Recently, the Health Beauty Life crew got an up close and personal opportunity to spend quality time with Tony Horton, the man behind the best-selling (and arguably most effective) fitness program in America, P90X® at his beautiful, Southern California home. Coming face to face with Tony is a bit daunting. His unusually sculpted physique and larger than life persona have a way of making mere mortals (like me and our film crew) feel a bit…well, underdeveloped, for lack of a better term.
Not to worry. Though Tony is an undeniable force of nature, he comes across with a breezy charm and self-deprecating humor that put us immediately at ease. Tony’s commitment to physical health, exercise and nutrition are the stuff of legend. His international success with the P90X brand and an ever growing array of fitness and nutrition products, media appearances, commercial ubiquity and well received books have made him a star.
The Real Deal
Tony Horton is a man who undoubtedly “practices what he preaches,” and spending time with him is inspirational. Perched high above his well-manicured grounds and gracious home, Tony’s hilltop gym is a testament to the unique brand of fitness that is the cornerstone of his business and the source of his razor ripped physique.
Shaded by lush palms and sweetened by the aroma of native eucalyptus and colorful flowers, the gym is as convenient and comfortable as it is efficient. The gym is built in two parts: One with inside fitness equipment, the other is an outdoor “playground” constructed of handsome redwood posts and beams. Outside, Tony “plays” on slack lines, 16-foot ropes, chin up and parallel bars, rings, a pegboard and a fingertip climbing structure. These tools provide the sort of hyper physical challenges that Tony embraces and endorses; the ones that require and reward explosive movement, agility, balance, graceful strength, speed and flexibility.
After moving to Southern California from New England, he found “gyms on every corner” but was uninspired by the typical gym routine that consisted of “doing your chest for about an hour and a half, then 45 minutes on a stationary bike… and that was pretty much your workout.”
Fascinated by physical movements of all kinds, the young Tony studied mime under one of Marcel Marceau’s colleagues and grew to appreciate the value of physical fitness, grace and performance that can’t be found in old-school weight lifting routines. Now, an unbelievably youthful 55, Tony’s workouts are designed to maintain a body that stands up to heli-skiing, biking, running, slack line training and the rigors of extensive traveling as part of his nonstop world. “As a kid, I was a “crummy” athlete with two left feet, and the last kid picked for every team, except dodgeball.”
His workouts focus on speed, agility, flexibility, core strength and stamina, and utilize a mixture of disciplines that include resistance training, isometric, plyometric, and dynamic weight exercises. They draw from yoga, martial arts, gymnastics, and Pilates, employing a technique known as “muscle confusion” where training plateaus are eliminated by muscles “surprised” by ever-changing routines over the course of a typical 90-day training program. “I want to be able to climb ropes, ski really hard, ice climb, mountain bike and kayak. I practice indoor training for the outside world.” Where he was once “a skinny kid with a fat little belly,” he now does hundreds of pushups daily on Swiss balls, pull-ups at the top of a 16-foot rope and slack line training. His metabolism is through the roof, his pain threshold is high and he is the opposite of what he was before.
“It’s about can-do. It’s about speed, balance, and range of motion. It’s about getting better as you get older,” says Tony. His focus is core-based exercise that involve twisting, turning, standing on one leg, using Swiss balls to improve his core and strengthening the areas from “his armpits to his knee caps.”
Tony goes on to share, “If the part in the middle is strong, your back problems go away, your six-pack appears and you can function better as a human being whether you are picking up a box or grabbing a rock on a rock climbing route…” Tony’s goal is to get people to reactivate their lives, to work towards a sustainability that will serve them for the long haul and suggests starting with at least 20 minutes per day of high intensity exercise with the P90X Beach Body system. “Don’t be deterred if you only have a short time each day. It’s better to do some exercise than zero exercise. Do what you can, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. It’s about breathing deeply to move blood into your brain and stimulating the norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin” Tony states.
“Do you want the last 10, 15 or 20 years of your life to be in a slow decline, or do you want it to go up as you age? It’s about eating well, taking care of yourself and paying attention to the little things that make a big difference and doing some exercise five to seven days per week.”
Tony shares, “It’s about eating ‘clean’ for breakfast, lunch and dinner, moving forward, and getting on with your life.” As his hero Jack LaLanne often said, “You are what you eat.” “Sometimes it’s okay to not work out. Sometimes, for whatever reason, you NEED comfort food. Sometimes you want a Snickers bar. That’s okay, as long as for the most part, your diet is good and you maintain a schedule where over the course of a month, you get in 22 workouts and eat healthfully 90% of the time.”
“Some folks get up and eat waffles and pancakes with a big blob of butter, drenched in maple syrup. That’s not breakfast. That’s a ‘birthday cake! You might as well put a candle on it and blow it out!” Tony suggests that we all eat like our great, great, grandparents used to eat: No chemicals, processed food, and no fast foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce. If you can do that, according to Tony, you are going to see rapid and dramatic physical, mental and emotional change. It’s adopting a lifestyle where you have fun, hang out with like-minded people, and stay fit.”
“When you make good choices,” Tony mentions in closing “your flexibility improves, your strength improves, as does your cardio vascular system, metabolism, immune system, you enjoy better brain function, and you look better, feel better, and you get to wear those pants you haven’t been able to fit into for a while.” Sounds like all the things we find important at Health Beauty Life.
Credit: Greg Root
See it all at TonyHortonsWorld.com.
By: Greg Root
Photos: Allan Carrasco