Tony Horton – What Made P90X One Of The Best-Selling Fitness Programs Of All Time

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Tony Horton’s P90X workouts became a more than $200 million franchise, largely through infomercials. In this interview with NPE’s CEO Sean Greeley, Tony explains what created his real fitness business breakthrough–and it came from customers and gave his business irreplaceable levels of credibility.

Watch Tony offer his thoughts on what entrepreneurs need to do to increase their fitness business success.

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Transcript

Sean Greeley
All right, this is Sean Greeley back with mptv of transition with Tony Horton from outside to in his gym. We got their p90x shirt on, we’re ready to get down. And we’re going to talk about fitness and business. And you’ve had tremendous business experience. Let’s start first with wire fitness and business such an amazing combo. Why do they work so well together?

Tony Horton
First of all, I want to commend you on your shirt. Gorgeous, you look so buffin that thing, even the shirt makes you buff? Well, you know, it’s really important, you can’t just be one or the other. There’s a lot of great folks who are phenomenal at business, but they don’t have the first thing about training and you’re not gonna get any clients that way. A lot of folks have great trainers, but they’re just horrible at business. And so for me initially, you know, when I got involved with Beachbody, I was not the business guy didn’t have to be, I had a company that worked, you know, that I worked with it showed me along the way, you know what I needed to do what my role was within the company. But then you know, what, what happens to a lot of people in my position is they just play the trainer. That’s all they do. And they don’t venture into anything new, they don’t really work on business opportunities. And when the wave stops coming in to the shore, they’re left out in the cold and I wasn’t going to do that. So you know, with Beachbody, I have certain obligations, and I have this amazing relationship with them. But they’re the business people when it comes to p90x, p90x too. You know, Shakeology, whatever other products that I represent, but away from them, you know, I wanted to write my own books, I wanted to spread what I felt was important when it came to health and wellness, I’m in my I have my own sunglass line, I’m working with a six to create my own clothing line, I have my home delivery food service called Tony Horton kitchen. And so these are areas that are interesting to me that I you know, and I meet phenomenal people who say, let’s build this business together, let’s check it out. Let’s look at this model and see how we can help more people get healthy and fit. And I think anybody looking in really needs to be good at both.

Sean Greeley
Fantastic. And I’d love to talk to you about two big things that everybody’s looking for in business. And that is the breakthrough and the run. And for us it NP you know, our company has been on a run, we’re at last count in 92 countries now around the world, folks in this community are, are working hard to build their business, build their brand, expand beyond where they are today. And we were talking off camera a little bit about how p90x got its breakthrough and then went on its run which which wasn’t right out of the gate, there were several factors involved in that. So let’s get to share that story with folks and, and kind of share some words of wisdom about how it took off. And the pieces of that journey.

Tony Horton
We you know, p90x was a product that was very unusual, most nothing like that really existed, we have something called power 90 prior to that, which was kind of p90x light. And there was a lot of apprehension, because people are used to going on TV and seeing these machines that are supposed to spot train your body and change everything, which is completely, you know, completely crazy. And so, initially, you know, there was a bump on the road, we knew it was a great product, we knew it was changing people’s lives, our test groups prove that. But people looking in saw people in the test group and went well, it’s controlled environment. And they’re probably feeding them just right, which is all true. But the thing worked. But what really changed us and it wasn’t until the second year, it wasn’t until our second version of the p90x infomercial. When folks at home were submitting their before and after pictures and their own footage, their raw footage. And everybody else at home said whoa, that’s not a slick process in which you’re trying to sell me something. Those are real people got real results. And word of mouth was truly the reason why p90x got going on the second time around. And here it is almost 10 years later. And it’s still going strong,

Sean Greeley
amazing run. And we talk about that a lot with our community about the power of social proof is that you know, building your own brand, your own celebrity status is one thing to community, but sharing those stories of your customers, sharing how they’ve transformed their lives. And making it real allows people to connect with you to believe your message, make it authentic. And that’s when things really take off. And you’ve seen that operate in a successful times of product runs. And then right people you know, kind of change things up. They’re looking for new innovation and they forget those pieces. What are some of the lessons that have come out of that for you? Well, you

Tony Horton
know, when it comes to what I’ve done with Beachbody the number one way that we’ve been able to grow our business is using our before and after pictures using these real stories. You know, guys like Jeremy Yost, who lost 180 pounds, who’s been to several military bases around the world with me and you know, you look at his before picture, he was morbidly obese, massive, massive man. You know, he couldn’t see his feet below his belly, that kind of story. Hundred 80 pound weight loss will get a lot of people to pick up the phone and kind of begin to realize how powerful a product like p90x is, this past year. Another one. Richard Neal lost 242 pounds, doing an extreme fitness program like I couldn’t even climb stairs. So you know, as fitness professionals, it’s really important to be able to, to have those stories you know, tell those stories have those before and after pictures have those you know, have that footage of their journey. It’s really important to track your journey from you know, day one to day 90 or day 180 or beyond that these are really important ways to get other people really excited. So first of all, I always say start with your friends and family. Get yourself in phenomenal shape, get a philosophy that works for you, and then start doing free work workouts, people Start a Fit Club, do it in your garage doesn’t matter where you do it, you do it out in a field, in a park, and then just get other people that you’re that want your information because they see your transformation. They see what who you are, what you’ve done. And then you’ve got these people in place that can help spread the word. And I think that’s a great way to get started.

Sean Greeley
Fantastic. You know, you have a story that many of our folks resonate with as a coach, as a celebrity, and really now is evolving as a real entrepreneur. I mean, you are involved in multiple ventures opportunities. I know it keeps you engaged, excited about the work, you’re doing very engaged ups,

Tony Horton
overly engaged sometimes. But you know what, I’m up to the challenge. It’s fun.

Sean Greeley
Yeah, I would love you to share it, you know, how important is that as you continue to scale your brand, your expertise, for other folks to be looking for those additional opportunities to help more people grow?

Tony Horton
Well, you know, a lot of times, if you’re starting out your business, you don’t have a big budget for media, you know, you don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars. So you can do TV ads, and radio ads, and newspapers and magazines and stuff like that. So social media is really ultimately the best, the best way to do it. So and having your own personal website, I think that’s critical, you’ve got to make sure that it’s easy to get through that it’s a lot of great information there you have to be, we should be putting up tons of new, you know, Video Tips on your website, or on Facebook, or Instagram or, you know, just sticking up, stick the pictures up there, stick the stories up there, write your articles, right, you have your blog, I mean, these are all these are the basic things that young coaches and young trainers need to help build a business. And so and I’m working, I’m always changing and evolving my website, you know, putting up new information there, and then offering some free some free things as well, you know, I’m gonna do a speech at this place this event, you know, you set up something with a local high school, and you invite as many people as possible through social networking. And like I said, start your family, start with your friends start with coworkers. And that’s a great way to do it. That’s what I do. And I still do it on a much larger scale. I do this when I’m, you know, trying to get more people to understand about my sunglasses, or my food line, or my clothing line or an event, like the one we’re gonna have in Orlando.

Sean Greeley
Fantastic. You know, I’m so glad you mentioned social media and the things that everybody can do to educate their market, prove their credibility and build relationships. You mentioned speaking as well, which I know has become a huge part of what you do today speaking and traveling and, and sharing your passion and message with more people. Let me ask you about that. Because a lot of people, you know, they know that speaking is a good idea. But they have a fear of speaking. Yeah, fear of talking to others, ie hard. How did you how did you get over that or get into that? And how do you how does that help build your business today? Well, you

Tony Horton
know, it was a slow go at first, it wasn’t something that I really thought was going to be part of my repertoire. You know, you’re talking to a guy right now that had a speech impediment as a kid. talking to people is very difficult. talking to a camera was really hard. But that was my best friend. Hello, how are you? Oh, I’m sorry, Shawn. But the thing here is it takes practice, I mean, I would go to an acting class right out of the box, if you want to be able to communicate on a mass scale and get paid for it, then go to an acting class, go to a speech class, go to human communication class, go online, and see where you can learn how to trend send your message, how you can disseminate your information in such a way so that it’s unique, and so that it’s powerful. And so that, you know, that has a tremendous effect on people. I was lucky what I did, my path was I did stand up comedy for two years, I was not funny, at all. But I got on stage and I was raw, and it was good. And my whole thing was, you know, I was very animated. My comedy was more physical. And but it translated very well to what I do on stage. You mean I have my 11 laws, or my six or seven laws depending on which one I do on a particular event, but all my stuff is super, you know, I am moving and jumping and you know, and doing handstands and it only doesn’t have a lot of information, but it’s very visual. And if you look at and I just use comics as an example, you look at Steve Martin or Jerry Lewis or Jim Carrey, you know, I always thought they were completely idiots. You know, they’re completely silly. Or Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin. When you go back even further, physical movements combined with smart information, you know, we’re in the business of infotainment. You know, you you need to be able to inform people in an entertaining way so that they stay awake while you’re doing your thing. And that’s what p90x is p90x is, we’ve got pterodactyls we got German potato soup, we got don’t smash your face and do your best. Forget the rest. And we have all our you know, and people say How long did it take to rehearsal that I saw it I just came out of me. You know, one thing about Beachbody, which is pretty cool is the workouts are tight, they’re clean, they work they’re effective. And everything I want to do you know, that’s not doesn’t get too irreverent. We keep in the workouts and that’s what if you really want to be in this business and be successful. You have to be somebody that people get really excited to hang around. And and being a drill sergeant or turning fitness into into rocket science ain’t gonna do it. I mean, some people might gravitate to that sort of, you know, deep thought stuff or people some people like to be yelled at, but man that just turns off most people so if you really want to grow and you want to expand, you want to be successful. You have to be extraordinary likeable, a lot of people think I’m I’m obnoxious, I can’t be you know, perfect for everybody. Don’t like those people. I don’t know what your problem is. Lighten up, lighten up. But you know, you look at anybody on TV that’s that’s popular. Is their show popular? Or is it them? You look at Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart or, you know, one of the nightly news people, why do people tune in, because they like their personality, it’s about, it’s about what you exude while you’re doing what you love.

Sean Greeley
Alright, so Tony, I’d love for you to chat about a topic that’s so big for folks who are trying to make it as a business owner trying to make it as as an entrepreneur, that’s failure. Everybody wants to celebrate their successes, nobody wants to talk about or look in the mirror when they’re failing, when things aren’t working out. It can be very difficult for folks to go through those times when they’re just banging their head against the wall, and it’s not coming together. And I’d love for you to share how you’ve worked through those times and what advice you have for others, working through failures.

Tony Horton
You know, it’s funny, you and I, we’ve been standing here talking about all my successes. And so you would look at the litany, the list of things that I’ve done, and I’ve had some pretty some pretty amazing success. But there are many, many more failures, there are a lot of programs that you’ve never seen, because nobody bought them. And we thought they were great. But, you know, who knows why isn’t media Is it is it philosophy is that, you know, I had a bad hair day Who the heck knows what it is, you know, we had watches with us to watch deals with two different companies that never happened, this mouth guard thing we were going to do that didn’t work. And there are numerous others that I won’t really go into here. But you know, the goal here is to keep firing forward. You know, this health and wellness industry needs people like us. And like any business like like, whether it be finances, or family or, or growing your business, you’re gonna have ups and downs, you’re gonna have good days and bad, good years and bad. And that’s just part of the process, you have to have a lot of passionate about what you have to do, you have to be curious, you know, you got to, you know, get out of that cycle of doing the same things over and over again, expecting a different result you got to get outside of your comfort zone. And that applies to just about any aspect of your life, especially building a business. And so, you know, we spoke about that before, learn about plot, he learned about yoga, you know, go to a business seminar, and learn how to, you know, how much money should I charge? When do I change my rates, you know, finding a facility that gives you the right price gives you a couple of free months, when you first start your business, these are all things that you kind of need to know. And when you don’t know it initially, yeah, you’re gonna you’re gonna screw up and fall on your face. But but that’s part of it, you have, you have to have a love for this industry and understand that failures are just perfect, awesome lessons.

Sean Greeley
Thanks so much for sharing that I’d love for you to talk about another topic, which is folks are just starting out, you know, and they, they’re just kind of getting going. They’re trying to build their name. They’re trying to build their plant brand. They’re trying to get their client base going. What advice would you have for folks at that point in their career,

Tony Horton
you know, what, I had a weird journey, as you know, I kind of slipped in, I was training my boss and my boss shared that with Tom Petty. And so I was a trainer, you know, I wasn’t doing mine with the pier anymore. I wasn’t selling, you know, suits at Men’s wearhouse anymore. I just, it’s just I sort of fell into it. But you know, I’ve learned over the course of a bunch of years, that that’s not necessarily going to be most people’s path. I was at the Omega Institute in New York, and I was meeting with this girl who had a job, she didn’t like it, she got my program got really fit, her friend started to notice. And now she’s in that interesting place. What do I want to quit my job? And do I want to start to become a trainer? And she came to me and said, How do I do that? I said, Well, number one, you know, you’ve got it, you got the first two things in place, you’re eating right, you’re exercising, you’ve got you’ve got a wide variety of different kinds of knowledge is but Next you need to get you need to get certified. I didn’t get certified well into my training business. And then I started taking some heat for it. Because, you know, here, I was creating these programs, and I wasn’t even certified. You know, I did the Lincoln freakin you know, the Abe Lincoln friggin way of doing it, you know, I mean, I just did it by experience. But after a while people say, you know, I mean, I then I got certified now I have two certifications. But that’s, of course, you know, front and center for most people starting out. And then you got to start doing free workouts, you just have I mean, this is basic, just get your friends and family, we’ll sign them up for three months, two months, whatever it is, and make the first two or three workouts free, and then they’ll be hooked. And then you you know, you can’t charge a lot of money out of the box, you got to beat everybody else’s price. And that’s really sort of the way you do it. You build your relationship with people who understand that you know, maybe going going to a gym is not going to get it done. But working with you is important. And if you want to be portable, you know you got to have your lift, you know, I used to have these two crates with with all kinds of stuff. I’d have some basic dumbbells in there. When I walk into the room, you know, each one cost weight about 50 pounds, but I would crack them open I would you know lay it out in somebody’s floor. And it was a mat It was a jumping rope. It was some dumbbells, it was some resistance bands. And that’s how I got people going initially and then I would have them buy treadmills, ellipticals or whatever or heavy bags a lot of my clients had heavy bags because I’m a big fan of martial arts. And so minimal equipment for your for your clients if you’re going door to door and you know if you’re going to start your own business, you know if you’re going to do a bricks and mortar, that’s a completely different topic, which is sort of outside of my realm of of knowledge, but If you do want to get away from from working for the man, and some job that you hate, you want to be part of the solution when it comes to this, this obesity crisis, it’s not that hard, get fit, eat, well get certified, get some basic, basic, basic equipment, and start training your friends and family and co co workers for free and set up programs, you know, three to six month programs where they’re paying for a lot of their workouts in advance, I always had all of my clients, I say, hey, look, if you I’ll save you some money, you pay me for 12 workouts, you’ve got, you know, whatever, in the way you want them to show up, you know, often not once in a while, and you put an expiration date on them. And when the date is up, whether they showed up for them or not, they still had to pay for them. And then when they get great results, forget about it. Everybody else starts talking to saying, Oh my God, I’ve been overweight my entire life. And so and so I’m working with and I’ve changed my life. That’s what happened with my friend Harlan and Tom Petty and you know what happened on a different scale with celebrities widow cabin for anybody. And anytime, you know,

Sean Greeley
Tony spent some time together here. It’s been amazing. You’ve got great stories, lessons to share with everybody. And it really resonates with our audience. I mean, the things that you’ve talked about are exactly what our folks are working through many of the ways in which we help them grow. And I just can’t wait to have you there in October for this year’s NP mega training event. We’re gonna be in Orlando, Florida, October 10 1112. We’ve got amazing things coming. I can’t wait to share more of what you have to offer with our folks in October.

Tony Horton
Well, Shawn, I am very, very excited about NPS mega training event. This year’s for having me there this year. I’m really, really excited. Like you say we’ve only really seen a little bit here in this interview today. But when I show up a little bit, but when I show up, we’re gonna get so much more. I love being up on stage I love I love actually, you know, because I had 30 years of experience, and be able to take what I’ve learned in those three years and share it with everybody to help their business grow so we can save more lives so we can make a dent in this obesity crisis.

Sean Greeley
All right, Tony, we’ve talked about all things mega training, I’d love to talk about the hustle.

Tony Horton
Ah, and what are three words that describe the Horton hustle, I love the hustle. I’m a fan and the Horton hustle, I’m going to integrate that somehow into my, into my program. Um, you know, I think the acronym would have to be CPP. I mean, you say top three had about 50. But first of all curiosity. I mean, I don’t care whether it’s an exercise program for yourself or for your clients or building your business. You know, make sure that you’re open to anything and everything, any kind of, you know, strategy and go out there and ask those right questions, ask them over and over again, don’t get an opinion, just from one person to get it from for, you know, what do you think? What do you think? What do you think? What do you think? And then whatever sort of resonates with you, that’s the direction you should be moving in, and curiosity is the best way to do it. Number two is persistence. You know, you’ve got to have a schedule here. It’s not that part time. You know, it could be I suppose, if you have another job, like I did, for a while fitness was one of five jobs that I had. But when I really was persistent about the one thing I loved, that’s when my business grew. So you know, it’s got to be X amount of hours every single day. And that’s, you know, it’s like with your with exercise, you can’t exercise twice a week and expect to get great results. It’s the same thing with building your business. You’ve got to be persistent. And I think last but not least, and you don’t hear about this one much is patience. It’s patience, you know, you have to be in the moment you have to enjoy the journey. You can’t be attached to the outcome. I mean, these are things that you know, create your cortisol levels go through the roof and into being a stress bag and you’re not you’re not you’re not able to eat well and exercise regularly because you’re so freaked out about making sure that everything is perfect right now perfectionists fail, you know, and I stopped that whole perfectionist thing I got rid of that years ago. And I’m persistent. I’m curious and I’m patient, and I built this amazing business, and I know your folks can do

Sean Greeley
fantastic

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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