Sunday, April 05, 2009

Esthetic Technical Line

I was skiing in Jackson Hole Wyoming this past week, which I believe to be one of the most spectacular mountains in North America. I ski Aspen, Whistler/Blackhome, Alta, Snowbird, Mammoth, Squaw Valley, Targhee, Crested Butte and others but there's something truly special about Jackson Hole. Jackson is also one of the most difficult mountains I have ever skied. There are more double black diamond runs on that hill than anywhere. This mountain will eat you alive. If you're looking for steep, narrow runs with plenty of tight trees and cliff bands then Jackson Hole is the place for you.

Every time I go to Jackson I meet up with my dear friend Steve Holmsen. Steve is a super fit life-eater who loves skiing, mountain biking, rock climbing, mountaineering and anything else that involves the great outdoors. He was my "Steep & Deep" ski instructor 4 seasons ago and we've remained friends ever since. Steve is also my workout partner while I'm at the resort. Our workouts are crazy intense and mildly competitive, in a good way. We just love to push each other. Every one of our workouts are done on the fly. Never a preset routine. We'll pick 2 or 3 body parts and see if we can destroy the other guy. Pushing hard and flying by the seat of our pants, just like on the hill.

These routines always involve plenty of balance and stabilization exercises. All the leg work, core exercises and much of the upper body exercises are done on a stability ball, Bosu Ball™ or basket ball. These routines/exercises prep the body for the ever changing terrain at Jackson Hole. You're not just sitting down doing biceps curls, you're standing on one leg (on the flat side of a Bosu Ball™) doing biceps curls, followed by swimmer's presses. Talk about Synergistic exercises. Holy crap! When Steve introduced me to this stuff it was like starting all over again.

I love technique based exercises anyway (yoga, plyo, kenpo, gymnastics, etc.) but balance/stability work brings in a whole new, very powerful dimension. It forces all your core muscles, connective tissue, ligaments, tendons and many (formally untapped) tiny muscles in the body to get involved during every single repetition. There is plenty of "Muscle Confusion" during these workouts. Lateral leaping plyometric push-ups off of a basketball or one-legged squats on the backside of a Bosu Ball™ changes the game completely. If your body isn't ready for this stuff or your technique is off, you will get hurt.

When I'm on the mountain with Steve he loves to ski what he calls "Esthetic Technical Lines." This kind of skiing usually involves a very precise specific path down a ski run. These type of runs are not for the unskilled casual skier. They are usually steep, narrow chutes peppered with trees and rocks. They require a plan and an attitude before entering them. One mistake can result in a twisted knee, broken bones, a concussion or worse. This kind of skiing might seem insane to some. To me skiing this way is a metaphor for life. The hard work done in the gym the day before prepares you to ski an esthetic technical line. The time and energy you put into your work, family and fitness will also determine how much joy, happiness and success you'll have in this life.

I don't mean to turn a story about exercises and skiing into an esoteric lesson for life but I do want to point out that we all have multiple options when it comes to our journey on this earth. I know for myself that when I choose to take positive steps toward conquering difficult, scary and compelling challenges, I end up learning things that change me forever. I'm not talking about taking silly dangerous risks with the hope of a positive outcome. I'm also positive that hoping, wishing and just wanting something rarely produces anything. I do know that small steps, practice, hard work, asking for help, falling down once in a while, plus a healthy dose of determination will help you find your way down that esthetic technical line.


Khashayar said...

"The hard work done in the gym the day before prepares you to ski an esthetic technical line. The time and energy you put into your work, family and fitness will also determine how much joy, happiness and success you'll have in this life."

I learned this firsthand Tony a year ago at the age of 34 (the age at which many people I know think it's too late to want to be fit and you simply have to let go) when I found out about you and P90X and later by learning more about you and your philosophy of life. Each time you remind us of the correlation between fitness and happiness, you also remind me personally to come and thank you in person for being such a great source of inspiration to all of us who now look at life in a different way because of you.

Your Iranian friend,

Khashayar in Toronto, Canada.

Kimbo said...

Tony! I love you. I have a total fitness crush. Just found this blog and it's amazing. I'm a personal trainer and just started p90x and I love it. Kicks my butt everyday and I can't wait for my workouts. I recommend Salt Lake City for skiing. Ever been to Alta or the Canyons?

Kari said...

Tony, once again you've hit on exactly what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it.

P.S. I saw a picture of you in your glasses. You should wear them more often, as it's cute.

nick from ny said...

Hey Tony,

Thanks so much for answering my everyday "personal" question about life and taking risks. I've struggled with this subject for most of my life and still have days where my self-esteem and will power are severely lacking, even though there really is no reason for it.

However, you really hit the nail on the head when you say that it's ok to fall down once in a while, as long as you keep looking forward, moving forward. It's also ok to ask for help and check your ego in at the door-;) Pride is probably one of the greatest sins known to man, and most likely one of the deadliest. Think of all the deadly incidents in the world that could have been avoided had people decided to communicate and throw their self-centered egos to the wind... Does 9/11 ring a bell?? "Those who humble themselves shall be exalted"--hmm, wonder who said that??

The fear factor is another sticking point with me, but as you say, when you correctly prepare yourself through consistent hard work and determination, that fear suddenly becomes a moot point. That esthetic technical line comes by doing, not just by fantasizing.

Thanks again for reminding me that risk can be good, when you're ready for it. Arrrgggh!


Nicky said...


First off, just on to my second day of P90X and, of course, I'm loving it. I'm blown away by what an awesome attitude you encourage throughout the whole program. The exercises are great, but it is the mentality you encourage that is truly unique.

That's what drew me towards your blog, which I am loving as well.

I would really like to get your blog on my RSS feed, though, and don't see the option anywhere. It would be great if you could hook yourself up with a feedburner account and offer a link to your feed. Here are instructions on how to do that:

Feel free to get in touch if you have any trouble with it. My email is nhajal [@] gmail [.] com

Thanks Tony!

Nicky said...

Ha, second week, not second day. :)

KateFit said...

Tony, Let's review the meaning of the word "Esoteric".

es-o-ter-ic [es-uh-ter-ik]
–adjective 1. understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest; recondite: poetry full of esoteric allusions.

This knowledge is not meant for a select few. It should be broadcast to the world. So therefore, not esoteric. You are an excellent teacher whose views and reflections on your life experiences make us all think deeply and believe more than we did before we read you.

I read this blog everyday and it has helped and is continuing to help me become a better person, lover of life & challenge/risk taker. I never realized how inhibited I was until I started reading your stuff. I continue to push myself everyday a little further in everything and I am a better person for it. Enjoying the journey, not just rushing towards the goal. Thank you as always and keep it up!

Glad you had a great time in Jackson Hole! Peace, Kate

Anonymous said...

Hiya everyone:

I tried to the the routines indicated, problem is my knees are shot. No bending or squatting is doable, can't put pressure on the knees while on the "ball" - any alternative ideas?


Anonymous said...

Hey Tony,

My wife and I are in our 9th week of P90X, and we are hooked. My wife was one of those "Im never gonna stop going to the gym" freak kind of people...but i must say she is amazing. Needless to say she has not seen the inside of the gym in 9 weeks. Anyways, my wife miscarried a few months back (prior to starting your workouts), and we are gonna start trying to get pregnant again shortly. Just wondering if your wonderful workouts are safe for pregnant women, or if you have ever thought of making a video or set of videos for the pregnant women. My wife and I are both hooked on how we feel since starting your videos.

Thanks for your inspirtation, motivation and most of all TIME..


MarkoX said...

Hey Tony,

whats up, I have 2 questions for yah just message me however you can cause im still new at this XD

1. I'm 16, so if i complete P90X will i get ripped or should i try and wait until im 20 even though i really dont want to

2. For some of the exercises can i focus on one part then to the other the second time so for biceps i do the whole video with only my right arm then redu the whole video with my left arm or do i have to use both arms at the same time like that in the videos


MarkoX said...

oh shit sorry MarkoX is my account on beachbody so send me your answer there if you can

Shell said...

Hey Tony,
I am so amazed at the difference that P90 has made for me. I am 34 years old and a mother of twins! P90 is so tough, but wow at the results I have achieved. Honestly you cannot tell now that I have had children! Recently someone ask me what doctor did the work on my stomach, and it felt so great to say alot of hard work, sweat, and most of all COMMITMENT! I am very excited and would like for the P90 team to see my results, but really do not know how to go about it. Can you help me? I would like to inspire other women and help them to see that it is not impossible to have a fit, muscular body after giving birth. It is all about commitment and to be determined to make that change. It is shocking to see how lean and defined it has made me!

Mike579 said...

Ack! I am scared of heights! Mountains...forget bout it!

Rae said...

w00t! FINALLY AT LONG LAST! Subscription and RSS feed capabilities! WOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOO.

*ahem* thank you. :)

Paul Kolbe said...

Hey Tony,

You are The Man. I had a minor elbow injury while snowboarding and had to restart P90X :(

So now i am going into my second week, again. that is OK, because I LOVE IT.

Anyways, i know you ski, but man, you have to get on that snowboard! It is hard and it hurts at first, but i know you love a challenge.


Nicky said...

Thanks for the RSS Tony :)

Anonymous said...

Jackson Hole is a beautiful place. Went there two years (and 50 lbs heavier) ago. Never skied there though. Great blog - thanks for taking the time to pass on your thoughts on health and fitness.

Kim Rakauskas said...

I've been to Jackson Hole...but this comment doesn't have much to do with that...i apologize... Sooooo Tony...I have wondered why i had a zillion at-home workouts, and you were the only one who didn't annoy me....and then i was just researching how to contact you to ask a question, and I find that you're a fellow Rhode Islander, and I thought....OF COURSE. We're all a bit quirky...and i hope that doesn't offend you because I mean that in a completely endearing way, as i'm sure you understand...because you're quirky. Anyway, I'm writing to you from the Matunuck area... summer's almost here... time to surf and all that...actually, people have been surfing all winter...instead of Bess Eaton coffee shops, now we have Tim Horton's, and the other day I called it Tony Horton's...except they just partnered with Cold Stone Creamery and i don't think that's the low-sodium tomato-bisque of dairy delicacies.... but my question is- everyone always talks about exercise modifications for people with weak knees...but what about younger people that don't necessarily have weak knees, but rather knees are sensitive because they are 'knock kneed'? (pretty sure that's not the technical term...) no one addresses seems that i put more stress on my knees at a certain degree...and they end up aching a bit...but i know that i can take the excercises and don't want to modify so they're easier...just so that they compensate for the weird mom used to make me sit cross legged every day watching cartoons when i was a little girl... and it worked some, otherwise i'd be a pretzel, and in most situations i don't notice, but especially plyo and jumping i notice the next day. Anyway, greetings from RI...come back and visit soon...hope you still have the RI vibe about you...and because you're from RI and i feel that i can solicit you for the sake of should come and do the save the bay swim... i did it last summer and it's a blast- swim from Newport to Jamestown...about 2 miles... quite an experience... i'm pretty sure the quohogs appreciate it...they started to have the Iron man in RI last year too... well, i'm sure i'll get made fun of for this diatribe by the next commenter, but for what it's worth...i had every intention of keeping it strictly excercise-related... but eerily...somehow you understand.

Coach Courtney said...

First off~It was incredibly awesome being able to meet you at the Grand Prize Show at Summit 2009! You are truly an awesome person and I love you for not only your workouts but how down to earth you are!

Second~And this is sorta related to this post but I live VERY CLOSE to Mount Crested Butte so next time you are in the area we should do lunch! Although ski season is over for us Maybe next winter we can workout together!

Keep up the great work and again Love ya for all that you do for so many people!

Coach Courtney

sbarrett said...

Tony, what an amazing inspiration you are. You have a God-given gift of motivation!! I love P90X- I did Plyo for the first time today> My husband and I did the Lean cycle b/c it didn't have Plyo in it (he severally broke his ankle last year) **Holy cow it is the mother of all the workouts. You are awesome - I love your sense of humor in the morning.. Getting out of bed at 5:00 is sometimes really tough.. You make it worth while!!!

Marketing said...

Hi Tony,

Is there anyway people in Holland could follow your P90X program?


Flo said...

You should take a look at this crap...

Lots of fallacies in this study...

Anonymous said...


Great Stuff! Check out the blog below. It supposed to be a funny site, but the back story is that these guys are really trying to change thier lives. All encouraging comments are welcome.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tony, not related to this blog. I was just wondering how many times you eat in a day

Chris said...

I am having trouble getting rid of the "looseness" in the cage. I probably have strong stomach muscles, however they can not be seen. I want to know who knows how to deplete the fat in that mid section area.

Jason Zipper Mazepa said...

First off, Hiya Tony....
And Second, Whats the word these days? Hope all is well and give an update on your blog here. Over a month now. :)


JoshPanter said...


Greetings from Ann Arbor, MI

Just wanted to say THANK YOU for enabling rss feeds! It makes following this blog SO MUCH EASIER!

That and thanks for kicking so much ass!

Paul Judt said...

Yo brah,

First of all I want to thank you for all you've done for us regular guys. I'm no stranger to exercise as I spent the first decade of my life in the United States Marine Corps. Did my part for king and country and became a "regular" person. Eat anything and everything throwing caution to the wind. I finally took charge at 235 lbs at only 5'10". Started out with P90X, moved on to the X Plus, and now look forward to the monthly One on Ones. Now I'm running between 170 and 175 with the zeal of life I hadn't had since my 20's (now 39). The reason I post to this current blog is a request for assistance for everyone. I'm from Seattle and was a skier/snowboarder. Finally tired of the 9 month winters I moved to Southern Cal with you. I picked up Surfing. This is simply a beautiful sport and I recommend everyone do it. My question has to do with endurance on the board. Although your exercises are total body, it seems to lean a little more toward legs for sports like skiing. Do you have any recommendations for arms specifically for endurance... at least the paddling motion? I find that I tire fairly easy paddling my board. I'm only able to stay in the water an hour or two before I feel spent. Trying to surf with these guys in their 20s is leaving me with sand in my face even though I can hang with them in every other athletic area. So, perhaps you could throw something into the One On Ones that will assist us Surfers and give the skiers a break. ;) Thanks.


Shining Light said...

You inspire. I have talked to several that have transformed their bodies bc of your workouts. Many thanks.

Val said...

Would love to see a one on one with Tony Horton using the Bosu ball!!

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Brad said...


Have to agree with you about Jackson Hole. That first run is wicked steep. I did plyometrics twice a week the month before. Legs were burning, but not as bad as my friends who do not do P90X. I made them believers. I was able to "Shred the Gnar" for the next 3 days while my friends struggled to make it half the day.

Thanks for P90X.


jcwalburger said...

I hate you... but I love you!

You need to come speak in Austin sometime so we can meet you. Keep up the good work.


Anonymous said...

Tony where have you been? Please come back and write on your blog. We miss you!!!


Anonymous said...

What is a great way get thousands of people to follow your blog? Do a new post! I used to follow this blog like religeon, checking for a new post every day....I wonder how many others have given up hope of seeing a post?

Anonymous said...

Tony - I'm a little late to this "blog" and I have to agree that Jackson is really amazing. If you like steep and trees, have you tried Red Mountain Resort in Rossland, BC???? AMAZING skiing and more wonderful backcountry stuff!!!!

Anonymous said...

Do you have copy writer for so good articles? If so please give me contacts, because this really rocks! :)

Anonymous said...

Good to see you at Terra Hotel in the work out room together with Steve... I was doing the 2010 Adaptive Steep and Deep!!

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