above their head and go, “Okay, this is going to take 90 days and these workouts are close to an hour and Ab Ripper X is hard.”
It’s a skill-based athletic training system, so is P90X2, so is P90X3, but P90X3 is only 30 minutes. Everything is more condensed, right? You have to come and lighten your load a little bit.
You can’t lift this heavy because recovery times are shorter and then you look at 22 Minute Hard Corps which is the boot camp, the one that’s out now, that’s 22 minutes, but there are only two 22-second breaks in those workouts and cardio 3 has none. It’s all about variety and mixing it up. One size doesn’t fit all. Some people have the time to do P90X, others only have the time to do 22 Minute Hard Corps. You have to experiment with it.
We did do something unusual in that sense, the transformation, and that came from our customers. It came from our people who said, “Yeah, now I understand what it takes. It’s not just the diet and it’s not just exercise. it’s the combination of all those things and having tons of variety when it comes to those two categories.
Is there sometime where you can relay back in your life where transformation became ultimately your purpose, where helping others transform became a part of your purpose?
Well, a lot of the things that I needed to get to where I am today didn’t exist for me in elementary school, junior high school, high school, or even college. There are no personal development courses. There are no finance courses. There are no courses on relationships, at least that I was aware of. If I knew that was a priority and those things were offered, I would have jumped on them. A lot of that came in afterward during the summers in college where I would pick up an Andrew Weil book or a Tony Robbins cassette seminar and I would listen to these concepts, ideas, techniques, and methods that really felt very different than how I was behaving because I was the procrastinator. I was inconsistent. I didn’t have any sort of real purpose in my life. I was in survival mode, which I think a lot of people still are.
When you figure out what these techniques, these methods and methodologies are then you realize that it does require a certain set of new behaviors, which means you got to get your eight hours of sleep. You got to hydrate. You can’t get drunk all the time. You can’t be eating your Kentucky fried chicken four days a week. We just kind of go from point A to point B or moment to moment just to get through our days, so we can sit on our butts and watch our favorite TV shows, and we repeat that until we end up in a box.
I think life is so much more interesting than that. There are so many more opportunities than that. It requires a risk and it requires patience. It requires listening, falling and getting back up again several times, but when you know that’s kind of the basic formula for everybody. Some people are the A students and some are the C- students. I’m the C- student. I don’t pick things up right away. It takes me time, but I like the fact that I have a little journey there. I like the fact that it takes me years to figure out how to do a hand stand. I don’t’ mind that it takes me 15 ski camps before I can go heli-skiing. The process is the cool part.
“IT IS ABOUT PROGRESSION AND NOTICING THAT THERE’S PROGRESS IN THE COURSE OF YOUR JOURNEY, BUT NOT GETTING SO HUNG UP IN THINKING ABOUT WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE. THE PAST IS HISTORY, THE FUTURE IS A MYSTERY. IF YOU ARE PRESENT, IF YOU ARE IN THE MOMENT, IF YOU ARE PATIENT, IF YOU ARE LISTENING THEN THE WHOLE THING IS NOT GOING TO FEEL LIKE A PUNCH IN THE FACE.” – TONY HORTON
What advice do you have for people who struggle with their own problems and can’t seem to get ahead?
That’s the journey. Those are the memories. Those are the stories that you built for yourself. If you were just good at everything, I mean, what a bore. Who wants to hang out with you? “Yeah, I went up Mt. Everest. I didn’t train. I came down and I did it naked.” Okay, super. You know what I mean? Most people kind of struggle. They just struggle to get through their day, but if you eat well and exercise on a regular basis, you get to turn on the transition switch. It is sort of the buzz word, our transition is, but what it comes down to are the mentors, teachers, and coaches that can disseminate that intel in such a way that it’s absorbed.
People go, “Oh, oh. Oh, okay because before, it was just scrambled eggs in my head and it seemed so complicated and so miserable that I just figured, screw it,” but now, me, Tony and others have found ways.
Brendon Burchard is pretty good at it. Tony Robbins has been doing it for years. Oprah certainly has had a hand in it as well and there are other mentors, as you want to call us, where people can kind of show up and say. I had a speech impediment called cluttering as a kid.
It just meant that I was really insecure and talk too fast, and so all the words pile together and people make fun of me because that was different, but then you learn to slow down and build your confidence and exercise and not be so attached to the outcome, enjoy the journey, all these little simple things. If you look at my most popular phrase, “Do your best and forget the rest,” that just says everything to me.
It still does. It still resonates with me. My best is different every day. So are my workouts. I just feel like, I can feel the gym. Other days, I can’t believe I’m in the room. Woody Allen, he said, “80%, I think it was, of life is showing up” and just kind of hang out and see what happens while you’re there. I do that every day, every day.
Where does someone start when they want to transition to a successful mindset?
A lot of it is about progression and noticing that there’s progress in the course of your journey, but not getting so hung up in thinking about what needs to happen in the future. The past is history, the future is a mystery. If you are present, if you are in the moment, if you are patient, if you are listening then the whole thing is not going to feel like a punch in the face. I can only tell you how I started. This worked for me and it has worked for the millions of people that I’ve worked with through one of my programs or through my personal development courses or through my book, The Big Picture.
It comes down to body chemistry. If you’re living a toxic lifestyle, if you’re drinking too much and you’re eating garbage food, and you’re not exercising on a regular basis, you don’t have the energy and enthusiasm to create transition in your life, unless you got money, like somebody has seen your project, your ideas, or you’re one of these type A people with tons of brain power, a lot of times, people like that can kind of push through all their physical, mental, and emotional issues.
We want this thing, this process to be fun. It’s not going to be perfect and everyday isn’t going to be joyous and awesome. There are going to be some rough days where you have some decision making or you’ve got a cold, your family crazy, the traffic is nuts, or your porch fell apart in a rainstorm. Things happen in our lives but if you have the foundation, the foundation is healthy food and exercise period.
What would you advise to be a good morning routine?
You need to drink a bunch of water all the time. Get up in the morning and throw back 8, 12, or 20 ounces of water first thing in the morning. It gets everything flowing. A lot of people think they have to drink a bucket of coffee – it’s not necessary. Have some early movement, maybe walk around the neighborhood. Just a simple act of breathing and walking and move around the neighborhood, people don’t do that. They just roll out of bed. They make their cup of coffee. They sit down. They look at their phone. That does not give your brain the opportunity to sort of think about how you want to approach your day, your week, your month, your year.
A simple walk, a little jog, or keep the yoga mat spread out next to your bed so when you’re out of bed, you do 5-10-minute sun salutations. Inhale, exhale, come up the table, go down into plank chaturanga, up dog, down dog, lift your right leg, warrior one, warrior two, blah, blah, 10 minutes, you’re out of there.
The hundreds of thousands that I’ve told to do that, 2% do it and the 2% who do are just better off than the people who just get up and have a coffee in the morning. That’s all part of transition, early morning movement, drinking plenty of water, and then finding a purpose as to why you want to work out on a regular basis. Why am I doing this thing? Real results come 5-7 days a week. They don’t come three days a week. Three days a week of exercise is like throwing yourself down a set of stairs. You’re getting sore. You’re like, “That hurts but I haven’t lost the weight” because three days on means four days off. Who wins? The score is 3 to four. Who wins? Four wins. Three doesn’t win. Four days on, that’s baseline.
You do 5-6 days a week, you’re going to see results at a fast pace which is going to create enthusiasm for you to keep going.
Are you an adult eating cereal in the morning for breakfast? What are you, 9? No. Make some eggs and scramble some freaking vegetables in there and put some guacamole on top. The fact that we spend eight hours unconscious and get up and eat a simple carb breakfast and can’t figure out why we’re asleep at 3 PM, I mean, hello? That’s what transition is for me then you got to figure out what your purpose is outside of that.
Is it a good idea to have others help with accountability?
Who is in your tribe? Get your tribe. Get on the phone. Get in the email. I need a tribe. Who wants to kick some booty with me? I’m not self-motivated. Do it online. Monday night, I had 15 people here. Tuesday morning, I had two. Tonight, for cardio, I’m going to have six. If none of them ever showed up, the odds of me actually doing my own workouts decrease tremendously. And then the food thing, we are what we eat. We take care of race horses and race cars but we treat ourselves like junk. You can replace your horse and your car. This thing, this is a one shot. If you wanted it to work, I have, in reference to a statement that says, “Aging is for idiots,” that just looks good on the t-shirt.
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What can you do to help trigger another to want to follow you or be motivated by you?
The worst kind of advice to give is the kind that hasn’t been asked for in the first place because your intentions are often received with resentment. You’re trying to create a connection with somebody. You’re trying to help and improve somebody, but they are not ready, so what you end up doing is you create a relationship where they don’t like you anymore, you know what I mean? You said the magic words, you got to leave them alone.
When somebody comes to me and they say, “Hey man, I really need some help.” That takes a lot of cajones. I’m not here to save everybody who is willing to be saved. You have to gravitate to the people who are willing to work with you, but it doesn’t say that you don’t put out your programs and everything else to the world because who know, P90X, 11 years old, people are just starting it now. They weren’t ready 11 years ago but they are ready now. I never met them, spoke with them, or had any contact with them, but they finally saw their bodies or they finally got to their last straw and they pulled the trigger. You put out positive vibes.
It’s a simple example of living by example. People are like, “God, you’re 58? Holy smokes! You’re jumping off the cliffs. You’re jumping out of helicopters. You’re getting F18s.” There are things that I can do that I wouldn’t even have done in my 20s, 30s, or 40s because I’m physically fit, I’m strong, I’m healthy, I’m ambitious, and I have the energy and enthusiasm to do it, but other people, they look at me like I’m some kind of a superman. That took decades to get there.
If there are people that are struggling currently with things that are not necessarily beneficial to your body or to your mind, is there an alternative to these behaviors or is it just a mental strength to kind of carry on?
Well, I know what comment you’re talking about, short-term pleasures lead to long-term problems. Short-term struggles lead to a lifetime of happiness. That’s paraphrasing myself, but that was my case. I used to love getting high. I used to love drinking beer, doing shots. I drank and took drugs. I wasn’t a drug addict or anything and I wasn’t an alcoholic either. I just did what everybody else did. Everybody else was partying and so I partied too. The needle wasn’t moving. I wasn’t moving forward. I thought to myself, “Why am I doing these things? Why am I just running down to the corner Mexican joint and getting a triple cheese chimichanga and I’m napping for two hours later? If I’m going out on Friday, Saturday, and sometimes Sunday nights getting ripped and waking up with headaches, what is this?
“DELAY IS THE GREATEST FORM OF DENIAL. IF YOU’RE LISTENING AND WATCHING US RIGHT NOW, YOU’RE IN YOUR 20S AND 30S, DON’T LET A DECADE OR TWO GO BY BEFORE YOU GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER. JUST DO IT NOW. DO IT NOW. DO IT YESTERDAY AND THEN REPEAT. REPEAT, CREATE NEW HABITS.” – TONY HORTON
For me personally, it was common sense. Let’s begin to just cut some of the stuff out and as I began to cut those behaviors out slowly, I didn’t need to go to a specialist. I didn’t need to join AA. That wasn’t a process that I needed. Some people do, but you have to be ready to do it. As those behaviors changed, other behaviors filled in the gap and that was exercise. Not exercising three days a week and playing half-court hoop, some tennis, and some golf which were things I enjoyed but they weren’t really changing my mental and emotional state because they weren’t intense enough. As soon as I went to the gym and I was pumping some iron and taking aerobics classes, those were the early days, then my attitude changed. I thought, “Wow, this is more work”
This is a short-term struggle and then I was having more long-term, all day long, all week long just general enthusiasm for life. My advice to the average person is you got type A, you got type Q. There are totally different kinds of people. People with high pain threshold, people with low pain threshold, people with lots of time, people with no time. People who are athletic, people who are not athletic. People who have 10 lbs. to lose or 200 lbs. to lose. You cannot give this kind of advice to everybody because there is no universal truth, but I can say the only way to move the needle is to get up and drink a big old glass of water and take a walk or get up and do some kind of yoga poorly, or go find your tribe.
Do you notice that many people seem to delay on making the first move to bettering themselves?
Delay is the greatest form of denial. You hold on and then right when you got somebody, you can let go and you go over there. Well sometimes, there’s that space in the middle. It is uncomfortable but it is gorgeous because it’s like a speed course in learning how to survive, learning how to thrive, and learning how to get better, but that’s not everybody. Everybody is different, but one year, two years, three years, I mean, I’m 58. That happened in a minute. If you’re listening and watching us right now, you’re in your 20s and 30s, don’t let a decade or two go by before you get your act together. Just do it now. Do it now. Do it yesterday and then repeat. Repeat, create new habits.
Tony Robbins talks about a paradigm shift. Maybe some of you can just like smack yourself in the head and do it. Me, I’m like a snail in the mud. It’s the tortoise and the hare. I’m the freaking tortoise. The hare is going around, crazy, looks really good, but in the end, I get to live here and it’s because I worked hard and I earned it. I lived in the same apartment for 21 years with a view of a convalescent home into my late 30s. I can do it because I’m the laziest guy in the world. Anybody can.
What is next on your list of goals and what are you excited about?
We’re going to be doing online fund raising for my fun little web series called The Boardroom. It’s sort of an exaggerated version of my life where I play an aging guru and I’m all freaked out about the up and comers. Instead of becoming better, I just try to destroy them. It’s kind of like Curb Your Enthusiasm, but fitness. It has got a little bit of entourage in there too. It’s pretty silly. I was an actor back in the day and I missed that. People can come and watch us film one or they can actually be in one, or I’ll sign stuff and send it or do a phone call and wish them happy birthday.
TH Care is really awesome. We’ve got five products in our line. You can get all this at Tony Horton Life. We have a skin and hair care line. One is kind of for washing the hair and the skin. The other one is for moisturizing the face and body. I screwed up my skin so bad when I first came out to California because in Connecticut, it’s sunny like three days and then out here, it’s sunny all the time. I thought, “Well, I got nothing going on. Let’s go to the beach and be the brownest.” I was the brownest man in the world, but now my skin is heinous. Patrick Dockry, the guy who was within Joy made these really cool products for my hair and my skin. Now, we’re selling it and people love it.
Beach Body and I, we’re doing our new program. Of course, 22 Minute Hard Corps is out. The infomercial is out. Flip those channels and check it out. Five Secrets to Gaining Incredible Success by Living Large in All Areas of Your Life is the name of the course. It’s a really cool little segment. It’s free. You go to tony.growth.com/tonyopt or you to tonyhortonlife.com. That’s the website. You’ll see the link and you can sign up. I’m excited about this course. Brendon has worked with Tony Robbins, Oprah, Arianna Huffington, Usher, and Larry King, and just the opportunity to be able to work with him and build this course has been amazing.
I think it’s going to take people to that level where there’s not those fits and starts anymore. You’re just going to learn some stuff and you’re going to do that stuff, and you’re going to always feel like you’re on it. You’re going to feel like you’ve got the energy and enthusiasm to kind of just open up your world. I did that and I barely got to school. Those are the four that I’m really excited about. Anything and everything Tony Horton.
We want to thank Tony for sharing his awesome story. You can follow him at the links above.
“My advice to the average person is you got type A, you got type Q. There are totally different kinds of people. People with high pain threshold, people with low pain threshold, people with lots of time, people with no time. People who are athletic, people who are not athletic. People who have 10 lbs. to lose or 200 lbs. to lose. You cannot give this kind of advice to everybody because there is no universal truth, but I can say the only way to move the needle is to get up and drink a big old glass of water and take a walk or get up and do some kind of yoga poorly, or go find your tribe.” – Tony Horton