Today I am honored to have the one and only Tony Horton on the show. If you’ve never heard of Tony, he is the creator of the incredibly popular P90X home exercise program. Now the personal exercise industry is EXTREMELY competitive and to give you an idea how big time his video was, it ended up selling over 7 million copies.
Ridiculous! Since P90X, Tony has released P90X2 and P90X3 with awesome success as well. Not only does Tony look great but he’s quite an entertaining guy as well.
Enjoy the interview
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What You’ll Learn
- How to stand out among the crowd and create a popular workout video.
- The challenges associated with growing a physical fitness business.
- How Tony generated sales early on with P90X.
- The challenges Tony faced during the early phase of his business
- Tony’s primary marketing channels
- Tony’s key mistakes
- How Tony motivates people to become fit
Other Resources And Books
- The Big Picture: 11 Laws That Will Change Your Life
- Bring It!: The Revolutionary Fitness Plan for All Levels That Burns Fat, Builds Muscle, and Shreds Inches
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Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.
Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I’m honored to have the one and only Tony Horton on the show. Now, if you’ve never heard of Tony, he’s the creator of the incredibly popular P90X home exercise program. To be quite frank, the personal exercise industry is extremely competitive. And to give you an idea how big time his videos have become, they’ve ended up selling over 7 million copies which is ridiculous.
Since P90X, Tony has released P90X 2 and P90X 3 with awesome success as well. Not only does the guy look great, but he’s actually quite entertaining as well. With that, welcome to the show Tony. He’s actually flexing right now, you can’t see him.
Tony: Yeah, you can see me, but I can’t see you. I showered today, so I figured out why not do a video thing just for you.
Steve: I didn’t shower, so that’s why we are not doing a video today.
Tony: That’s right. It’s about the information man, it’s about the content. They don’t need to see you.
Steve: I noticed you are really pumped, so did you do pull ups before this interview, or is that just natural?
Tony: Actually my work out is tonight. I have a routine tonight where I do a lot of Plyo boxes and core and functional stuff on stability balls and med balls and BOSU balls. That’s tonight’s work out. I’m not– this is standard pomp, right there.
Steve: That is impressive.
Tony: No, no it’s okay. It’s okay.
Steve: So what I didn’t actually know about you before I started doing my research on you, is that you actually used to do standup comedy, you are an actor, you are a go-go dancer, you are Chippendale dancer which is pretty cool.
Tony: Dude, you went deep.
Steve: I did. I did. I want to hear all about that stuff in a little bit, but I also heard, and this is just a rumor that you were kind of a terrible athlete also?
Tony: That is the truth, the absolute truth. I was a wannabe athlete. My father was a phenomenal athlete. He was a three sport captain, football, basketball, baseball. But his job was such, when I was a kid and he was gone Monday through Friday, and so I didn’t have sort of a weekly father-son baseball, football, basketball games and instruction and mentorship. So I was kind of left learning on my own.
I played football in high school. Let me put it this way. I was in the football team [inaudible 00:04:57] it tackled on me Monday through Thursday, and then on the game on Friday nights I took stats. I didn’t even know what I was doing wearing pads and helmets. I had no use for them.
I was an okay tennis player. I was an okay basketball player. I was a middle of the road skier. I loved skiing, I loved hockey. I was this smaller kid, the weaker kid, the kid without endurance, the kid without the skill, but I wanted to do it. I loved watching sports. I was a big fan, but I was kind of a dork. I mean I’m much more athletic and stronger and fitter and more flexible and faster in athletic now than I have ever been at almost 60 years old.
Steve: I was really curios as I was like doing my research. How do you kind of go from standup comedy to go-go dancer to Chippendale dancer to fitness? Like what’s the path there?
Tony: That’s a security’s route, wouldn’t you say. It’s only a forty minute conversation; I don’t know whether or not to cover it all. Yeah, I mean the go-go dancing thing was fine. I used to love to dance; I used to love to watch. A lot of your listeners are probably younger, but there was a show called soul train. They had a lot of disco and funk. And they had this little soul train line. And I would just get up in family room looking at my victroller, my [inaudible 00:06:20] victroller, and I would try to pop and lock and do the robot and walk in place and Michael Jackson walk in the wind.
One thing that I was pretty good at that was physical was how to dance. I mean I could see a dance move and pick it up. Years later, moving out to California, I would go to clubs and I would just dance, every Friday and sometimes Sunday night. I just loved going to clubs and grabbing a girl and getting out there and just sweating and dancing. I was in a club one night at a dance contest, and I won the dance contest and the girl, another girl was there, was sent by her friends and she happened to work for Chippendales. She said, “We are looking for go-go dancers, do you want to audition?” And I did, and I got the gig.
Now I’m on a three by three box in a Para Dolphin show and [inaudible 00:07:07] and tiger socks doing the robot, making– and I was making like 32.50 an hour, which was…
Steve: That’s not bad.
Tony: As a young kid in his 20s that was a lot more money than I was making as a carpenter. I had all kinds of jobs. I was a handy man, a carpenter, a go-go dancer. I used to go down to the pier in UCLA and when I was completely out of money, I would put my hat down and I would do mime, so I could make like $25, so I could live on churros and yoghurt for three days. Those were tough times. I mean it was a big transition coming from New Ireland as a young kid to go out to California to make my way.
I wanted to be an actor, a movie star. Doing standup was another one of those things where people said, “Tony you are funny. You should get on stage and tell some jokes.” Storytelling and joke telling are not the same thing. There’s a formula to it like anything else. I had to learn that formula. You have to do your set up and your act up your punch line and your tag. Learning about a list of three, something called call back. These are all little tricks that comedians use. Just like a magician, or mime.
When I would go down the pier, I did mime for two years in college. It was all about survival. I’m in California, I’m not going back to the east coast, so I’m going to figure out how to survive. These are all the things. I was a statue during the academy awards. I put like gold lame spandex outfit on and stand …
Steve: I know what you’re talking about.
Tony: For an hour. I would just stand there motionless like a giant Oscar, so whatever it took baby.
Steve: The fact that you became a Chippendale dancer kind of applies that you had a good body before then, right? Did tennis come first or?
Tony: Well, you know the fitness came when I first came here to LA. I mean, east coast, fitness training was for athletes. Everybody else didn’t care. I mean there were people on the stands and people on the field are core. So you had two different groups, people watching, and people participating. The people who were watching were forced to do gym class. There wasn’t a fitness culture.
There wasn’t … You come out to LA, it’s 72.5 and sunny most of the time, that’s the reason we have a drought. When you came here, “Oh wow, there’s a body building gym and there’s an aerobics gym, what the heck is aerobics?” You know what I mean, like “Wow, let’s go to aerobics class because it’s all women, sign me up. Or yoga, more place for these all women. I don’t know why the dudes aren’t in here.”
I just really gravitated to the culture and partly because as a young actor at that point who was out of work my agent said, “Hey look here, you’re a little purgy around the waist; you’re a little scrawny shoulders and arms. If you want to get more work in this town, you might want to look a little better.” I had an agent, oh my god. I was like I’m going to watch Johnny Carson show and these big-time actors, they are talking about their agent, and I had one.
I just thought she was a goddess, so I just did what she said. I started changing physically and little did I know at the time that I was changing physically, I was also changing mentally and emotionally. I didn’t really realize then, there was a connection, a kind of a biochemical reaction inside of my brain as a result to working out four, five, six days a week. That’s how the fitness thing came in.
I was exercising and training, maybe three or four times a week. I wasn’t eating very well, but I was young so I had crazy metabolism. I was still eating hot dogs and pizzas and burgers and drinking beer three, four times a week. I had a good enough physique that I could get up on a box and dance.
Steve: So how does that kind of lead to exercise videos. I’m sure there is a long path. Whenever people think of people successful like yourself, they think of like overnight successes and that sort of thing. P90X wasn’t your first gig, right?
Tony: No, I mean…
Steve: If it was, I hate you.
Tony: What’s that?
Steve: No, P90X, if you scored a big hit on your first try, I hate you, but…
Tony: P90X is the one that people know about, but there were a few beforehand that did okay. They were like, they weren’t home runs, they were a good sell off the wall double that kind of thing. My on camera experience came as a result of having two careers. One career, when I was done being a Chippendale dancer, being a carpenter and a bar tender and being a statue during the academy awards, eventually I fell under training people. People saw how I changed physically, and so they would say, “Hey, can you do that for me?” I wasn’t certified. I didn’t know anything about training people. I knew how to talk to people and I knew how to show them to do what I was doing.
All of a sudden, I was — one of the last jobs I had before I was able to make a big switch was I was a production assistant over at 20th Century Fox. So I started training my boss, this guy Harlan Goodman was also in the music industry. Harlan made a tremendous physical change. He and I used to train, I didn’t have a gym. His apartment was pretty small. There was no place to train him.
My buddy had a converted garage, it was a gym, and we would just drive over to my friend’s house and start training Harlan in his backyard three days a week. One day he ran into Tom Petty, and then I got a call from Tom Petty and I hung up, because I thought why the hell is Tom Petty calling my house. Then he called back. “Hey, it’s Tom Petty. I think you hung up on me. My name is Tom Petty.” I mean, Tom Petty?
So I got Tom in great shape before a tour, and then my phone just running off the hook. Now I was officially a trainer, but at the same time I began to start my standard career then. I mean I had been a trained mime for years, so I knew how to perform. I knew how to– when you are performing to try to make money to feed yourself, you’ll push the envelope to get people to kind of people laugh and to participate in the whole process of street performance. On one side I was training Tom Petty, then Billy Idol, then Annie Lennox from the Eurythmics, and then Usher in the Ewan McGregor and then Sean Connery.
Steve: That’s crazy.
Tony: I had Bruce Springsteen. I had all these rockers and stuff, but then I was doing standup and I already had an agent that point. I was doing commercials. Now, I got a show called 360 which run on the playboy channel. It was like the Entertainment T4onight, but without the black line for women’s breast, I mean it was a little bit lustier. They were trying to break in to more legitimate TV with two co-hosts. I had a co-host, I was reading the teleprompter. I would start on camera one, I’d look at my co-host, I go to camera two and I go back to my– I mean learning these tremendous skills, how to do voice over for the first time. That was another great skill.
Steve: Can we take a step back. So you got Tom Petty. How did you get the other guys? Was it all word of mouth at that point?
Tony: When Tom Petty got ripped, no one ever saw Tom Petty rip before. That was a complete anomaly. He went on a huge summer tour, I think it started in late spring and went all the way through almost the end of the year. Tom Petty and Billy Idol had the same management company, East End management. They said, “Hey, you know, Billy is in from New York,” is when Billy moved from New York to LA. “Can you start working with Billy?” Then I got Billy ripped, you know what I mean.
Tom Petty introduced me to Anny Lennox. My day started out when I go to Tom Petty’s house, I drive around the corner and go to Annie Lennox house, and then from Annie Lennox I went to Stephen Stills from [inaudible 00:14:05]. I couldn’t do anything for him. And then I go– Tom, Anny, Steve and then Billy Idol and then some mornings I’d get Bruce Springsteen or Sean Connery in there or Sean McLain in the afternoons.
I go to Melbourne, I train [inaudible 00:14:20] in the little studio. That was kind of my routine. I would have regular doctors and lawyers and other folks too. I mean, I was getting up at the crack of dawn getting up at four, five am. My first client, it was still dark outside when we were finishing. Then I would go all day, and I would drive my old beat up mustang convertible and survive on power bulbs all day. I was making a few bucks and wearing down my old car, and thought I was on top of the world. Then I get a call from my agent, “We got a Lori Brown commercial. You got to an [inaudible 00:14:50] commercial, whatever. That was …
Steve: So you weren’t advertising. This is just all word of mouth.
Tony: All word of mouth. There was no advertising whatsoever, none whatsoever. I had business cards. I had business cards made up, and I’d hand them out and like maybe get a gig or two from that. But it was just that when you get a celebrity, a rock and roll person, super fit and no one’s ever seen them like that before, there is a lot of conversation that starts up within their community, it’s a very tight community.
And the reputation that I had back then was that I was good company, that people enjoyed and I mean obviously the workouts were hard, and I was giving them, great results, but I wasn’t the traditional drill surgeon guy. I didn’t treat the stuff really, it wasn’t dry, just like my workouts, if you get my workouts, I’m a bit of a clown.
Steve: Yeah, I love it.
Tony: So because this is the formula, it’s the formula giving people the variety. So when I had a client they would do yoga, they would do martial arts, they would do weight training, they would focal and functional stuff, they would do trimetrics. And a lot of the trainers that they had had in the past were just weight lifting or just all cardio. And they would get bored, they would get hurt, they would stop seeing results after a while. And with me they would continue to improve over time, and they actually enjoyed the process, and so that’s how my client list just grew as big as it did.
And the boomer was there is only so many hours in a day, and you have to drive your car from Venice to [inaudible 00:16:07] to Hollywood, to Kansas [ph] city. It’s just this; there is a lot of dead time in a day just getting from one or the other. But now with the job I have now I mean I can access millions of people.
Steve: Yes so was that the primary impetus for doing the exercise videos?
Tony: No, I mean it was pure serendipity that I actually ended up where I am. I mean I at that stage in my life having moved from Connecticut and Rhode Island and being a fairly depressed overwhelmed procrastinator, I kind of fell in into the very LA, California, personal development world.
A lot of Deepak Chopra, a lot of Don Miguel Ruiz, a lot of Tony Robins in his heyday, a lot of doctor Thierry Zukoff and Andrew Weil and all these and Wayne Dyer. I mean had them all, I had all the books and all the tapes. I listened to them, and I go okay, 80% of this is crap, but this 20% that I can use, you know what I mean? And I did that, I would go to these weekends down by the airport; down by LAX you know what I mean?
You would do all the S seminar and you do a terminal seminar. I had this change in my thinking patterns, because I wasn’t — I mean I had a high school and college education that were designed to help me get a job, so that I can make money, so that I could have a house or a car, and a wife and some kids, but I wanted more than that, I wanted to be able to inspire and motivate and educate people. But I needed the Intel and the information for myself first.
I needed to get it, I needed to apply it to my life and then I was able to disseminate it to other people. So I was in the middle of all of that when I was training these celebrities and these rockers, and they thought, this guy is not just a muscle head. He is somebody who is thoughtful and creative, and wants to have a life outside of just driving all the time and training people.
So the gig– so I had all this going on, and then a friend of mine in Minneapolis said, hey I got a job out in Minnesota with Nordic Track, you had some experience on camera, you are a fitness expert, you’re training celebrities, they want to audition you. After the first audition they said, great and so I went back and forth to Minneapolis and did some Nordic Track stuff, kind of their own camera guy, their infomercial guy.
Then I got the show on Playboys, I had that in on camera time. And then one day just a mutual friend introduced me to a guy named Carl Daikeler, who was this young entrepreneur out of Philadelphia, who had had two nickels throughout [inaudible 00:18:34]. He had all these great ideas, he was sort of a visionary, and so I get this idea for great body guarantee, this is little infomercial, a 15 minute workout. 99.9% of most people who know all of my stuff have never even heard of that workout program, but it did well, it made money.
So investors came around and said what’s the next thing? So I talked to Carl and I said how about a full 90 day program, we’ll call it Power 90? This is when everything was on a half inch tape, there were no DVDs yet, there were no cell phones, the internet was brand new. And we did this thing called Power 90 in six days, and we couldn’t eat right? Everybody in the industry said you are wasting your time, but that thing we sold about a million and half of them.
Steve: So how did you do that, can we walk through that first product, like how did you get the word out, how did you market it?
Tony: Well Carl worked for a company called Guthy-Renker, Guthy-Renker at that time was probably the biggest infomercial company in the world. Infomercials are for folks who don’t know how this works; there is a long form and short form. Long forms are the ones that are full half hour, short form are anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes right? So the — I’m being told I have to sign something, hold on. This is the life of [inaudible 00:19:43] oh an agreement with China?
Steve: Oh that would be my agreement.
Tony: Yes, that’s cool okay, well maybe we could do that one, Steve you and I. So the way it works is like, anybody and I can’t tell you that if there is 100 people with an infomercial idea. Some kind of retractable cap or some kind of ad machine or workout program that I do, out of that 100 people that try probably two or three succeed, and because it’s one of the most difficult industries to get into.
But Carl had that background back in Philadelphia; he had a couple of little things out of Phili where he had some success that were not fitness products. But the one that he did get well before he came to California was eight minute ads, and that’s like eight minute ads, for a guy out of Phili who didn’t live in LA that was pretty impressive.
So they brought him up to LA, Guthy-Renker did. And he came to me and he said I want to do this thing; I had some great success with eight minutes ads. So you basically come up with what it is, like why is this thing unique, why does it stand out in the industry, what else — why isn’t this like everything else. We thought a little 15 minute workouts with another trainer named Debbie Siebers and I. And I had three of them and she had three of them, we packed them together. And then you have to cross, and then you have to go, make all your phone calls to find out who can make it the cheapest, who can press in, who can package them, then of course it’s all happening in China. You have deals with various media buy, it’s like different companies that buy media for local stations and also national.
You got ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX those are big national, then you got all the cable ones as well. We made these things, we manufactured these things, and then the marketing people started making phone calls. Hey, yeah, can I have a 3 AM slot on NBC for next Friday? Can I have — and they called the Miami affiliate, then we called the Buffalo New York affiliate. Because the New York City, LA and Chicago ones are too expensive, and you would spend like five grand you know what I mean? And you sit there and then you wait for the numbers to come in and the…
Steve: So you pay money to get on these infomercials, okay.
Tony: You pay to buy these minutes, two minutes, or full half hours. And it’s not — you buy in half an hour for an infomercial. That is not cheap. So you might get — this is, I’m talking about people who are first starting out, or new in the business, who don’t have deep pockets like Sony or other companies. So every time we would spend 5000 bucks, we make eight, we spend six we make 12, we would spend 10 we would make 20 and that’s how it went.
So investors saw that after great body guaranteed, and so we made Power 90. Power 90 was sort of like P90X junior. Power 90 did so well that I got to move out of my three bedroom apartment after 21 years to buy a beautiful home in Bradwood. So I had kind of a cartoon like upgrade from living at the poverty level to living in a pretty beautiful house.
Steve: And this is all through infomercials?
Tony: All through infomercials. I was still training people; I wasn’t training as many because I didn’t have to. But I mean I was getting these royalty checks every month, the kinds of money that I never made as a — I might make 20 or 30 grand as a actor in a beer commercial over the course of a year. I was getting checks like that per month, and then I was getting twice that and then three times, then four times, then five times. And then I mean I was getting checks — I don’t want to get to read the numbers, it feels sort of not…
Steve: No that’s cool, no numbers aren’t important, I was just curious though how does even one get on an infomercial, like let’s say I want to have my own infomercial, who do I call? I mean you had the contacts, right?
Tony: You can Google infomercial companies, and so Guthy-Renker would come up, Beach Party would come up. And they aren’t that many, there is probably about 10, and then you just have to — for me it was a different route. Mine was that I happened to know a guy who worked for one, and he liked my technique as far as exercise and fitness, and so I was just a paid gun. I mean I got paid $2000 for being in that very first product called great body guarantee. And to me at that time that was a big chunk of money to have to only workout three days.
But it sort of evolved over time, but the average person and the average person is like one of the philosophy is build it and they will come. So and for a lot of people who are entrepreneurs whatever their idea is, they have to have a ton of passion, they’ve got to probably trade market, they’ve probably got a patent because they don’t want people to steal it, right? Then you got through that process and that’s several thousand dollars just to do that.
And then you have a couple of prototypes made, and so one of my prototypes for me as an entrepreneur I had — every time I went to a gym, or every time I went to a retail store, I was trying to find some decent push up stance. But they were really rickety, and made of metal and handles were sort of narrow and they dug into my hand, and the platform wasn’t really good, and they didn’t use good rubber, the rubber would always peel away.
So I thought — I called a buddy who worked for a fitness company and this is sort of an example to help the average person who wants to do this. And he called a guy who manufactured ladders in downtown LA. And he said, hey, and so I made it dry and he made this thing and each one of these hands — push up stands weighed about 5 pounds each, nothing that you could ever ship, but they were functionally awesome.
And they had a round base and had a really wide handle, and the handle was declined from the back to put pressure off the wrists, this was just like sort of my idea. And then after I got the patent and trademark, I went over to Beach Party and I said, hey do you think you guys would be interested in what relatively would be– and since I did all the due diligence, since I did the manufacturing and the prototype and I had patent and trademark, they didn’t have to do it. I got a much bigger royalty than if they had done it from scratch and they just wanted me to wrap it or something. And still to this day I get royalties on my power, and so that was [inaudible 00:25:42] every month yeah.
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Once again that’s bench.co/mywifequitherjob to get 20% off of your first six months, now back to the show. So that was actually one of the other questions I wanted to ask you, so you had P90, and then P90X was the one that like get it out the park right?
Tony: Yeah and both Power 90 and P90X didn’t do very well at first, because they were so different. It would be like you walking up to your friends 15 years ago with a Smartphone. They would have said what, that isn’t a thing, that isn’t real. And that’s the reason why I think it did so well. I think the reason why — if you can find a niche that is — I mean I have like a list of 15 things that haven’t been invented yet, but eventually I hope to have invented.
And you can come up with a way to get it manufactured at a reasonable price and it’s like Henry Ford. They first said, why are you creating this thing, the horse and buggy are fine. People aren’t asking for this because they don’t know what to ask for, but I’m going to show them why they need it. It’s the same thing with Steve Jobs. It’s the same thing, he just said, yeah, people don’t know they know it yet, but I’m going to show them why, and of course now look all of us have phones and laptops and iPads now.
Steve: So P90X was primarily through infomercials that you got the word out, did you guys do any other sort of marketing or?
Tony: Very little social media stuff then, this is even way before Instagram and Twitter and Facebook, and stuff like that, it was all through infomercial. And the original Power 90, the original P90X didn’t do well. The original Power 90 we put it out there, we put out the offer, and it was crickets, you know what I mean?
Well then and everyone went, oh well I guess it failed like we all predicted in our CEO cross fit, no now all we have to do is just change the offer a little bit. Don’t make it three easy payments, make it four for less. But the beautiful thing that happened which no one else had done before prior was, the few people that bought Power 90 and P90X were submitting there and before after pictures, their day one and day 90 pictures.
And they were also submitting their own video, because now this was the early time when people could kind of – they didn’t need a big recording device on their shoulder, with tape anymore. They could record their process on their phone, and they were sending this stuff to us. And it was gold, we didn’t need to use fitness models anymore, we didn’t need to use people on test groups anymore. We were just using regular folks who were submitting their stuff.
And we just injected that into the infomercial and people saw that stuff and went, oh my God there is my uncle, there is my father, there is my brother, there is my aunt, there is my sister. There is people I can relate to, they seem like me, and Power 90 nothing and then the following year this crazy checks were coming through the mail. So now it was time– and I had a good three, four year run, and then Carl came to me and said what’s the next thing? And I said I don’t know, we both agreed on taking it to the next level.
So he gave me a year to research P90X and everybody said, okay, you got lucky with Power 90. I mean if you are going to go even more extreme, I mean forget it people aren’t professional athletes, you are going to kill them with that thing. Same thing, nothing at first and about a year later after all the before and afters guys like Jeremy York who had had 180 pounds to lose did it and lost 180 pounds, as well as Catherine MacDonald who I know tried everything.
And she told everybody her story, tried this, tried that, then I did this extreme program and I lost 150 pounds. Richard Neal, I mean he didn’t know he was going to be one of the greatest ways to advertise this product, losing 242 pounds doing extreme fitness program. On top of that, professional athletes, famous actors, Sheryl Crow goes on the red carpet at the Grammys and says, “Oh my God, you look amazing.” “I’ve been using P90X.” I mean that was happening with congressmen like Paul Ryan, who was vice presidential candidate.” It was just that regular folks and big influences were all using it.
Steve: But it took a year for it to catch on.
Tony: Yeah, it took a year before it really exploded.
Steve: So let me ask you this, as you were doing this, what was your time frame in which you would have declared it a failure?
Tony: Any other company other than Beach Body would have killed it after about anywhere from 5 weeks to 4 months. They would have killed it. But when you got something that is extraordinary that is helping maybe only a handful of people, because seeing these extraordinary results, sometimes you just have to kind of re-work the offer, and really begin to interject the people who are using it, and getting the great results.
I feel really fortunate, I mean the one lucky thing is the company that I work for really believes in what I do, and they bend over backwards to make sure that they find a way out to get it out to more people. Now the advent of on-demand, we’ve got Beach Body on Demand, now did a 30 day offer which is really great, so it’s another way to … You don’t have to make a phone call anymore.
You just go to Beach Body on Demand, you hit a couple of buttons and you have instant access on your phone, on your laptop, on your iPad, wherever you go, even on your TV now, without having to call, wait, the mailman delivers [inaudible 00:31:38] machine. That’s archaic compared to how it’s done now. But with people, that transition it’s like what happened to tapes and the DVDs, there was that…
Steve: yeah totally.
Tony: We had to go for a while and I don’t know how many other people have tape anymore. That’s kind of a transitional phase around it, but you want to make sure that people have access either way.
Steve: That’s one of the things that I was going to ask you. One, what are you working on now and how has the marketing changed? Are you still doing infomercials, or are you focusing on YouTube. I noticed your YouTube channel; you’ve got a lot of videos on there. How has your marketing evolved?
Tony: We’ve try to evolve with the rest of the planet. Not everybody is doing infomercials, people still try to get into that genre, but we’ve got that down. We’ve got tremendous relationships in the industry with all the networks and stuff. They know us, they like us. We’re very consistent with buying media with them. It’s funny week-to-week, it’s not like you pay, if it’s 3:00am on ABC week 1, it can change the following week depending on how many other people are buying media.
We’ve got that stuff all figured out, so we’re never going to lose that. That is a formulation that works. We’re doing more short-form stuff. We’re doing a more 30 second, a minute, two minute stuff and maybe not spending it all on full half hour. We’re using Instagram, and Twitter and Facebook and social media. We’re using YouTube. We’re using our website; we’re using my website Tony Horton Live as well.
The thing about social media, you’ve got to be careful because that’s usually typically for free content, and people don’t like to be advertised to. They like great advice, they like great content, but stop selling me stuff. It has to be done in a very subtle way, in a very respectful way, and we haven’t quite figured that formula out yet. There’s nothing worse than posting something about Shakeology and I see more unsubscribes than I see subscribes. That’s not my plan. I don’t want to piss off my fans.
At the same time if you really like something and you really [inaudible 00:33:38] I’m a huge believer in our performance online and our boost line. When we first started doing supplements and stuff, it wasn’t very good. We were not very good at that. We were good at infomercials and fitness products and diet programs, but we didn’t have our supplementation stuff down, so I didn’t promote them.
People say how come you don’t promote the bars? Because the bars suck, that’s why. Our bars are terrible, so I’m not going to talk about our bars. But shakeology itself, it’s a phenomenal product. It’s helping people, and I like talking about it, but at the same time you have to be careful.
We’re using every means possible to get the word out. For example yesterday in the Beach Body and I shot two Beach Body on Demand workouts, a brand new yoga routine and a [inaudible 00:34:20] sequence, which are really important. When it comes to people who are getting older, you need the tricks of the trade. If you know more you can last longer and be less vulnerable and more durable than if you were a tennis player, or a skier or whatever. This is for on-demand subscribers only; you can’t get it any other way. We’re just trying to build that kind of content.
But generally the company is about, we got a problem, and we’re not selling you some, excuse my French, bullshit diet program that works extraordinary, so you can look good and dress in front of your friends at your re-union. We’re trying to look at the big picture here. The big picture is obviously, anybody with a brain, exercising where you will enjoy doing and you can be consistent with, and by the way, eat more vegetables. We’re going to give you a recipe so vegetables don’t taste like wax, that you think they usually taste.
Steve: Let me ask you this Tony, if you were to start all over again from ground zero in today’s day and age, where would you focus your efforts?
Tony: I would focus my efforts on figuring out the latest ways to connect with as many people as possible. That is through a YouTube channel, what you are doing, what you and I are doing, this is a credible way to get information out. I think if you’re starting out right now infomercials are not the way to do it. There’re so many huge YouTube stars, it’s these kids that were working out in their apartment in the middle of …
Steve: They have billboards in LA for YouTube stars, right?
Tony: I know. The thing is you want to probably spend as much time as possible where everybody else is, mostly where people in their teens and 20s are spending their time. There are a lot of people who are just kind of stuck in the old school stuff, and it’s time to move on. At this stage in the game, I would have an electronic press kit, I would have a ripping website, I would have a great presence on all the social media platforms.
All I would do is just copy people who are killing it, like who has 5 million subscribers? Duplicate that, just go [inaudible 00:36:22]. Everything that I’ve done, every push-up, every pull up, every jump knee tuck, every cool and functional thing that I’ve done is a combination of some other version of it. The only reason why I’m successful is I can kind of give them goofy names and I can upgrade them.
Steve: I can tell you why you’re successful Tony. I watched a bunch of those videos prior to this interview, and if I might say, you’re kind of like a goofball in these videos, but it’s really entertaining at the same time. I just called Tony Horton a goofball.
Tony: I am! I did standup comedy and look, it’s about our attention span, it’s all about raising attention span. If your delivery is dry, and boring, I don’t care how informed you are, I don’t care if you had a 4.0 all the way from grad school. If you can’t figure out a way to communicate, then you’re not going to …
How do you think people are elected? Why is Donald Trump popular? Because he’s a freaking train wreck, and nobody can take their eyes off it, there is no opinion about his policies or anything there. It’s just that he’s extraordinarily entertaining, and that alone, is a reason for people to go, “Yeah.” If you look at Barack Obama, same thing, there was a certain style, a certain panache, a certain sort of charisma, regardless of whatever his policies are. It’s sad, but it’s true. It’s the delivery system. It’s an absolute delivery system.
That’s how people learn and that’s how people grow. That’s how people change. If you’re in the middle of an exercise routine, and it’s trimetrics or yoga, something you would rather eat [inaudible 00:37:52] than do one of those two things, there better be a delivery system that makes it so that you come back over and over again. That’s all I’ve ever done. I just said, exercise kind of sucks. We are going to have a couple of yucks along the way so that this thing is doable.
When you’re asking people to do something for 90 days, which is what most of my programs are. The brand new one ‘22 Minute Hard Corps’ is 8 weeks. It’s boot camp; it’s all boot camp training. But it’s still a long period of time and it’s every damn day, and if you don’t have variety, and if you don’t have modifications, and if you don’t have a decent delivery system, then you’re going to be like everybody else and you are going to have a much smaller audience.
If you want to build your audience … Like you, you have a tremendous audience. A lot of people like what you do, they like your guests, and the reason being is you figured out a phenomenal formula with a great delivery system. And that’s why you’re popular, and that’s why I am too.
Steve: Let’s talk a little about motivation. Just a brief background like I’d always wanted six pack abs, and then 2 years ago I decided to just do it. I ended up not just eating carbs, and I ended working out, and I cheated after 5 months, and then I felt so good that I decided to keep that diet up. It was a lifestyle change for me.
The problem is a bunch of people– I wrote a post about this and a bunch of people started asking me about it and how I did it. I told them how I did it and they were like, I can’t do that. There’s no way I can do that. So I’m just curious, what is your method of motivating people to follow through.
Tony: My reasons and it’s changing because I’ve been handling this now for a long time, I think more and more people begin to get it. My reasons for doing anything are much different than what most people’s are. Most people want to eat and exercise because they want some sort of aesthetic, hypothetical aesthetic change sometime into the future. What they do is they start doing something; let’s say it’s one of my programs.
They start on day one and all they’re thinking about is that photograph on day 90. They’re constantly on the scale, they’re constantly pulling out the tape measure, and they’re constantly taking pictures with the hope that they’re going to have some sort of aesthetic change that is really all ego. Like you wanted six pack abs?
Steve: It was ego, yeah.
Tony: It was ego. That’s all ego and that’s all, “Hey, look at me.” But in the end, you were able to sustain and maintain it because it wasn’t about ego anymore. It was more about lifestyle. I say to people, why don’t you start out with lifestyle, initially? There is going to be a greater propensity to be able to survive it, and hold on to it for the rest of your life.
You can train your ass off as much as you want, but there’s sort of that fear and anxiety and frustration that comes with the unknown, of not knowing, really truly, what you are going to look like in 90 days, unless you’ve got somebody standing over you looking at every morsel that goes into your mouth and making sure you’re pushing in the envelope with every one of your workouts.
Everybody is different; everybody has different levels of pain threshold and work stress and lack of sleep and lack of access to really healthy, tasty foods, because of cost or whatever. It really does require … When you see how many people are successful, who lose their weight, who change their lifestyle even though they start out with ego first, it’s incredible.
What I would say, and I say to people, like you train today you’re better today. You might not change aesthetically, but you’ve taken care of business. You’ve pumped the oxygen and the blood into your brain. You’ve released [inaudible 00:41:17], all these things that change your outlook about your life. It’s your life. It’s your joy. It’s your happiness. It’s your connection with people. It’s your sense of adventure. It’s your level of energy. All that stuff gives you the day that you want to have and it comes from exercise first, and also making it happen with decent food choices.
If you make horrible food choices and you decide not to move, then life is a struggle. Fitness and eating is the foundation, is the platform to have all the other things that you want. There’s a pyramid, at the bottom is, number one, if I exercise today and eat right today I change my brain chemistry. When my brain chemistry changes, it’s like John Ratey talks about in his book ‘Spark,’ then you have a greater potential to have a better day and then you just repeat, repeat, repeat.
After 30 days and 60 and 90 and you repeat it for the first year, the second year, the third year, all of a sudden you’re one of those people who go to dance class at 95, still skiing at 82, and taking gymnastics for the first time in your 50s, and then you’re a person who looks back at your life and goes, that’s the story. Because the story is not, oh I had another bottle, I banged through a bottle of vodka this week while watching re-runs of ‘I Love Lucy’ and [inaudible 00:42:30] Island. That’s not a life. That’s not a story. If you’re not exercising and eating, then you’re just … and by the way time keeps on ticking. It keeps moving on, moving forward. Your body is aging, your brain is aging. The only way to slow that down is to move and to eat things that fuel you properly.
And of course there’s supplements as well. If you’re working out really hard, and you’re not getting the perfect amount of sleep and you still have a certain amount of stress because of work and stress and family and traffic and everything else, it’s going to be really hard for your body to recover. You’ve got to do the multi-vitamins, you’ve got to do the creatine, you’ve got to do the CoQ10, you’ve got to do the [inaudible 00:43:03], you’ve got to these different things.
“Oh, supplements don’t work.” You don’t need them if you don’t do anything. If you show me one collegiate or professional athlete, or Olympic athlete who doesn’t supplement just right to be able to perform at their highest level, because they’re training 2 hour days, or 3 hour days, they’re genetically gifted. It’s a formula, and when you learn the formula– in my book, ‘The Big Picture,’ it’s in there. It’s not so much a fitness and diet book as it is a lifestyle book to show you what to do so that … I mean, I’m 57.
Steve: You look great.
Tony: Thank you. I did shower. And I still [inaudible 00:43:40]
Steve: Although there is a reading glass you got on.
Tony: They are. I’m lifting them up and my screen is a [inaudible 00:43:46].
Steve: Here’s the thing. I think motivation and business are all intertwined. Once I started getting in shape, I found myself having a lot more energy to actually work more on my businesses and that sort of thing. I almost think that getting into shape is fundamental to anything else in life that you want to do, I don’t know.
Tony: The bottom-line is healthy in-shape people eat right, have bigger lives than people who don’t. There are people who have a lot more money, maybe a lot more stuff, maybe they don’t exercise or eat well at all, and they are successful because they are very smart and they inherited a business or they are just sort of super ambitious or very smart. Let’s say, you didn’t have all of those things. Maybe you don’t have a college education. Maybe you don’t have that sort of family help, or you are not part of an industry where you can make some decent money and have a great life.
If you exercise, start to exercise and start to eat right, the two things you can control, those are the only two by the way. Most people don’t realize that. I’m going to exercise today, I’m going to eat right today. Traffic, I don’t have control of that, family I wish, work I don’t– my boss got me cohunes, weather, none of it, none of it. All that stuff that kind of creates all these conflicts in our lives are more easily dealt with if you make a dietary shift, and you begin to exercise, everything kind of falls into place. You have more patience. You sleep better. Your sex drive improves; your memory in cognition improves. There are so many things that are more mind and emotion about exercising and eating right than even the physical.
Too many of us are exercising because we want to look better, and none of us are exercising because we understand it completely alters our mental and emotional state. The second the workout is over, I don’t know of anybody who finishes a work out and says, “Oh my god, that was a horrible idea.” They just– but it’s making the decision to do it. The worst part of the exercise is the ten to five minutes before, and the first five to ten minutes at the beginning of it. It’s like, “Oh I don’t want to be here. I’m tired. It’s early. I’d rather be sitting down with a cup of coffee and a dash.”
But when you fall into the pattern, I gave up sugar four weeks ago. Now I was eating healthy breakfast, healthy lunch, healthy dinner, working out five or six days a week, but I still had my little sugar addiction. But I noticed that I was moodier. I thought, am I just a moody guy, am I just moody. Is it genetics? I mean, my whole family is moody because everybody eats sugar, everybody eats fried foods, everybody eats soda pop. I was cutting out everything except for the key lime pie, and a chocolate, eat cookies and the chocolate mousse, chocolate mousse.
Steve: I love chocolates mousse.
Tony: I just thought, you know what I’m going to experiment for 30 days. It was the most brutal 30 days. I felt like, I would stand in front of a pantry for ten minutes at a time just looking at the things that I couldn’t eat. But man I won’t eat a cookie or a donut or a brownie or a pie, and it was hard. It was like getting off a crack. I mean– and that’s what happens inside the temple low. The dopamine, it is that huge flash of dopamine which makes you feel good in the minute, but in the end if you look at the sugar that you eat, you will also—it’s like you’ll make a graph of the sugar, oh I had sugar at this hour, and then my mood went down. Like your mood and sugar and process curves go hand in hand.
I’m a pretty upbeat positive guy anyway, because I have a pretty awesome life and I have a job that I love and I’m married to the woman of my dreams. So even with the sugar, I was a pretty happy guy. Now that I’m without it, I just feel like I have a little bit more energy. I sleep a little bit better. I have a little bit more patience, all these little things that have been altered as a result of getting off. Same thing with alcohol, I haven’t had alcohol in years, so I wouldn’t even know.
Steve: Interesting. Yeah, I’ve been off sugar for two years also. It’s been great.
Tony: Yeah, it’s fantastic. And so when it comes to how does it all relate to business, you want to build a foundation. You want to make some basic changes on behavior. When your behavior changes, so does your productivity and energy and that goes up and as that goes up, so sort of that helps your business grow. Why not have that advantage if you can have it? Ultimately it’s about longevity and quality of life too. I mean these are things that everybody wants.
If you’ve got hypertension and diabetes and the potential for stroke and high blood pressure, all these things, and you are working your ass off, and you have all these physical mental and emotional problems, is it worth if you can’t enjoy it. You know what I mean. So you clean up the diet and you start to move. It doesn’t have to be one of my program, I mean heck I love … So I can buy a new couch. But it’s not really about– it’s really about, decide, “Hey I’m a Pilates guy. I’m a yoga person. I love body building.” Figure it out, but add some variety too, because you don’t want to get bored on a plateau, you want to make sure you have variety. When you do that, life is but a dream.
Steve: That’s a great philosophy. Hey, Tony, you rattled off a whole bunch of your products. I just want to give you some time to talk about all the things that you are working on, and where people can find you online.
Tony: Thank you. If you just want my stuff, you know my general stuff, and you are still using kind of old school DVDs and stuff like that, you want to go to beachbody.com. If you want a particular product, it’s pretty basic. You can go to P90X.com or P90X2.com or P90X3.com that’s where you get the products that create beach body which is great. But if you want to learn more about me and the things that I’m doing outside of that, like events, I’m going to be at the Omega Institute, and I do a lot of travelling in Europe. I go to Hawaii and do events. I go to the Orient, and do a lot of stuff in South Korea and Japan.
If you want to know where I’m going and what I’m doing and you want my free newsletter, then you go Tonyhortonlife.com. That’s my website, it’s brand new, and we’re always sprucing it up. The weekly newsletter kind of gives you a lot of the things that you don’t get from the book, because I’m always learning, I’m always growing, I’m always stealing other people’s really good ideas and making them my own. And where I learn something I think, “Oh my God, this is making my life better. It’s making it less complicated.” Here’s the thing, you have to– just like your phone, everyone gets a new phone every once in a while, you have to update your own personal Intel, and I’ve learned that.
This comes from somebody; I used to hold on to stuff for so long. I used to put on the blinders, I used to hope for the best and hope it’s all going to turn out okay. I’m not doing that anymore. I’m still– I’m always learning and growing. When I find something that really, really matters to me, then I make sure that I put it up for everybody once a week. It’s all about motivation, it’s all about diet, it’s all about learning how to do a particular exercise or how to exercise on the road. It’s part of the same basic things that come up all the time that people struggle on. I’m always looking on new angles on which to kind of help people get better.
Also, you can get the book. You can go to Amazon, the big picture. It’s my most recent book. Then of course, my original, my first book Bring It, my second book which is a little audio video book, called Crush It which is a lot of fun. There’s a lot of humor there, and of course the YouTube channel.
Steve: Yes, I was going to say, you are missing the YouTube channel which is my favorite part.
Tony: I was going to get there Steve. Tony Horton fitness and we’ve been kind of stagnant for a little bit on that. Those of you who are listening saying, hey I haven’t seen new content in a while, that’s going to change pretty quickly, because we had this switch over to the on demand stuff. For those of you obviously that just want convenience and access to my entire library, all of my stuff, go to beachbodyondemand.com, which is Beach Body on Demand or BOD.com it will take you there.
The first 30 days are free, free, free, and so that way you can work out ten times a day, it doesn’t cost you a penny. At that point, the cool thing about that is that you can kind of look all the content and go, “Oh, all right.” Then once you sign on, I think it’s $38 a month which is crazy, I mean you have access to all my stuff, Shanty stuff, Chalene stuff. I mean there are hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of workouts, and the beautiful thing is you don’t have to buy the entire program; you can just buy– for 38 bucks you can do whatever workout you want. It’s just– I mean it’s the future. That’s where most people are. It gives you tons of access and tons of variety. So you can avoid the boredom and the injuries, and I can tell you will see results even as you get older.
Steve: I’m going to link all that stuff up so you guys don’t have to remember everything that Tony just said.
Tony: People are jotting it down. What was that Tony Horton fitness, oh crap. Thank you for that, thank you Steve for hosting me.
Steve: No problem. Hey, I really appreciate your time Tony. Thanks a lot. This is a great interview. It’s great to hear your philosophies on life and on business. I think these are going to be really valuable to my listeners.
Tony: Steve thank you for having me on. I’m a big fan of yours. I love the work you are doing and I’m very honored to be here today. Hopefully we will change a few minds on how to behave, and how to eat so that the people can become more productive and build their businesses the way they want as healthy happy human beings, not stressed out and people sick and depressed human beings.
Steve: Yeah, it’s all that eating right.
Tony: Exactly right. Thanks man.
Steve: All right, take care Tony.
Tony: Thanks Steve.
Steve: There you have it, Tony Horton of the legendary P90X fitness program. How awesome is that? And what’s even cooler is that Tony is totally down to earth and really entertaining as well, and I hope you enjoyed his story. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode104. And I want to thank fame bit for sponsoring this episode. As I mentioned earlier fame bit is the best place to find YouTubers, instagrammers and other influencers to promote your products online and it works.
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Once again I also want to remind you that I’m starting my own Ecommerce conference this year called the Sellers Summit, which is going to be held in May 19th in Miami Florida. So if you’re interested in learning about Ecommerce or taking your existing Ecommerce business to the next level, then you must attend. Go to sellerssummit.com for more information.
Finally if you’re interested in starting you own online business, be sure to sign up for my free six day mini course where I show you how my wife and I manage to make over 100K in profit in our first year of business. Go to mywifequitherjob.com for more information, sign up right there on the front page, and I will send you the course right away via email. Thanks for listening.
Outro: Thanks for listening to The My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.