Emerging From the Shadows With Billy Blanks Jr.

America’s First Family of Fitness

Born into a fitness family, Billy Blanks Jr. had to contend with the legacy of his father, Billy Blanks, creator of the Tae Bo fitness program. From a young age, Billy enjoyed dancing and attempted to bring it into his workouts when teaching Tae Bo for his father. At that time, dance exercise had not yet come into the mainstream, and Billy’s ideas and passion seemed ungrounded in real scientific inquiry. 

After working with Oprah Winfrey’s team on Tae Bo, Billy had a revelation when, after five days, Oprah herself exclaimed, “This is too hard for me. I’m not doing it anymore.” He realized there was a whole segment of the population who were left out of the Tae Bo movement and realized he had an opportunity to fill his niche with the “Dance It Out” program.

Through extreme financial hardships, including losing everything and moving his family into a motel, Billy fought for his dream. He hid his struggle from his students, opting to enter the 24 hour gym he taught classes at through the parking garage rather than let on that he was living in the motel attached to the building.

Through it all, the inspirational effect that “Dance It Out” was having on his students’ lives kept him going, pushing him to seek a spot on Shark Tank rather than give it all up. Since that incredible break, Billy has built a fitness empire with over 1,000 teachers teaching it nationwide, in addition to 1200 in Japan, and many more as it spreads worldwide. Billy shares his struggle and success, all the while seeking to learn something from everyone who crosses his path. 

In This Episode:

  • How to build a nurturing community where people feel safe and empowered
  • How to fight negative associations with your industry
  • Why “Dance It Out” has had profound effects on students
  • The incredible feat of enriching others’ lives while fighting your own personal struggle
  • How to know when a risk is worth taking
  • How to evaluate whether a fitness program is right for you
  • The struggle of finding your own path in the shadow of a parent
  • How a comment from Oprah led to a moment of revelation for Billy Blanks Jr.

Quotes From This Episode:

[Tweet “”Fitness is not just physical; it’s emotional.” —@billyblanksjr”]

“I just know deep in my core that the moment you think you’re too good or you’re the best, it will all disappear. I always feel there’s something I can learn from everybody. I don’t care how big, rich, or famous I could become; to me there’s always something for me to learn and I’m always just overly grateful. Once you have the poverty scar and you’ve struggled in a certain way, you don’t ever forget that.” —@billyblanksjr

“The most important thing that I hear from people is, ‘But I feel good. I feel like I can go and conquer my day and week.’ That’s the best compliment to me because if you don’t feel good, you can’t do anything. You can’t go to work, you can’t take care of your kids. So I love having a program that makes people walk out of the room feeling empowered and strong and feeling like they can go have a great day.” —@billyblanksjr

“You have to try and see what works for you and listen to the things that are being said. If you hear a lot of buzz phrases or if you don’t feel like the people are really talking to you, then I don’t think it’s the best thing for you. I’m not a person who’s going to scream in your face, ‘Feel the burn!’ because I really want to talk to people and listen to their bodies. You want to teach people to become stronger, better versions of themselves. If your program’s not doing that, you have to look for something else.” —@billyblanksjr

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