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REVIEW: Tony Horton’s The Next Level – Season 1



Tony Horton's Next Level

Trainer - 90%
Production Values - 90%
Strength - 80%
Cardio - 80%
Cost/Value - 60%


A worthy successor to P90X, despite the name change. The restrictions on foreign access and the additional streaming service fees will sadly put this out of reach for many consumers.

User Rating: 3.59 ( 25 votes)

First, a little backstory; Tony Horton and Beachbody decided some time ago to go their separate ways.  It seemed peculiar to me that such a thing could even happen, given the almost interchangeable nature of the two.  But I’m not privy to boardroom discussions and the shenanigans that take place behind closed doors.  For many of us it was like watching Dad pack a suitcase to follow his dream of being a lounge musician.  Apparently Tony still has some connections with Beachbody, but business wise they’re done.

What made me wonder most of all was who would become the distributor for Tony’s new endeavor.  Maybe Tony would start up his own brand as he seems to have done with other things.  Nope.  Then I saw that Gaiam was the new home for Tony’s fitness videos.  Gaiam?  There’s Amazon Prime, Netflix, YouTube Premium, Hulu, Roku TV, etc, etc…and Gaiam came out on top?

Gaiam should thank their lucky stars they wooed Tony.  Because like the hot blond cheerleader, these folks are dating way above their pay-grade.  I suspect when Tony wants caviar and a foot rub, they send the CEO over to deliver both personally.

That also meant a problem for guys like me.  As a Canadian, gaining access to this was so inconvenient that I more or less said, “the Hell with it”.  The Canuck version of Amazon Prime isn’t even good enough for Beachcomber reruns ( nobody outside Canada will get that reference ).  And then one of my readers…an angel from heaven, if you will…gave me the fast track to success.  By means of a VPN and a Roku subscription, I finally had access.  That meant it was time to get down to the business of reviewing The Next Level.

Few things are more Canadian than doing end runs around government restrictions.

What You Need

If you’ve outfitted yourself per P90X standards, you’re already good to go.  A set of weights, a pull-up bar ( season 2 ) and maybe a plyo-mat for good measure.  You’ll also need to pony up a subscription to Gaiam TV.  It’s $6.99 US a month and that’s usually in addition to another streaming service.  Aside from watching Next Level, Gaiam’s offerings are kind of useless unless you’re a yoga freak.  Even US Amazon Prime members need to pony up the extra fee.  I’ll be discussing this later on.

The Big Burn

Time:  56 minutes

Remember when we used to do an actual warm up before a video-workout?  Problem is, in order to get those “30 minute” workouts, corners had to be cut.  Well Tony has brought it back.  Sure, it adds time…but your potential for injury drops considerably.  Especially for the next 45 minutes that will have cardio/plyo.

There you go. That's the workout.

The three cast members provide 3 levels of difficulty in traditional P90X fashion.  In fact, a lot here has a P90X feel.  Especially the set which has a familiar abandoned warehouse look.

Enduro Strength

Time: 65 minutes

Beachbody alumni Bobby and Alice return and all is now balanced in the universe.  Don’t know what it is about Bobby, but the guy kills me ever since P90X.  Hell, you could have Bobby sitting in a chair drinking a protein shake for an hour and I’d be ok with it, although my wife might get weirded-out.  This is 3 rounds of 10 compound movements.  Its not reps, but time.  Usually around 60 seconds.  It’s total body with squats, presses, burpees, and push-ups.

This guy deserves a WWE style into.

High Gear

Time: 69 minutes

Jump squats, jacks, kicks and other various cardio moves.  It has a Core Synergistics vibe to it as the core is engaged by the frequent use of weights.

High Gear gives good cardio without being bogged down in needless complexity.

Core of the Earth

1 round of 8 moves for 30 seconds.  Tony says it’s not abs.  Well, it’s abs.  You move from crunches to planks to give the core/abs a pretty darn good burn.  Think Ab Ripper X with a bit more teeth.

A worthy successor to Ab Ripper X.

The Pulse

Time: 44 minutes

Two rounds of ten moves of all cardio.  It’s low impact cardio and plyometrics with some pulse positions ( squats/planks ).

Bottom Dollar

Time: 41 minutes

Fifteen moves that attack everything from the waist down.  There are no weights in this one.  If you’re familiar with Plyo X, this is very much in the same venue as this is strictly jump training.

A natural alternative to the original Plyo X.

Toughen Up

Time: 65 minutes

Grab some medium level weight as the reps are 60 seconds.  Presses, rows, planks, kickbacks, curls.  It’s all waist up today.  And you repeat the rounds a lot.  By the time the hour is up, those arms are going to be gassed.


So is Next Level worth the subscription fee?  For a month, sure.  Any more than that, no.  Sorry, but $7 US a month to access one solitary workout series is crazy, especially since a few bucks more gets you Netflix.  The best option is to pay for a month subscription and get your fill, then cancel when you realize Gaiam has jack squat else to offer.  Of course, if you live outside the US, then too bad.

Why Tony chose to go this route I have no explanation.  All I can say is that from a consumer perspective, going with Gaiam was lunacy because everything else on that channel sucks, not to mention the abysmal international access.

But what about the workout series itself?  Well, thankfully that news is far better.

What is abundantly clear is that Next Level follows in the footsteps of P90X.  In fact, that’s probably why Beachbody is not the distributor.  Allow me to elaborate.

I think we can all agree that lately, Beachbody has become the “half-hour” workout channel.  With few exceptions, very little dares to exceed 45 minutes anymore.  Not here.  All but one of the workouts exceed 1 hour just like the original P90X.  Is that a good thing?  In my opinion, yes.  Sorry folks, but this half-hour fitness craze is not a long term strategy to break any plateaus.  When P90X first came out, the expectation was that we as a consumer, had to strive to become good enough to get through it.

And then the bean-counters got involved.

Filthy mother...

That meant things got trimmed to have broader appeal to a base that grew up getting participation trophies.  True, it brought in revenue…but at the expense of a diluted product.  So with that in mind, look at Next Level not as something new, but rather as a return to former things.  I have more insights to add, but will save my final analysis for the followup review which will be Next Level: Season 2.

John Paul Parrot ( aka. The Dysfunctional Parrot ) is a disgruntled Systems Analyst who wanders the Canadian wastelands saving small villages with the power of Kung Fu.  His chair is also a little too close to the twenty year old microwave.  As you can well imagine, this has had certain side effects.



  1. Jordan Varley

    August 31, 2020 at

    So, how did you get access to it? I’m a fellow Canuck.

    • John Paul Parrot

      September 2, 2020 at

      Had to make an account with Roku through a VPN. From there I was able to subscribe.

  2. Damo

    August 7, 2020 at

    I wonder why Tony doesn’t have any workout schedules for TNL? In the intro video he suggests alternating between strength and cardio and doing a recovery workout every few days and but it means needing to plan the sequences yourself if you’re going to do the program.

    Anyway it looks pretty good and I agree with your sentiment about TNL being what P90X3 should have been. Some of the sets on “Push-Pull-Palooka” look a bit difficult though. I’m a big fan of “The Challenge” from X3 and still do it regularly.

  3. Tom

    July 29, 2020 at

    Totally agree but I’m excited to see what you think of season 2. I’ve been doing next level for a couple of months now and for the most part season 2 is the stronger entry overall. With the exception of bottom dollar and occasionally toughen up, I tend to look more forward and use season 2 more refularly

  4. Aaron

    July 28, 2020 at

    Funny how you criticize 30 minutes as trying to shortcut fitness. Remember sauna suits, the hula chair, 8 Minute Abs? That’s what made P90X so special; Tony promised major results, but also hard work. Of course, the constant cries of EXTREME also pushed the norm so far in the other direction that we have amateurs injuring themselves by jumping straight into Crossfit and Spartan races and thinking they’re hardcore for doing so.

    As for TNL, I hope Tony retained the rights so he can distribute it some other way. It seems like a good enough workout, but ever since Gaiam got into pseudoscience and conspiracy theory documentaries (through their other streaming service, Gaia TV), I’d rather not support them.

    Or maybe it won’t matter, because Tony’s next big announcement is coming today. He’s pretty much said it’ll be a new program, and that it’ll be worldwide, so hopefully no VPN shenanigans.

  5. Mike

    July 28, 2020 at

    Are you going to do an overall rating for the program once you’ve reviewed season two? Also, it looks like you rated the program lower because it’s on Gaiam (which I get; that’s the main reason I haven’t tried this thing yet). Can you let us know how you’d rate this program if we didn’t have to jump through hoops to access it?

  6. Mike

    July 28, 2020 at

    I’ll probably give this one a try. I just did an original P90X workout this morning and thought, “Why aren’t more new workouts like this?” Some of those old P90X routines might feel a little dusty, but, honestly, many of them are still among the best. I totally agree that proper warm ups and cool downs are necessary for safe and effective fitness. I always liked Tony’s warm ups from P90X because they were never static. And I also agree that many of those workouts that are 30 minutes long (or less!) start to lose their effectiveness. The best workouts, for me at least, are in that 45-60 minute range. I get it that life is hard, but if you can do 30 minutes, you can make the time to do another 30 minutes. And I say that as someone who got my fitness start with T25 and believed I only had time for 25 minute workouts. I guess I’ll fork over $7 to try this sucker out.

  7. Sayf K

    July 28, 2020 at

    Hey DP, tagged you in a recent Instagram video of Tony’s in which he touched upon a LOT of interesting bits .Check it out

  8. Peter

    July 26, 2020 at

    I notice that you reviewed only the workouts in Season 1 of NL. Is Season 2 not available in Canada? That has some of the best workouts, including Push-Pull-Palooza, The Lowdown, Prime Time, and one quite good MMA routine (the other one — MMA Basic — moves too slowly). The additional thirteen workouts in Season 2 make this a pretty good deal. Plus, while I am not a Gaiam fan, the subscription includes several yoga routines from Rodney Yee, a bit of a space cadet, but someone who knows what he’s doing. And yes, I did write a negative review of NL on this website about a year ago, but have changed my mind since doing most of these workouts on a more regular basis over the past few months.

  9. Rob

    July 26, 2020 at

    Thanks for this review. It’s the first thing I’ve read that actually makes me want to subscribe to Gaiam long enough to do at least one round of Next Level. I just wish there was a calendar to follow. Season 1 and 2 have a variety of workouts, and you make them sound really good. I guess I’ll just try and eyeball them into the classic P90X calendar structure (Resistance, Cardio, Resistance, Yoga, Resistance, Martial arts, rest, etc).

    Did you find you built muscle with this routine, or lost weight at all? Or was it just a good victory lap for Tony and people who have experience with P90X and just want something new in that vein?

  10. Marvin

    July 24, 2020 at

    Thanks for this great review! Yes #thnl is kind of like “Back to the Future” – a glimpse back into the early Beachbody days! Besides the proper warm-ups and cool-downs, I also love that we get back the countdown timers with beeps, a red bar at the bottom with text showing the exercise being done, and some cheesy music playing in the background during the set. I still much prefer to have the music embedded in the video (even if its a little cheesy) than having only silence in the background – and being asked to play some Spotify playlist (as if I can juggle controlling an extra device while working out and playing the main video). While I agree that $7 a month is not worth it long-term, on the short-term, one could do several rounds of Season 1 over say 3-months, at a total cost of $21 (or with the 30-day trial pay only $14). Not bad!

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