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This article was published on January 31, 2015

What failing P90x taught me about perseverance

What failing P90x taught me about perseverance
Jason Zook
Story by

Jason Zook

Jason Zook is best known for being the guy that made over $1,000,000 wearing t-shirts for a living and selling his last name (twice). He wri Jason Zook is best known for being the guy that made over $1,000,000 wearing t-shirts for a living and selling his last name (twice). He writes an action-packed newsletter that’s free to join called The Action Army.

Jason Zook is the founder of IWearYourShirt and author of Creativity For Sale. This post originally appeared on his blog.

A few years ago I spent about $150 on the entire P90X DVD set. This included all the DVDs, nutrition guide, the official protein powder and a set of workout resistance bands. The late night informercials finally convinced me that I was going to look like Tony Horton and all the successful “beach body” people in just 90 days.

Once my package of death (I mean, P90X package) arrived I had all the tools at my fingertips to get in amazing shape and become a much healthier person.

Spoiler alert: I only made it to P33X.

For those of you who might not be familiar with P90X, it’s a set of workout videos and a nutrition plan all guided by this ridiculously in-shape personal trainer named Tony Horton. You may notice the “90″ in the name, and that’s because it’s supposed to get you ripped and in “beach body shape,” in just 90 days.

When I popped the first DVD in, I expected to start at P1X; Day one. Something really simple and really doable.


Instead, I was met with a full-blown 52-minute chest and back workout, that included a 6-minute warmup. By the end of the warmup I was drenched in sweat and I felt like my heart was going to explode (not a good sign). I knew I was out of shape, but this made me feel like I was fighting a painfully impossible up-hill battle.

While Tony Horton and all the other incredibly beautiful people in his workout videos were in great shape, I was not. 

I will give credit to Tony Horton. Throughout every single workout video, he tells you to “do your best and forget the rest.” He shows you exercises you can do if you can’t do pull-ups, push-ups, whatever. It seems like he tries to talk to people who are incredibly out of shape and give them hope and inspiration.

So I stuck with Tony. For 33 grueling days, I shoved DVD after DVD into the black box on my TV stand, and I did my “best” and tried my hardest to “forgot the rest.” 

Only, my best never got to be good enough. And during every single punishing minute of every workout all I could think about was the rest.

I spent 33 days trying my hardest to keep up with Tony and the other people in his workout videos, only to feel like I wasn’t good enough every single day. After that 33rd day, I finally gave up. It was after the stupid “Ab Ripper X” workout.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I stopped mid “Crunchy Frog,” turned off my TV, tossed my remote aside in disgust, collapsed on the floor and threw in my sweaty towel on P90X.

For many of us, this is the same experience we have with things associated with our businesses. Maybe you’re just getting started and you feel completely overwhelmed or you’re an existing business and you feel like you’re stuck climbing never-ending uphill battles.

We all need to work at our own pace.


One thing that always killed me with P90X was that I felt like I was constantly behind. I was never doing enough reps of an exercise. I had to take frequent breaks while Tony and his crew moved on to another exercise I could barely do. Eventually, I skipped large portions of the workouts because I felt so defeated. I don’t think the pause button on my remote ever got so much use.

In business you can feel the same way. Maybe you’ve laid out a specific launch plan or marketing strategy? As soon as you dive in (P1X) you find yourself overwhelmed, intimidated and hating the experience. All you want to do is quit.

If you’re trying to model your business after a successful business in your space, it can feel impossible. If you’re just trying to keep your current business afloat with new approaches or strategies, it often feels like nothing is working.

This is the problem with trying to work at someone else’s pace, using someone else’s tips, tactics and whatnot. You need to understand who you are and in what environment you work the best. Just because something worked for another business doesn’t mean it will work for you.

Does it have the chance to? Sure. But if you’re not comfortable with the pace of whatever it is you’re working on, you’re never going to stick with it.

Just because another business or person can do something the P90X way, doesn’t mean that’s the only way it can be done. Take the bits and pieces you like, if any, and apply them to your own work. You definitely don’t want to get discouraged and give up.

As I mentioned, I only ended up doing P33X of P90X. I realized I could do much easier (and less time consuming) workouts and still see results. The process of starting P90X, while not my favorite experience ever, did lead me to successfully getting back in shape in my own way and at my own pace.

You won’t always hit a home run.

I’m not even a baseball fan, but I completely understand the sport, and I know players won’t always hit home runs (maybe if they did, I’d actually like it?).

Sometimes they only hit triples. Sometimes they only hit doubles. Sometimes they only hit singles. Heck, sometimes they even bunt the ball. They’re all perfectly acceptable outcomes when a batter stands at home plate. The only thing they need to avoid is striking out.

When I watched the P90X videos, and I certainly did a lot of watching while catching what seemed like my last dying breath, it felt like I was watching a bunch of home run hitters. No one struggled like me. I simply couldn’t relate to the people on screen that were supposed to inspire me.

What you don’t want to do with your business, the promotion of your next product or service, or your next marketing strategy is strike out. Yes, you might swing and miss on a few things here and there, but you should be able to learn from your mistakes without moving so quickly in the process that you’re bound to repeat them.

Timelines will change and that’s okay.

A Happy Face sits in the middle of a grass lawn in the summer

I completely understand the structure of P90X and how it works. The problem is that not everyone is wired like Tony Horton and his band of merry fitness freaks (er… merry men and women).

Because I felt so discouraged in the beginning and still felt discouraged on Day 33, I didn’t think 90 days would be realistic for me and I gave up. In business, it’s easy to set goals and milestones, but it’s nearly impossible to hit them perfectly.

There will always be things that come up and delay the process. Knowing this ahead of time and not handcuffing yourself to these things will keep you sane and able to deal with adversity when (not if) it comes.

I also never felt like I was celebrating the small victories in P90X. I only ever felt behind. With your business, you should appreciate and enjoy the small successes that come your way. You should embrace the journey to reach your bigger goals and not loathe every single sweaty moment of the process.

Taking some action is better than taking no action.

Doing P90X led me to creating my own workout and nutrition plan that worked for me. Had I not made the commitment to at least try P90X, I never would have given up at it and tried something else. I guess I do have to thank Tony Horton’s abs for that.

We all have fears and feelings of resistance when it comes to our businesses. The key is trying to mitigate those thoughts and feelings. To understand that they exist in our minds and to push past them and at least do something.

Whether you’re just getting started or have a huge plan of attack, the best thing to do is start. From there you can analyze and adjust as you go. You will make mistakes, hit bumps in the road and eventually start to see success.

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