Our series “How I became a …” digs into the stories of accomplished and influential people, finding out how they got to where they are in their careers.
Though Robin Arzon spends a lot of time on a spin bike, you’ll never catch her spinning her own wheels. Arzon started her career as a lawyer before transitioning to the fitness space and has since used movement and exercise as a way to shape and transform her life and the lives of those around her. When she’s not pedaling to thousands of live and on-demand riders at New York’s Peloton studio, Arzon spends her time as a global Adidas ambassador, Road Runners Club of America-certified running coach, social media influencer, and New York Times bestselling author of “Shut Up and Run.”
USA TODAY caught up with Peloton’s VP of Fitness Programming to talk about everything from hydrating properly and the Lizzo “lifestyle” to rising above and learning to lean heavily into resilience.
Question: How did you get your start?
Robin Arzon: I really entered fitness as a runner. I laced up and I discovered a passion for movement. I am VP of Fitness Programming at Peloton and a head instructor at Peloton because I emailed John Foley and I was brave enough to put myself forward and put my hat in the ring to audition for a teaching position here. The big, broader wellness conversation kind of started when I was a lawyer and I was dealing with my own traumas and my own dramas. I really used movement as a tool to unlock and empower, and that is how I became a wellness leader.
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
Arzon: There is no typical day, I’ll be honest about that. But, I’ll give you the answer on an ideal day because that is maybe more interesting. An ideal day for me would be getting nine hours of sleep, waking up, meditating for 20 minutes, fueling (I always fuel properly with a smoothie with all kinds of vitamins and plant-based fuel), and then I would get in a workout. I would get in my own personal workout. My life is a workout, but my own personal workout is critical, and that will usually involve something related to strength training. I’m always, always staying hydrated – you cannot hustle without the proper hydration, and in my opinion, with plain ole’ water, as optimally. I like to optimize my day with ROAR Organic and electrolytes, and then after my workout, an ideal day would involve some type of work. I honestly feel so fulfilled with the kind of work I do at Peloton, so sometimes that’s going to be teaching a class, sometimes that’s going to be making a playlist, and sometimes it’s going to be just getting my mind and mental space right for tomorrow’s hustle.
Then, I will spend time with my husband or my family and just nourish my soul, and then I will do something that is perhaps unexpected, like a moment getting into the more critical things. It’s the mental grit. I like to take moments to really nourish and educate about things that I might not even know. That’s where master classes, that’s where picking up a book, or that’s where doing the thing, almost the mental callousing of my brain, is a critical part of my ideal day. And then, honestly, it’s the boring stuff. It’s fueling, it’s drinking, it’s stocking the fridge, it’s taking the time to breathe, (and) it’s taking the time to take my second meditation. Then, at the end of the day, it is being prouder when I went to bed than when I woke up in the morning in the ways that are really, really critical by the standards we espouse. I take that really seriously. I think our legacy is comprised of small decisions.
Q: What is your favorite part about your job?
Arzon: I’m really proud of the Peloton community. I’m really proud of the community that we have created, and honestly, that is a passion piece that I’m really proud of. I think that is honestly (how I know) I’m in alignment because that is the proudest part of my day.
Q: What do you credit your success to?
Arzon: My success is firmly rooted in knowing I will always rise above the BS.
Q: How do you balance work, life, and such a busy schedule?
Arzon: This might be an unpopular opinion, but there is no real balance. There are priorities, and a work ethic strong enough to get there. So, I would say I have listened to my gut, and I have established my North Star: which is to do epic things in this world. It’s not about balance: It’s about listening to yourself and identifying a standard for greatness that is at the same time achievable and aspirational. People are looking for ways to find balance, but the way that you achieve a feeling of joy is identifying what is valuable and what is achievable. What you haven’t achieved yet is worth getting uncomfortable and digging into, and that’s not always going to be a feeling of balance. That will be a feeling of joy when you get there, and you create your own.
Q: What have been some of your biggest career highs?
Arzon: I will never forget crossing the finish line of a 100-mile race; I will never forget standing alongside my fellow instructors for the Peloton moments that make us really, really powerful like All for One or Homecoming; being in Times Square with my fellow instructors on the day that Peloton went public, the day that my book came out.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Arzon: Trust your struggle. I think that being brave enough to own your journey requires trusting your struggle. There’s no way that you’re going to follow in someone’s footsteps exactly, but I think if you admire someone’s journey, there is something about their journey that is perhaps a mirror of values you root yours in. I think trusting your struggle is incredibly important, and being brave enough to actually have experiences where you fail. The journeys that I admire in business and life and in spirituality, or even just people like my mother (who is a superhero), have an element of resilience, and critically require bravery. The tattoo that I have on my ribcage says “resilient stock,” and it is in honor of my mother, but it is also in honor of the bravery that a great story requires.
• What’s your coffee order? I don’t drink coffee – I am a matcha person. I would do matcha with just water
• What’s your favorite book? The most transformative book I’ve read in the last five years is “The Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes
• What’s your favorite song at the moment? “Juice” by Lizzo. It’s a lifestyle choice
• Who’s been one of your biggest mentors? One of my biggest mentors is someone I haven’t even met, Michelle Obama. It’s not because I know her personally – I wish – but (because) she demonstrates and lives her life by the principles I aspire to have and the grace I try to have with myself, and with the responsibility of creating a legacy that matters. I think mentors aspire us to action, and she is one of mine.
• What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done? It’s not a day or an achievement; it’s a way of life. One of the coolest things I’ve ever done is learned how to become resilient and trust my hustle. I think that is everything from knowing that my bag is stocked with ROAR and I’m staying hydrated, but also trusting that I know how to prepare for small and big victories. I think that the iterative process to success is going to be challenging, but it’s knowing that you have the backbone and the processes and the things in your superhero toolkit to rise.