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“Build Your Own Castle”: Anthony Perez’s Onnit Story

Written by
August 26, 2021
Updated April 15, 2024

Successful people don’t really see days as “good” or “bad.” They’re just opportunities to give your best effort toward whatever dream you’re working on. Anthony Perez thinks of every day as a building block in the long-term construction of the “castle” he wants for his family.

A member of our Onnit Tribe, a private Facebook group of Onnit fans who support one another’s fitness and life goals, Perez is the subject of this week’s Onnit Story. In this ongoing series, we’re conducting live, on-camera interviews with people who have made inspiring life changes with Onnit in their corner. This week, Perez speaks to our Director of Fitness Education, Shane Heins, about the power of consistency, family, Onnit 6 Bodyweight training, and more.

See below for the interview and an edited transcript of some of the highlights. You can stay up to date with Onnit Stories by following Onnit’s Instagram TV (IGTV), where a new one appears every Wednesday.

Shane Heins: We’ll start as we always do. Where did Anthony Perez and Onnit first intersect?

Anthony Perez: I guess when [Onnit founder] Aubrey Marcus and Kyle Kingsbury were first doing their podcast—they introduced me to Onnit. Then I did the Onnit 6 Challenge. At the time, two years ago, I was on the heavier side, and now I find myself more physically and mentally fit. Onnit has been part of that the whole time, and the Tribe made me more aware of how I can improve myself—not just for myself, but for everyone in my life.

For a lot of folks, there was something specific that flipped a switch for them. Something happened where they realized, “I can use Onnit in my life.” Did you have a moment like that?

I think it was after the first Challenge. I had been doing the Level 1 and 2 exercises, but by the end, I could do Level 3. That made me think, “Whoa, I can actually do this on my own.” I could keep going and better myself, and learn how to do other physical things in my life. I had always been an athletic person, but seeing what people at Onnit could do with the steel mace and steel club, I thought, “Why can’t I do that?” So I set out to try.

That’s awesome. For anybody who isn’t familiar, we’re talking about the Onnit 6 Challenge—a six-week program where people work not just for a physical transformation but for a mental, emotional, and spiritual change, supported by a whole group on Facebook called the Onnit Tribe. Participants follow the Onnit 6 at-home fitness programs.

What was the first Onnit 6 program you tried?

I did Bodyweight. For anybody that’s new to Onnit’s training, I would say start off with Bodyweight. It’s going to challenge you in every aspect. It’s so worth it too. The program includes yoga, and I had no idea how hard yoga could be. Once I got into it, I loved it. I still love it. There’s so much bodyweight training that you’d be surprised that you’re not able to do. I thought I could do Level 3 exercises off the bat, and I couldn’t. You really have to take a step back and study those movements, practice them, and feel comfortable before you can move forward.

We all want to get to the highest level, and whenever we recognize that we have a lot of room to improve, it can be a bit of a downer. We think, “I’m not as good as I thought I was.” But we should be thinking, “This is exciting. Look how much more I have the opportunity to grow.” 

Exactly. That’s become my mindset with every Challenge: just look for progression. I’ve learned to be more disciplined with myself, with my family, and with my daily habits as far as work goes. I learned how to make time for everything, and I’m still learning. We’re all busy individuals, and things get thrown at you all the time, especially in my situation.

I’m a special-needs father. Both of my kids are on the spectrum, and so every day is a new whirlwind of things happening. I have to follow a routine. When can I set time for this? When can I set time for them? You learn how to do that. My kids started watching me work out. Then they got more into it. They’ll be fooling around on the ground or jumping off the couch, doing something, but they’re actually watching me train and getting more into it, which I’m loving.

We promote this idea of unconventional fitness at Onnit, and when people hear that word, they often think that unconventional means having to use crazy, funky tools like the steel mace and club. But what we really want to promote is having an unconventional perspective—the ability to adjust and adapt as your needs change. Do you have any insights to share about how your kids are interacting with the world? Do they have to do it in a slightly unconventional way?

As far as that goes, we drum to our own beat. There’s no holding us back. We’re loud, we’re crazy, we’re fun, and we’re humans. My kids don’t see the negativity in most things. They just see the world for what it is and we embrace it, and I think that’s unconventional. They’re so true and honest and beautiful in that way. Getting to experience that is really cool, and develops my way of thinking. I work as hard as I do because they’re working 10 times harder than me, as far as just trying to get a grasp on things.

That’s such a great lesson to learn, especially in this day and age, where it seems like, as a society, we’re dealing with a lot of contention, and we’re not as willing to be with each other as human beings.

Tell me a bit about your experience in the Onnit Tribe, because that’s something that I think has a very different vibe from what we are feeling in the world right now.

The Tribe has been amazing. A lot of people see me as a leader, and, hey, if you want me to be a leader, I’ll be a leader. I’ve had to tell a lot of people in the Tribe that every day is a brick that you get to put up on your wall, and every time you build, you’re adding to that wall of strength. Eventually, you look back and you’ll see that you built a castle for yourself, and you know what every brick in it stands for. Some bricks were days that were good, some were bad, some were days you didn’t want to do anything but you still did. I’m glad I get to be one of the people that helped somebody else build their castle.

It feels good to be looked up to, but also to have people to count on. There’s no judgment in the Tribe. You put in the work with your best intentions—caring for one another, lending a hand, lending an ear. You get to be a true human.

I love that analogy. It’s like the inverse of a more familiar one, which is not seeing the forest because we get caught up in the trees. But when I think about a brick wall, I just see the wall. I don’t see the individual bricks. But to realize that they all represent something important, and that you wouldn’t have the next brick without the one that came before it, is powerful. It’s beautiful.

Just like you said about stepping back to Level 1 exercises in Onnit 6. You needed that foundation before you could do Level 3. Do you have any more insights around the value of stepping back?

I like really knowing what I was supposed to learn. It’s like re-reading a book. There are always things you miss the first time. When you do a workout for the first time, you tend to just want to get the reps in. Then later on you realize that you need to focus on the movement, your breathing, and that’s when you improve. 

A lot of the exercises and the programming that we provide through Onnit revolves around how to be better connected. I think people get stuck in their development because they think, “I just want to do this particular fitness thing, because that’s where the value is,” but for you, taking that step back and being able to recognize that doing other training, like yoga, helps everything in the long run. You see how connecting to other things helps you in everything.

Yeah, and that goes for all of life. Sometimes you know today is not going to be your day, but maybe I could do a little something different that’s going to make it easier. You just suck it up and learn to be flexible with it.

Did you feel a shift at all in how you were feeling physically once you started the Onnit programs? Compared to how you felt before.

The first Challenge I went through, it was tough. Then I did the Steel Mace Challenge for my second one. I got so bumped and bruised doing that one. It tested me, but I learned how to control it. I learned how to push hard on days when I could and lighten up on days I couldn’t. I try to tell people not to go all out all the time in those Challenges. Just pump the brakes a bit. You’ll be alright. 

What supplements have really stood out for you, as far as making an impact on your training?

Total Human®. I think we’ve heard that in every Onnit Story so far. It sells itself. It’s everything that you need in one place—boom. I love the protein snack bars too. I work in the diesel field, so I meet all these truck drivers who need quick go-to snacks, and I always recommend the Protein Bars and Bites.

I’ve always had a lot of sensitivity or reactions to protein supplements, both whey and plant-based, and it wasn’t until I started using our own at Onnit that I was like, “I don’t react to this one!” I think there’s something in the quality of the ingredients. I may be biased, but this is a true experience I’ve had with our protein.

Yeah. Same here. I’ve never had any problems since I’ve been taking them.

What about equipment? What’s your favorite piece of exercise equipment?

I love all of them, and I have all of the Onnit tools except the HydroCore Bag. That’s the one thing I don’t own yet. I have steel maces ranging from five to 25 pounds. If you don’t have one yet, you’ll be fooled by the size. I would say start off with a 10 and a 15 pounder. You’ll be totally surprised by the weight. Same with the steel clubs

Can you pick one Onnit 6 program that’s your favorite?

The Bodyweight Onnit 6. The reason is versatility. Bodyweight will challenge you in so many ways, and it’s the simplest program, because you don’t need equipment. The exercises—from the frogs, to the dive bombers, to the kick-throughs, to the lunges—you’re going nonstop. When you think you got it and you want to push eight reps to 10 reps, I dare you to. I challenge you. I’m doing the Bodyweight Challenge again soon, so I challenge everybody to do it with me. Bring it on.

All right. Let’s jump into some of these questions that we’ve gotten from our viewers. How do you stay dedicated and consistent for so long?

My kids, my kids, my kids. Like I said, I look at how hard they’re working, through years of being in therapy. As hard as they work, I’ve got to work just as hard for them. I’ve got to show up for them daily, and I feel good about that. 

Any tips on balancing time with workouts, dad life, work, etc.?

Try to set a timetable for yourself. If something takes 20 minutes, when can you get in that 20 minutes? A big thing that’s helped my family is we meal prep, so we at least have our meals figured out ahead of time every week. As far as dad life, that doesn’t stop. You’re a dad every time of the day, and interruptions will come up during your workouts. If you’ve got to break up your exercise to deal with something, you’ve got to break up your exercise. That’s the way it goes.

I work nights, my wife works days, so it’s like we’re a tag team. During COVID, it’s tough, because I have one kid here, one kid there, and they’re virtual learning. It’s the self-discipline part that makes it work—making that schedule for yourself. It’s tough, but it’s all worth it.

Yes. When my kids were younger, my workouts often had to be split up. So often we think that, “If I can’t get a whole workout in, then it’s not doing anything for me,” but the reality is that you have to look at it like you’re moving throughout the day, rather than all at once. 

Yeah, that’s what I learned as well. If you can get 15, 20 minutes, and have a good, solid workout in that time, you’re good.

What would you like to see Onnit do in the future? Is there a program you’re wishing for?

Not so much wishing for a program, but it would be cool to see Onnit get the finalists from all the Challenges together and make a video with them. See where they’re at now. That’d be pretty cool.

Alright, noted! We’ll keep that in mind. 

CLICK HERE for more Onnit Stories.

Onnit Academy is the most comprehensive database of information related to Unconventional Training, a unique new form of fitness methodology that focuses on functional strength, conditioning, and agility using the most efficient means and tools possible. The online database includes articles, videos, tutorials, and workouts featuring alternative implements like kettlebells, sandbags, steel maces, steel clubs, battle ropes, and more.
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