Shaun T, the fitness guru who brings us to tears (of joy, mostly) with his Insanity workouts, will headline a three-day Empower! event in Minneapolis, Sept. 17 to 20. I talked to him about his success in a crowded field: 10 million fitness DVDs sold; No. 1 infomercial for seven years running; 1.3 million Facebook fans…and why his workouts are so...insane.
I’m going to cut to the chase. Why are your workouts SO HARD? I think it comes from watching so many fitness DVDs in my early years. I found I got bored very easily—even when the instructor was good. The minute a workout gets easy, I start to drift off. If I’m dying, and can barely do another second, I’m more apt to stay involved.
So let’s back up—how did you get started in fitness? I gained 50 pounds in college. So I switched from communications to sports science and started teaching group exercise. (After earning his BS, Shaun T. entered the corporate world as a health and fitness specialist, working with pharmaceutical companies, and eventually, fitness company Equinox.)
Why do you think your fitness videos have done so well? It’s really about the motivational message. Leaving with the understanding of internal power.
What’s your personal workout routine? I do my own workouts at home—either one of my workout programs, or a play a lot of tennis. I run track and do a lot of drills and sprints. But it’s a business now. So I’m here on the road today, thinking about how I’m going to fit in a workout. I’m thinking it’s definitely an Insanity day—probably pure cardio.
What song really amps up your workout? "Chandelier" by Sia. Doesn’t matter if I’m doing intense cardio or abs, that song is amazing. Also, Missy Elliot’s "Lose Control"—I can do anything to that song.
Since workout clothes are actually your work clothes, do you look forward to dressing up on the weekends? Whenever I put on jeans, it’s like hell is going to freeze over. If I could walk around in basketball shorts and a loose tank top all the time, I would. Last night, I went to dinner with my family at a really nice restaurant. My outfit was dope, and very fitness-y. The hostess looked my up and down, like who are you to dress like that? But I don’t feel like putting on (dressier clothes). I’ve got big, muscular legs. Jeans just don’t work for me.
Bet I can guess what shoes you were wearing. I have a new shoe collection with FILA available at Kohl’s. They’re really functional. I told them I need them tighter, for more power and speed.
Will they help the rest of us at Empower? It's going to be a really great event, and a great way for everyone to show off their skills from working out at home.
And if we've, perhaps, been a bit lax about those home workouts lately, any advice? Don't drink your calories.