Our guest today is P90X creator, personal trainer, author and former actor Tony Horton. Tony Horton has been at the forefront of the fitness industry for decades. He’s created revolutionary programs that have helped improve the lives of millions of people around the world, including the most successful fitness program in America, P90X. He has also trained A-list celebrities such as Tom Petty, Billy Idol, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, Ewan McGregor, and more, helping them perform at their best while touring. Tony is an ambassador for Tonal, leading home smart gym, and has created several programs rooted across fitness categories for the brand. He’s also a motivational speaker and is the best-selling author of “Bring It! Crush It!” and “The Big Picture.” Tony is the founder of Power Life, a supplement line designed to help people take their fitness to the next level. The motivation to create Power Life was born when Tony was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, a rare form of shingles that impacts the brain and causes facial paralysis and muscle weakness. In Tony’s extreme case, he was bedridden and suffered loss of balance, nausea, vomiting, had Bell’s palsy, and lost 25 lbs. of muscle mass. Power Life was created as a result of Tony working with specialists to understand how to manage his symptoms. With science-backed ingredients and cutting-edge formulas, Power Life’s portfolio of products maximizes fitness performance and optimizes wellness, allowing people to feel energized, strong, and confident every day, no matter their age or fitness level.
Listen to the episode here:
- Fitness is a Job [00:03:38]
- After 40 [00:06:20]
- Tony’s Kismet with Fitness [00:10:26]
- Tony’s Key to Fitness [00:16:08]
- To be a Movie Star [00:21:17]
- Life-changing [00:25:11]
- Muscle Confusion [00:30:37]
- Longevity [00:33:30]
- Versions of Tony [00:42:54]
- Tony’s Mindfulness Practice [00:47:09]
- Being Vegan [00:49:41]
- On Ramsey Hunt [00:51:08]
- Start Over [01:03:35]
- The Long Game [01:07:28]
- Animal Flow [01:14:27]
- Tony’s Strategy [01:16:48]
- Who Trains Tony? [01:20:24]
P90X Creator Tony Horton – Training Tom Petty & Bruce Springstein, The Work Behind P90X, Battling Ramsay Hunt & Creating ‘Power Life’
“You can be in the worst possible place in the world. For me, a decent diet and regular exercise saved my life and it still has. That’s the foundation of who I am. A lot of people who come up to me wherever I am, at the airport, the grocery store, the pharmacy, or in front of my front gate at the house, “Hi,” that’s what I hear. My life was subpar before I got ahold of something that you showed me how to do. I’m going to go on a seventeen-mile mountain biking ride in your backyard. My purpose is to help people find theirs, which is pretty cool.”
“Speed, balance, and range of motion should be the future of fitness when it comes to everything that everybody does because those are the three things, as we get older, that go. If you don’t go to a track and pick it up, run those 200s, run those 400s, and warm up for 45 minutes, those people are like, “I’m going to run fast now.” There go both hamstrings, “I’m not cut out for this.” It’s because you didn’t do the right thing before you started running fast. Run at 75% or 85% but they don’t know 75% from 110% so that’s how they get hurt. Balance is everything.
How many people do you know in their 80s and 90s? They step off the curb, they break their hip, they go to the ICU, and then you’re at their funeral two days later. Slacklines and yoga, there’s tons of it. Flexibility and range of motion. Yoga is balance, strength, mobility, and mindfulness, it’s four things at once with no shoes on a mat, it’s the perfect practice. “It’s cold outside, it’s snowing. There’s no gym around.” Get in a deck and go through your salutations.”
My guest is Tony Horton. You most likely know Tony as, I would say, probably the most well-known trainer in the world from P90X. Being someone who’s been in fitness a long time myself, I can say that it’s not that I didn’t know what to expect but I thought, “We’re going to talk about fitness.” There was so much more to the conversation because I realized that, in some ways, and it’s what it called for, Tony has to play a character to get you going out of your living room every day, get in shape, and motivate people. It’s a little bit of a character.
There haven’t been a ton of interviews, I saw a few, that got under the hood a little bit deeper of a conversation with Tony. Tony is curious, playful, vulnerable, and highly resilient. Tony shares his story of recovering from Ramsey Hunt and about starting a new venture. He and his wife, Shawna, got The Power of 4, tons of content and products.
I enjoy it when I go into an interview thinking I have biases and then reminding myself that it’s important to be in the moment, ask the questions, and discover the person for who they are and not what I think they are or who I think they are. Once again, Tony reminded me of that, his willingness, humanity, and vulnerability. If you want to see all things Tony Horton, you can go to TonyHortonLife.com. I hope you enjoy the show.
Welcome to my house, Tony. Thank you for coming.
It’s lovely and I’m thrilled to be here on this rainy day.
I want to start by saying in doing all my research, you have to be careful when you’re going to talk to somebody who you think you know who they are because then you miss everything and you only see the obvious thing. I was thinking about that because people can think, “That’s a girl who played volleyball.” If they knew more about me, there’s probably a lot more.
You could be the guy who’s like, “That’s the guy who got everybody in shape, P90, and all these things.” There’s much more. I didn’t want to get onto the obvious stuff. I listened to a lot of podcasts that you were on, some of them, you’re on those workout ones. They go, “Are you hitting it now? What are you doing shredded?” It’s funny because you come up to it and you’re like, “That’s what this guy wants,” or, “That’s what this girl wants.”
I’ll meet them where they are.
I go there so I thought, “I don’t know how I’m going to talk to Tony because I’m not so much like that.” Fitness is part of a lifestyle, which is part of a greater thing but it’s just a piece and it’s an important piece because it’s a grounding piece. It’s not like, “What workout did you do today?” It’s not that.
“Twenty sets of PLYO.” It’s funny, we had a conversation before this conversation that people will learn about. I learned more about you in the first ten minutes than I had ever known about you prior and you’re known. It was nice to have that conversation and get a sense of who you are before we even started here. The thing is when you get to know me, I still am a reluctant warrior. I don’t like to exercise typically, it’s not my thing. I do it because it provides me with the lifestyle, energy, health, and wellness that I want. I played some hoop and I played some sandlot, this, that, and the other. I wasn’t athletic growing up.
What does that mean, in your mind, not athletic? You weren’t in sports?
I went out for the football team, barely made it, and never got out on the field during a game. I didn’t make the basketball team. I didn’t make the tennis team.
You’re that perfect-size athlete guy. Sometimes you can do everything with the size and weight that you have. Maybe in a sport like a football or basketball, that’s pretty specific, maybe it’s a little harder. It doesn’t mean you weren’t athletic. I love that you’re curious about gymnastics. Who’s curious about gymnastics?
Not that many. I fell in love with the whole ninja thing. I fell in love with the pegboard thing. I was always good at pull-ups because I used to climb trees when I was a kid. I couldn’t do much but I could climb trees. I loved skiing. I wasn’t a good skier early on and then I went to fifteen different ski camps from Grand Targhee, Wyoming, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc France, or down to South America. I immersed myself in super scary stuff, heliskiing, and all of it. I was scared to death almost all the time.
Is this after 40?
It’s way after 40.
Where do you get the courage? What comes through a lot over and over is this constant curiosity that you have. After 40, you’re supposed to be good at something. Where do you say, “I’m going to go to Chamonix and go to the ski school.” I’m sure they were friendly too.
I brought friendly people with me that knew Chamonix-Mont-Blanc well. They knew that mountain and they knew how to guide that mountain. You go up that crazy tram and you’re on the top of the world where they’ve carved this lodge out in the granite rock at the top. You then have to get in a harness before you can start. There are a thousand feet to your death left and right. You look at it in pictures and videos and you go, “There’s no way I’m doing that.” I do a lot of research like you. I talk to the right people, “Tell me more about it. What do you think?” “Based on my skill level, you’re going to be fine. Let’s go, I’ll show you the way.” There was a lot of that early on.
[bctt tweet=”My purpose is to help people find theirs, which is pretty cool.”]
I did a lot of personal development from college through the present day. From Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra, Richard Carlson, and Gary Zukav. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book is the one I had to read when I was going through Ramsey Hunt, Full Catastrophe Living, and James Nestor’s book, Breath. I was never curious as a kid. Reading, writing, and arithmetic never worked out for me. There were a lot of C- and D+. I was a finicky kid. I had ADD and ADHD.
You had natural human behavior, especially for young men, and you need to be in a different environment.
Skiing was me and the elements and not me and other players. Like tennis, there was always that obstacle on the other side of the net that was kicking my butt. What was unique about skiing and rock climbing is I enjoyed doing that. I got fitter and I got away from the bodybuilding in the gym and doing 45 minutes on a bike and then 45 sets of chests at World Gym. I was like, “What am I doing here? Arnold is in the room and Lou Ferrigno is in the room, that’s what they’re doing. They’re famous. I’ll do what they do.” I didn’t enjoy it until I got on the track and I thought that was more interesting or until I got on an obstacle course and I thought that was more interesting.
You like to play.
I like to play like a kid.
You come to California to act and do comedy. You do improv and you go on tons of castings. To pay the bills, you become a trainer.
How does one, by accident, train Billy Idol, Tom Petty, and people like that?
You’ve done your research, haven’t you? You know me better than most of my friends.
I appreciate that. We don’t have to cover all that stuff already because you already know it.
We don’t need to get into that. We joke in our house I won’t say anything and then once I can do it, I’ll say, “I think I can do it.” When Laird was little, he said, “I’m going to be the best surfer in the world,” and people are like, “Shut up.” There are multiple people who can do that. My point is were you like, “I can do that,” and then you figured it out on the fly? How does one say, “I have to do a job that brings me money while I’m doing this dream.” How do you fall into that at such a high level?
There’s a lot of serendipity there and a lot of kismet going on, just luck. Before all of that, I was a handyman, a carpenter, and a go-go dancer at Chippendales, a different story.
I didn’t see that.
It’s funny because that movie is coming out. I’m watching the set and I go, “I used to stand on that box.”
Is that for real?
For real? The first summer, $37.50 an hour.
Chamonix was nothing compared to that.
The Chippendale thing?
Are you serious? I used to go dancing every Friday and Saturday night, it’s my favorite thing in the world because I was an insecure kid with a speech impediment but I could get out on the dance floor and I could pop, lock, and do all the stuff. Look at your face, it’s hilarious.
I am loving this.
I would go to these clubs and these dance contests. They’re like The Red Onion in Marina, they always had one on Friday nights. The choreographer for the Chippendales was there and she was looking for talent and she goes, “What’s your background?” I go, “Watching Soul Train on Saturday mornings,” that was my training, or Mc Hammer. I would study Mc Hammer and Michael Jackson, just watching them all on the TV. I could pick it up pretty quickly, which was weird because I couldn’t pick up anything else.
I went to this club and I don’t think I even won that dance contest. She says, “I need a go-go dancer for Chippendales. Would you want to come and do it?” I go, “Sure. What’s it pay?” “$37.50 an hour.” I’m doing mime at the pier to make $25 so I can eat for 3 or 4 days or I’m building a table made out of scrap that I could sell to a buddy for $25. It was all so random. I was the assistant assistant manager at the Oaktree men’s store for a while, just odd things.
To get to your original question, a friend of mine got a gig with Dolly Parton and I took his job as an AD over at Fox for a woman by the name of Julia Phillips. Julia Phillips and her husband, Michael Phillips, produced Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Taxi Driver with De Niro, and Sting with Robert Redford and Paul Newman. She had a bit of a reputation. I was hiding the pot, changing the light bulbs, delivering scripts, making the coffee, and doing all that stuff. The guy she worked with was a guy by the name of Harlan Goodman, who used to be in the music industry and he wanted to make movies. He’s like, “I want to go to the next level.” They never made a movie to save their lives.
I was doing standup and I was doing improv. I was with Second City LA and I was going on auditions but I was a scrawny kid with a belly. My agent said, “You got to start doing something.” I joined World Gym of all the gyms in the world because Lou and Arnold were there. I got in shape and Harlan noticed and said, “What’s going on with you?”
When I see you, your body is like, “I’m willing to be ripped.”
I’m an ectomorph so it was easier. I didn’t have to get rid of a bunch.
Did you know that about yourself?
I learned about that along the way. I got striated and vascular in the first month pretty quickly. It was all about ego and meeting girls and that. I didn’t realize I was releasing norepinephrine and dopamine and feeling better and having more energy and being more confident. That’s what came with being physically strong. I was doing it because I wanted pecs, biceps, and quads. It was stupid.
If you were also trying to maybe be an actor, you’re selling yourself.
It was part of the package. He noticed and I said, “Why don’t we go to my buddy’s garage and work out in the morning?” The guy whose garage we were going in was his ex-employee who’s now working for Dolly Parton and making four times as much money. We went into this garage and within about four months, I got Harlan in shape. He lost about 35 to 40.
Was it just, “Follow me.”
I had no idea what I was doing. I was cheating off everybody else. I was like, “This is what a bench press looks like. Here’s cardio.” I got a heavy bag and I learned a little bit about punching a heavy bag so I had him doing that for cardio. We would go run around the neighborhood or something during the cardio day. I was winging it, I had no idea.
The point was I tried to prevent him from getting hurt. I didn’t want to hurt the guy. I knew the basics of how to spot people and how to push the envelope a little bit. He lost the weight and he went back into East End Management one day. He used to be on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. There was Tom Petty walking down the hall smoking a cigarette, “Harlan, you look fantastic. I’m going on a tour in four months and I’m getting fat. What did you do?” He said, “Call Tony Horton.”
I write about this in the book. He calls me up and my roommate hangs up on him because why would Tom Petty call my house, a little tiny two-bedroom apartment in Santa Monica? He called back, “We got disconnected.” I went to his house the next day, gold records on the wall, and then in four months, I got him in the best shape of his life and he went on that tour. He was wearing vests, which he never wore. He was cutting the sleeves off his shirts. His voice was better and his stamina was better. The rest of the band was pissed off because the sets were longer and they wanted to go home.
Let me ask you a question because sometimes when people listen, they think, “Tony has a secret,” which you might. Do you think it’s the fact that you created an environment for Tom to be consistent to do something that’s the end game? That’s why you have people showing up at your house today, it’s that consistency. It’s nice to have the information and to understand real movement and mechanics. We study that big time in our house. In the end, people somehow still don’t believe that doing it will get you pretty far.
The education part is good. You want to be with somebody who knows what they’re doing. It’s about motivation and inspiration. With Tom and Billy and when I trained Bruce, I was a normal guy. I talked about other things. I wasn’t this meathead going in there and trying to beat them up. We would laugh and tell stories and hang out and I could tell when they were a little hung over and when to back off. I wasn’t like, “I don’t care. Let’s go.” If I did that, I would’ve been gone.”
Did you fire people?
There was an ABC executive.
You were like, “It was a CAA agent.”
She was a big executive and she was always on the phone. I was standing around waiting for her to get off these conference calls in the middle of the workout. One day, she had just paid me, I had everybody pay me in advance, and I was like, “Twelve workouts in advance and you have the expire on this date.” I had it all figured out eventually. We were 2 workouts into that 12 and I looked at her, I go, “I don’t care about this money. You’re such a miserable and horrible human being.” She said, “Good for you. Good luck. You owe me that money back.” I’m like, “Fine, whatever.”
Life’s too short.
Also, a lot of other clients would show up and you’d wait around 45 minutes. I don’t want to name names.
I don’t need names. I’m interested in getting people to be reminded that it is about doing a little bit of the work all the time. Laird always says, “There’s only one first day.” If we can get people through that first day. Even for you and me, when I’m making a change, flexibility is not my friend. I have an artificial knee. I have to work around it and I’m not good at it. I always remind myself, “If I’m going to change tomorrow, I have to do that first day.” Is it just intuitive? Did you have something that you thought, “I got to get these people through these first couple of days.” Did you have a strategy on that or you made it doable?
My whole thing was, “Get through this first week.” That was my thing, “Get through this first week and see how you feel, see if you still like me, and see if you still want me around. See how you feel afterward and check in with yourself every time.” If you feel completely trashed, then I didn’t do my job. If you feel a little energized and you’re a little bit sore, then things are probably working in the right direction. My whole thing is purpose, plan, and accountability. Why are you here? Tom Petty had to get in shape for a tour. Sean Connery had to get ready for a movie. Shirley McClain was fun to hang out with.
She’s my favorite.
She was amazing. That was a ride hanging out with her. I wish I had a hidden camera the whole time I was with her. Everybody was different. As a standup comic or an improv actor, you have to read the room constantly because the vibe and the energy are changing all the time. I was always pretty good at that. I was pretty good at reading the room and all of them were consistent. They weren’t all maybe training as hard as they could have on certain days but we were always looking at the long-term thing. I got Billy in crazy shape and crazy fit because he’s raw, “Let’s do it. Let’s not screw around.” I love that. I was like, “Okay, let’s go.” Bruce was the same way. I had to slow Bruce down.
Did you then at that point go, “I need more information.”
“I need more skills.”
Did you solicit?
I had to get certified.
There are a bunch of things I didn’t need.
Did you talk to other trainers or movement guys to get help?
All the time.
Mark Sisson’s Daily Apple.
I love Mark.
He sold his business to him quite well. He and others like Mark were always in my ear and I’m always reaching out to them. A lot of it, I picked up on my own. I reinvented the wheel when it came to P90X. I saw that a lot of people were getting hurt. They were getting bored and they weren’t seeing the results they wanted because they kept doing the same 1 or 2 things over and over again maybe a little bit more intense but they were dealing with those three things all the time.
I thought, “If I’m going to handle the program, let’s put martial arts, Pilates, and yoga. Let’s do weight lifting and body weight. Let’s put HIT training. Let’s put everything I’ve ever learned along the way.” I got the attention span of a nut on crack cocaine. I’m always looking all over for new things because I get bored easily. “Let’s put up a pegboard. Let’s put up another one. Let’s put up a twenty-foot rope. Let’s put up a seventeen-foot rope that goes to a pegboard, that goes to a beam, and that goes to another pull-up bar.”
What is it, the column of your house or something that’s holding up something?
Yes. It isn’t technically a piece of equipment but we turned it into one.
Now that you mentioned P90X, you’re training all these badass people. Before we get onto P90X, you had a dream to be an actor.
I wanted to be a movie star.
You did it a different way. We set out either doing what we think we’re supposed to do or we do have a dream. Maybe life goes, “We’re going to go over here now.” How did you work that out within yourself that maybe that wasn’t going to be the path?
I don’t think I had the tenacity of a Tom Cruise when it came to my career. I go out on an audition and I do the best I could. I booked a couple of commercials and a couple of movies like a ten-line spot on a TV show that nobody saw. It was frustrating. You’re not making any money that way. You’re waiting around for those royalty checks to come in the mail and you go, “$85, yay.” Celebrities had decent deep pockets and I came up with a reasonable price.
I was up at 5:00 in the morning and my first client was in the dark and I was going till 9:00 at night living on power bars. I was up and down PCH. Tom Petty used to live right down the street from you. You probably know where he used to live. Before that, he was in Woodland Hills. My morning was Culver City and then I was in Brentwood and then I was in Malibu and then I was in Hollywood. I was running around but I was making my own thing, my own time, and my own way.
I had my own business and I was making some decent money where I could afford a halfway decent car and go up to Mammoth once in a while and ski. I thought, “This is a whole lot better than acting.” I’d still go on auditions. One thing about standup was you’d work with your little crew and come up with your jokes, your punchlines, and stuff, and then you do these open mic nights. That was brutal as acting. You walk into a room and there are 45 other guys that look like you. That process is no fun.
I enjoyed helping these folks. I like watching Tom on stage. I went on tour with him for about three weeks. He was in Madison Square Garden for three nights and he was in Jersey and Long Island. I was on the bus with him and his wife and his two kids and the bodyguard. I’m like, “This is a hell of a lot cooler than driving to Hollywood and auditioning for a Pizza Hut commercial. It wasn’t even close.”
Is it hard though? I don’t want to say is it hard. I asked that because we make plans and then something else is there for us. Was it hard to be like, “That’s not going to be my path?” Were you like, “I’m going to pivot and this is what I’m doing.”
My old acting coach, Darryl Hickman, was in The Grapes of Wrath. I didn’t have a lot of mentors growing up. My dad was on the road during the week and on the weekends. I carried his golf bag. I got over it.
I met Darryl Hickman and he took a real interest in me. I’ll get weepy thinking about the man and the impact he had on me. He was a wonderful, sweet, thoughtful, and incredible human being. In one of the classes, he said, “None of you are going to make it in this business. I’m rooting for you but the odds are horrible. Find something else that you love as much because that will sustain you while you’re trying to do this. Maybe you’ll get lucky and maybe you’ll make it or maybe you won’t but at least you’ll have that thing to fall back on.” The training thing was an accident. I was pretty good at making tables and go-go dancing but I didn’t think there was much future in either one of those. I thought, “This is going to be a thing.” People kept knocking on my door. when I got Tom in shape, Billy called me because he had heard.
[bctt tweet=”The education part is good. You want to be with somebody who knows what they’re doing. It’s about motivation and inspiration.”]
You’re safe. You’re already been vetted too. It’s like, “He must be good if Tom Petty is working out with him and his personality and everything else.” P90X, Beachbody, that was life-changing.
For a lot of folks, it’s like, “Who the hell is this guy?” There I am, everywhere. It’s interesting, one of the personal development books I was reading could have been a Gary Zukav or Richard Carlson book but there was a little lesson at the end of the book and it said, “Go out of your way and do something.” This particular one was like, “Today, I want you to go out of your way and do something extraordinary, wonderful, loving, and caring for someone that you’re in conflict with. Not a sibling, not your parents, or not somebody that you love, somebody who you think doesn’t like you.” I was like, “Holy crap.”
Did you go to the gym?
No. I used to play basketball with a bunch of lawyers on Saturdays. I was only there because one of the lawyers invited me to play and I was halfway decent at it but not great at it. There’s this one guy by the name of Ben Vandebunt. Do you know Ben?
I do. Guthy Renker’s brother, the lawyer.
Bill Guthy or Greg Rankerm, which one of those two maybe?
I know both of them. Isn’t he the lawyer?
His brother works for the company.
He’s a brute.
Ben Vandebunt changed my life forever.
When I say brute, I also mean that complimentary. He’s a tough guy.
He doesn’t mess around. He is top of his class at UCLA and top of his class at Harvard. The president of Guthy Renker became the CEO. He ran that place. Bill and Greg needed him. He was one of the lawyers. Ben and I did not get along because I was a smart mouth. I was not a serious person and he was. Between games, we were on the same team, we happened to win that game. You pick teams at the beginning.
He was talking to his lawyer buddies and I was hanging out by myself staring at the floor, “I can’t believe I’m here. These guys are rich and they have families and houses and I live in a box.” I heard him complaining about his weight and I thought, “Go out of your way.” I’m going to offer a workout to the guy. I said, “I heard you talking to David and Tom and Allen over here. I train people.” He goes, “I know. Don’t you train Petty?”
I had a reputation at that point. I said, “Yeah.” He goes, “I need it. I would love to.” I was like, “What?” I had a spot that opened up at 8:00 in the morning and he showed up in my little crappy two-bedroom apartment. I trained him for a year, three days a week, and he lost some weight. He hired this guy by the name of Carl Daikeler at the end of that year out of Philly. Carl and I, in those days, hit it off. He was hilarious, funny, ambitious, and a maniac.
We went to Deer Valley for a four-day trip, me and three others, and we pretended we were German the whole time. Everybody was like, “Have you met the Germans? They’re fantastic.” I was Dita and he was Gunta. It was fantastic. That was who he was, he was like, “Let’s do that.” We made all these crazy friends. In the end, we go, “By the way, we’re not Germans.” Some were pissed off and some thought it was funny.
A year into his career over there, he said, “I want to do a thing. Tony is goofy and funny. Look what he’s done for us and all these celebrities. Let’s see if we can build that into something for an infomercial.” Carl was doing infomercials for Bill and Greg that he didn’t want to do about the stuff that was like pantyhose don’t run and stuff. We did this thing called Great Body Guaranteed. He paid me a couple of grand, which was a pretty good gig for me. I’ll take the $2,000. We ran out of money and had to shoot it on the beach with no permits.
Investors noticed because infomercials don’t work. Most of them come and go, “See you later.” People with deep pockets will screw that up. We did Power 90 and I had my royalty deal. I had an attorney and I got out of debt with a few royalty checks. I went and bought a nice home in Santa Monica in Santa Nella, a little four-bedroom joint with a view of the mountains. I got myself a Mercedes-Benz like Janice Joplin. It was a complete turnaround. All that happened within about a year and a half. It was a twenty-year run.
You’re playful. Was there any time that you felt like you had pressure around this as it became a real thing?
All the standup, all the improv, and all the acting classes built that thicker skin. I was ready to rock. In Power 90, I was pretty straight, “Hi, everybody. Tony Horton here, excited. Here we go. We’re going to do some pushups, sit-ups, and crunches. You’re going to love this. Here we go.” In P90x, Carl said, “Do your thing.”
“If you go too far, we’ll say cut.” I went off doing silly jokes, impressions, and whatever I wanted to do like I would do with my friends when I was working out at my house, and it worked. There were a lot of things, it was the variety, we called it Muscle Confusion, which was a made-up term like the things we talked about earlier.
I have people that will do things around social media, the person who helps with the start of social media and then I look at all the wording and I’ll go back in and rewrite everything, they’ll be like, “Muscle confusion is important.” I’m like, “That’s not a real thing.” Do you know the dancing one? Tracy Austin?
I saw commercials like, “Muscle confusion.” I’m like, “There it is again.” That’s amazing. Good for you.
Jacqueline had something called periodization training, which was a thing that he probably pulled from his butt. We were trying to sell this thing and part of it came from it because Billy used to call me Muscle Confucius. You can’t even have fun anymore doing impressions of anybody.
I told Carl that and he goes, “Let’s call it Muscle Confusion because you’re doing cardio one day and then weightlifting and then martial arts.” I was watching Colbert when it comes up and then a week before that, he used P90X as one of his punchlines and one of his jokes in his monologue. The thing is ancient. It’s part of the lexicon now.
I want to say too though, you had workouts and you did do all these different things. Even though you had 2 and 3, I know 2 was hard so you backed off a little on 3.
I had to make 3 to make up for 2.
You were graduating through 2.
Division 3 going to division 1. People who never made the Marine Corps were kicking ass in the Marine Corps. Players who sat on the bench we’re now starting, that’s what X2 did for people.
We can joke all we want about it but there was a lot of work and there was a lot of content and there was a place to go to for people. At the end of the day, that’s got to feel good. At the end of the day, it wasn’t all sizzle and no steak. People had to do some work and they did. You joke about maybe there are some moves you would take out.
There are about 5 or 6 in P90X.
It’s pretty good. How many moves are in the whole thing?
Do you want to say what those moves are or do you want to leave it?
One of them is Dive Bomber Pushups, not bad for probably 35% of most people’s shoulders.
Certain exercises are only for a certain amount of people. It’s like an overhead squat. A few people can do that correctly.
They don’t have ankle or hip mobility. Their shoulders are tight. That can go south quickly.
Let’s talk about longevity. We’re all middle-aged. You’re fit, mobile, active, and doing all these things. You have a new program, The Power of 4, let’s talk about that. If people want to learn everything about you, they can go to Tony Horton Life. You have products there, Power Life. You’re working with Tonal. You’ve moved on and I know your wife is also involved with The Power of 4, helping develop that program. Is that right?
I developed and she’s helping with the business part of it.
By the way, no offense, it’s more important.
Once they buy it, it can’t suck.
Do you know how we joke that you could have the best thing in the world and nobody gets it? It’s like, “Great.”
I’m with you on that.
Let her deal with the emails. We’re still trying to figure that out, by the way, because it’s a mom-and-pop thing, it’s the two of us. We got five employees.
That’s a lot, by the way.
I know because I write those checks. You want good people and so good people cost money. We started on a lark during COVID. People are knocking on my door, “What are we going to do now? I’m stuck at home.” I started doing live workouts on my laptop in my gym on Instagram and Facebook. I thought, “Why don’t we shoot some of these things?” We brought some friends over.
At that point, we didn’t whether COVID was the Black Plague or what. We’re all masked. 30% of your fan base, you’re the antichrist and the other 70% is like, “I appreciate it. I can’t hear half the stuff you’re saying. Your lighting and your filming are terrible.” That’s a lesson learned. We had to do what we had to do.
Here it is over three years later. We had Beta 1, Beta 2, and Beta 3. We had beta 2 and 3 extended in extra months. Dozens and dozens of routines kept being developed and filmed. There’s more content. I’ve learned a lot more since the Beachbody days. Mindfulness is part of The Power of 4, which I never did before. That was never part of anything.
What surprised you about doing your own thing hard and easy? What surprised you about this?
We got one of them hard. It’s not easy. Hard and all mine. I like the fact that it’s all mine. I get to sequence things the way they want. I get to call them what I want. I came up with new concepts that I always wanted to do over at Beachbody that they didn’t want to do like something called stop options, “The workout is 50 minutes long, you get to stop here, and you get to stop here. You don’t have to do the whole thing.”
Usually, the 50 minutes before you even start is too intimidating, “I’m out.” “I get to stop at the 20 and 40-minute mark if I want to and fast forward to the cool down. I’m in. I can do that.” Most people who got to the twenty-minute first stop option went to the second one and quite often finished. It’s giving people tools to succeed and maybe at their own pace. In the old days, everybody was a supermodel, everybody was super jacked, fit, amazing, and looked perfect. They never sweat. You put that VHS in the player and go, “This is too intimidating. I can’t do that.” That’s what P90X was.
We had modifiers. We had somebody who was killing it on one side of the stage and somebody who was taking it easy. That was partly why it did well. We took that and blew that up. We made it about diet. We made it about food. We made it about supplementation, which is important if you’re pushing the envelope. We also taught people how to chill, “Let’s sit and lotus and breathe. Let’s lay on our backs and I’ll cue you through a body scan meditation.” Many people appreciate the mindfulness aspect because that helped them be more consistent. Everything wasn’t an ass-kicking every day.
You can’t be hammered every day, your body can’t take it. You’re somebody who is energetic and has a busy mind.
We joke in yoga, I’d rather do a breathing practice because it’s almost like a directed meditation. It’s something to do. I’m an idiot, I admit that in this way.
I will help you get there.
In my stillness, I need to have my brain on to something so breathing has been good. It’s the notion of being.
Present while breathing.
I can do that. When you talked about laying on your back and you’ll guide them through a scan, are you able to do that now?
Yeah. I’m a crisis meditator, I’ve been told.
You’re talking my language.
I meditate when I need it. I don’t have regular practice except for when I get up in the morning. My morning practice is under five minutes and I do it lying in bed. I get up and I say, “I feel like I have been hit by a truck. When did Mike Tyson come into my house and beat me?” That’s probably from training too hard. I have a ton of energy and I feel good and everything’s working, I want to go. There’s a price that you pay at 64. There’s the infrared sauna, I don’t get in. There’s the ice-cold bath, I don’t do it. I don’t make the time for that as much.
Is it because it’s there? Have you ever noticed that? If I make appointments to go utilize some piece of equipment that I don’t have, I make the appointment. If it’s downstairs, I do use it though. We have saunas and ice. Laird is the most diligent. It’s interesting how if we know what we’re supposed to do, whatever we need to be using is there. What is that? Is it that we take it for granted? Why is it that you think we don’t use it?
Anybody in our industry knows that you should have a regular rehab mindfulness practice.
Go for a walk for God’s sake. I’m pretty limber, to begin with. The first time I went to yoga class, the downward dog was a bit for me and I was in a flop sweat, like, “Holy smokes.” By the 3rd or 4th class, it’s like, “Ahh.” The whole flow thing. I don’t usually like yoga when I first start. The first 10 to 15 minutes are pretty brutal. I’ll then get into that vibe. I did PLYO, I went hardcore with PLYO.
You have a softbox.
This is all flat-ground stuff so it’s a lot of flying up and spinning, a lot of spinning, and a lot of plyometric lunges. Fridays, in the afternoon, are more softbox stuff. I rotate between yoga and a thing called balls and boxes, which is all ribcage. It’s stuff on Fridays, which I made up.
I ask this because this is a selfish and personal question. It’s interesting when you have been known for something and then you’re willing to move on from that and do new things and different things. Sometimes when you go out into the world, people want to keep you frozen in time as this person. I’ll give you my versions and I can assume what some of your versions are. People will say to me, “Do you still play volleyball?” I’m like, “I’m 52. I have three daughters and businesses. I’m trying to stay in shape. I don’t have time to practice to make volleyball fun enough.” “You still look pretty good.” Have you ever got that one?
52 is not even close but yeah.
Here’s the point for me, I learned that’s not about me, that’s about someone and a snapshot of someone else. When I was getting ready to talk to you, I thought, “Tony not only means a lot to a lot of people.” You’ve been in their home and on their tv. You’ve helped them on good days and bad days. It’s that more intimate thing that is not your situation, it’s theirs.
Now, you’re moving through the world. You’re married, it took you long enough. They say that misery is for everybody, I’m kidding. You’re married, you’re doing your own programs, you’ve learned things, and you’ve gone through some things. You’re also a different Tony. How do you go through life? People experience this on all different levels, the expectation of who you should be, and then, you, creating the freedom for yourself on who you are and who you’re trying to be. How do you do that?
That’s a good one, I’m going to have to think about that.
It’s the permission. My relationship with Laird gives me a lot of confidence where I can air out these thoughts. Also, it gives me the space from this narrative to say, Yes, I’m going to go into the world as who I am today and also who I’m trying to be.” How do you get that space from that? It can be a little bit of a mind game for people like old athletes, “I was a CEO,” or, “I was a beauty queen.” Whatever it is, we get stuck and we’re afraid to say, “Cool but I am this now.” Especially publicly, you have a public thing. How do you go, “I’m going to move into, ‘This is Tony today.’”
I’m going to partially steal your answer. Shawna is a huge part of helping me make those decisions now. There was never any woman in my life prior to Shawna who I would trust with anything in my life. You’re in your little world and I’m in mine. We’re in love or we thought we were whatever prior to Shawna. I’ll support you in whatever you want to do. I will never say no. If you want to try something, I’m all in. Don’t even begin to try to help me do anything because I got all these things figured out. I got the right people.
With Beachbody, it was this big old company, “What do you want me to do? How much time do I have to rehearse?” I show up on the set, hit my mark, and then you guys can edit it, add music, and I’ll sit and wait for the checks. It was a pretty nice wave that took twenty years to come to shore. All that went away. I had a manager for a while that I trusted for a while and then I didn’t, long story. I had my manager and lawyer, I had two smart people who helped me transition.
Was the manager a woman?
It was a dude. It didn’t work out. Things happen. with Shawna, she runs the whole show now. I trust her with everything, all of it. She got tremendous instincts, she works hard, and she loves me so she wants it to work out. We want the ranch in Wyoming. We could probably have that now if we sold both houses. We’re going to keep on working. COVID was a little hiccup and leaving Beachbody was a hiccup but we didn’t have to sell either one of the houses. It’s not always easy month to month. You come to my house and go, “This guy is done.” No, I’m not done. I’m working hard and got three jobs.
You’re an entrepreneur and you are an independent contractor. It’s a different thing.
The other half of that answer though is surrounding myself with smart people, and these are my pals, “What do you think about this? What do you think of that?” I’m always asking questions. I’m super inquisitive because I don’t assume that I have the answers. When I’m confronted with the issue of the problem or the conflict, I can’t sit here and go, “The answer is…” I got to reach out and do a little inventory, “What do you think?” These are people that I trust along with Shawna.
I get a collective answer and then I start moving in that direction. Maybe I might start moving that way and it doesn’t work out but I’m resilient, I can ping pong off of that and go to something else. I have 23 failed businesses, mouthguards, watches, insoles, and TV pilots. Every one of them took a lawyer to make the deal. $100 bills were flying out of my butt. What do you do, quit? No, you keep going.
That’s the only way to have success. we have graveyards of businesses that didn’t work. Laird is still surfing on the quest and he’ll look at me and say, “You start to become a little more sensitive to time as you live a little longer.” You start thinking, “Am I going to have the time still to do this thing that I’m trying to do?”
Both the business that you’re in and I’m in, time is part of that. You’re supposed to show up and look a certain way and be a certain way. This is my own curiosity, is it that you are defining it for yourself? You liberate yourself from, “This is only a 30, 40, or 50-year-old’s game and I’m going to show up and be the best version of who I am in this moment. This is what it is.” Does it ever mess with you, the time thing?
[bctt tweet=”I’ll support you in whatever you want to do. I will never say no. If you want to try something, I’m all in.”]
At times. I have more intel about how to improve the quality of my life as I get older than I had even months ago.
Like what? Can you share?
The mindfulness practice that I have now. I crank tunes in the house, that’s one. I read a book, that’s another one. I go in the yard at night forking around in the dirt and planting cactus, that’s another one, or go for a walk in my neighborhood just to go do that. Before, it was to hunker down and stress out. That’s how I ended up with Ramsey Hunt syndrome. I ended up with Ramsey Hunt syndrome because three things were happening that were unexpected. I was under tons of stress and I wasn’t managing it. That’s one thing. I don’t drink alcohol, I haven’t had it in over 25 years. It does not serve me and never did. Look at who I am now, can you imagine me with 4 or 5 cocktails?
I’ll be flying around on the ping pong table in a jockstrap and a top hat.
You have the moves though at least.
Thank you. All those things, the mindfulness practice. I have my own supplement line because I wanted to help develop things that were going to help me. It turns out that those other people in the world have the same issues that I had.We talked about Mike Wiegele, who passed away in his late 80s. He was still heliskiing at that point and he wasn’t working out. He was going purely on genetics and beautiful glasses of wine.
For me, it’s sleep quality. I’m a mouth taper. Without James Nester, I’ve never would’ve known. Forget having a conversation with my wife after that’s done. All I need is a mouth guard and an eye patch and I look like a mummy but it’s helped me tremendously. It helped the snowing go away completely. I sleep better, it’s amazing. I have more energy now.
I got off of certain foods. I got tons of blood work done and 38 pages of what I can and cannot eat. I was off of wheat, soy, corn, dairy, cashew, sesame seeds, tomatoes, and onions. I went for it because I was having knee and shoulder pain. Should I have more massage? Should I foam roll? Should I get an infrared sauna? No. It’s the inflammation caused by the food. I had a leaky gut. I had a leaky brain. Who knew what those things were?
It usually comes as a result of a leaky gut.
I’ve talked to a lot of people.
You’ve never heard the expression leaky brain.
Maybe Laird has called me that once or twice but I don’t know.
It’s synovial fluid and it’s where it’s not supposed to be. When I changed my diet, my knees don’t hurt anymore.
Are you ve are you vegan or vegetarian?
Vegan, full-blown. If I’m in Jackson Hole, there are some wilds on the menu and they’re medium rare, I’m going to those. If there’s wild salmon, I’m going to have it. I’m not pious about it.
That’s the right attitude because you’re eating it then the right way. How do you feel when you haven’t had wild elk for a while and then you get one of those medallions?
I feel okay. I feel all right. Shawna is an amazing cook. I ordered a vegan gluten-free crust Fresh Brothers Pizza. My wife goes, “How do you ruin a perfectly good pizza?” She had the crust and she goes, “This crust is amazing.” “Don’t knock it till you drop it.” For me, food is a pit stop, 9 times out of 10, unless I’m out with friends and there’s something special on the menu. That way, because it’s rare, I enjoy it more. I’m on the road and I got a long thing, I’ll have a Snickers bar, and I’ll go off the rails.
It never is as fun as it used to be though, isn’t it?
I got halfway through the last time I went, “This is a candy cane,” and I threw it out.
Let’s talk about the Ramsey Hunt for a second. You had a perfect storm of things happen, maybe a friend passes away, and some other things happen. Does it come on slowly? How does that show up for you?
The Beachbody thing was coming apart. I’m like, “This is over. I’m going to have to go be an adult now and figure this stuff out on my own.” Tom dies and then the Vegas shooting. It all happened within a three-day period of time. I was holding a PLYO session. I could tell how I was being affected because I had a bunch of people at the house.
On Wednesday nights, I have as many as 25 people in my house. One night, it was cold and rainy and I had only ten, which is amazing that the ten showed up. It’s an intense routine. Right now, sitting here, it’s going to be hard to stand up but I love it because it helps me ski. I don’t know why these maniacs show up, they’re all masochists. I had the group over here right after all that was going on and I was yelling at them, “I invite you to my house and you’re sitting here and you’re gabbing and you’re not doing it. You got to get lower and you got to get higher.” They looked at me like, “Whoa.”
Two days later, I had a massive headache on the right side of my head and I thought, “I don’t get headaches. I used to as a kid but not anymore.” I had this burning thing in my ear the next day and Shawna says, “Your ear is all rashed out.” If I had gone to the hospital and I had taken the meds, I could have missed out on about four and a half years of hell but I didn’t know what it was. It was an entire week that went by.
What year was this?
October 2017. I thought I had a stroke at that point.
Did you think you were going to muscle through it?
Yeah. It’s just a rash, who knows what it is? Probably some allergy or something. At that point, the herpes zoster, which is what shingles are, was full-blown in my ear. Right there, you’ve got the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th facial nerves, which are taste, smell, balance, and vision. It’s the sixth one that’s vision. My vision was funky, not bad, but my balance is gone.
Everything that I ate tasted like rubber bands. Constantly, I’m going to Shawna, “Who’s smoking cigarettes?” The balance thing was the worst part. It’s not like vertigo, which is this. It feels like Parkinson’s inside your brain. I’m shaking and I’d stand up and throw up. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t walk, and couldn’t drive.
Every time I had to go to physical therapy or the otorhinolaryngologist, or the ear, nose, and throat guy, it was like climbing Everest, “Get my clothes on and get me in the car.” I would walk on the sidewalk between the car and the appointment and I’d vomit twice before I got in the door. It went on for weeks and months. Justin Bieber apparently is still struggling with it now so he made it famous.
You’re known and you use your body to make your living to be fit and to be the picture of health and vitality. You finally get married in 2015 and you’re over two years into your marriage and over ten years into your relationship. Now you’re having transitions in work and someone important to you passes away. Are you scared? Are you defeated? Is it like, “I have to survive.” Is it all stuff is peeled away and now it’s only about survival? What’s happening in your heart and your mind?
It’s about survival and I’m scared. About a week and a half into it, I got Bell’s Palsy so now I look like the Crypt Keeper. The whole right side of my face, eye open, mouth down, and cheek hanging. It’s non-functioning on the right side. With a lot of people who get Ramsay Hunt syndrome, that never goes away. That’s permanent.
Do you think it’s your foundation in fitness, probably?
That’s what I assume. Every time, I tried anything if I had an ounce of energy. When I got past the first three months, nothing for the first three months. I slept, I sipped out of a straw, I would have puffed rice, and I’d throw it up almost every time. I couldn’t keep anything down. I wept. I put my head in my wife’s lap and I wept because I look in the mirror and go, “You’re done. Everything you’ve ever done up to here is done. Sell the house. Sell the other house. Become a recluse. You’re done.”
Vomiting all the time gets a little old. It’s not a good feeling at all. Also, tremendous sadness and depression came with that. All the meds and all the king’s horses couldn’t put me back together. There were little bits of light here and there as I got into the fourth month when I wasn’t as sick. I could get down some cereal or I could walk on my treadmill for three minutes. When I walked on the treadmill, I had to go sit down for two hours. It was crazy. It was hard.
What about your wife? In a way, you’re there to support somebody but you can’t go through it for them. You’re suffering alone. What are the ways that she’s showing up for you that also you think, “There is someone.” A lot of times, people are in situations like, “What is the best way to support somebody? What is the thing? What’s the way to be to support somebody?”
I don’t want to sugarcoat it, it was hard for her. I’d been sick before. We went to Italy and I screwed up the whole Rome part of the trip because I was sick for the first three days. We were supposed to be seeing the Colosseum and going to see art and everything else. She held my head, I was vomiting and it was coming out of both ends, it was brutal. That’s a three-day thing. You get into the first month.
“Is this the new normal?”
It’s like somebody who’s got terminal cancer or something. Everything you ever did, all the fun you ever had, all your patterns, and all the laughs, the laughter is gone. There’s zero laughter. Our whole relationship is based on humor, it’s a big part of who we are. She’s a bit of a wordsmith. That was gone and I was this sad and weepy dude.
After the first month, I could tell that it was getting hard for her. I wanted my mommy. She couldn’t be my mommy all the time. I was on my own a little bit. She fed me and she got me to those appointments and she did everything that she could. She had a life too. She had to keep things going for us. Wherever we were making money, she had to keep an eye on that. Honestly, our relationship is better now as a result, better than ever.
You say to me, “I trust her with everything.” I remember one time I was probably crying by the garbage cans about parenting. You think you’re a failure. Lair drove in and he was like, “What are you doing?” I didn’t have the best example of parenting so I’m unsure. Even if you have a great one, you’re still unsure. I’m like, “Am I too tough? Am I not tough enough?” He goes, “You’re here and you love them.” Maybe when you’re going through it, the fact that maybe she couldn’t be your mommy but you’re there.
She loved me.
If we can pull that off, it’s pretty freaking good. People don’t realize the power of showing up. Be there. It doesn’t have to be like, “I love you.” It’s like, “I’m here.”
I had spent a lifetime going from an insecure and scaredy-cat little kid. All the personal development, they open up the doors, every time I did something, unlike Laird, I was scared to death to do it but I thought, “Who the hell am I if I don’t try?” It’s like anything else in life, the more you do, the better you get. In 2022, I was in Targhee in December. Three days a week, I was hammering my legs one way or the other, a lot of heart, lung, and leg stuff.
There’s this one run where I used to stop twice before the chair lift. There’s this place that I stop and I look up at my friends and we all stop and we chat, “Who wants to go again?” On this one day, it was a big powder day, early season, and it was rare. Eileen and Allison said, “Look at that, it’s untouched. Go.” I go, “You gals are kind. Thank you.” I went and I saw that first spot. I went, “Eff it. I feel good.” I saw the second spot and then I saw the chair way down there and I went all the way to the bottom and I landed there and they were two little dots at the top. I stood there and I went, “You’re 63.”
The point I’m trying to make is you can be in the worst possible place in the world. For me, a decent diet and regular exercise saved my life and it still has. That’s the foundation of who I am. A lot of people who come up to me wherever I am, at the airport, the grocery store, the pharmacy, or in front of my front gate at the house, “Hi,” that’s what I hear. My life was subpar before I got ahold of something that you showed me how to do. Now I’m going to go on a seventeen-mile mountain biking ride in your backyard. My purpose is to help people find theirs, which is pretty cool. It’s better than go-go dancing at Chippendales.
That’s pretty cool. The interesting thing is you say you were scared. In a way, you’ve gone and survived and now thrived at something that would be the thing to be the most scared about and you survived it. You have these mindful practices so maybe there’s a thoughtfulness about your life that’s different. You are probably a lot less scared. When you face something like that?
Am I going to get out in the water with Laird? Probably not.
I used to watch old Warren Miller movies. He would travel the country and he had this movie. The Egan Brothers and all these casts that were jumping off cliffs at Targhee and Chamonix and down in Nevado South America, these are the casts I ski with now. I used to watch them. I’d go, “These are superheroes leaping off of 30 or 40 feet. I jumped off a 35-foot cliff in Blue River, I fell off.
It doesn’t matter.
I rolled up this thing and I landed. Gravity is fast. I landed it, 40-degree pitches. 5,000 feet of almost vertical runs, things that used to scare the hell out of me. I’m sure there are some areas, I can probably name about twenty, where I think, “I don’t know if I’m ready for that or not.”
Laird always says that that’s a sign of intelligence. People go, “Are you scared?” He’s like, “That shows that you’re intelligent.” He’s asked all the time, “Are you scared?” He goes, “Maybe I’m the most scared.” He goes, “The thing about fear though can make you more alert and more concise.” He goes, “It can be a positive tool if you use it that way.” When people are like, “I’m not afraid,” maybe that’s not so smart.
A lot of people die that way.
It just to be alert, you’re being in these dangerous situations. You’re a great example of longevity. We’ll finish on the Ramsey Hunt, a little bit of light, and a couple of years. I would liken it to people who have been sitting on the couch for their whole lives. You, in a way, had to start over.
I was forced to the couch. I was in the condition of somebody who’s been on a couch for 2 or 3 years.
You had the body of evidence in your psyche to go, “I have trained. I know what it feels like. I know what suffering is.”
I know what to do once this thing normalizes.
When you have to get off that couch for those first days, let’s say it’s like people who are doing it, what are you telling yourself?
I remember the first time, I thought, “Okay.” I was with a master sergeant in Hawaii and he wanted to have a pull-up contest. He was a badass, he never lost a contest according to all his troops. You’re glad he’s on your side. He was the son of a gun. I said, “You go first.” He did 37 and I did 38. I’m pretty good at pullups and pushups. When I finally got into my gym, I got twelve pushups.
That’s a lot. It’s not Tony Horton level.
7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12, it was like I had an elephant on my back. I cranked out maybe seven pull-ups. That’s a pretty good base. When I was in that situation, here’s the first thought in my head, “This is going to be fun to see this get better.” I know what 38 looks like. I know what doing 110 pushups in a row looks like. It’s not that I can d do either one of those now. I know there’s room for improvement and I know exactly what I need to do. I’m going to track this thing and I’m going to show up every day and it’ll be fun to see. For some people, under those conditions, “That’s it. It’s too hard. I don’t want to go through this again.”
You’re saying something important that people need, it’s worth taking a moment. When you’re starting from the bottom, the growth is so exponential. When you get good at stuff, the growth is tiny and small increments. You’re saying it’s going to be fun to watch the improvement. That’s exactly the right spirit because you can get so much better. There’s so much room. Longevity, you have your practice and your training.
You do all these different things from Pilates, yoga, banging iron, plyometrics, and it goes on and on. Do you have any fun things? People always want to know about hacks. I always say hacks only work if you’re doing the real work. You’ve dialed in your food. What was the test that told you all the things that maybe you should or shouldn’t? Do you remember? Was it an extensive blood panel?
I can’t remember the name of it.
Fair enough. That was part of recovering from the Ramsey Hunt?
Yes. Getting getting my leaky gut and brain and getting my digestive system working properly and getting the inflammation down not only in my digestive system but all my organs and in my joints and everywhere else. According to the two experts that I still work with today, it’s what’s going in your mouth every single day every single meal that has a lot to do with that.
You train hard or you get injured or you overstrain. You’re going through a ninja course and you should have come down. You’re reaching for that last obstacle, that’s where you get hurt as well. There’s information injury that comes from that. That’s where all the mindfulness comes from and all the active recovery.
Do you call it sometimes? you met Luca, he’s here, and he’s a big wave rider from Maverick, he’s 20. Laird will watch him and be like, “He’s going to learn that lesson.” You also watch as people get mature. It’s like, “I don’t need to show you with 1 extra rep or 10 extra pounds that I’m a badass.” Is there a part of restraint and maturity that’s also part of the story of protecting the long game?
Absolutely. For me, my body tells me exactly what I can do the moment I’m in the middle of doing whatever I’m doing. We have one move on a pegboard in an I-beam in our gym so there’s no place for your feet to do it with, it’s all arms, and it’s all moving across the I-beam. We have what’s called all the holes, that’s the move.
[bctt tweet=”Anybody in our industry knows that you should have a regular rehab mindfulness practice.”]
You have to go all across the bottom. They have to go to the second row and then you have to go to the top row. If you want to come back, you can’t. There’s that goal of, “I want to at least get across all three.” There are times when I think, “I’m done.” I can feel the strain in my elbow. I can feel what’s happening on my shoulder. It’s time to come down. Take your ego out of it. There are little hacks on how to adjust your body.
You can shake out an arm. Jesse Graff, who’s an American Ninja Warrior superstar, I’ve learned so much from her on how I can keep going on a particular obstacle. If you raise up one knee and torque your body and readjust your muscles, you can readjust your muscles in the middle.
Offload the muscle for a second.
Give it a little break. I can fingertip pull up. Other people will get their fingers stuck on something and they try to muscle it. What I do is I give my fingers a break so I can do it like this all day long by adjusting my fingers. I tell them, “Don’t give it the death grip because you’re running out of energy. Give them a break in between 2 or 3 reps.”
Some people pick it up and some people don’t. The hack that you’re asking, speed, balance, and range of motion. That should be the future of fitness when it comes to everything that everybody does. Those are the three things, as we get older, that go. If you don’t go to a track and pick it up, run those 200s or run those 400s, and warm up for 45 minutes. Those people are like, “I’m going to run fast now.” There go both hamstrings, “I’m not cut out for this.” It’s because you didn’t do the right thing before you started running fast. Run it 75% or 85% but they don’t know 75% from 110% so that’s how they get hurt.
They don’t have a gauge.
Martial arts is all about twisting, turning, jab, cross, hook, uppercut, and sprawl. It’s having your body move that way. Dance is a great one. Turn up the music and frigging dance like nobody’s watching and it’s 1979. My wife and I, during the pandemic, had dance-off Fridays. Facebook shut us down because they didn’t like the music we were using but we do it.
Balance is everything. How many people do you know in their 80s and 80s? They step off the curb, they break their hip, and they go to the ICU. You’re at the funeral two days later. Slack lines and yoga, there are tons of it. I used to have three slack lines at my old property. With Ramsey Hunt, that’s the one thing. When one foot leaves the ground, it’s not perfect like it used to be but I still work on it. Flexibility and range of motion.
I’m working on it, that’s why I confess it.
Yoga is balance, strength, mobility, and mindfulness, it’s four things at once with no shoes on a mat. It’s the perfect practice. “It’s cold outside. It’s snowing. There’s no gym around.” Get in the deck and go through your salutations.
Move your body. Do you take any supplements? I know you have your own brand, Power Life. People take Quercetin and take vitamin D. Are there things that you go, “This seems to work pretty good for me.”
My supplements have the majority of what I need but I do some CoQ10. I’ll do some Ginkgo so I can remember people’s names. I do a lot of extra magnesium because of the benefits of magnesium. There’s magnesium in my foundation formula but I do more. Magnesium helps part of the healing process. I mean the protein powder with the HMB and the vitamin D3, that’s that mixture. At 64, it’s maintaining muscle mass. Laird is getting older. There are all kinds of tricks to the trade. Instead of eating burgers, hot dogs, hamburgers, and bacon, I’ll go with the plant-based protein powder, that seems to be working. Every Sunday is how I find out whether I’m eating right and I’m hydrated and I’m getting enough rest.
That end of the week creek if you’re hurt or if you’re feeling good?
Yes. Sunday is a three-and-a-half-hour backyard. If you look at gymnastics thing, there are four obstacles.
You and your gymnastics.
We have sixteen obstacles. We have sixteen different things, up the pegboard, across the beam, ring the bell down, the seventeen-foot rope, up the seventeen-foot rope, ring the bell, go down the beam, across the pegboard, and max pullups, that’s one. Here’s the hack, get out of the gym, stop lifting weights, and stop doing squats, lunges, and crunches.
Do some athletic-base skilled things that push the envelope. Understand that that’s going to take 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12 months, or two years. There’s this guy who’s an Armenian friend of ours, he’s my awning guy. If you need awnings, he’s your man. They’re incredible. I’ll tell him to give you the friends and family discount. We’ve got four of them now. This guy is a worm. I go, “Wow.” I could just look at him, a little dude, skinny guy, and big old belly.
He goes, “You’re the P90X guy. I want to come. I didn’t want to send one of my salespeople.” We get talking about fitness. I said, “Let’s do a little fitness test right here on the patio. Let me see you do a forearm side plank.” He couldn’t do it. He’s like, “I can’t raise.” I go, “You’re going to die in about ten months if you don’t do something right away. Do you have family?” “Yeah.” “You got to get going.” That thing I described, the peg boy, he did it for the first time. He couldn’t climb halfway up the rope. He was petrified of heights. He kept coming.
I kept saying to my buddies, “We’re not going to see him next week.” He’d call me up and go, “I can’t move my arms.” He kept coming and he started showing up on Tuesdays and he started showing up on Thursdays. He shows up on cardio night. He goes, “My girlfriend is freaking out.” It took eleven months for his body to start to look like something. He was accomplishing things physically. He didn’t look any different because he was a skinny fat guy.
He didn’t catch up.
It’s fun. He was the only one that showed up to yoga with my wife.
Sometimes it’s that greater appreciation when you see that jump. It’s those people who go, “This has changed my whole life.” What are you seeing in fitness that excites you or who? Is there movement to fitness that you think, “I like that.”
Animal Flow is next level. It’s gymnastics and yoga. It’s capoeira a little bit. A friend of mine, Michael Bradley, who was some kid from Utah, showed up at one of my ski retreats in Mammoth. He’s an incredible human being. He was doing P90X and then he became a trainer. We shot his program at my house. To watch him move in everything he does is like art. He’s funny and he cues brilliantly. I want to mentor him. He’s the next big thing. Nobody knows who he is. He trains in 4 or 5 gyms in in Provo, Utah. He goes, “I don’t want to be rich and I don’t want to be famous. I hate those things.” I go, “Be like Brendan Brazier and stick it all in the bank and drive an ‘87 Scirocco.”
You can do it your way.
It’s not about those things but you need to be out in the world to help more people.
Share the information.
He’s the bomb. Animal Flow and those types of movements are the Fountain of Youth stuff. It’s incredible stuff.
If you were going to start right now, you were training all these badass people, and somehow you thought, “I’m going to maybe try to express myself on a wider level in health and fitness,” what movement? I prefer to call it movement, I don’t know why.
I like that though.
What would you do differently? Where would you put your energy and how would you start? It’s funny, a machine got behind and then you guys crushed it. In a way, what’s cool is you can have direct access to the public.
Are you talking about Tonal?
No. Even now, besides Tonal, if you were starting out, what would be your strategy? Now, there’s a lot more noise to get through but you also need a big group behind you to get out there where you could start filming right now in your house, and at least someone would watch you. when you see it now, what would you do?
Two-part answer. One is I wouldn’t change the journey at all. I was in neophyte. It all happened by accident. I trained a guy who turned me into a rockstar and all that happened. Back in those days, it was like, “I’m going to watch you ride the bike and check your heart rate for 45 minutes, and then were going to do chest and back. We’re then going to do shoulders and arms and legs.”
That’s when I had leg day. I remember it was like pushing day and pulling day.
There’s still some of that in my world. Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken. If I could start over again and I knew what I know now, martial arts would be a huge part of it. Pilates would be a huge part of it. Yoga would be automatic twice a week would be part of it. Having the weights to check to see where you are. Let’s see your strength with your back. I still have the lat pulls, I still do that. I have my Tonal.
When I do my lat pulls on the total, I don’t do it like most people. I’ll do corkscrew, reverse, and keep one arm down alternating instead of just the bar. I’m always futzing with different things. It’s a variety of things.It’s the muscle confusion. We’re back to the muscle confusion. That’s what I do with Vache. Here’s this human worm that now flies around in my backyard a year later. If he only had basic cardio and some weight training, there’s no way he’d be able to do any of the things that he can do now.
A lot of people don’t have access to all that stuff. Rock climbers are way ahead of a lot of people purely based on what that is, it’s physical chess. You can go from top roping to lead climbing to whatever it is you want to make. You can turn that way up. Every time you do a climb, it’s different. It’s variety and consistency. That’s everything. The more you do, the better you get 5 to 7 days a week.
People who work out three days a week, throw yourself down a set of stairs, it’s the same thing. Three days on and four days off, guess who wins? Diet is everything. I’m not the person to counsel somebody on their diet. When you talk about how much noise out there, there’s more noise with diet than there is anything else. Paleo, vegan, and vegetarian.
It’s personal. As you said, what you can eat and what I can eat are different things. What do you say, you don’t want people to be bored, hurt, or plateau?
I’m trying to avoid those things.
Those are what usually kill people halfway through their journey.
I have to say that you, as the P90X guy, it’s such a small, tiny piece of you, Tony Horton. I want you to know that I’m excited to see you express all the other sides of your curious savagery. You’re much more of a savage than maybe people realize. For you to be willing to try all the different new things for someone like me and show that you’ll go out of your comfort zone that often, I admire that.
I am excited. People can go to TonyHortonLife.com. Because we’re different, I always give Justin a chance if something arises if he wants to ask you anything.
Who trains you or how do you keep it interesting?
I don’t have a trainer per se. I learned from Vache. There’s this move that we have, a 45-pound fire hose filled with sand. We walk with a fire hose and then do a pushup and then go 25 feet and backward. I can only get down and back. Vache would down, back, and a part way forward and the guy couldn’t even lift the pencil a year ago. I learned from Vache and I think, “Here’s a guy that’s now forcing me to work a little bit harder.”
Everybody that I train with now, they’re all better. Initially, I was smoking everybody. Now they’re smoking me on 2, 3, 4, 5 of the 16 different things we do on a Sunday. Every Sunday is different, there are sixteen different moves all the time. There are 4 or 5 staples. The ninja course thing is a staple. They’re all smoking me. They’re all half my age, in their 40s, or some are in their 50s. It’s fun to train other people to get better and then watch them get better than me so that pushes me.
My wife is hyper-mobile and I watch her and I realize that long and strong is part of the quality of life and longevity. I’m shortish and strong. I can’t do a handstand to save my life and I’ve been working on them for over fifteen years. There are things that inherently I’m not working on. Now I have this woman, Chelsea McKinney, who comes to the house and works on my handstand stuff. If I’m horrible at something, I think, “This is going to be awesome because there’s a great learning curve for me.” It’s the people around me, it’s my wife and pals that train me.
You don’t run away from the thing that you’re not good at, which most people do.
I used to hate being awful and I would quit right away. Now, awful is part of that growth period, part of that lesson. It’s the best part of it. I love getting on that peg board and going around and being good at it but it’s fun to try new things and be terrible and know that I’m getting after all these different parts that have been left alone for a lifetime. It’s fun.
Tony, if I’ve forgotten anything or something that you feel is important that you want to extend to the readers, any invitation or something that feels important to you that I missed, I want to give you that opportunity.
Tony Horton Life is the way to go. At the end of January 2023 is our 10th annual Jackson Hole Ski Ride Yoga Retreat with Ted McDonald.
They can sign up for that.
Go to the events page. There are about ten slots left. Also, if people are interested in my supplements, it’s MyPowerLife.com.
They’re also on the site, under products. Tony, thanks for coming.
This was a blast. You’re good at this but you probably already knew that.
I’m like you. I’m going to keep trying my best.
Maybe we should train at some point.
Don’t do that with your fingers when you ask me. It was like, “Hahaha.”
I could have run my hands. I know who you live with. I know who you’re married to.
I would train with you first and then with the agreement that you know. People don’t realize that when we do XPT, Justin knows that I’m the one who trains pool training and not Laird. Because I’m the weakest of the people that do it, I have to understand it.
You haven’t seen me in the pool yet.
No, not the people that we teach. Laird, myself, and Mark Roberts. I have to figure it out. I understand it on a different level. They go, “Do it.” It’s like, “If you’re out of air…” “Go there.” I’m like, “That’s not coaching.” We have people who have inherent fear of the water and dumbbells and stuff. I’m the one who teaches pool training. What I would do is I would train with you first with that understanding that then you’d be coming to me to pool train after.
Can I bring Michael with me?
You can bring whoever you want.
You will fall in love with Michael Bradley.
Let’s do it.
This guy is an amazing human being and he does pool training. One of the videos he did for us, it’s all stolen from Laird.
That’s what it’s about.
All my stuff is stolen.
The same here. What does Laird say? Nobody has a new idea. They package it differently and put it together differently.
Gabby, thank you so much.
I appreciate you.
Thank you so much for reading this episode. If you have any questions for my guest or even myself, please send them to @GabbyReece on Instagram. If you feel inspired, please hit the follow button, and leave a rating and a comment. It not only helps me, it helps the show grow and reach new readers.
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About Tony Horton
Tony Horton is the wildly popular creator of the best-selling fitness series: P90X®, P90X2®, P90X3®, and Ten Minute Trainer®, and most recently his 22-Minute military inspired workout, 22 Minute Hard Corps®. Tony is a world-class motivational speaker and the author of top-selling books “Bring It”, Crush It!” and his latest motivational book, “The Big Picture” 11 Laws that will change your life. He has appeared on countless television programs as a fitness and lifestyle expert to promote healthy living through exercise and proper nutrition. In keeping with Tony’s passion for a healthy lifestyle, he’s teamed up with the beauty experts at Ultimate Salon Professionals to create his new hair and skincare line, TH Care by Tony Horton, because he believes what goes on your body is just as important as what goes in it. Tony believes that real and lasting change can happen when we commit to health as a lifestyle. Exercise, whole foods, and the right mindset is the formula that leads to a vibrant, productive and full life for anyone who focuses on being the best they can be.