Once stat boy, Tony Horton now is an exercise giant

Sat, Apr 16
6:00
PM ET

Tony Horton stunk at football at Trumbull (Conn.) High School in the mid-1970s.

The 5-foot-10, "skinny dude" was so bad that he rarely came in a game to play -- "only when we had a huge lead" -- and was forced to keep the stats for the team.

Tony Horton
Tony Horton

"I guess the coach wanted to humiliate me more than just kicking me off the team," said Horton, who is about 180 pounds of muscle today.

His sister, Kit, chimed in: "When he would actually get into the game, the whole family would cheer. But he didn't get in that often."

So it might be a little vindication for Horton -- who now has sold about 3.5 million copies of his P90X home exercise system to the tune of about $450 million -- to return to southwest Connecticut Saturday to lead 250 of his fans for an hour of training at the Fitness Atlantic expo in Wallingford.

"I'm so glad to be back where I was raised and just spread the word about health and fitness," said Horton, who was born in Rhode Island but spent 20 years in Connecticut. "You need to enjoy life right up to the very end."

For Horton, life has been good since he created the P90X system about 11 years ago. It has revolutionized the exercise industry because Horton -- who was a personal trainer to the stars at the time -- has shown you don't need weights or go to the gym to get into great shape. In fact, Horton's sequel to the P90X is finishing development next month and will be available this fall.

It's funny to think that the 52-year-old Horton was a teenager without a lot of stamina who went out to the West Coast with some friends to try to make it in the movie industry and instead is one of the most famous exercise trainers in the world.

"Sometimes, I don't know if I really have made it," he said. "I'm the same person who was a stand-up comedian, the same person who was a street mime, the same person who can be blue sometimes. I just don't see myself any differently."

Tony's father, Tony Horton Sr., came to the expo and said his son has always remained grounded.

"I'm so proud of what he's become and what he's doing for people," he said. "I still remember when he and his friends just got in the car and headed out to California just to try to make it."