November 10, 2011 posted by

A Historical Tour of Beachbody, with Sweat

On 11/11/11 I’ll be living a historical tour of Beachbody by doing 11 workouts that date back 11 years. If you play along, even just in part, you stand a chance to win $1,111 by logging into the WOWY Supergym during the hour of 11:11 PST. It’s only going to be 11/11/11 once in your life. You might as well do something special.

jon and carl in 1999

Besides trying to set a daily record for Supergym attendance this date has some personal significance. One year ago tomorrow we lost Tuco the Rat and the outside portion of my challenge is dedicated to him (oh, yes, there’s more). I also did challenges on 8/8/8, 9/9/9, and 10/10/10 so this is a tradition. Finally, it’s part II of my November endurance trifecta that began last weekend with a 24 hour mtn bike race (3rd place) and will finish with a birthday challenge Thanksgiving weekend.

I’ve tried to choose workout that make physiological sense for the challenge. Not getting injured is paramount and this should be a good overall workout, even though it’s excessive. Admittedly PAP at the end is silly stupid but it’s too important to leave out. That’s because I’m also telling a story, which is my own personal history working at Beachbody.

#1 Power 90 Sculpt 1/2 (2000)
While not the first Beachbody workout released (which was Great Body Guaranteed) it was the first hit and first workout that I did to evaluate whether or not I wanted to work with the company. I was currently working as a fitness columnist and wasn’t going to shuck for an infomercial company unless their products made sense. Carl and Jon assured me that if their products didn’t live up to my standards they would improve them until they did. Not only was Power 90 solid but it was being led by a guy with charisma to spare. This had potential, I thought, to revamp home fitness. I signed on and the rest, as they say, is history that’s about to pay me back in a very painful way. “Things are startin’ to happen.”

#2 Ho Ala ke Kino (2001)
I’m testing everyone’s dedication to Beachbody with this obscurity. We once doubled as a travel company and had a trip called Power Kauai. Tony Horton and Debbie Siebers would lead workouts for the clients and one morning Tony did a workout on the beach that got filmed and voila! Or something like that. This is a funny low budget feature that still holds up as great workout. “You guys ever do this workout?” said Carl to the staff one day (when you could address the entire company without raising your voice). “Man, if you ever want to feel good check it out.”

pretty sure i have some short shorts to wear for this

#3 Slim in 6 Start It Up (2002)
Our second big hit was a low impact program that subtly breaks you down until you’re begging for mercy. It’s by design but also might have something to do with the fact that Debbie doesn’t always know her own strength. She can do squats as easily as most of us sit in a chair. In one of the Slim Series workouts she’s actually still squatting while telling the audience “we’re taking a little break here.” I’m using Start It Up because, well, I’m not in such specific squat shape and we’re still kind of warming up. But I’ve got the original version, which we had to tone way down because it was destroying people out of the gate, so it’s going to hurt. Btw, the long version of Slim Series is Beachbody’s first graduate program and probably not in your collection. These workouts still hold up—and feel very hard—even after the Insanity years.

debbie taking a rest

#4 Power Half Hour Arms (2003)
“Bam!” This super intense set of 30 minute workouts was the cornerstone of many unofficial test groups I used with our customers to try and sort out how hard they were going to be willing to work in P90X. Because of this they will always have a fond place in my heart and, while decidedly low budget, they stand the test of time and remain in my arsenal. We didn’t shoot these in 2003 but we did launch one of our only failed infomercials that year about PHH. This is unfortunate because it was amazing. It’s also really weird because the entire company (now big enough you had to raise your voice a little) agreed it was the best infomercial they’d ever seen. Carl and Jon decided to chuck that standard format and go legit, using nothing by real people and stories without any glitz whatsoever. We found it incredibly powerful. When it didn’t hit we focus grouped it where the main complaint was “the people don’t seem real.” Go figure.

its time has still yet to come

#5 P90X Core Synergistics (2004)
P90X would eventually change the entire fitness landscape but not in 2004. When it launched our customer base ate it up but the rest of America was, like, “Wtf?! Dude, give me back my Ab Lounger!” Eventually we were able convey the basic science that human bodies require hard work in order to look like Tony Horton. And once converted, it seems like all you wanted was more. And this made my job a lot more fun. “Bring it!”

#6 Yoga Booty Ballet Pure & Simple Yoga (2005)
I’m not sure what year we shot this, actually, but from here on out the challenge is going to be a fight to the finish and pulling the yoga card from YBB means that I don’t have to do it for a harder program. I also wanted to throw some love Gill and Teigh’s way since they’re great people. Wildly popular on the west side of LA, YBB never struck a consistent chord with our customers. But that doesn’t mean the workouts are any less effective. If you’re looking for something different to simulate your training give it a shot.

#7 Chalean Extreme Push Circuit 3 (2006)
The first time I met Chalene Johnson I felt she’d be our next superstar trainer. Obviously I didn’t know since I was still waiting for the PHH show to hit but, anyway, she had the it quality Hollywood types are always yappin about. Like Tony Horton, only different. And while we had a lot of success with Turbo Jam her next program, Chalean Extreme, never quite took off. This is too bad because it’s a great program. The problem could be the title. It’s an intro program and perhaps Extreme is scaring off part of its audience. But like Slim in 6, just because anyone can start it doesn’t mean fit folks will find it easy. The workouts, especially as the program progresses, will challenge anyone. Of course it still might take off. It took a few years for P90X to find traction and I’m still thinking Power Half Hour’s ascendency is on the cusp.

#8 Insanity, The Asylum’s Game Day (2007)
I’m cheating here because Asylum launched in 2011 but I was only going to get one representative from the Insanity series and Game Day fits the bill perfectly. At least if it doesn’t kill me. Apparently P90X wasn’t enough for you guys so we offered up a stiffer challenge, which you went after like Fluffy on catnip. I wonder what the people who said we were nuts while filming P90X would have thought watching Shaun drop mega fit trainers during the filming of Insanity like Brock Lesner with an overhand right? Then we went even bigger with Asylum, which is my personal favorite workout series at the moment (at least until P90X2 comes out). Game Day is its pinnacle and it’s an absolute blast. So painful; but with a 4th quarter with the game on the line kind of way that takes me back to my youth. “This is not Insanity, people. It’s the Asylum. I’m not messin’ with you today.”

definitive asylum shot: it’s a fine line between resting and vomiting

#9 RevAbs Strength & Endurance (2008)
Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Most Beachbody customers are now well aware that to get a six-pack you need to train your entire body. The public, perhaps, is not and maybe they think RevAbs is a workout series done on the Ab Lounge and that’s why it’s yet to spend any time at number one. This full body program based around Capoeira is led by one of our most intellectual trainers, Brett Hoebel, whom I love working with because I don’t have to edit anything he writes. So buy RevAbs if for no other reason than you’ll make my job easier. Thank you.

#10 Turbo Fire HIIT 15 (2009)
“Ya gotta dance with the one that brung ya,” said Darrell Royal and we listened, putting Chalene back in front of a class and shooting verite style to create Turbo Fire. In actuality development was more scientific than that but TF is like going to class down at the gym. Except you don’t have to go to the gym or choose which class you need to get the quickest results. It’s kind of like going dancing except there are scientists in the background making sure each move you do strategically benefits your physiology. On HIIT days the band is particularly enthusiastic.

#11 P90X One on One PAP (2010)

This is a P90X2 preview and a great example of the full circle world of Beachbody. I came to Beachbody after mainly working with athletes. And while I found the non-athletic community great to work with—both easier to train and far more appreciative—sports performance is my forte and in my roots (both dad and I were coaches). Getting back to, as the old coach said above, what brung me has been my most interesting as well as greatest challenge yet at Beachbody. And while you’ve read plenty about PAP, my buddy Marcus and his training facility P3, here on my blog over the last few years you’ve never seen it implemented like this. I’m sure I’ll learn a little more by the day’s end. Assuming I survive as Marcus, nor any other trainer worth their schooling, would recommend PAP at the end of this kind of day.

tonys shows the it compared to my decidedly not it star quality as we banter about pap

But wait, there’s more! In honor of the best dog ever I’m adding 111 minutes of outside activity, either running or riding depending on the weather. During this time I’ll throw 111 rocks for Finnegan. At least I’ll be warmed up after Game Day.

we miss ya, buddy


  • No fritters?

  • tomorrow 11/11 is our wedding anniversary. we had our first date on 11/11 and were married on 11/11. Don't think we'll be doing your challenge, but maybe we'll climb 11 routes in honor of Ratso.

  • WOW!! Is it a Bread and R&R kinda day? I'd love to hear the results!

  • Congrats, Bruce! Did I say no fritters? Bread, R&R, fritters…btw, Jeff ate two fritters during our 24hr race.

  • Woof.

  • It's cool to get a 'behind the scenes' take on the different programs.I think I see a pattern with the success or failure of each program. It really seems as simple as the title of each program. P90X and Insanity just sound cool, like it's a badge of honor to have completed them. Chalean Extreme and RevAbs weren't named properly so the target demographic never bothered to take a look.P90X2 will just sell itself on the success of its predecessor so you've probably got a 'sure win' there, no matter what.

  • I think it's more complex than that. Remember that it took years for P90X to take off. It's seems mainly about the shows we create. If name were everything Power Half Hour would have been number one already. I think it's going to hit the charts tomorrow.

  • Wow! This is all in one day??

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  • Thanks to all you guys at Beachbody for bringing all these great programs and helping us "End the Trend" of obesity in America.

  • Great tradition. Thanks to everyone at Beachbody for bringing all these great programs and helping us to "End the Trend" of obesity in America.

  • Woof.

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

  • #2 Ho Ala ke Kino (2001) Is an absolute favorite of mine.. Kauai is magical, we love it there! This workout dvd is often tucked onto my travel kit to be used as a morning wake up. All excellent choices for workouts, have a fantastic day.. Core Syn.. another workout I love 🙂

  • Woof!

  • Nice work Steve!

  • Ah Tuco!

  • Nice job Steve! Tony still looks young and seems to have improved.

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