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Leadership Edge with P90X Creator & Fitness Guru Tony Horton

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

Life is shorter than you think. Procrastination is the enemy. Putting things off assuming you’ve got all the time in the world is a big mistake. Figure out your purpose and passion, set goals, and make deadlines and you’ll accomplish a lot in your very short lifespan.

I had the distinct pleasure to interview Tony Horton. Tony is the 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.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Tony! What is your “backstory”?

Many people know me as the creator of P90X along with a number of other fitness programs and through my books, but what a lot of folks don’t know is that my arriving at this place in life wasn’t exactly an easy road. Growing up, I was an Army brat. My family moved all the time, so it was a challenge for me to make friends. I also had a speech impediment called cluttering, and I wasn’t a particularly skilled athlete, either. As a result of all that, I was bullied and scared to death a lot of the time.

When I got to college, I started lifting weights, and I noticed a shift. My body started to change, and my mind did as well. My GPA went up, and I was more confident.

It was during college that I decided to make the move out to California. When I got to Los Angeles, I was a struggling actor. Right away, I immersed myself in the fitness culture in an effort to get into better shape. At one point, I was a member of 4 different gyms, and I did everything from weightlifting to yoga to Pilates to martial arts and more. I loved the variety, and I was learning a lot about the physiology of the body through all these different disciplines.

To make ends meet, I was working as a production assistant at 20th Century Fox. My boss noticed the change in me and asked if I would train him. This same boss then introduced me to Tom Petty and before you know it, I was also training Billy Idol, Annie Lennox, Stephen Stills, Sean Connery, Shirley MacLaine, Bruce Springsteen, Allison Janney, and more.

Can you share an interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Turns out that our Armed Forces, Firefighters, and Police have all been big fans of my fitness programs. I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with the Pentagon and Armed Forces Entertainment, which has allowed me the opportunity to visit over sixty military bases in the US and around the world.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I have had 23 failed businesses since the success of P90X. Hilarious. From mouth guards to insoles to watches to TV pilots to home delivery food services. The lessons I’ve learned since, in no particular order, are: do background checks on the people I am going to hire and work with, get references, set deadlines, only do projects I’m passionate about, and know that the buck always stops with me.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

I’m working with Gaiam TV Fit and Yoga on a series of workouts called The NEXT LEVEL. I have three Paragon Super Camps here at my home annually. I’m starting my own line of supplements called PowerLife. A line of fitness equipment called TH Fitness premiers in the first quarter of 2020. I’m working with John Maxwell to build a health and wellness program for his top leadership teams. My TH Care hair and skin-care products and my TH Life t-shirt companies are both still going strong.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Well, certainly Beachbody’s CEO Carl Daikeler, was the catalyst to my success early in my career. We had the same vision and passion for changing the way fitness was done & delivered to the average American in their home. These days, my wife Shawna, manager Peter Capozzi, director Ned Farr, and my crack social media team make the wheels go round.

Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that will help people feel great?

Ten or fifteen years ago, my list would read something like this: regular workouts, healthy food, and hydration. However, as I’ve gotten older, topics like stress management/mindfulness, being consistent, and not judging the journey are as much, or even more important to me as I make my way through my sixties.

Is there a particular book that made an impact on you? Can you share a story?

To choose one would be very difficult, but if I had to, I would suggest that everyone read Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements.” It’s a simple one hundred thirty-eight page, practical guide to personal freedom.

One of the four agreements is “always do your best.” After reading that section of the book, it dawned on me that it is important not to have preconceived notions of what your “best” is supposed to be, which is why I began to make “Do your best and forget the rest” my mantra.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I honestly wouldn’t change anything I’m already doing. Through television, social media, my books, public speaking events, military tours, my Paragon camps, and the like, those are the best ways I know how to help the masses improve their physical, mental, and emotional state. I guess the last frontier might be a podcast and an app, which I have my sights set on, so stay tuned.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I feel my success and bringing goodness to the world are synonymous. Helping people understand that a healthy diet and regular exercise are the foundation to creating a better quality of life, and a better mindset for people around the world.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Skip the hooch! I haven’t had a drink in over 30 years, but between the ages of eighteen and thirty, alcohol made for a whole lot of wasted time, bad decisions, remarks I’d like to take back, and hangovers I’d like to forget. As a result, I have zero patience for drunk people anymore.

2. Life is shorter than you think. Procrastination is the enemy. Putting things off assuming you’ve got all the time in the world is a big mistake. Figure out your purpose and passion, set goals, and make deadlines and you’ll accomplish a lot in your very short lifespan.

3. It’s not about me. Well, it was kind of about me when I was younger, and then after living on planet earth for a while, it became more about you, than me. What do I mean by this? Volunteer, give to charities, share what you know, love the one you’re with, make altruism a priority.

4. All The Time. The only way to achieve success with anything, whether it be losing weight, building a business, cultivating great relationships, or anything at all really, is by having constructive consistent behavior all the time.

5. Shut it down. Take a break, meditate, go for a walk, read to your kids, take a nap, buy a hammock (get in it), do yoga, take a bath, and chill out. Burning the candle at both ends is a great way to burn out. Let the pendulum swing in both directions to avoid unwanted stress and illness.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

“The harder I work, the luckier I get.” ~ Samuel Goldwyn

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Steven Colbert and Tom Hanks. Okay, that’s two, but to sit down with these two guys and pick their brains over an egg white veggie omelet and some sprouted Ezekiel toast would make my day.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Facebook and Instagram: @TonySHorton

Twitter: @Tony_Horton

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