By Lisa Hannam
If you’ve been exercising at home these last few months, then by now you know it has its perks. It’s cheaper, convenient, and you can roll out of bed and work out in your jammies (if that’s what works for you). On the other hand, if you’re someone who craves group fitness classes, yoga studios, and indoor cycling workouts, training at home may not seem like it has the same sparkle. But the 4.4 million members of the Peloton community get the best of both worlds: The comfort of at-home training with the upbeat vibes and rockstar instructors of a fitness studio.
To experience it for ourselves, we tried out the Peloton App free for 30 days, gaining access to live and on-demand spin, strength, dance, and yoga classes (and more) that work with any schedule. And while the selection of workouts is great, the instructors are what made fitness at home insanely fun, even addictive. Here, we got to connect with some of our favorite female instructors (it was kind of like meeting a celebrity!) to find out the secret ingredients that make their classes so craveable.
Tunde Oyeneyin: Peloton Cycling Instructor
Bringing that studio attitude home.
Positivity isn’t just a mantra, it’s an attitude for Oyeneyin, who ends each Peloton cycling class with: “It’s always a good day to have another good day.” So, it’s no surprise that the former makeup artist sees positive energy and efficient workouts as ways to connect and motivate you.
She makes sure you finish the workout.
Ignore the doorbell – the kids can wait. And Oyeneyin will remind you of that during class. “Have fun and make it through to the end,” she says about her objective for every cycling workout. “It’s the same intention I share with my riders at the start of every class. It’s just a workout – work hard, get what you came for, but try to enjoy it along the journey. Some days just finishing is the win.”
You get that studio feeling.
Something happens when you cycle together – in a peloton, you might say. But Oyeneyin points to the leaderboard to feed off that vibe, especially since Peloton Studios New York temporarily shut its doors to the public due to COVID-19. “While the energy of studio riders is unquestionably missed, I’ve found teaching to an empty room at times to be just as invigorating. The beauty of Peloton is the live leaderboard. When I look down at the touchscreen in the middle of a ride and see the screen light up with thousands of community members, it’s almost impossible to feel alone. […] I like to imagine they are all still there with me.”
There’s a strategy behind her playlist.
When Oyeneyin dances, you know the song is good. “When a beat drops in a song, the response from the room is palpable. Riding solo in a room has required me to be much more present than ever before,” she admits. “I hold myself accountable to not only lead the class, but experience it in real time.”
Aditi Shah: Peloton Yoga & Meditation Instructor
Finding inner peace without leaving the house.
That WFH life can make it tough to relax at home. The key to a successful yoga and meditation session is feeling like your meditation is led by someone who shares your space and gets in your head. How does Shah do that when you’re not in the same room? As an NYC-known yogi who’s led massive classes in Times Square, she relies upon the core of her practice and study in India to break through the barriers of leading virtual classes.
It feels so natural.
Shah’s soothing voice is one of the many reasons she is so effective at leading mediations (just try and stay awake during her sleep sessions), and she’s a pro at getting rid of any awkward jitters that could arise from taping. But Shah rolls with it. “I have a background in the entertainment industry, so engaging with a camera wasn’t totally foreign to me when I started as a Peloton instructor,” she admits. “That said, if I felt awkward for some reason, I would imagine talking to a friend on the opposite side of the camera.”
Virtual meditations are as real as the real thing.
You feel like she’s talking to you because she is talking to you. “The most important thing is to realize that I am not talking/teaching to a camera,” says Shah. “I am talking/teaching to the people on the other side of the camera. Therefore, I converse and behave as if I’m talking to those people, not to a piece of equipment, and that energy carries through to members.”
Hook up after class.
“I connect personally with so many members in the Peloton community through social media, and during in-person classes and events like Homecoming [which have been temporarily put on hold due to COVID-19] and that helps me understand who I’m practicing yoga with when I’m on camera.”
Rebecca Kennedy: Peloton Instructor and Director of Strength
The virtual personal trainer.
You know “form is king,” so it can be super frustrating when your instructor just speeds through the exercises without demonstrating what’s coming up. You feel like you missed at least a few reps, which means not getting a full workout. Kennedy isn’t one of those instructors. In fact, she calls upon her background in both dance and track and field to not only fix form, but calls us out on bad form, too.
She anticipates the cues we need.
You turned on the Peloton app, and you’re ready to work out. But do you ever hear that voice that says you don’t have to push all the way? You would think with a virtual workout, it would be easier to give in to that. “Knowing how to call upon our bodies, take ownership of our body, breathe into it, challenge, and take care of it, where it is in space and nurturing the parts that have been ignored, are the building blocks of my teaching style, and are constant points of conversation,” says Kennedy. “Members often say, ‘It feels like you were watching just me, because you give me cues and feedback at the exact moment I need it, whether performative or motivation wise.’ The word ‘can’t’ was not allowed on my teams.”
Listen for your name in live classes.
When you book your spot and show up to class, Kennedy knows you are there. “Shoutouts feel so special, because no matter where you are in the world, hearing your name get called out or being celebrated for the hard work you’ve done brings such an authentic rush of adrenaline and true excitement,” she says about calling virtual clients by name. “Even when I take my fellow Peloton instructors classes and get a shoutout, I smile ear to ear knowing that we are there together in that exact moment, and that is real and powerful.”
Prepare yourself for the virtual workout like it’s your workout – because it is.
Do as Kennedy does: “The first thing I need to do […] is be there for myself, because if I can’t be there for me, how can I be there for others?” says Kennedy, who uses meditation, journaling, music, and eating well before filming. “Fueling myself with whole, beautiful, nourishing foods can immediately breathe life back into my body. ‘Hanger’ is never a place I want to be, and if I get there, I know I need to eat and I’ll immediately feel better. […] The gift I have to give in life is my purpose to serve others. I will show up hard and consistently to help others feel necessary, worthy, and powerful.” Noted: Don’t work out on an empty stomach if it’s going to put you in a bad mood.
Selena Samuela: Peloton Tread Instructor
Crush killer bootcamps on your own.
For Peloton instructor Samuela, she puts your perspective at the forefront of her virtual bootcamps planning. Understanding why you’re logging in and taking classes gives her purpose – which you see in return.
Enjoy the escape.
You won’t hear Samuela groan about the inconveniences that this pandemic has brought. “I didn’t really want to bring [the pandemic] up during my classes, as many people were likely using their workout as an escape,” she says. “And it was challenging to avoid the subject at first. I felt like everyone was experiencing this pandemic and the repercussions of it all day, and that when it was time to work out, we should use that time to let it all go and live in the moment.”
New to this whole virtual thing? No biggie.
“I know what it’s like to be a beginner,” says Samuela. No stranger to trying something new, she picked up a golf club and swung it for the first time in the past year. “I’m not anywhere near where I want to be. I’m a beginner, and it’s hard. But I stick with it and keep working at it no matter how frustrating it gets.” And she takes that mindset into her virtual workouts. “I talk about this concept a lot in class. Sometimes, you have to be bad at something in order to eventually do better. As Dolly Parton puts it, ‘If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with a little rain.’ I think people can relate to that, and I think that’s comforting.”
Let’s not get too complicated.
Peloton fans surely appreciate how easy it is to follow Samuela’s workouts. “I keep my movements simple, but not easy,” she says. “I offer plenty of modifications and progressions to make it easier or tougher.” Her advice if you want to advance your form: “Remember, you can always drop that weight or add weight. That’s the beauty of this, it’s your world, it’s your workout. I’m just a guide or a buddy. I’m your biggest cheerleader on the other end of that screen.” Yay, you!