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Paul Ryan’s P90X Workout: a Fad or a Phenomenon?

Paul Ryan’s P90X Workout: a Fad or a Phenomenon?

Aug 21, 2012


paul ryan p90x

P90X Creator Tony Horton joining Congressman Paul Ryan for one of his Capitol Hill workouts

P90X was recently in the nation’s spotlight when Congressman Paul Ryan, an avid P90X’er, was named by Mitt Romney as his Vice Presidential candidate.  Various media reports have gone into detail about Ryan’s daily P90X workouts.  Word is that Paul Ryan is so dedicated to P90X that he has been getting other members of Congress to join him in morning P90X workouts on Capitol Hill.  Paul Ryan is figuratively and literally trying to cut the fat out of government!     

What struck me most about the media coverage was not politics, because P90X has nothing to do with politics at all.  What interested me were the interviews of so-called fitness experts who suggested P90X was some sort of fad or quick-fix program that should not replace a ”balance of exercise and nutrition.”  Whenever I read comments like these, I knew the person had no clue of what P90X actually is or where it came from. 

The fact is P90X isn’t some new fad workout, even though the recent media attention suggests the opposite.  P90X originated in 2002, when Beachbody CEO’s Carl Daikeler asked fitness instructor Tony Horton to create a fitness program for people who already had some level of fitness.  For the next few years, Horton consulted fitness experts from various disciplines and experimented with different exercise moves to create what he believed was the most effective system if 12 workouts based on the concept of “periodization” a/k/a muscle confusion.  The program would be done in 90 days in conjunction with a nutrition program based on three different phases to enhance results.  The system was further refined after several 90-day test groups of men and women. 

The final P90X program was launched to the public in 2004, but faced early criticism that the workouts were too intense for the general public.  Those critics were wrong.  8 years later, P90X has become the most successful home workout program in history, with over $450 million in sales of P90X DVD programs alone.  In that timespan, over 4 million people have used P90X.  Besides Paul Ryan, other notable P90X’ers include Baltimore Ravens Linebacker Ray Lewis, singer Sherly Crow, the NFL’s all-time rushing leader Emmit Smith, singer Pink and actor Jonah Hill.

P90X is also not a quick fix.  P90X teaches you fitness and nutrition tools that you can implement for the rest of your life.  You learn the importance of real exercise, eating right and tracking your nutrition.  Many people also do multiple rounds of P90X to magnify their results or implement a maintenance version of P90X that calls for 3-4 workouts per week mixed with other exercise.  You can also use the P90X workouts to train for marathons, half-marathons, 5K’s and cross-country races like Tough Mudder.   

Is P90X here to stay?  Yes, but not because Paul Ryan does it.  P90X will remain successful because it is a uniquely challenging fitness program premised upon basic fitness principles and nutrition.  And for those that commit to the program and embrace its principles, P90X produces real, lasting results.


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  1. When is the Best Time to Workout?
  2. Snack Tips For P90X and Other Workout Programs