Get a P90X Life Lesson without breaking a sweat

Tony Horton

I’m a behind the scenes kinda guy. I love to know how someone got to the top. You can learn so much from their story. Plus it keeps me going when I need a boost.

It also puts into perspective that if we want our end result, strap on your seatbelt cause it’s going to be a wild ride.

That’s what I get from watching a show on CNBC and it’s called “How I Made My Millions”. It’s about how everyday people have taken ordinary ideas and turned them into extraordinary businesses.

Recently I watched it and Tony Horton was profiled. You may or may not know him. But if anyone’s been trying to get into shape, they likely have heard of or done P90X.

First of all, the guy is 52 years old. Fifty-two! They guy is in fantastic shape so he doesn’t look his age.

Knowing how popular P90X is, I’m not surprised Tony is a millionaire.

Still it wasn’t an overnight success. He didn’t even begin his career dreaming of being a celebrity fitness trainer. It happened through a strange turn of events.

Lots of people know Tony is the person behind P90X, but I don’t think many people really know his story.

The Early Days

He was a trained pantomime. As outgoing and loud as Tony is, it’s hard to believe he used to performed without speaking. He seems to never stop talking!

It seems pretty unrelated now, but it played a factor in who he is today. It helped overcome his stuttering and helped fund his cross country trip to move from the east coast to Los Angeles.

He moved to Los Angeles to try and be an actor. Just about every actor struggles a lot at the beginning. He made money by being a pantomime, doing standup comedy and some acting gigs.

Unexpected Advice

One day an agent told him he was chubby and needed to lose some weight if he wanted to get more acting gigs.

Most people would be offended. “What? Me lose weight?” But he took the advice and got serious about getting in shape.

Imagine if he got upset because the agent suggested he lose some weight? He wouldn’t be where he is today.

Soon at the gym people were noticing and wanting him to train them.

Then celebrities were hiring him to train them. In the interview, he said one morning he’d have Tom Petty, Billy Idol, Annie Lenox, Steven Stills all in a row. He said he was “Keeping rockers from the 70’s alive”.

Still that wasn’t making him that much money. He had $60K in credit card debt.

You never know who will change your life

He met a guy named Carl Daikeler through another client. He started training Carl and they both hit it off. Carl said they needed to work together one day, but didn’t know how yet.

Carl ended up leaving his company to start a home fitness DVD company, called Beachbody. He wanted Tony to create a workout, like he taught his celebrity clients, but do it with just resistance bands and weights.

Their first product was called Great Body Guaranteed. It did okay and made enough money to next create Power 90.

Power 90 was a workout and diet program. Carl and Jon (the other owner of the new company) both went through the program and transformed their bodies from fat to six pack abs. So they knew it would work.

Industry insiders thought they were nuts!! They thought no one wanted to workout that hard at home. It hadn’t been done before so it wouldn’t work now.

It was released in 2001. Sales did okay to keep the company afloat. In 2004, the company did $100 million in sales. Amazing.

For Tony, the royalty checks he earned were unbelievable. For 21 years, he lived in the same tiny Santa Monica apartment. Now he could afford to buy a house with a huge backyard where he could turn it into an outdoor exercise area for his clients.

Then sales started to slow down. It was time to get back to work. He needed to create something new.

P90X

Developing P90x was a long and painstaking process. When it was released  in 2004, it didn’t really catch on. That’s everyone’s nightmare when launching a product. This is what Tony said about it:

When it didn’t catch on . . . I dunno. It was disappointing, sure. But I thought it would eventually find a home. We didn’t know it would take this long, but we always believed in it. We knew it was good program. The quality of the show was way above anything ever done. I just always felt it would find its niche. It was too good not to. Then one day it took off.

P90x went viral. It was hard to miss if you were watching television late at night. It would have these amazing before and after pictures. Talk show hosts were mentioning it. You probably had friends who’ve done it and talked about it.

P90X turned into a sensation and made Beachbody, the company critics thought would never make it, and Tony Horton very rich.

Watching the interview, I could tell Tony’s passion for what he is doing. He loves it. He loves help transform people’s lives.

He’s found that cross section of doing something he’s passionate about and helping people solve a problem. It’s the sweet spot.

Even after seven years, P90x is still going strong and now there’s even the sequel, P90X2.(both Amazon aff links)

The Cool Down

Some great lessons you can learn from Tony’s story.

– What you’re doing right now doesn’t mean you will do it forever. Tony was a trained pantomime and wanted to be an actor. While trying to get more acting work, a new opportunity arose.

Whatever you’re doing now, may not be what you want to do forever, but at least be doing something.

When you’re doing something and moving forward, you create opportunities that present themselves in your life.

– You never know if the next person you meet might help you change your life. So keep networking.

– Really believe in what you’re doing and you’ll find others who will too.

Tony really believed in P90X, even though it started slow. He and Beachbody didn’t abandon the product too soon because they knew it was a quality product. It probably took longer to catch on because it was so different than any other workout out there.

Finally I end with a quote from Tony.

“It didn’t happen over night, didn’t happen in my teens, 20’s, 30’s. It happened in my 40’s. Keep doing your thing. Keep following your passion. Because if you do, it can happen.”

If you want to watch the episode online, you can watch here or go here to the main page of How I Made My Millions.

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  • Great story Benny! I’m always encouraged to read about people like this who created something awesome that they really believe in. I’m really uninspired by the other approach to niche businesses where you let keywords and competition guide you.

    So what if what you want to do is a popular niche. Own it! And keep at it! Great story!

    • Thanks Deacon! Tony really just exploded onto the scene, but behind the success was a long and winding road. I really liked hearing about it and wanted more people to know. Hopefully they can learn something from it.

  • Paul

    I loved the story. I love to see how people made it. I also have a friend who is a fifty two years old grandmother who did the program and now sports some six pack abs. Tony also has a second program for the more out of shape person and it deals with shakes. I guess when some thing works it makes it easy to sell. I would love to see what he comes up with next.

    • 52 yr old grandmother w/ some serious six pack abs?? That’s so amazing. I’m sure he’ll come out with something great next. He’s not going away anytime soon.

  • Benny,
    This was so fascinating. I first heard of P90 through Pat Flyn when he was using it himself. I was amazed at the transformation. Now i see it everywhere.

    Will you do what Patt flyn did and show us the before and after pictures too? 🙂

    • Hahaha! I won’t be showing any before and after pics like Pat. Actually I’m not doing the workout. I’m just working on being a millionaire like Tony. 🙂

  • Benny, I really love this post! Rags to riches stories abound, but the key thing that really has me going here is the theme of “reinvention”. My wife Jo loves to say this: “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish!”

    The idea of reinvention is what gave us the courage to leave all our things behind in California and strike out into the world on a wing and a prayer.

    Meanwhile, it’s been such a blessing to be able to connect with amazing people like yourself, who are finding ways to make an impact in the world and to help others do the same.

    Wow…just totally pumped by this article. Thanks for sharing man, and keep pushing forward…you inspire us!

    • Love the comment Marvin! It’s completely not how you start, but how you finish. Perfect!

      I know you two are having a blast traveling and sharing your adventures on the road. It’s been fun to follow along.

      Thanks for reading and the comment!

  • Benny,

    Love the post. I’m an avid user of P90X and can vouch for how it got me into shape after living in the South for some time (where my diet consisted mainly of deep fried food and beer).

    I didn’t know the full story of Tony so it’s really cool to hear about how he got to where he is today…it’s another testament to hard work and keeping the faith when you know you’ve got a great product.

    Anyway, for anyone else reading this, if you want to get into shape, I’d recommend p90X over any trainer!

    And here’s a tip: Make a bet with a friend (a sizable amount) that you’ll finish it – that accountability got me through the 90 days.

    Cheers,
    Nelson

    • Thanks Nelson! I haven’t done P90X but I know those who have done it right have seen great results. I know about deep fried food and beer living here! It tastes so good but so so bad in the long run. Thanks for your 2 cents!

  • Rags to riches story. Very inspiring indeed. I heard about P90 from a friend but I never dig deeper about it. Thanks for such a great post.

    Spatch Merlin
    How to Blog Guide

  • Benny, I absolutely love your story. I’ve been through P90X once, and I’m getting ready to start up again on Monday! It’s blogs and people like you that keep me passionate about continuing to pursue my dreams, both online and offline. In addition to the exercise, the diet piece is big. I recently bought a Vitamix and it’s making a huge difference for getting the greens I need to be more healthy and powerful. Great blog here! I’ll be back!

    • Hey Steve! The Vitamix is an awesome blender I heard. I’d love one, but the cost was a bit too high so I went w/ something cheaper. Hopefully one day. Enjoy P90X again! 🙂

  • Benny, Thanks for sharing. As a fitness nut I often think that guys like Tony Horton are so different, but they aren’t. They just kept working at the opportunities they had in front of them. Some work out well; others don’t. Keep going!

    • Yep Tony definitely took advantage of the opportunities when they came. Thanks for reading and the comment!

  • Benny I Just got back from a 3 day (14 hour a day -.- ) seminar, and I thought Tony’s advice really echoed something that first-time entrepreneurs (like myself) experience and often say:

    Even if you have a *life changing* product, and you know it, when you first launch it you go… okay… where are the customers?

    This seems to happen to almost everyone, and we put the marketing on the back burner when in reality we should put “getting people to find us” as our priority !

    If we make something life changing it’s our obligation to get it out there to find the people whose lives it will change. Or so I like to think! hahah

    P.S. I’m with Annie, before after 6 pack pictures!!!!

    • Sounds like an intense but great seminar! Hope it was. No I think you make a good point. If we create something we really believe in and feel it’s life changing, we should go out and find people! It would be a disservice to not change people’s lives.

      No before and after photos…hahaha. Though I wrote an article about P90X, I’m not doing it. Just loved his story.

  • Steve

    This shows how luck plays a role in our lives. I love P90X and Beachbody. Glad Tony had this much success and hopes it inspires others to never give up.

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  • So true, you never really know who will change your life.

    > “Keeping rockers from the 70?s alive”
    That’s classic.

    • Thanks J.D. Yes I loved his quote too about keeping the rockers alive from the 70’s. Classic.

  • Hey Benny,
    Just getting around to reading this. Thanks for the recap. I know P90X very well but didn’t know Tony’s story. Great lesson in perseverance.

  • Allyson Stewart

    Hi, Benny. Long time no see, my friend. Hope you’ve been doing well.

    I was just stopping by to say hello, and when I saw this title, I knew I had to read the post. It’s definitely very encouraging! Like many people in America, I know about Tony Horton, but never knew his story. And I must say, it’s amazing. And to think that he got where he is today by not losing heart. Some would have given up after criticism, but not him. I love that this story can be applied to anything in life, not just getting into shape physically. I certainly helps me refocus. Thanks so much for sharing it.

    Take care,
    Allyson

    • Hey Allyson! Great to hear from you. When I heard his interview, I felt like I had to share it. So many people want the success and money, but they forget about the long road that it takes to get there sometimes. Hope you’re doing well!

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