Your Favorite Peloton Instructors on Confidence, Britney Spears, and Dancehall Beats

Advice

Credit: Peloton

For many, Peloton is personal. Peloton has become life for thousands of users who’ve trained with the fitness company’s instructors for the past two years. Some of the instructors have become household names — but for Peloton members, the love goes deeper than that.

I was mostly alone in the early months of the pandemic, and Hannah Frankson was the only person I’d see consistently every day. She urged me to get on the bike and show up for myself — even when I really didn’t want to. Nights out with my friends turned into at-home dance parties with Cody Rigsby, and I’d settle my anxiety with a sleep meditation with Aditi Shah. On Saturday morning, it was cereal, cartoons, and Ride to Greatness (let’s go, #TeamActivate!) training with Alex Toussaint, which gave me the confidence to push through after bouts of asthma held me back from any kind of movement at all.

In the coming weeks, Peloton will reopen its doors for live classes, giving the digital community physical home bases in New York and London. Ahead of the state-of-the-art studio openings, we got personal with Rigsby, Frankson, Toussaint, and Shah. Hear from them in their own words below.

Credit: Peloton

Aditi Shah on Being the Calming Voice of a New Generation:

“My first experience getting feedback as a meditation instructor was a long time ago in 2019. We had our homecoming weekend. It was before COVID-19, so we used to have the setup where everybody could come meet us and take a photo with us. I was standing with [fellow instructor] Denis Morton. I remember that a few people had the same joke for me, which was that they slept with me every night. And I think that was the first time I was like, ‘Oh, OK, there are a lot of people that are taking these specifically meditations.’ Since then, obviously, our community has grown, and everything has evolved. But I think the biggest piece of this is community . . . when I think about the ways in which I want to nourish myself, or even calm myself down, it’s always nice to hear the voice of a friend or the voice of someone that loves you. And I think that’s what is so special about our relationship — and when I say our relationship, like me and you. It does feel nice to hear your friend’s voice at the end of the day.

I know that sometimes, my mind is racing at the end of the day with my to-do list. That’s why I’m imagining other people are having the same experience, and that’s what I can speak to. Everybody sometimes needs a little bit of help from someone else. I definitely think a lot of my fellow instructors are tools in my tool belt. I do also practice on my own, though. I love to practice in the morning, honestly. That’s one of the reasons I really wanted to bring morning meditations to Peloton. For me, it’s now part of my morning routine, and it’s sort of a way in which I can really set my day. And I always set a timer, because it helps me feel safe about “OK, I’m not going to get lost and then miss whatever I have to do.”

Credit: Peloton

Cody Rigsby on His Favorite Childhood Britney Spears Memory: “On the Five, Not the Eight”

“Growing up, I just was obsessed with ‘TRL’ culture. I think we all were. Coming home after a day at middle school — you come home, you watch ‘TRL,’ you see who’s on the top 10. And usually, it’s Britney, *NSYNC, Christina [Aguilera], Backstreet Boys, some other random rock band that straight people like. I don’t know, whatever that is. And so, I just became so obsessed with artists like Britney, because they love to dance, and they put movement to their music, and it made it such a spectacle. And so, I just became obsessed with that. It also was a little bit of an escape for me, because I grew up super poor, and we didn’t have a lot. But it was like that hour or two after school; I was probably either watching it at a friend’s house, or I would go to work with my mom. She worked at a place that had a bar, and I would sit at the bar and watch it. I always wanted to dance or do something that would mimic the things that I saw in those videos. But we were also really broke, so my mom couldn’t afford dance classes. So I would watch intently with the videos and just try to [learn]. Like, okay, I watched it this one time and I got this part of the choreography. And then the next one, I would learn a little bit more of it.

I remember it was the end of grade testing, and you have like a day or two afterward when there’s nothing to do. And so I was like, “All right, girls, we’re going to learn Britney.” Like yeah, we’re going to learn it. And they were so into it. If you didn’t know I was gay then, I don’t know where you were.

Cody Rigsby on “Crazy (Stop Remix)” Not Being on Britney’s Debut Album:

“I remember, I think my mom got me this red boom box from Target, those, like, really colorful ones. A lot of us had them, but I got red. That red boom box. And the Britney Spears album, I think it was at Christmas [when I got it]. And you look at the tracklist. You get “Baby, One More Time,” you get through “Sometimes,” and I’m like, ‘Oh, ‘Crazy”s next.’ And then I’m like, ‘What is this? This is not the right [mix]. This is not what I just heard on MTV. What’s going on?’ And you’re a bratty 12-year-old, whatever. You’re like, wait, this isn’t it. So I just remember being so devastated because it wasn’t that remix of “Crazy.” Also, I grew up in Greensboro, NC, and I don’t remember anywhere that sold singles. I feel like maybe if you lived in New York, you went to the Virgin Megastore and you bought singles. I don’t ever remember ever seeing a single, and specifically that one. And that was before Napster.”

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Alex Toussaint on Building Confidence From His Parents and on the Bike:

“I think there are a couple of different moments in life that provided me with that certain level of confidence. And I could without question say the first level of confidence I ever had was from my mom and my father. Well, mostly from my mom. My dad did a very good job of breaking me down to help me break through, and then my mother did a very good job of being the super-loving mom to be like, ‘It’s always that light at the end of the tunnel.’ If anything, my mom provided me with that direction to find my light.

The first level of true confidence that I ever had, if I’m speaking from a Peloton standpoint? April 4th, 2016, 4:30pm. And I tell people all the time that date in particular was a day that my dad called me and said he was proud of me. I taught a 4:30pm class or some afternoon class that day. When he called me, there was a certain level of life validation that I stopped existing to prove my dad wrong. And I started living to prove myself right. And there was a certain level of weight off my shoulders that provided me a certain level of confidence now. Not cockiness, just a certain foundation that allowed me to maneuver through life. Within each goal that I knock out and achieve, there’s another certain level of confidence.

But I think what the people see at Peloton, whether it’s my music, my direction, my certain level of structure, within every class that I teach, within every pedal stroke that I take, there’s a certain level of therapy that it does for me. You hear Cody Rigsby say this all the time: “Find your light.” Part of the reason why I look down when I teach sometimes is to remind myself that I’m blessed to even have this opportunity to play within this space. That gives me a certain level of confidence to continue to do it at a high level every single day. I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say that I walk into the locker room and I see Cody, Robin [Arzon], Ally [Love], Jess Simms, Hannah [Corbin], Emma Lovewell, Tunde [Oyeneyin], and to me these are stars. They happen to be my brothers and sisters, but these are stars as well in the space that we hold. And without question, the conversations that we have in the locker room, outside of the locker room, about class content, about family, provide me a certain level of confidence to wake up and do it all over again, day in and day out.”

Alex Toussaint on the Confidence It Took to Win the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game:

“Basketball was my first love. I wanted to go to the NBA. That clearly didn’t work out. I came to Peloton with the mindset that I wanted to be a pro athlete. That was always in the mindset within every single class that I taught, every pedal stroke that I moved, every member that I talked to. It’s always been to help the member understand they’re an athlete. We have a body as an athlete. My job is to pull it out of you, right?

I know when the opportunity presented itself to play in the celebrity all-star game, that wasn’t by luck. That was by design. A strategic hustle day in and day out. One thing that a lot of people don’t see, and I credit Robin so much — I’m truly inspired by Robin. That’s my girl. She texted me and was like, “I’m proud of you. Not for winning the trophy, for all the invisible work that went into the hustle.” It was in that moment that I realized I’m very detailed and meticulous about what I do that people don’t see. They only see the end result, and they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, you did it.’ I purposely don’t show too much of my process, because I like that struggle. I like to break down my process. I like to fail on my own without anybody throwing outside noise, outside distractions, into my mental space. I protect my confidence, right? That’s the whole concept of it. Protect my energy, protect my confidence.

I remember the first time they said you’re going to play the celebrity all-star game, I looked to my manager, who was my best friend, my other best friend at the time, and I said, ‘Yo, I’m going to win this MVP.’ And there wasn’t even a doubt. They were like, ‘Hell yeah, we have to be trained right now.’ So people don’t know: behind the scenes, I trained for two weeks straight every single day with the top trainers. My man, Chris Brickley. So when the opportunity came and tip-off happened, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m ready.’ You stay ready so you ain’t got to get ready. That might be the first time that I actually didn’t get nervous. I get more nervous with my Peloton classes than I did to play in the celebrity all-star game.

Obviously, playing in such a fun game and being very much of a team player, I definitely had like a chip on my shoulder where I wanted to bring that trophy back home to the community for all the times that people supported me and my dreams and my breakdowns and my breakthroughs and helped me evolve and grow. And I think in real time, for people that were like, “Wow, you have goals that you set out and you’re accomplishing them in real time vs. just talking about it.” I was like, “Hey, let this be a moment for me to validate the words that I always preach on the bike.” So, I came into it with that mindset, and we walked away with a trophy.

Credit: Peloton

Hannah Frankson on Identity and Her Love For Dancehall Music.

“I wore my Nan’s earrings [during my first dancehall ride], because my Nan’s not alive anymore. She’s Jamaican, and she came to England in the ’60s or ’50s, when the Windrush was. And I thought to myself, ‘Wow, if my Nan knew that I was doing a dancehall ride on a global platform, she would be so proud of me.’ I put the earrings in as a reminder that my Nan is Jamaican and I’m here on this global platform doing a Caribbean music ride to everyone. And it’s just an opportunity. I love it as well. It’s some of my favorite music to jump to, to be naughty to. Because it’s naughty music. I like being naughty. I like being cheeky. So it all just fits in as one to me.

When you go to a party, it doesn’t matter where you are. You never have to explain the [dancehall] vibe. It’s like the vibe speaks for itself. [I feel the same when] I do, like, UK music [during my rides], because I’m talking to quite an American audience. I’m like, ‘How much should I explain this music? And how much should I just jam out to the music and show you, like, this is how we jam to this music?’ So that hopefully explains the music itself. When it comes to something like dancehall, I try not to stop too much on the bike. I try and ride as much as I can, but I think dancehall is the one genre of music that makes me want to stop and just dance for a sec. I think out of all of them, dancehall is the easiest for me. And that’s what it is, that kind of music — it’s got dance in the name, dancehall. So I feel like if there’s any type of music, you need to stop, and you need to dance. Do your thing. I don’t need to explain what the music is. It kind of speaks for itself.

My mum does all my rides. She’s my biggest cheerleader. There are some that I would say I don’t think she’d do, but she did my 60-minute EDM ride. I know she’s done a dancehall ride as well.

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