I am no celebrity worshipper, but I have to confess I was nervous about meeting exercise guru Tony Horton.
For my 50th birthday, my bride got me (among other gifts) tickets for this year’s Central PA Health & Fitness Expo at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center.
The centerpiece of the event was a meet-and-greet with Tony (he of the P90X workout fame), a chance to hear him as a keynote speaker, and, best of all, to participate in a workout he was leading.
So here I am on line with dozens of others, waiting to meet Tony, shake hands, chat and get an autograph and a photo.
The closest I’ve ever come to a brush with celebrity was in 1978, when I met then-New York City Mayor Edward Koch and got his autograph. Though Koch was the leader of the greatest city in the world, he did not sell nearly five million pieces of exercise DVDs closing in on nearly $1 billion in sales.
That distinction would belong to Tony Horton, who I was getting closer to meeting as the line progressed.
He could not have been more warm, gracious and funny. A total mensch.
I told him what an inspiration he was (he’s 56 BTW and totally shredded) and at one point I put a hand over his and told him I was sorry about his dad’s recent death.
His composure changed visibly. You could see he was truly touched by the sympathy. He called his dad’s death a “goofy,” unexpected loss and said he should have had 10 more years in him.
He was totally genuine. Not an ounce of phony. He was super generous with his time.
Then came his keynote speech, the highlights of which were: “Do your best and forget the rest.”
My favorite advice? Don’t feel 100 percent? Go and work out anyway.
“Go in there and stink it up” by giving only 20, 30 or 40 percent. But just do it.
He spoke enthusiastically and passionately about exercise, about overcoming his own obstacles in life (a grade C student with a speech impediment who in his early adult years was $60,000 in debt).
And then came the workout. I never smiled so much busting my hump as I did this day. I was joined by 130 others who jumped, grunted, burpeed, ran and push-upped our way through the 40-minute routine.
Tony roamed the room, coaching people, encouraging them and correcting their form.
At one point during the warm-up, he pointed at me and winked as if to say: “Yeah, you got it!”
The capstone came at the end of the workout.
I turned to this guy next to me (in his early 30s, I would guess) and I told him how he had absolutely crushed the exercises.
He looked at me and said: “Can I ask how old you are, sir?”
I told him I turn 50 in a couple of weeks.
He shook my hand firmly and said: “Every move, you just were killing it!”
Yes!!!!! Bring it!