Horton at last year’s Mud Run
In the fitness world, personal trainer Tony Horton is well known for his trademarked technique called Muscle Confusion, which is at the core of his smash hit P90X 90-day extreme home workout program. And when you see him up close, as many locals did prior to last year’s Mammoth Mud Run, there can be no confusion as to whether it works.
P90X is the best-selling product offered by its parent company, Beachbody, racking up sales of more than 3 million copies and more than $500 million, as of November 2010. “We had absolutely no idea it would go that big,” he said in a phone interview this week. “I’m always amazed at why anything gets that big, but look at Facebook.”
Not one to sit still for long, Horton has already come up with a new version, P90X2, aimed more toward the athletes and more active physical trainers among us. “P90X is more looking good,” Horton said. “P90X2” is more can do. It takes indoor training that you can take outside.” In fact, Horton will be outside on Mammoth Mountain this weekend, shooting additional footage for new parts of P90X2, using skiing to help illustrate a pair of workouts.
Horton’s skied Mammoth numerous times, and said the idea for using skiing as a contrast came from the “mountain mindset,” a type of physicality that sets how folks living at 8,000-feet recreate apart from their counterparts at sea level. Last year, he served as the race marshal warming up all the competitors in Mammoth’s inaugural Mud Run event in August, and he’s pleased to have been invited back again this year.
A Rhode Island native, Horton moved to Los Angeles in 1980 with the intention of becoming an actor, and for a while had a gig as a stand-up comic. Always taking an interest in fitness, a trip to the World Gym in Venice, Calif., would start him down the path to P90X.
At the time, the World Gym was frequented by bodybuilders such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. Horton chose to shun the bulky look, focusing more on exercise routines to develop speed, flexibility and balance, as well as muscle. It was former triathlete Ironman competitor Mark Sisson who introduced him to interval training.
In the 1980s, he established his Santa Monica personal training business, ASH Fitness (based on the initials of his given name), which attracted celebrities from film, TV, music and even sports.
Why does Sean Connery still have looks with a license to kill? Why is Bruce Springsteen still a lean, mean touring machine? Who does Philadelphia Eagle David Akers credit with helping him set the NFL record for most consecutive post-season field goals? Horton.
What is now P90X actually started as Power 90 in 2001, a “boot camp” type mix of cardio and strength training. By 2004, however, it was retired in favor of P90X, with its 90-day training and dietary regimen. The workouts, however, expanded greatly, incorporating forms of resistance, yoga, cardio, plyometrics, kenpo and even body weight.
“I don’t know why nobody else jumped on it, but it made sense to me,” Horton said. “You have trainers in specific disciplines, but I wanted to be a trainer in multiple disciplines. I get bored with workouts the same as any of my clients. You get in a rut or routine, and you’re gonna get bored, injured and plateaued. P90X is a rut buster.”
The concept of “muscle confusion,” a variation on cross training that mixes up workouts and allows muscle groups a wider exposure to different types of movements, and avoiding what’s known as the “plateau effect.” Client Billy Idol dubbed Horton “Muscle Confucious.”
“Three things we all typically neglect, no matter how good our workouts, are speed, balance and flexibility,” Horton explained. “P90X2 has new movements, many of which have never been seen before, that focus a lot on stabilization. You still have similar workouts to P90X, but the results are slightly different. It still uses muscle confusion. Runners have to jump in the pool and swimmers have to go for a run sometimes, right?”