When you think of fitness luminaries and their famous systems, Tony Horton comes to mind without a doubt! With his innovative and successful systems that include P90X, P90X2, and P90X3, he is a household name. We caught up with Tony to talk about TH Care by Tony Horton, his new hair and skincare line, motivation seminars, 22 Minute Hard Corps, and living a consistent lifestyle.
ATHLEISURE MAG: What does a healthy lifestyle mean to you?
TONY HORTON: Simply, you must be very consistent with your exercise and have a purpose beyond the aesthetic, weight, scale, tape measure, and what other people say about you. It's about eating whole foods as much as possible, from anywhere between 80 - 95% of the time, depending on the individual.
AM: What are your favorite experiences training celebs and are there differences training them?
TH: I believe that there are nuances for sure. My first celebrity client was Tom Petty and when he called me up at my tiny two bedroom apartment, I hung up on him thinking that it was my friend pulling a prank on me. Once I met Tom, it was a really phenomenal experience because I was dealing with someone who hadn't really trained consistently or in the kind of way that I was trying to show him - with weight lifting, boxing, kick boxing, and cardiovascular exercises and basic stretching. It was a 3 month experience and I went on tour with him for 3 weeks in the middle of that tour after we trained, and I think that what was the most unique about it was that it opened up the door to other celebrities like; Billy Idol, Bruce Springsteen, Stephen Stills, Annie Lennox, Sean Connery, Shirley MacLaine, Usher, and so on. The Tom Petty experience opened all the doors to being a celebrity trainer.
AM: Is being on tour with clients hard for you in terms of staying on your training schedule for yourself?
TH: My training doesn't get affected. Tom was kind enough to know that I needed some time in the day to exercise too. On tour, he's got soundcheck and reheasals so there's hours between the workout in the morning and his show where I could workout. Then there were times that we would just work out together.
AM: What's the ideology behind your famous fitness methods?
TH: My trademarked phrase "Do your best, so forget the rest," explains everything. I think that in this industry, there are a lot of people that fail because they feel like they have to compete with the past, with others or with the expectations of how it is supposed to go throughout the course of whatever program they have decided to do. My philosophy is, you just take care of the basics and don't think too much about the aesthetic change (how many push- ups you have to do and how many pull-ups you need to do or how perfect your yoga Asana needs to be). These things are causing people to have too much angst. To be consistent for the process and the lifestyle is about making sure that you do what you can and it changes from day to day. From things as unpredictable as biorhythms, lack of sleep, hydration - there are just too many variables that are difficult to track that allow you to have the perfect fitness experience. Sometimes Lebron scores 40+ and sometimes he doesn't. Even the best athletes in the world don't have the same exact performance every time and neither should we expect that from ourselves.
AM: Does fitness go hand in hand with motivation?
TH: I think you need some kind of motivation to be consistent with your fitness. If your motivation isn't as important as food, shelter, water and breathing as it should be - then chances are you won't be able to sustain it. It's not about losing weight so that you can show your friends how great you look in an outfit. It's about being able to sustain how you look for decades. When your purpose is aligned, then there is a greater likelihood that you'll make the switch and stay with it for the rest of your life.
AM: What are your motivational weekends like?
TH: It depends from event to event. A corporate one is different than a beach body event. If it's a 4 hour excursion, it's different than a 2 day excursion. On average, most of them are a workout or two, seminar based, and we do some autographs/photos. For example, at the Omega Institute coming up June 24 - 26. It's a 2 day intensive so we break off in groups and analyze aspects of our health/fitness lifestyle. Last year, it was motivation - how do we get it, why aren't we consistent, and what are the plans that need to be in place so that we can create accountability. These were the things that were important in last year's seminar.
This year, it focuses on food and diet. In my opinion, exercise is about fitness but most people don't realize that health is the result of the food you eat. Food is either medicine or poison. You have opportunities throughout the day - breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks in between that allow you to make healthy or unhealthy choices. When you make healthy choices, it seriously impacts the quality of your life, sleep, the likelihood of you getting sick and the ability for you to perform better when you exercise and for the body to recover so that you can come back the next day. That is the importance of food - it's not just exercising so that you can eat whatever or to try and watch your weight. That is about as archaic as driving around in a Ford Pinto. The goal is to be more sophisticated and to know that it's not complicated.
The Omega Institute has a session where we do a simple workout, yoga, meditation - there's three where we break off into groups to solve some of the food issues that people have. We also have obstacle courses and goofy games.
I want people to come away knowing as much new information as possible so that they can feel that they come away with how they can start over. So often, if it is a workout in a seminar, 8 out of 10 people will think that what they did was fun, but they won't apply it. Two days is almost like you're re-wiring people. That's why it works.
AM: Tell us about TH Care by Tony Horton and will there be additional products in the future?
TH: I have always been a fan of Patrick Dockry, who is the owner/creator of Ultimate Salon Professionals and I was on his TV show and part of his magazine. Out of courtesy of me doing that, he sent me boxes of his products. My wife and I loved them. One day she and I were talking and I said, "Why don't we see if we can come up with a line of products that will accomodate some of my personal needs?" Due to damaging effects of the sun, my skin and hair are dry. So, I asked him to mix a little nature and science together for my hair and skin and he did. It's been a great improvement to the quality of my skin and my hair is manageable and under control. I started sharing it with friends and they suggested that I should get it packaged.
We came out with two products, one is called Fitness (face/skin spray) and the other is Workout (hair/bodywash). They're unisex and we wanted to create something that was simple, effective, and traveled well for athletes and /or those that exercise a lot. The scent was important because it couldn't be too feminine or masculine. Everyone who smells it always says it's like summer in a bottle. I don't know what that smells like exactly but it's clean, fresh and warm. People love it and we're already looking at including a shaving cream within the line and a hair and skin oil that is just the bomb that we've been experimenting with. I really love this oil! When you think oil - you think greasy but this absorbs deep into the skin and makes the skin look younger and feel better. But we have to get the first two off the ground before looking at the next ones.
On Monday nights, I do a plyometrics class at my house and I wear TH Care all the time. When we're in a room, people will ask what I'm wearing and they really think that the smell is amazing. When I tell them it's my skincare, they say that they should put it on more. I let them know that you have to in order to smell good - a lot of guys who are younger don't realize that they need to maintain their skin. Doing it now will get them into the routine of taking care of themselves. You get out of the shower, dry off a bit and then slap on the lotion to go about your day.
AM: Tell us about the fitness methods that you created.
TH: P90X was a departure from anything else that existed in the market. No one had created 12 separate discs with 12 different workouts on them. There are a lot of specific routines out there in the areas of yoga, pilates, body building, cardio etc. A lot of trainers like to just stick with what they know and a lot of them are very good, but the issue with sort of a one-dimensional myopic approach to fitness is that people will plateau. The lack of variety usually causes people to settle into a certain place. Maybe they're happy and maybe they're not.
With P90X, it forced all users to work on their weakness much more than their strengths, due, to the extent of the variety. The offerings include: weight lifting, body resistance, core and functional, pilates, yoga, plyometrics and so on. That's always been my theme. When you look at the course of my week in training, every workout is different from the next. I try to train 7 days a week and maybe taking one day off, but I schedule 7. I need to do plyometrics. I need to do yoga. I need to do chest and back. I need to do shoulders and arms and I need to do core and functional and ski training. I need 9 days in a week but I only have 7 - sometimes I will take off a Sat. or a Wed. I usually train 22 - 25 days a month. That's how your body truly changes. 3 or 4 days a week, you're playing catch-up all the time.The days off always supersede the day on. If you only train 4 days a week, you end up with what I call, Exercise Bipolar Disorder and that's not a good thing. The goal is to be consistent with everything.
The thing I tell people on the Motivation Seminar is that I want everyone to take a deep breath and hold it. Then I never tell them to stop and people have to gasp to catch their breath. I let them know that consistency is as important as taking your next breath. This allows you to live the kind of lifestyle that I think most people want to live.
The brand new method is called 22 Minute Hard Core, and it's a big departure from P90X/2/3. P90X2 was more of a balanced functional fitness version of P90X. Many people thought it was more difficult and it was meant for those that are athletes. But it also took P90X graduates and turned them into athletes. P90X3 is half an hour because a lot of people who
bought the other two systems were not finishing the 3 month program. The half hour allowed more people to participate everyday to not skip workouts and P90X3's success rate was the best of all three.
22 Minute Hard Core is an 8 week bootcamp with a 9th that's a Hell Week that is optional. The routines are 22 minutes and from the minute they start - it goes. You sweat during routines of cardio, core spec and resistance because it is relentless and it has to be because it's only 22 minutes. It's intense with modifiers - 1, 2 and 3. You get profficient at 1 and then it transitions into 2 and then 3. The same with resistance as well. There is a modifier option that if you have Beach Body on demand or on disc, you can choose it where you only look at the modifier and are not distracted by people on the video that are at a higher level then you.
AM: How can we live in a preventive way?
TH: I think that those things go hand-in-hand. If you are eating well and exercising regularly, then you are preventing a lot of the illness and injuries that occur to people that aren't. That's what prevention is. It's not about relying on your pharmacists and/or doctors to solve your problems through meds. It's about taking control of your life and healing thy self. It's not an easy solution, it's more of a difficult one. When we were growing up, we went from one grade to the next and for many on to college. You just did it. I'm only asking for you to work out for 8 weeks - good lord!
It's being able to understand that exercise is fitness and food is health. If you understand that those two things are true and you practice healthy eating and regular exercise, then it is a very preventative lifestyle right out of the box.
AM: How do you stay balanced?
From the outside, it may look like I'm busy as hell, but I'm not. I know how to find my own down time. Some days there is literally nothing, just emails, phone calls, doing interviews, making my bed, making sure I eat well, hanging out with friends, and working out. That's quite often, but there are other days when it's super intense. I am in the midst of development, voice-overs, rehearsals, media, and PR tours. But what I do (what anyone would do not to burn out) is that they tell the people around them that they need their down time and sleep etc.
No one schedules anything during my workout hours. Those that know me are aware that I work out Tues./Thurs. from 7:15am - 9:00am, Mon./Wed. and Fri. nights after 5:30pm are blocked off as well. Sat. is yoga, so don't bug me and Sun. is my track or gymnastic workout. Everybody in my life knows when these things occur and they don't plan something else there. Then I sit down and negotiate my time.
AM: You have worked with the First Lady, Michelle Obama on the 'Let's Move Campaign,' are there are other organizations you're involved in?
TH: I am a real fan of Rain Catcher. They bring fresh water to people that are in Africa and Asia as they usually have to walk for miles and miles to drink mud. So the technology that they have created is amazing which allows them to have drinkable water in their own village.
The other one is Go Campaign which is a charity foundation that started from my friend, Scott Fifer. He was an attorney and screenwriter who went on a working vacation to Tanzania and ended up in an orphanage for three weeks. These kids lived in squalor and he couldn't believe it and they were learning gymnastics. The people that climbed Mt Kilimanjaro would make donations at the tiny orphanage. Scott decided that he would re-route his entire life to help them. He's helped raise 100s of millions for orphanages in Africa, Asia, Russia, South America, Harlem, Mexico, and Indian Reservations etc.
It's amazing work that he does as he lives in a one-bedroom apartment and drives a Mini Coo
per - he doesn't pay himself and gives all the money to the kids. He pays for schools, books, kids, instruments, shoes, etc. It's an amazing organization.
Pictures courtesy of Tony Horton