Image Source: Courtesy of Tunde Oyeneyin
Tunde Oyeneyin didn't grow up dreaming of becoming a Peloton instructor, but she did know that she wanted to write a book — and her near lifelong goal just came true. Her first book, "Speak: Find Your Voice, Trust Your Gut, and Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be" ($18), was released on May 3, and it's glowing with the fully real, you've-got-this energy you love her for on the bike.
"I said in third grade that I wanted to write a book," she tells POPSUGAR. "I didn't have the story or know what I wanted it to be about but knew that I wanted to write a book. [Now,] I just sit back and stay divinely connected to this thought that I had as a third grader." She did a damn good job manifesting, too: just a week after its release, the "part memoir, part manifesto" is already a New York Times bestseller.
Though Oyeneyin didn't predict her fitness-instructor stardom quite that early, she did have a lucid moment of intervention that made her life purpose clear, which led her to exactly where she is today: on the Peloton podium.
"After my first cycling class, I had what I call the 'blue-light experience,' where I saw my life trajectory move and pass in front of me," she says. "After the first cycling class I'd ever taken, I unclipped, and I knew that I'd be cycling for the rest of my life. I knew that I'd be teaching. And I knew that I'd be teaching on the world's biggest platform, able to inspire tens of thousands of millions of people. And at that time, I didn't even know what Peloton was. . . . I had this vision, this divine download, this moment where it was this gut thing that I felt, and then I trusted and followed that voice."
"Once I got a piece of it, a taste of it, I felt like everybody should have it — I enjoyed gifting people with confidence."
Finding and following that voice is exactly what she talks about in her book. In doing so, she hopes it will help readers to do the same — because "once you trust your gut, you find your voice, and it gets you from where you are to where you want to be," she says. "My story is one filled with so much doubt, so much uncertainty, and grief and loss and joy, and so much hope still. . . . My hope is that when you pick up the book, you see a little bit of yourself in my story, and you feel so inspired after closing the book to grab a pen and a blank page and write up the next chapter in your life."
The book's title, "Speak," doesn't only reference this inner voice; it's also an acronym for "surrender, power, empathy, authenticity, and knowledge." Using these power words, Oyeneyin offers an "accessible blueprint for anyone looking to make a positive change in their lives," according to the publisher, Simon & Schuster.
Oyeneyin's gilded presence and divine mission may make it seem like she's always had it all together, but — as she explores in her book — she's seen plenty of struggle, too. In fact, Oyeneyin admits that she "didn't have confidence for so long." So, "once I got a piece of it, a taste of it, I felt like everybody should have it — I enjoyed gifting people with confidence," she says. And that's really her life's work: it's more than helping people push through a HIIT ride or encouraging them to show up for another workout the next day. Through Peloton's platform, her book, her "Fitness Flipped" podcast, and even her prior work as a makeup artist, Oyeneyin's true MO is to help other people find the confidence that she, at one point in her life, didn't have.
That overarching mission is also what guides her collaborations, such as her recent partnership and Confidence Council Ambassador role with Smile Direct Club (which she says is one of the reasons she felt so confident in her own book-cover shoot — she's obsessed with its fast-dissolving whitening strips). At its heart, transforming someone's smile is a way to help someone feel good, too. "Their mission is to help people achieve the smile they love, and that's confidence," she says.
"When I was growing up, I was overweight. I lacked confidence. If anybody takes my classes now, they know I dance a lot on the bike. I love laughing. When I was younger, I couldn't laugh too loud, because I felt like if I laughed, people would notice me. And if they'd noticed me, they would see my size. I didn't dance, because I didn't want people to see me. If they saw me, they would see my size. And so, once I found confidence, I set out to lose weight. Ultimately, I lost 70 pounds, but what I gained along my journey [meant] so much more. I gained a sense of my purpose and my power. And I gained an understanding of who I was."
Learning who she was, at that moment, actually pushed her into the world of makeup; Oyeneyin was a makeup artist for 15 years before Peloton. "Again, because I love gifting people with confidence," she says. "Somebody comes to sit in your chair, shoulders are hunched over, hair's in a bun, they don't feel really great. And then 45 minutes later, you see those shoulders rolled back, the hair comes down, and the person's feeling really great. I enjoy being able to make people feel like that." Though her makeup artistry days are over, "now I get to do that by virtue of this bike," she says, "and furthermore through this book. I think that all of it lives synergistically, all connected."
If you feel you've been "gifted" some confidence by Oyeneyin (whether through her Instagram pep talks, book, or coaching style), be sure to say "thank you" by sending those vibes through your Peloton screen during your next ride. She'll be in the studio, waiting for it. "Energy radiates; it's a frequency, so it travels," she says. "That red light comes on, and I can feel the thousands of people that are there, right next to me, riding, hurting with me, sweating through the pain. Yeah, I feel that for sure. That energy's real."