Shaun T changed the way a generation of fitness enthusiasts look to getting shredded. And while his Insanity workouts still hold up to the day they were released via late-night informercial, the fitness visionary is continuing his own personal and physical evolution at age 46.

He combined high-intensity cardio and explosive plyometric movements along with a late-night infomercial advertising strategy to launch a primary source for helping a loyal fanbase in the millions get fit virtually anywhere they can plug in a DVD player. Shaun T also created a multimillion-dollar fitness empire, as million continue to this day still burn calories, crush their core and learn to move like athletes to Shaun T’s voice and fitness-based choreography.

Now the former dancer and college track athlete is embarking on his own personal physique journey. He’s become a legitimate competitive bodybuilder, with one amateur win to his credit so far and is now preparing for a shot at an IFBB card in a few weeks.

What’s most impressive is that world famous fitness expert only began incorporating weightlifting into his routine just a little over two years ago following an operation stemming from a tennis injury. The change in training styles also inspired his latest streaming workout—the weight-training based Dig Deeper.

“I had shoulder surgery and so that was a catalyst for me,” he says. “I changed my fitness to really just protect myself to feel stronger, better to get energy. Now two years later, I’ve done a physique competition and created a my very first full fully weight training workout.”

As he pushes and presses toward age 50, Shaun T has developed into a happier and fitter family man. With fitness and business priorities now being shared with family responsibilities, Shaun T has continued emphasizing the need to creating a stronger mindset in order to help facilitate a stronger physique and well being.

“Muscle is the fountain of youth,” he says. “I have two six-year-old twins who are wild, so I have to keep up with them. So now I use my personal life, my fitness life, my mental health, and my love to help people transform to, you know, to continue to evolve.”

Humbled by the Longtime Loyalty

Shaun T unofficially begins his day at 5:45 a.m. (“I take about 15 minutes to find my life,” he explains). Then for the next hour all attention is turned to his twins, where he and his husband, Scott Blokker, entertain the kids as they get them ready for school. Once they’re off, Shaun T enjoys breakfast—the first of his six daily consumptions.

Then it’s off to the gym for the next 90 minutes to two hours, followed by meal No. 2. Shaun T then tends to business—running his highly successful and profitable entrepreneurial endeavors, such as videos, streaming, podcast, and clothing lines as well.

When 5 p.m. hits, that when he and Scott shut it down workwise. Then it’s dinner and family time with the kids. He also uses some of the down time to get a little creative on Facebook and Instagram, where millions check in on his daily personal and family journal.

“I have a busy life, but it’s pretty simple,” he admits. “Of course, I love social media. I don’t follow all the social media rules to get likes, but I post whatever I want. When I’m 60 I want to be able to look back and be able to see a diary of my life.”

His resume is a lifetime of successes. Since Insanity informercials hit the airwaves around 2008, Shaun T has sold tens of millions of fitness DVDs—and the workouts still hold its relevance nearly 20 years later. His fitness empire has expanded to Hip Hop Abs, Focus T25, and Transform :20, and now his latest, Dig Deeper, launched this past December. It’s the latest streaming fitness iteration in his series, now focusing on more weightlifting than in previous workouts, designed for building strength, muscle and confidence.

His Facebook group, Dig Deeper Nation is one of the largest fitness groups on the social media platform. It preaches consistency and pushing for better. The response from his community is humbling he says.

“It’s really spectacular,” he says. “I think it’s a testament to their commitment, but to also the things I’ve created. I applaud the people who are actually doing [Insanity] because I don’t necessarily create easy workouts, so if they stuck with me for a really long time, I must be doing something right.”

Shaun T
Courtesy Shaun T

Transforming the Mind is Shaun T’s Key to Transforming the Physique

Among the myriad tattoos displayed all over Shaun T’s fit frame, two quotes—“Conquer your mind” and “Transform your life”—stand out the most. The messages that spread across both forearms are the two most important that he tries to convey to his longstanding groups of fitness fanatics. Be proud of your progress. “I was one of those people,” he admits. “I’d be like, Oh my gosh, I would look at a picture of myself from six months ago and be like, Why was I stressed about that?”

After years of self-discovery through therapy, Shaun T today uses his global platform to not only advise others to push for more rep, but also to be cognizant of their fitness-focused mindset. On his Trust & Believe podcast, the muscled-up motivator tries to help bring awareness and create conversation surrounding mental health. Part of the message he conveys in Insanity, is to trust the process over the long term.

“When it comes to fitness, time is my best friend,” he says. “Even just building muscle. It takes so long to build muscle, but people want the result so fast that they don’t realize they should embrace the moment, like, ‘I’m stronger now than I was a month ago.’”

Part of the challenge, he says, comes with today’s luxury of having fitness at your fingertips—including his own programs, a big change from the early days when Insanity earned its popularity via DVD sales. Now people can download any one of Shaun T’s products and begin working out in moments. The problem is, according to Shaun T, many of those people now expect unrealistic results in little time.

His message: Fitness is a lifetime process. Embrace it.

“People want the results faster, and that’s where it become that’s where the problem starts to surface,” he says. “They get to see a person who lost 100 pounds in a minute of an Instagram posting and think they can’t do that. They don’t realize the person probably worked for 700 days to lose that weight.”

While millions have made gains thanks to the icon, and he’s proud of each and every one of his fanbase, he shares extra admiration for those who are in the beginning stages of a long road to recapturing their health and who stick with it even though visible results remain minimal at the start. It’s what the message of “Keep Digging” is all about.

“Let’s take somebody who’s 150 pounds overweight,” he says. “They can barely walk 10 minutes on a treadmill. To me, this is the strongest person because they have to mentally push themselves through the physical pain. They don’t have the muscle definition or strength at first, but they still keep pushing every single day. If we can build on that, it’s the perfect combination for you to just be healthy overall when it comes to your mental and physical fitness.”

Shaun T
Courtesy Shaun T

Bodybuilding Is Shaun T’s Latest Challenge

The Camden-born physique competitor is currently just a few weeks out from his next and perhaps most important bodybuilding event—July’s NPC Universe, held in his home state of New Jersey. Shaun T’s 1.2 million Instagram followers have been able to follow his physique evolution, from master trainer and motivator to a win away from moving toward another stage: the Olympia stage.

“I’m hoping to get my pro card, that’s the goal,” he says. “But the fun part [of bodybuilding] is the fitness aspect of it. I like going to the gym and meeting people and hearing what they want and also meeting people in the fitness field—it actually helps me design and develop.”

Dialed in on both training and nutrition, the top-selling trainer is looking shredded as he works with his own trainer. And when it comes to performance in big moments such as the Universe, this is where the former hip-hop and jazz funk dancer is even more comfortable. Working with choreography with artists such as Mariah Carey being onstage in front of fans and judges makes Shaun T feel just as much at home, just like he helps millions of enthusiasts fulfill their fitness goals the comfort of their own homes.

“For people who know me they know I love being on stage,” Shaun T says. “Some people are nervous, but put me in front of the lights. It’s a place I feel most comfortable.”

For an industry icon who’s helped others transform their lives and physiques for more than two decades, the most amazing part of Shaun T’s bodybuilding journey is that he only weight training two years ago. He participated in track and field-specific workouts while at Rowan University (“It wasn’t to build mass it was to be in peak physical condition. It was to be able to run 400 meters eight times around a track), but the change to weights was inspired by his trainer’s physique while rehabbing his surgically repaired shoulder.

“I wanted to look like that,” he recalls. “So that was kind of like the snowball effect. It propelled me to where I am now.”

It even helped in the creation of his latest project, Dig Deeper, a testament to the idea that it’s never too late in life to grow spiritually, mentally, and physically. For Shaun T, as he continues dishing out workout videos such as Dig Deeper and Insanity, his dedication to re-create his physique while millions continue replaying his successful training videos, is proof that life is one continuous challenge. And Shaun T will be around to accept each and every one.