Gus, a 39-year-old lawyer in Florida, hates working out at home. He’s never liked it, no matter how many decades of ultimate home gym commercials he’s been forced to sit through. “I remember when P90X came out, the commercials and infomercials were pretty ubiquitous, but back then, I really wasn’t into fitness and didn’t work out at all,” he tells me. “Honestly, I’ve never really done any home-fitness routines, because I just don’t like working out at home.”
As such, Gus admits that with gyms being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he spent the first month of the quarantine “eating and drinking too much.” But two weeks ago, he had the sudden realization that his 40th birthday is just four months away. “I decided to get my ass in gear and start getting fit again,” he tells me. “I also just started hating myself for gaining weight and wanted to nip it in the bud before it got worse.”
And where did he turn for help?
P90X, of course.
“It was the first one that came to mind,” he says, all that infomercial ubiquity paying off. “I remembered that it had a reputation for being pretty intense, which it is.”
Katherine, a 35-year-old in Wyoming, was given the P90X DVD set back in 2012 by her sister. Despite recovering from spinal fusion surgery, Katherine’s first attempt at P90X was short-lived. “At the time, I was unable to do certain movements,” she tells me. “I wanted to try the program, but it was so hard. I couldn’t keep up and figured that I just wasn’t fit enough for it.”
When quarantine hit, however, something clicked. “I read that people who are obese are at a higher risk of getting coronavirus,” she says. “That was the last week of March, so I just decided I was over being out-of-shape and sick of being depressed with how I felt and looked. So I dusted off the DVDs and gave it another try — like, for real this time.”
After just three weeks, Katherine says she’s “keeping up with all the reps” and that she “upped [her] weights as well.” “I feel great,” she continues. “I work out six days a week, some weeks seven, because I just feel so much better afterward. I can run up steps and not be winded. I’m seeing changes in my arms, and my clothes are fitting so much better than they have in a long time. I feel like a noob for being so late to the party, but something about P90X and [creator/trainer] Tony Horton makes it enjoyable.”
To her last point, while the program doesn’t have quite the cult following it had back in the 2010s, Katherine and Gus have definitely discovered some fellow P90X devotees on the subreddit r/P90X, which has seen a jump in subscribers since r/LifeProTips posted that P90X is free on the internet archive.
And so, when not working out, the new converts take to r/P90X to share advice, motivation, and duh, memes:
“The workouts themselves are intense, but in a way that feels attainable,” says Gus, who is two weeks into the 15-year-old program. “Even if I can’t do the move they do in the video, it feels like only weeks or months away before I can. Likewise, I’m nowhere near in the shape of the people in the video, but it doesn’t feel like an impossibility that I’d reach that level either.”
For Arthur, a 27-year-old in Texas, it’s all about Horton. “He’s like a lovable, non-aggressive guy who seems like he really wants to help,” Arthur explains. “Plus, his dad jokes and catchphrases — ‘Pam the blam,’ ‘German potato soup,’ ‘Backing up like a ‘pterodactyl!’ — make it easy to come back week after week. You kind of look forward to them and use them as milestones.”
“Yeah, everyone’s clothes are a little dated,” Katherine admits. “But Tony’s comments are hilarious — if cringey at times — and the man did make a great workout program.”
“Whenever I do it, it feels like coming back home, and Tony is always there to greet me and kick my butt,” Arthur adds.
The man himself, Horton (who has since moved into the supplement game), isn’t shocked that people are finding him again after 15 years. “The resurgence of P90X during these unusual and difficult times is no surprise really because the principles haven’t changed,” he tells me. “Oddly enough, there still isn’t anything out there like it.”
But that doesn’t mean he isn’t humbled by it all. “Sometimes it takes a worldwide pandemic for people to reprioritize the things in their lives,” he continues. “I’m super honored to be part of a growing group of people who understand how important it is now, more than ever, to prioritize their health and that wellness can also be a life-and-death decision.”