It's Time to Speak Your Truth: Peloton Star Tunde Oyeneyin Is Here to Show You the Way
In early 2020, I got on my Peloton bike and took my first class with Tunde Oyeneyin. Within minutes, I was blown away by two things: how hard I was pushing myself, and how inspired I was by the inspiring truth bombs Tunde dropped every time I felt tempted to take it down a notch.
Like many Peloton members, I quickly became a Tunde fan, clipping into my bike for both the epic workout I knew I’d get as well as the “Tunde-isms” that helped me push myself both on and off the bike. My admiration for Tunde’s style reached new heights after her “Speak Up Ride” in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in June 2020. During that ride, Tunde reminded us of the true power in finding our voices, speaking up, and inciting change.
These days, in addition to her role as a Peloton instructor, Tunde is a motivational speaker and founder of the Instagram Live series S.P.E.A.K. (Surrender, Power, Empathy, Authenticity, and Knowledge), which highlights stories and voices of those who’ve thrived in the face of adversity. And on May 3, her book Speak: Find Your Voice, Trust Your Gut, and Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be will hit bookstores.
When I sat down with Tunde to talk about her book, I started by asking about how she’s learned to make friends with uncertainty. Not surprisingly, she replied with a Tunde-ism that left me wide-eyed and feeling inspired. “The beauty of uncertainty is infinite possibility,” Tunde told me. “When you don’t know what’s next, you don’t know what’s next—which means anything can be next!”
Read on for more of our conversation.
You write in your book that when you look back at the biggest shifts in your life, doubt was always there. “Uncertainty, I’ve come to learn, has to exist to give you room to shift. To make room for opportunity to walk in the door.” That is powerful! Can you talk a little more about how to make friends with uncertainty?
We all fear doubt. It’s uncomfortable. But when doubt enters, I believe it’s the body’s way of acknowledging that a course correction is underway. Because we don’t like the way it feels, we push doubt aside rather than opening the door to hear what it’s trying to say. But why not lean in to what doubt is trying to tell us—whether you’re doubting a relationship, your career, anything?
The beauty of uncertainty is infinite possibility. When you don’t know what’s next, you don’t know what’s next—which means anything can be next!
I was a makeup artist in Los Angeles, and I had to work my butt off for that dream job. I loved it until I hated it. I woke up one day and finally admitted that I hated it. Yet I knew so many people would kill for this job I had, so I entered this space of doubt and uncertainty.
Then, I took a cycling class that changed my life. After that first class, I unclipped from the bike and within a matter of seconds, I felt this blue wave of energy move from my fingers to my toes. It was like I saw my life’s trajectory in front of me. It was this divine download. I knew I’d be cycling for the rest of my life, and on the world’s biggest platform. I didn’t even know what Peloton was at that time, but I was so certain of my new future.
Because I was in the space of uncertainty, I was able to receive that download and answer doubt’s call. I think when you think you know what’s next, you’re in tunnel vision. You’ll see what’s in the realm of what you think should be next. When you’re uncertain, you open yourself up to opportunities you may have otherwise not seen as opportunities.
Life requires us to be resilient, and you talk about how we have power over how much we lean in to that resilience. “We don’t choose what happens to us, we choose how we react to it,” you write. “Today’s a new day; choose to be new in it.” How do you choose to be new in each day?
Resilience is innate. It’s something that lives in all of us. As events happen, you’re storing them—whether it’s something you saw your parents or your siblings do. My parents were very resilient—my mother in particular. So, when life threw different hardships at me, it was almost like I pulled out some of the learnings I had on reserve that I didn’t even know I had in me. It was like my body had reserved them for me, for the moment I needed them.
Three years after my little brother died, my mom passed away. Three years later, I lost my dad. Within six years, I lost half my family. With each of those losses, not only do you need resilience to go on, but you also get this bittersweet reminder that life is so short. And I think that’s where this idea of choosing to be new in each day comes from. You’re granted only a certain number of days—a number none of us get to know. I think about my little brother, who was only here for 19 years. I’ve had things in my closet longer than that.
At a certain point, I realized I am the gatekeeper to my own peace. I’m the gatekeeper to my own energy, and I can control the energy I bring to each day.
You are an incredibly popular Peloton instructor, yet the first time you auditioned for the job you didn’t get it. Why didn’t you give up?
The data that I’ve compiled throughout my 36 years of life shows me that everything is happening for me, and nothing is happening to me. If I trust that, and believe that, then I know it’s all working out.
I’ve learned that the truth always reveals itself when you are ready to see it. You don’t understand why things are happening as they are. But when you step back, and time passes, you realize things had to happen the way they did in order to get you to where you are. It’s supreme trust.
I loved the part in your book where you talk about the power of your “Speak Up” ride after George Floyd’s murder. Why do you think this ride touched and inspired so many?
Take yourself back to the state of the world in June of 2020. The world was in a standstill. We felt every emotion—angry, upset, hopeful, hopeless. And all in one breath, there were riots, and protests, and people longing to feel connected. People longing to see and be seen by one another.
A staggering 22,000 people took my “Speak Up” ride live. It was a wow moment—22,000 people moving together in solidarity. It was a 22,000-member virtual protest. Today, more than 200,000 people have taken that ride. To be able to work for a company that supported me and trusted me enough to go in there unscripted and speak my mind was incredible. Then, to feel the support of the community—to allow our Black community at Peloton a space where they felt seen, and to create a space where our non-Black community could hear and understand—was incredible.
You write about living a purpose-driven life in Speak: “I believe in living a life on purpose, of purpose, and with purpose.” What’s your best advice for others who want to live this kind of life but don’t feel as if they’re there just yet?
The title of my book is SPEAK, and it’s an acronym that stands for Surrender, Power, Empathy, Authenticity, and Knowledge. I look at how these elements have shown up for me in my life. I think that a life well lived is a life that is led in service to others. When you’re living a life of service, you’re living on purpose, of purpose, and with purpose.
My best advice is to trust your gut. Also, dare to have the audacity to believe in yourself. I believe we all know, to some extent, our purpose. I think many of us have just gotten really good at minimizing that purpose or not believing in ourselves.
We must lean in to the voice that says we can. Lean in to the voice that says, I believe in you. Lean in to that little by little, and you’ll start to hear that sound of the drumbeat that is your power. And when you can hear that hum, you will know you’re in line with your purpose. Listen for that drumbeat.