For those who are Peloton fans, the Peloton instructors can be like celebrities, and people have even taken to social media to say they’ve fallen in love with their teachers (via InsideHook). One wrote, "Relationship Status Update: I am in love with a man who shows up for me daily, encourages me to keep going, and tells me he’s so proud of me – yes, I am in an imaginationship with Ben, the Peloton spin instructor." Another tweeted, "is it normal to immediately fall in love with every peloton instructor i mean they keep telling me how great i am."
What is it about the instructors that makes them so popular? There are only 33 instructors, according to the Peloton blog, and there are over 3.6 million subscribers with 382% growth in those who have the $12.99-per-month app (via Vanity Fair). One popular instructor is Robin Arzon, who is Peloton’s VP of Fitness Programming, and according to the Peloton blog, she believes that "sweat transforms lives."
Arzon started as a Peloton instructor in 2014, and in 2016, she was promoted to vice president of fitness programming (via ESPN). And here are some things about the superstar instructor Robin Arzon you may not know.
Robin Arzon’s family helped inspire her
Robin Arzon’s mother was a Cuban refugee who watched PBS to learn English and went on to become a doctor, and her dad was Puerto-Rican born, and who, as a lawyer himself, inspired Arzon’s first career choice (via ESPN). "I watched him grade papers growing up and became enchanted with the law at a young age," she told blog "This Woman’s World." As I grew older, my interest solidified into a healthy thirst for debate and curiosity about ‘Truth’ and ‘Justice.’"
As Arzon was growing up in Philadelphia, it seems like the focus was on family and school as compared to athletics. "The importance of my family was family," she told ESPN. "You spent your time working with the family and that was it. Our free time was spent doing what our abuelas said. And academics were very important."
But she definitely learned a lot from her parents. Arzon told Podium Runner, "as long as we were making the next best decision to keep us safe and largely secure, they supported it." And on Tumblr back in 2015, she posted a picture of a tattoo on her ribs with the caption, "Resilient Stock. This tattoo comes from a saying my mom told my sister and I as kids. We come from resilient stock. The human spirit is fierce. Sweat is magic."
A traumatic experience led Robin Arzon to running
What brought Arzon to running was living through a deeply traumatic event. "Entering my senior year at NYU, I was out with friends at a wine bar in the East Village when a man entered and held me hostage at gunpoint. Ever since that day, I’ve actually lived every day as my last" (via Know Your Value).
It sounds like it was a truly terrifying experience. According to ESPN, she was among 40 people at the bar, and the armed man carried a samurai sword and three guns and was dousing people with kerosene and brandishing a lighter. It seems to have gotten worse. As she explained it to CBS News, "He hands me garbage bag ties … has me tie everybody up," describes Arzon. "Then sprays everybody with gasoline, kerosene, and then he snatches me back up and kind of uses me as a shield, ’cause the NYPD were outside."
After she left NYU, she went onto law school, but, as you might expect with such a scary situation, it stayed with her, and she used exercise as a way of coping. Arzon explained to Know York Value, "The built-up trauma from that experience led me to start running the following year in law school" and that instead of driving to class, she’d run.
Robin Arzon started her career as a lawyer but couldn’t stop running
Arzon attended law school at Villanova University, and it was as a student there that she ran her first race, a 10K (via ESPN). She caught the running bug, hard, but she finished law school and went on to become a lawyer.
Arzon worked as a litigator at a firm in New York City for seven years, but she kept running, and eventually faced a decision. "I really enjoyed being a lawyer, but my days became bifurcated," Arzon told OZY. "I was literally counting down the minutes until I could run." As well as working as a lawyer and her own running training, she picked up certifications as a running coach, spin instructor, and personal trainer before she made the ultimate career switch: "I had to decide if I wanted in or out," Arzon told ESPN. "Did I want to own the ambitious track of becoming a partner at the law firm or did I want to own the equally ambitious track of creating my own career in fitness? I chose the latter."
But it wasn’t an overnight decision. As Arzon explained to Culture Trip, "It was like death by 1,000 paper cuts, it wasn’t one moment. It was a gradual two-year shift when I realized what I could get out of my running career could be more fulfilling. That was the driving force. I wanted to feel a certain way everyday — empowered and impassioned."
Arzon went from not feeling athletic to writing a book about ultrarunning
While Arzon has run more than 20 marathons, three 50-mile ultramarathons and one hundred-miler, she didn’t identify herself as an athlete until later in life (via ESPN). "My parents never put me in sports leagues growing up, so when I was exposed to sports in school I felt I couldn’t participate because I didn’t play since I was 5 like everyone else," Arzon explained to Culture Trip, "It wasn’t until I was in my 20s I realized I could choose how I define myself and how the world sees me."
She ran her first marathon in 2010 in New York City, telling Runner’s World, "It’s an immensely gratifying race to run because the energy in NY is so powerful." Then in 2013, after her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she ran the distance of five marathons in five days to raise money for the MS Society. The story of this feat and Arzon’s life leading up to that moment is the focus of a Kickstarter-funded documentary called "Run It Out."
Arzon has firmly established herself as an ultrarunner, and with that depth of experience, she wrote the book "Shut Up and Run: How to Get Up, Lace Up, and Sweat With Swagger." Published in 2016, her book’s website describes it as, "Combining a fitness manual, training program, and self-help advice book in one."
Robin Arzon hasn’t let her chronic disease hold her back
In 2014, Robin Arzon was diagnosed with diabetes type 1, a chronic disease that prevents your body from producing insulin, but kept running (via Runner’s World). Being an ultrarunner and a type 1 diabetic aren’t a common combination, and it comes with some unique challenges, like finding a doctor. "Once you are getting into 100-mile running territory, it’s a pretty rare thing to do," she told On Track Diabetes, "and most doctors haven’t had patients that do that."
Facing a challenge that not many other people have faced, she wasn’t going to let it stop her running. Arzon got a glucose monitor and insulin pump within two weeks of diagnosis has stayed acutely aware of her body: what’s she doing with it and putting in it. "Life as a type 1 diabetic is a 24/7 tightrope walk," she told Shape. "I haven’t eaten a bite of food in three years and not thought about my insulin to the carb ratio and how much I should be taking, what I plan on doing in the next hour, or what I was doing beforehand.
While it may seem like a chronic disease would stop her, she told Podium Runner her positive perspective. "I do really believe that most people, when faced with something daunting or harrowing, are going to be stronger than they think. There is something primal and beautiful about the instinct to survive. I’m a survivor."