Maestros Of Motivation
Peloton instructors know how to help you reach your goals – we discover how they stay motivated
By Emma Taylor
I have never been a natural ‘exercise person’. I barely tolerated team sports growing up and, as an adult, I would dip in and out of keeping active. The only exercise which consistently stuck for me was running. But even then, this time last year I could scarcely puff my way through a couch-to-5K programme. Astonishingly, however, I completed my first ever marathon (the Virgin Money London Marathon for Macmillan Cancer Support) in October 2021.
There were certainly days and weeks when my marathon motivation training tank contained wisps of fumes and I was sick to my back teeth of running. I put these unenthusiastic periods down to me not being what I imagined – that aforementioned ‘exercise person’. It’s only now sunk in that even the peppiest of stereotypical exercise people sometimes navigate flat patches with their fitness too – I’m talking about the forever-bouncy Peloton instructors. Their renowned reputation for perky spirits and mega-watt smiles reaches far beyond the 6.2 million Peloton community devotees, but when it’s your job to inspire others, what motivates the motivators?
“If I’m feeling unmotivated, I will reflect on why that might be,” one of Peloton’s newest instructors, Joslyn Thompson Rule, tells me. She explained: “Am I tired? Am I stressed? Am I overwhelmed? Am I doing the basics which keep me on track? Making sure I’m eating, making sure I’m hydrated, properly sleeping – all those little pieces we take for granted are things we don’t always do in a way that benefits us. “But if it’s not any of those things, I try not to resist it as that can then become a stress, thinking ‘Why am I not motivated?’ If I reflect on it and there’s nothing there, I sit with it for a bit and I’m fairly gentle on myself because I know it’s a moment that will pass.”
Former actor, boxing instructor and now part of the Peloton family, Bradley Rose, echoes a similar approach to recapturing your mojo: “I had a stroke and health issues. What I’ve understood about myself, my body, my motivation and fitness is not to take it so seriously. It’s okay to have a day, two days, three days off. I can’t stress that enough. “People say, ‘I fell off the bandwagon, I haven’t done this thing for a week,’ and I’m always like, that’s totally fine. It’s not the end of the world. You can get back on the bike, we can do this,” he says.
Founding Peloton instructor Hannah Corbin agrees: “I often say that I need to step back and measure my success by how much fun I’m having. I feel like when I’m not motivated, it’s when I’m overthinking.” Hannah also relies on another secret weapon to lift her mood up in the form of a bright lipstick. “You can actually tell when I’m teaching if I’m tired. My lip is the brightest because it wakes me up, it puts a pep in my step. I look in the mirror and I’m like, ‘Oh, this is fun. I’ve risen to the occasion.’”
The major driving factor for me going from almost zero to 26.2 miles was turning 30 and not having achieved a single goal I thought I’d have ticked off by this milestone. This was coupled with finding out I was being repeatedly cheated on and receiving job rejections left, right and centre. Lacing up my trainers to get lost in an eclectic playlist (I encouraged those who donated to my marathon fundraising page to add a few of their favourite songs) while I literally ran towards the only targets I could control, was akin to therapy while my life felt as though it was in the toilet.
Music and fitness naturally go hand in hand, and for anyone not in the know, workouts themed around music genres is a huge part of Peloton’s appeal with 90s Hip Hop Rides, Motown Walks, Rock Runs and wildly popular collaborations with Beyoncé, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Labrinth and Elton John as part of their Artist Series. Although there’s a range of Artist Series classes to suit most tastes, I was curious who the instructors would pick as their dream artist for Peloton to partner up with next.
“Janelle Monáe,” Joslyn immediately replies, and confirms the singer is also her musical icon. Joslyn’s top tracks at the moment are Janelle Monáe’s ‘I Like That’, as well as Nao’s ‘Another Lifetime’ (“it’s a beautiful cool-down song”) and Joy Crookes ‘When You Were Mine’.
Hannah teases: “I do have a very exciting Artist Series coming up that I pushed for, for a very long time. I’m filming it tomorrow to be released in a couple of weeks. “We [Peloton] just did a really fun collaboration with Spotify, where we put together a playlist per instructor where you can get a feel for us,” she says. As for Hannah’s favourite songs right now, her choices are Meghan Trainor’s ‘Better When I’m Dancin’’, Ariana Grande ‘Be Alright’ for the beginning of rides and Jess Glynne ‘I’ll Be There’. Hannah ponders: “It’s hard to choose a musical icon. I’d say of the moment, because it changes often, it’s Annie Lennox.”
Bradley would love a Peloton Artist Series with Harry Styles. “He’s a true performer, but he’s not shying away from who the f**k he is and what he wants to do,” Bradley told me. He adds: “What I would like to see is Peloton do more indie-type music, which is my love, like All American Rejects, Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, The Killers, The Struts, Imagine Dragons, The Kooks – I could go on. I hope in the future, we bring on more of those kinds of artists.” But Bradley shared it was impossible to narrow down one person or band as a musical icon. He did say his favourite song at the moment was probably by The Struts. “I like ‘Kiss This’ or ‘Could Have Been Me’. We just did a Queen ride, and I love them. The Struts remind me of Queen in the way they sing. I’m really on a vibe with them right now,” he says.
Although ‘getting into exercise’ can seem like a cliché at this time of year, discovering a branch of fitness and movement which genuinely brings joy is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. You won’t be alone either as research, published by Macmillan Cancer Support in June 2021, found that six million people across the UK were planning on pursuing an epic physical challenge, inspired by living through the pandemic.
I can hand on heart say going through that extreme physical training cracked open previously untapped depths of sweaty inner strength that I’m not sure would’ve revealed themselves if I didn’t choose to slog my guts out on the pavements three or four times a week to Olivia Rodrigo. It can’t have been all bad though as my 2022 New Year’s resolution is to see if I can push myself a smidge faster if I do another marathon, a.k.a. the best-worst thing I’ve ever done.
For the energetic Peloton instructors their proudest achievements in 2021 span from publishing a book (Joslyn), to welcoming an adorable fur-baby (Hannah) and moving their whole family from America back to England after 14 years (Bradley). Joslyn says of her New Year’s resolution: “I usually put a post up at the end of the year or the 1st of January and it would say something like ‘My 2021 goals: my husband and my two boys, my 2022 goals: my husband and my two boys’. My priority is: love them, be with them, spend as much time with them as I can.” Whereas Bradley is keen to get back to cooking basic recipes now he’s in the UK again. “My sister’s an amazing cook. Going to her house every weekend is fabulous – we get the best Sunday roasts. There are things I need to learn how to do and figure out otherwise it’s beans on toast,” he laughs. Hannah says her resolution is to: “Continue to get out of my own way. Often, the only thing standing in our way is us. You know that voice between our own two ears that can either pull us back or bring us forward. I want to continue to be better than my best excuse.”
‘I want to be better than my best excuse,’ might just be the perfect mantra for 2022.