Interview With Fitness Guru Tony Little

This interview originally appeared in

You’ve probably seen him on TV. Tony Little is the ponytailed guy pumping his legs on the Gazelle trainer while yelling “You can do it!”

He’s kind of hard to miss.

When I was offered There’s Always a Way, Tony Little’s latest book, to read and review, I had my doubts. What could I possibly learn from an infomercial fitness guru, besides how to balance my diet and get a no-impact workout?

I’m not the first person to have underestimated Tony Little. After reading his book, I found out that he’s actually a model of determination and perseverance.

Throughout his life, Little has had more setbacks than most. He even lists them at the beginning of his book. They include four car accidents, being drugged and kidnapped, five herniated discs, four reconstructive face surgeries after an accident, being broke, and–impressively–many more.

In There’s Always a Way, Little tells you how he surmounted his challenges to become happy, rich, famous, and successful. The book is full of tips to help you do the same.

I caught up with Little to ask him questions about his book, his positive mindset, and some things that have happened in his life.

DK: From reading your book, it sounds like you’ve had natural sales skills since you were a kid. How much of your success had to do with that natural talent? How much had to do with your hard work and perseverance?

I grew up on a farm in Ohio and was always dealing with other kids for bikes, bows and guns. I needed to make my own money because my mom was a single parent. I worked in pickle fields around the age of 10-11, then worked with army surplus stuff for my grandfather when I was around 13-15. Natural talent is one thing, but it’s extremely important to work hard and never give up.

DK: At one point in your book, you mention Anna Nichole Smith. You said she didn’t display resolve when you worked with her. Is it possible to awaken resolve inside of people? If so, how?

It is definitely possible to awaken resolve in people. A key factor is finding just what it is that inspires and motivates them. With Anna Nicole, I wasn’t a drug counselor and I didn’t know how I could help in that situation. She would just disappear…

DK: You’ve broken the rules various times in order to win. For example, you once put a subliminal message in your performance song during a bodybuilding contest. Some people would say that subliminal messages are cheating. Where do you draw the line between breaking the rules and cheating?

I never thought of what I did as cheating, rather than marketing myself. During the competition you’re referring to, I wanted everyone to see that I was in better shape than anybody else. And I would point to my competition number constantly during the show so the judges would remember who the winner was going to be! Thank God I knew I was in the best shape of my life at the time! I don’t believe in cheating for any goal; a victory is only satisfying when it is legitimate. Marketing and cheating are not absolutely not synonymous!

DK: You’ve helped inspire millions of people to get fit. You know what works. So what do you think the best way is to confront America’s obesity epidemic? What do we need to change?

We need to bring physical education back into our schools and expose our children to fitness at an early age. The awards presented by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness back when I was a kid really motivated many youngsters to be healthy and in good shape. The bottom line is, physical education needs to be put back in our schools.

DK: Any other remarks?

A positive attitude goes a long way! Changing your mindset so that you believe in yourself can change your life forever.

Tony’s official bio:

Fitness expert Tony Little is one of the most financially successful figures to ever appear on television. The ponytailed superstar, famous for his shouts of “You can do it!” has built an empire over the past 20+ years, selling over $3 billion worth of products worldwide, with more than 40 million people owning a product bearing his name. In his recently published motivational business book, “There’s Always a Way” (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), he recounts the numerous adversities he’s faced that would have overwhelmed almost any other person. And along the way, he’s also inspired millions to get in shape and live healthier, happier lives.