International Women’s Day: Peloton Instructor Tunde Oyeneyin Continues to Push Boundaries

Image: Instagram/@Tunde2Tunde

It’s no surprise that Peloton instructor Tunde Oyeneyin was selected by the elite fitness brand to host their first-ever weekly podcast, Fitness Flipped which premiered today.  Known for her mega-watt smile, inspiring mantras, killer playlist, and incredibly challenging workouts, it’s obvious that Oyeneyin is one of the most popular instructors on the app. With over 500k Instagram followers, a Revlon partnership, and an autobiography on the way, the hyper-popular fitness instructor continues to push the boundaries and remain candid about taboo topics like mental health and defying beauty standards. 

EBONY spoke with Oyeneyin about the conversations she hopes to spark through her podcast, her personal journey, and why ‘the big chop’ was the best decision she ever made.

EBONY: Your podcast is about flipping the script on all the things we think we know about fitness. As an instructor and notable figure, what was the biggest misconception that you had to overcome to reach the level you’re at now?

Tunde Oyeneyin: I’ve come to realize that regardless of how the world sees you, or how much time you put into training your muscles, the voices in your head will ultimately win. “Your Mind Is Your Strongest Muscle”: It holds the key to your belief about the way you feel and the way you see yourself. It is the determining metric that guides what you believe to be true. It’s the thing that talks you in and out of each and every action. In a workout, when things begin to feel like too much, it’s not a muscle that charges into motion to finish out the final round of squats; it’s the mind that initiates the movement. This doesn’t suggest that your glutes aren’t required, but rather the mind is the trigger that tells the glutes to keep firing.

Was podcasting and interviewing a skill you had already developed? Or is this a new venture for you? How important is it for you to challenge yourself and expand your skillset outside of your comfort zone?

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to work with Facebook for their Facebook audio rooms where I hosted a show called “The Roots” with featured guests such as Common and Emmanuel Acho. I also host an Instagram live series called “S.P.E.A.K” and have had guests such as Venus Williams, Allyson Felix, Cynthia Erivo, and most recently, Mel Robbins. All to say, I’ve become comfortable in the hosting seat. Competency builds confidence – I’ve been able to channel the skills that I developed there and bring them here to Fitness Flipped

I challenge myself every day. I think about how comfortable I’ve become being aired on a live platform regularly. There’s nothing that teaches you how to be more comfortable and accept yourself more than that.

Image: Instagram/@Tunde2Tunde

Your season 1 guest list has some major star power! Who were you most excited to interview?

Oh! It’s way too hard to choose just one. I took something special from each guest this season. I will say, Sterling K. Brown is one of my favorite actors of all time. It was so incredible to speak with him. The way that his mind works is truly inspiring. Phoebe Robinson is an icon in the making, and Paralympian Scout Bassett, reframed the way I think. 

I remember when you did ‘the big chop’, cut off your locs and posted your short hair reveal on Instagram and the caption read ‘Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself’ (epic!!). How intimidating was it for you to make that transition in such a public way? Has it opened a conversation for you about beauty standards and embracing change? 

The ‘big chop’ was something I wanted to do since I was 10 years old. I’ve looked at women with short hair my entire life and been so fascinated and intrigued by them. I loved seeing their full, confident faces. I loved my hair being long because I felt like it made me look, and more so, even feel very feminine. I have big muscles, and one of my biggest fears was that I would no longer feel like a woman.

I was motivated by a quote from Shonda Rhimes. She said “The only way to not be fearful of something is to just do it. Whatever you have fear of, when you do that thing, you can no longer be fearful of that thing.”

At the time when I chopped my hair, it was so dead that I could feel a weight of dead energy that I knew I needed to remove. My hairstylist said to me “Tunde, you wouldn’t keep dead plants in your house. So why would you keep dead hair on your head?” So I made the decision to actually chop it, and once it started, I realized that I was doing it for myself. I was ok and going to be ok.

Everything that I was fearful of, wasn’t true. I was scared that I would look too masculine. I don’t. I look more feminine. Everything that I told myself about why I should not do it, was not true. I look in the mirror now, and see more of myself than I ever have. Every time I say to myself this is the real Tunde.

How important is the Peloton community that you and your fellow instructors have created (on and off the bike) to you?

I am so in love with my teammates. We all have such a beautiful respect for one another. I think that is part of what makes this all so magical—a group of people that genuinely love seeing each other win. 

Fitness Flipped Episode 1: “Stress” is now on the Peloton App in a special Outdoor Walk sectionSpotify and Apple Podcasts. Season 1 kicks off with guests including: Phoebe Robinson, Sterling K. Brown, Allyson Felix, Scout Bassett, Desus Nice and some of Tunde’s fellow Peloton Instructors who candidly share their personal stories and inspirational advice.

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