The Tony Robbins Experience

I first learnt about Tony Robbins Unleash the Power Within (UPW) in 2012 when Oprah attended, walked on burning coals, and filmed it for Super Soul Sunday. I didn’t know then that I would follow in her footsteps six years later, when I got the chance to go to UPW Chicago in July 2018.


Earlier this year, I committed to a daily morning routine in order to ground myself for the day ahead and unlock a new level of mental and physical ability. I wake up, do a mindfulness meditation for 20-30 minutes, drink an Apple Cider Vinegar cleansing elixir, work out for an hour, then have a protein shake. Intentionally clearing my mind and moving my body every morning has had an incredible impact on my mental energy and ability to face all the decisions I need to make in a day.

When I’m working out, previously buried thoughts and emotions often rise to the surface to be cleared, along with solutions to problems I’ve been thinking about for a long time. This morning routine helped me realize that there is an intelligence housed in our physical bodies that we can access if we ground ourselves and move more.

So what does this have to do with Tony Robbins? As it turns out… everything.

The Physicality of a Tony Robbins Event

The first thing to understand about the event is that it is a physical test of endurance. The event schedule looks like this:

  • Thursday: 12:00pm to 11:30pm (the firewalk pushed our actual end time to 3:00am).
  • Friday: 8:30am to 11:30pm
  • Saturday: 8:30am to 11:30pm
  • Sunday: 8:30am to 7:00pm

We also had to be prepared for how cold it was in the auditorium. To stay awake throughout this brutal schedule, the auditorium was kept so cold we had to wear a jacket, scarf, and gloves (not just if you were from the islands – it was cold for everyone). There was no scheduled lunch included, so we had to stock up on snacks beforehand, or be at the mercy of the concession stand in the auditorium, with its incredibly long lines and unhealthy food.

There were 9,000 very enthusiastic attendees in Chicago, along with hundreds of crew. DJs, backup dancers, club lighting, all added to the feeling of being at a rock concert rather than a self-improvement seminar. We got up and danced every half an hour. Whenever we danced we also had to give shoulder rubs and hugs to people seated nearby. There’s a lot of physical contact happening all the time. Luckily, I’m a hugger.

One of Tony’s key lessons was that our attention and thoughts create our reality. In order to change our thoughts, we must create a radical change in our physical body. So we had to get up and dance like crazy, jump up and down, shake off those negative thoughts and feelings, and embed a new mindset into our DNA.

The Content

In addition to the physicality of the event, we also needed to be prepared to share personal details about our inner fears and dreams with strangers sitting next to us. Over the course of the event the key questions we kept coming back to were:

  • What life do we want to create for ourselves?
  • What are the limiting beliefs that prevent us from having that life right now?
  • What massive, immediate actions are we going to take to close the gap?

In order to compel us to leave the event and take action to change our lives, the four days were filled with meditations and rituals to clear our internal blocks.

One ritual was to write down our top 3 limiting beliefs. The really painful ones that inflict damage to our psyches. The ones that stop us from taking action in alignment with who we really are. Tony talked us through feeling the pain of those beliefs as intensely as we could. We had to make the sound of those painful beliefs. It was powerful and almost frightening to hear 9,000 people screaming and wailing in agony.  

Once we felt intense pain, then we had to replace the belief with its opposite, and feel those feelings of intense joy and relief. I’m deeply interested in mysticism and ancient wisdom and had done a similar ritual before – burning a piece of paper with the limiting beliefs written on them. What was so different about this experience was the focus on the energy associated with the beliefs and the primal release and replacement of that energy.

Over the course of four days we did many such rituals, but the firewalk was by far the most mentally intense.

The Firewalk

The firewalk happened on the very first day. At 2:00am, 9,000 people chanting “yes, yes, yes” made their way out of the auditorium to the parking lot where 40 sets of coal were set on fire. I was only going to look. I wasn’t actually going to walk on fire – I wasn’t crazy after all.  We could hear tribal drums beating in the distance, growing louder as we got closer to the fire. The closer I got, the more I felt the drums beating in my chest, urging me forward.

I was trying to see what the fire looked like, but all I could see were the thousands of people around me chanting. The momentum of the crowd propelled me forward until I was right in front of the fire, third in line to walk. I had to make a choice on the spot. Tony’s staff yelled “Are you ready?” I guess so! I did the firewalk ritual – made my power move, said yes three times, looked up to the sky, and walked as lightly as I could over the coals. They hosed my feet at the end, and it was over before I knew it. Then came the rush of adrenaline – I couldn’t believe I did it! I felt a slight sting on my right foot, but no burns – which is what I most feared. The firewalk showed me that if I push past the negative voice in my head saying I’m going to get burned, I can do anything.

So, should you go?

You should go if you are open to experimenting with different methods of unlocking another level of your life. As a student of the law of attraction, I believe that my inner world determines my outer reality so I was open to the full experience. If you’re skeptical of alternative wisdom, closed, dislike Tony, or have another form of resistance to change, then you won’t get much out of this experience. But if you’re open, then as Tony would say, just say yes.