's Exclusive Interview with Tony Horton

By Michael J. Lockhart

We speak to Beachbody mogul Tony Horton about Paul Ryan's Congressional workout system, the key to success with P90X, and how to go after Ryan's version of the American dream.

Anyone who has ever sat in front of the television late at night, a beer in one hand, getting chip grease on the remote with the other has come across the near-ubiquitous infomercials for various Beachbody workout systems. Out of all of these, none has the cachet or the sheer pants-shittingly intimidating moves of the flagship workout, P90X.

P90X inventor Tony Horton puts his money where his mouth is. As well as sporting a ripped Beach Body of his own, he has also trained public figures, including current Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who does a unique, until-now top secret Congressional workout. We sat down with Horton to discuss the exclusive Capitol Hill program, the key to success for the intense P90X system and what to keep in mind if you go after Ryan’s version of the American dream. VP candidate Paul Ryan’s use of P90X has been a media storm for you. How did this begin?

Horton: He’s extremely committed to fitness and taking care of himself. He was a trainer when he was in school, so it was engrained in him from the get-go. Heath Schuler, a democrat, and he decided that they would do the program in the congressional gym, and it grew from there. Two guys from either side of the aisle, who maybe didn’t agree politically, agreed that P90X was going to be the program that worked for [them]. Paul Ryan saw that the program challenged [him] in ways he had never been challenged before with Yoga and Kempo, Sequencing and Pace. What was the biggest challenge for the congressional group? Time?

Horton: I had to create a hybrid program for them [see below] because we didn’t want to spend too much time on the pull-up bars and stuff like that. When you looked around the room you did see that some people were doing better than others, [laughs] but Paul Ryan rose to the challenge. How does this system differ from your other products?

Horton: You don’t need weights or bands; you just need the floor, the body and Sir Isaac Newton’s law. It’s a complete and absolute excuse killer. This is a routine that you can do on the size of a floor mat and do anywhere from two rounds to five rounds. For the congressmen I do five rounds. So who was better at the program, the Dems or the GOP?

Horton: Ha! They were both equally awesome. What I do is apolitical. Paul Ryan is always front and center at each workout, but it really does depend on their schedules. What success rates have you seen for people who attempt P90X?

Horton: I don’t know the exact stats, but a lot of folks buy the program and it sits on a shelf for quite a while before they open it up. One of my best friends in college let it sit on the shelf for four and half years before he finally got off his butt. His uncle had died of a heart attack and he was big as a house, and I was like, “Dude, somebody else is going to raise your kid.” It will also sometimes take a person two, three times before they actually take the program seriously. How can professionals with unpredictable hours and rigid schedules incorporate the P90X program into their lifestyles?

Horton: People make excuses because it allows them to make shortcuts. Paul Ryan’s on the campaign trail, but he’s not making excuses. With a family, and running for VP, he’s pretty busy but still managing to do it. You have to find the time if you want to do the things you want to do in your life. You can cut corners, and I’m not going to give you a hard time about it. But that’s why I created 10-minute Trainer for people who hate exercise; some movement is better than none. We have a health crisis and a health-care crisis, and it’s because people are putting stuff in their mouths but they’re not moving. We can wait for Congress or the insurance companies to create some smoke and mirrors, put us on more meds, or we can take care of business and do it ourselves; that’s what I did. What are the most important steps to take to maintain your “Beach Body”?

Horton: People sustain their level of fitness because their purpose is clear, their reason is clear. If [you] got into the program to change your body aesthetically — you want bigger arms or a built chest — that’s all ego stuff. That’s for all the wrong reasons because you’re hoping people will look at you differently, as opposed to changing the body so it will function better, feel better, sleep better. It’s an emotional thing, too; think of the person you are after a workout compared to before one. It’s not about maintaining the shape till the end of time, but affecting who you are and allowing you to be better physically, mentally, emotionally, improving your immune system and becoming less vulnerable to illness and injury; that motivates me every day. If your purpose is clear, do Power 90 or P90X and then take that knowledge and get outside.

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