Fitness Class Review: P90X With Tony Horton in DC

Horton ran diplomats, the military, and the DC Police Department through his high-intensity workout at the Embassy of Canada.

Tony Horton brought his P90X workout to the Embassy of Canada on Tuesday as part of the embassy's efforts to promote health and fitness. Photographs by Melissa Romero.

It’s hard to believe Tony Horton, the creator of P90X, is turning 55 in July. Especially when he’s performing a set of explosive burpees and 360-degree squat jumps in front of you at 8 AM.

“I’m actually pretty tired,” Horton admitted before the outdoor workout began. He had just finished filming another set of workout DVDs for P90X and is about to embark on another worldwide tour.

But not before giving DC a serious lesson in high-intensity, functional training. For the second time since September, Horton brought his grueling P90X workout to the outdoor plaza of the Embassy of Canada as part of the embassy’s efforts to promote health and fitness. On Tuesday morning, I found myself doing more pushups and planks than I can remember alongside 100-plus diplomats, military service members, and the DC Metropolitan Police Department.

To say I was intimidated would be an understatement. It didn’t help when Major General Nicolas Matern, commander of the Canadian Defence Liaison Staff, motioned to the water fountain next to me in case I had to yak mid-workout.

Still, it wasn’t my first go-around with Horton, who regularly visits DC. I pitied the poor, innocent souls who rose their hands when Horton asked if there were any P90X first-timers in the crowd.

We began the 70-minute workout with a light warmup and soon dove into the five circuits, which each included four exercises that focused on the chest and arms, cardio, core, and legs, respectively. A typical round went something like this: pushups, line jumps, walking planks, and jump lunges—each performed for a minute or longer.

While variations of the burpee had all of us panting and sweating buckets, what seemed to elicit the most groans were Horton’s isometric exercises, which required us to hold certain poses—pushups, planks, and squats—for seconds that felt like minutes.

Aside from the major calorie-burning and muscle-toning effects, the real perk of Horton’s workout is that it requires no equipment—not counting a much-needed towel and water bottle. “Doing just ten minutes of this workout is better than doing ten minutes of nothing at all,” Horton said as we finished with a relaxing cooldown while drops of rain began to fall.

And in the end, I was pleased to find out even the fittest of them all got the ass-kicking expected from Horton, who’s trained service members at 36 US military bases around the world. “I would like to say I’m pretty fit,” said Laurie Samuel, program director for the DC Police Department’s Fitness Challenge, “and he kicked my butt.”

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