Peloton instructor Tunde Oyeneyin was 15 years old and weighed more than 200 pounds when she made a decision that would change her life.
“I joined a gym,” Oyeneyin tells TODAY.com.
The monthly membership was $48, which was a stretch for the high school student in Houston, Texas. There was also the issue of transportation: Oyeneyin didn’t have a car, so she would have to walk a mile each way to the fitness center. But she refused to give in to excuses.
“I was determined,” Oyeneyin says.
At beginning of her health journey, Oyeneyin gravitated towards the cardio machines because they were familiar. The strength training equipment on the other hand, that was scary stuff.
“I didn’t know what I was doing and I thought, ‘Everyone is going to be watching me,’” Oyeneyin says. “Of course, now I know that nobody is paying attention to you at the gym. They’re all paying attention to themselves and their own appearance.”
Then one morning, Oyeneyin had an aha moment that would change the trajectory of her life.
“I decided I was going to stop allowing fear to hold me hostage,” she says. “The reason that we don’t do any one thing, whether it’s lifting weights, talking to a guy first at a bar or interviewing for the job of our dreams, is because we’re scared to try and look foolish. I decided I would rather look foolish than not try.”
Look where Oyeneyin is today.
Two decades later, the same woman, who shied away from free weights, is teaching full-body strength classes and inspiring legions of Peloton users to evolve and move past limitations.
As one fan recently wrote on Oyeneyin's Instagram, "You inspired me to get strong!!! Thank you! I’m so much stronger today than I was a year ago!"
Given her popularity — thousands tune in for Oyeneyin's live cycling classes — it’s hard to imagine that her first Peloton try-out resulted in rejection.
“I got rave reviews from the audition, and then a month later, I received an email that they would not be moving forward with my candidacy,” Oyeneyin recalls.
“We prioritize the food and eating part. But you also need to train your mind — the way you think about yourself, the way you feel about yourself.
“I was so certain that that opportunity was mine. I felt it within every inch and every fiber of my being,” she continues. "I'd never been so certain of anything in my life."
Oyeneyin was devastated, but giving up was not an option. She put on her bike shoes and got back to work. At the time, Oyeneyin was teaching at a cycling studio in Los Angeles.
“There were 49 bikes in the studio. I would go on to that podium and I would teach as though I was leading a class full of 49,000 people. And it was this mind manifestation of knowing that an opportunity was coming, and that I was going to stay ready,” she says.
Eight months later, Oyeneyin auditioned again — and landed her dream job.
“I love pushing power. I love tapping into new strength every day,” she says.
Of course, Oyeneyin is human. And there are some days, she’d prefer to cuddle on the couch with her dog, Cesar, rather than work up a sweat.
“When I don’t feel like exercising, I tell myself, ‘OK. Let’s just do 10 minutes. What I find is, 10 out of 10 times, I tell myself I’m going to workout for 10 minutes and then my workout far surpasses that,” she says.
Oyeneyin notes that Peloton offers a wide range of 10-minute classes. The platform also just launched Peloton Gym, a free section in the Peloton app, with step-by-step workout plans designed by instructors. There are also tutorial videos.
“I wish Peloton gym had existed when I first joined the gym,” Oyeneyin says.
When Oyeneyin is asked to share advice for those embarking on a wellness journey, she draws from her mantra, “Your mind is your strongest muscle.”
“We prioritize the food and eating part. But you also need to train your mind — the way you think about yourself, the way you feel about yourself," she says. "Otherwise, you won't be able to appreciate the changes in your body. You won't see them. Everything starts with the mind."