There might not be anything more inspiring than Janet Jackson blaring through your speakers and Tunde Oyeneyin telling you to crank up your resistance. The person from Houston has become one of Peloton’s most famous people. She leads community-based classes with up to 20,000 fans, and she just signed a deal with Nike.
Morning Brew talked to Oyeneyin about his dream job and how he was getting used to the gym.
How did you spend your time before you started riding a bike?
Houston, Texas, is where I grew up. My parents came to the United States from Nigeria to live the American Dream and give their children a better life than they had. So, if you are the child of immigrants, you know from a very young age that you should make the most of this chance. So, when I was in my 20s, I moved from Houston to Los Angeles to become a celebrity makeup artist. I worked for 15 years as a makeup artist and teacher for a cosmetics company.
I had my dream car, a nice apartment in Los Angeles, and I no longer had to look at the menu prices before I went to a restaurant. This was an important time. All of this means that I worked really hard to get this dream job. When I get my dream job, I find out I hate it. I was in a place where I didn’t know what to do next. But looking back, the beauty of uncertainty is that it gives you a chance to do anything. If you don’t know what’s going to happen next, anything could happen. You’re no longer putting yourself in a box by how big you think your next step should be. And that’s sort of how I got into shape.
What would you tell someone who is trying to get a job they think is their dream job?
I think that we’re always after something. So, be careful if you are only focused on the end goal. You won’t be able to enjoy it when you get there. If you can’t find happiness on the way, you won’t find happiness at the end. That’s true.
As a Nike global ambassador, you’ve said that one of your goals is to make fitness more accessible to women and people who might feel less comfortable in a gym. Why does this matter so much to you?
I was a cardio addict when I first started working out. Only that is what I did. When you walked into the gym near my house in Texas, free weights were on the left and cardio was on the right. I’d look over at the cardio area, where most of the people were women and it looked a lot less scary. I didn’t know how strong I was, not just physically but also mentally, until I started lifting weights.
I’m so flattered and happy that women see me as strong and muscular. It makes me feel free that it’s okay for women to look strong. In the past, fitness was mostly a sport for white men. So, I think it says a lot that she is a Black woman with muscles and no hair in this space.