Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Interview with Pam the Blam - Part Three

Parts One and Two were just the appetizers, folks. Part Three of my interview with Pam the Blam is the main course: It's all about the P90X video shoot.

Check it out after the jump.


What was your first impression of Tony Horton?

[Laughs.] What was my impression? I thought, “Wow, this guy is over the top!” That’s what I thought.

When I first started P90X a couple of months ago, I actually had a really negative reaction to Tony, but looking back, I think part of it was because I was kind of angry at him for putting me through the hell that I was going through. And on top of that, he was cracking these really stale, old vaudeville-type jokes. It didn’t help that I had to hear them over and over again every time I repeated a workout. It drove me crazy.

You should have put him on mute!  There’s an option on the DVDs to do that! [Laughs.]

Is Tony the same in person that he is in the videos?

I will say that what you’re seeing in the DVDs is Tony’s training persona – his public persona. I’ve seen him outside of a training environment, when he’s not leading a class, and while he’s still really upbeat and extroverted, the whole shtick is not there. He’s a very nice man.

[When Tony's training people,] he comes across like, “hey, dude!” [imitating Tony] and he's loud and cracks jokes and tries to be the life of the party, but that’s what it takes to motivate people. Not everybody responds to that.  And a lot of people had different opinions about him in the class, but he gets you through the workouts. He’s cracking jokes, and he gets you through it.

I've gone back and re-read my first few weeks of blog posts, when I’m constantly complaining about Tony. But these days, I don’t have much to say about him because now I'm totally used to how he acts. He’s become just another part of my day.

Yeah, he’s your buddy now – he gets you through your workouts. And at the end, you have to thank him. But I would certainly put it on mute.  I do that now whenever I break out my P90X DVDs.  I really like the yoga, but I turn off his talking.

I’ll give it a try.  When did he start calling you “Blam”?

During filming. That was spontaneous.

That’s interesting, because Tony gives the impression that he’d been calling you “Blam” for a while. I’d assumed he started calling you “Blam” during the test group pilot.

Hmm. Maybe Tony did call me that in the class, but during the test group, he wasn’t really picking people out and drawing attention to them. He was being encouraging, but it’s not like we had a friendship type of relationship with him. Tony was the instructor, and of course you could ask him questions and talk to him. He was accessible, but it wasn’t that kind of buddy-buddy relationship.

So how were you asked to participate in the videos?

During the test group, no one in the group even knew that this was going to be a video series.  We had no idea. We were just showing up for the 90 days, doing this program, taking advantage of the free supplements. We were thinking that at the end of the day, we were going to be in better shape and then we’d go home and get together every once in a while to check your progress with the people with whom you became friends. But we had no idea or expectations about what was to come from that test group. I had never even heard of Beachbody, though now I know they have all of these other products.

While we were doing the test group pilot, they were doing little videotaped interviews to see out how people were feeling about the program, and how it was going for them.  When I was interviewed, I was like, “yeah, it’s fine.” Like I said, I wasn’t really all that into it at the time.

But after the test group, I got a call.  Someone contacted me and said, “hey, we want to talk to you about being in the P90X video.” And I said, “No thanks, I’m not interested.” And then they said, “we’ll pay you,” so I said “Oh! Why didn’t you say so?” [Laughs.]

I’m surprised you weren’t interested in the first place, because it would have been a great experience to collect!

It is kind of weird, isn’t it?  It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but I just wasn’t interested. I was kind of over it, and at the time, I didn’t want to do it. 

I finally said okay, I’ll do it, but I don’t want to do the Plyometrics video. I love the core workout, but I did not love the Plyo workout. I told them that if I get to choose which one I’m in, I absolutely do not want to be in Plyo. But then they put me in Plyo anyway! [Laughs.]

You’re great in it! 

Thanks, but you see that I’m doing the low-key version, right?

Where you modify by stepping instead of jumping during some of the moves.


You mentioned that everyone in the DVDs had to sign away their residuals, so you just received a one-time payment, right?


Where were the videos shot? Was it the same place where you did the test group pilot?

No, they had a studio built out specifically for it.  It was on a studio lot. 

Was there a rehearsal process, or did you just have to jump in?

I don’t remember any rehearsals. We did a wardrobe fitting, and we may have done a test run, but it wasn’t like we went back and rehearsed the moves.

Were you nervous?

Of course! This was going to be preserved in posterity for the ages for everyone to see! I may look like I’m calm, but I was really focused on not messing up and listening for Tony’s cues. I wanted to make sure they didn’t have to say “cut” because of me.

Did you practice a lot before the filming?

No, the filming was soon enough after the test group pilot, so I didn’t need to practice. [Scheduling the filming right after the fit group pilot] was a smart thing for them to do because if they’d waited a long time, people would lose their fitness gains and they might not even be able to get through the workout.

It looks like they shot the videos without breaks or edits.

Oh yeah – no cuts.  I’m sure they edited it later for different angles, but there was no cutting. You can see we’re sweating, we’re huffing. We were really working out.

How well did you know the other people before you shot the videos? I’m assuming you knew them from the test group?

Some of the people in the videos were test group participants, but some of the other folks were fillers. [Tony or others at Beachbody] knew these other people who came in. For example, one of my favorites, fitness queen Dreya [Weber] was not part of the test group. She was a person who just has an extraordinary level of fitness through her work [as an aerialist] and doing work on music videos and tours, so she was able to just come in and do it. Her husband [Ned Farr] shot all of the footage [for P90X]. He's a really nice guy and probably used to her getting all the attention!

Did you get to know a lot of the people who you were filming with?

No, not really. 

That makes sense, because if each video was shot in one continuous take, I’m assuming you’d just say hello before and goodbye after.

That’s more or less it. I may have seen some of them at a wrap party or release party, but no, I didn’t get to know them. Not at all. I’m just thinking back about the people in my particular videos – nope.

But did you know any of the video participants from the test group?

Oh, yeah -- definitely.  But of course, you only get to know certain people in the test group when you’re busy working out. One person I knew is Maren – she actually lived in my building. She’s a really strong girl, and I believe she’s a fitness trainer. We went to the same gym, and I knew her before P90X.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Actually, Maren was a porn star. I'm not kidding.]

You could have carpooled!

Yes, we could have, but we didn’t.  But I knew her and kept in touch with her afterwards.  I also know Joe Bovino – I hung out with him a couple of times afterwards. And Laura, too.  She and I went to the same gym, and she’s the one who actually got me to go to the test group originally.

Tony said Laura was in the test group with her daughter, right?

Yes – her daughter was kind of touch-and-go, but she was in the test group.

But Laura powered through the whole thing.

Yes, Laura was very committed to the program because she saw the benefits of it early on. She’s the kind of person who – even before the program – planned out her meals every day: “For breakfast, I have my oatmeal and egg whites and chicken breast.” She was very strict with her diet and very much into her health and fitness.

That’s great – a lot of people who are transformed by P90X, and turn into the Lauras of the world, who take the time to plan their meals and take their personal fitness seriously.

It’s absolutely incredible. I had no idea P90X would turn into what it has. And like I said, I had absolutely no foresight -- I was just going for a workout! I just thought, “Okay, this is something new and different, it’s for 90 days, you’ll do it and you’ll get all this other stuff, and whatever happens, happens. Maybe I’ll get something out of it and maybe I won’t.  But to see it turn into this massive explosion all these years later – that, to me, is really the incredible part.
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Click here to read Part Four, in which Pam talks about getting recognized in public and her life post-P90X!