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P90X doles out the pain to both parties, company president says

August 22, 2012|By Rene Lynch | Los Angeles Times
  • Paul Ryan boasts of body fat between just 6% and 8%, favoring the high-intensity workout P90X.
Paul Ryan boasts of body fat between just 6% and 8%, favoring the high-intensity… (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated…)

The "P" in P90X? It doesn't stand for politics.

The P90X home workout regimen was already wildly successful thanks to a cult following. But it transformed into a household name when Paul Ryan was announced as Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick -- and the media began wondering how Ryan earned that six-pack.

Executives at Beachbody -- the Santa Monica-based company that specializes in home workout programs such as P90X -- watched their website traffic skyrocket and their DVD sales surge as it seemed like, suddenly, everyone was asking: "What is P90X"?

It's the kind of viral PR that a company just can't buy. And with it, company executives find themselves doing a delicate dance to make sure they do not come across as favoring either side of Washington's political aisle.

"No, it doesn't necessarily mean that," Beachbody President Jon Congdon said Monday when jokingly asked whether he and the rest of the company would vote Republican come November. "It really is a bipartisan workout."

Indeed, Congdon used seemingly every opportunity to stress that both Republicans and Democrats alike use P90X. He noted that members of both parties joined in the Ryan-organized P90X workouts in the congressional gym.

"An hour a day in that gym, Democrats and Republicans can agree on one thing," he said: P90X. "I got a tour of the congressional gym.... What was most exciting to me was that it was a very bipartisan thing."

For those who have been living under a rock for the last week, P90X is a grueling, bare-knuckled retort to the Jane Fonda home workout VHS tapes ('member those?) of the 1980s.

P90X-ers embark on a rigorous regimen packed with all manner of push-ups, pull-ups, squats, leaps, sit-ups and pumps.... Every day brings a different routine. The roughly hourlong workouts are designed to be done in the privacy of one's living room, or hotel room, with very little equipment.

Warriors try to do it in 90 or so days. Mere mortals take longer -- if they finish at all.

Ryan, it seems, is in the warrior category. NPR's Ari Shapiro found Ryan in the gym at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Pittsburgh on Tuesday morning, ripping through a workout and showing off a P90X app to a fellow gymgoer.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Congdon noted that the company does not pay anyone to endorse its products. "We usually only find out [about celebrities who do it] because they bought it, they used it, and they got excited about it," he said. But that doesn't mean Tony Horton -- the beloved P90X front-man -- won't take a detour to visit the faithful.

"Tony has been to D.C. a few times and worked out with [Ryan] and Democrats and Republicans alike," Congdon said.

Congdon said he also had the pleasure of crossing paths with some of those very same lawmakers during one of his own visits to D.C., which included meeting President Obama. Congdon said he was introduced to the president as "one of those guys who put out P90X."

Congdon said the president perked up and said: "My wife does that program. I can hardly keep up with her."

OK, OK, we get it! P90X is for everyone, and has no political affiliation.

We would say that perhaps Congdon has Chick-fil-A on the brain. That is, if Congdon ate fast food.

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rene.lynch@latimes.com

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