Emma Lovewell Revealed How She Became a Peloton Instructor — & It Involves Emailing the CEO
By Erika Janes,2023-03-28
You don’t have to be a die-hard Peloton fan to know — and have a crush on — Emma Lovewell . The Under Armour athlete, founder of Live Learn Lovewell , author of a forthcoming book by the same name, and yes, beloved Peloton Instructor, inspires adoration pretty much everywhere she goes, thanks to her authenticity and genuine joy in helping people find their way on their personal wellness journeys. The packed room at the Native in Austin, Texas, for the SHE Media Co-Lab’s Future of Health event, was no exception.
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Lovewell and Amy Jo Martin, the founder & CEO of Renegade Global , spoke in front of an eager audience, discussing Lovewell’s biggest “why not now?” moments (including how she became a Peloton instructor), her book, how we can all find strength in unexpected moments, and the power of acknowledging fear — and still moving forward. Read on to eavesdrop on some of the best moments from their conversation.
Amy Jo Martin
In the spirit of ‘Why not now?’ can you tell me about a time when you had a big decision to make? And you ask yourself the ultimate question that bridges that delta between idea and action — that important, quick delta — and you ask yourself, ‘Why not now?’
So, there’s so many moments in my life and career that I think I’ve had these moments where you’re a little bit scared, you have to make the choice to take a risk, put yourself out there a little bit. One of those moments is definitely writing a book. Real quick, it comes out May 2!Live Learn Lovewell $23.99 Buy now
But the big moment that I think I really had this ‘Why not now?’ moment was before Peloton. I had first met the team at Peloton when I did their Kickstarter campaign. I was a model/actress for their Kickstarter video. And so I met this small team of 10 or 20 people, John Foley, the CEO. I came in, did my modeling gig, heard about his company. I said, ‘Sounds cool, good luck’ and then went off. I became a fitness instructor at a few other companies but was watching them on the sidelines. I was like, wow, they’re really doing some innovative stuff. They’re making headlines. At the time that I reached out to them, I was a little bit lost in my career, I had taken some sidesteps, where I was sort of confused; I wasn’t really making the progress I wanted. And my partner, Dave, who’s amazing — you know, he who is a white man in business — was like, ‘Why don’t you just email the CEO?’ I’m not used to that behavior, right? I was like, ‘Why would a CEO want to hear from me?’ And he was like, just do it. Like, what’s the worst that’s gonna happen? And so, in that moment, I was like, ‘Fuck it.’ I wrote the email, hesitated, and just hit send. And it was something like, you know, Hi, John Foley, congrats on all your success. If you remember me, I did the Kickstarter campaign. I’ve been watching all of your success. You’re doing amazing things. If there are any opportunities, I’d love to hear about them. And he wrote back in 20 minutes. And I was like, This is amazing. You know, if I don’t hit send, when am I going to hit send? If I don’t do it now, when am I going to do it?
Amy Jo Martin
Why not now? Why not you? So sometimes we have that window where it’s like, ‘I’m brave.’ And then we have those windows where I’m not brave. So when we feel that it’s like, go time, right? What is the worst thing that can happen? That’s like a renegade mentality. And it usually doesn’t end there. But we green-light, and then the momentum, that energy kicks in.
What happened was, you think, ‘I’m in great, we’re good. And he’s like, love to hear from you. I’m going to introduce you to Robin Arzón, our head of instructors. [And] I don’t hear from Robin. She doesn’t email me. And so that’s another moment where I was like, ‘I made it this far, but now what?’ So now I have to follow back up. Hey, John, it’s me, again, still haven’t heard from Robin , you know? And then he’s like, let me follow back up. There’s always going to be these moments where you have to be brave over and over and over again because it’s not just enough the first time. But once you get a little win, once you have that first moment of bravery and a little success, it kind of drives you to the next one. You’re like, ‘Well, I did it before, why not do it again?’ and spoke to Robin and she was like, Well, we’re not hiring.
Amy Jo Martin
Back around. Yeah. We call it NRN. We have a podcast called Why Not Now? And we reached out to Oprah. And her team said, Well, she’s filming right now in Australia, or New Zealand, or something. This was a few years ago. And so on the spreadsheet, we write “NRN” — not right now, but follow up. Yeah, it was a no, let’s be real. [But] you just set a consistent tenacity of, I’m gonna be brave again . And then you can find it. It’s a muscle, right? And it is not for the faint of heart. It’d be easy to be like, ‘They’re not hiring.’
Right? And that doesn’t guarantee success. It doesn’t guarantee that you’re gonna get a ‘yes.’ But I also think what really helped me in that is, I was a professional dancer and I would go to auditions every single day and I was told no 99.5 percent of the time. But you just keep going to auditions. It’s one of the hardest jobs — it’s so grueling. But it’s really, you know, Wayne Gretzky [says] you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take, right? So if it’s not now, it’s not you? Who is it going to be?
Amy Jo Martin
Let’s shift gears a little bit … you clearly got a yes eventually. And one of the things we we’re talking about is how I believe you don’t brand yourself — you are yourself, and that creates your brand. And so as I’m researching, and I’m talking to my friends, and they all ride with you and know you really, really well, the consistent feedback and the whisper brand, what people say about you when you’re not around, was, ‘Oh, she’s the best like, by far .’ And I was like, ‘Why?’ And it was the authenticity. That word gets thrown around, I know, ‘It’s authentic da da da.’ But it was genuine — your whisper brand’s very, very strong.
How do you stay true to the decisions you want to make when you have so many options now? And there are times where you can make things happen versus let things happen? And how do you discern that?
Yeah, that’s such a good question. And it’s always a question I have on my mind, and it’s always evolving. I recently just got back into therapy and that’s a question that we’re talking about. Because I really do rely on my community, my friends, my family. Like, I call my brother, my girlfriends — I see my girlfriends on a weekly basis — I really use my team and my people because I value their opinions. But there’s a distinction because, and I was talking about this to my therapist, it’s not [that] I’m calling my friends to tell me what decision to make and be like, ‘What do you do? Okay, I’m going to do that.’ It’s weighing their opinion, versus how that feels against my intuition. If I’m having relationship issues, but I talked to my girlfriend, and she’s having her own relationship issues, it makes me feel seen, it makes me feel less alone. And it’s not that their relationship is better than my relationship, or mine’s better than theirs. But it helps me create little guardrails of trying things on and testing that against what’s going on in my feelings.
So I’m not listening to people and being like, I’m just gonna do whatever they do. It’s listening to that option. And knowing that that option is out there. How does that feel if I try it on? I love gaining information about options out there and then weighing that against my feelings.
Amy Jo Martin
I love that and you can’t argue experience, right? If we look at mental, physical, and emotional awareness and being hyper-aware, we can’t control it, but we can be aware of that feedback loop. What you’re saying is, when you allow some of the sacred minds in and hearts that you trust, it’s a pretty safe place to be testing and experimenting versus some stranger telling their opinion, right? And it’s science. This is data, right? It is literally strategic data — our intuition and that GPS. I love that. So what are you most excited about at this moment? What are you most passionate about?
Well, it’s almost spring, so I’m gonna start my garden soon. But also my book . This is a huge ‘Why not now?’ moment. I have to say, a publisher reached out to me two years ago and said, ‘I’d love for you to write a book. Have you ever thought about it?’ And I was like, ‘What, me write a book, like, now ?’ Like, I’m thinking, you know, maybe when I’m 60 years old, I’ll have some great stories to tell. And I can write a memoir then. Which, why not do that then as well? But I was like, you know what, if somebody else believes in me to write a book, why don’t I believe in me to write a book? And so I went down that journey of calling all my friends, my family and saying, you know, I got this offer, should I write a book? And I said yes. I said, why not now, do it now, the opportunity’s in my hand and why not go for it?
Amy Jo Martin
I’m a big advocate and believer that adversity is an asset in disguise if you leverage it hard enough. And we were talking about health and loved ones and I had a micro preemie born almost on an airplane. He was in the NICU for three months. And he’s doing wonderful. But I learned more in that three months that I’m applying to life and business than ever, and I know you’ve been through your journey with fear and adversity with health with your mom. Biggest takeaways navigating that — what would you say?
You know, I say in my Peloton classes, your strength shows up when you need it the most. And I mean, fitness is just a series of getting uncomfortable and then recovering, over and over again, that’s what an interval is. So in fitness, we are willingly putting ourselves in uncomfortable [situations]. When you click “start” on my class, you know that you’re willingly putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation in order to get strong, and that’s under your control somewhat. But in life, we go through uncomfortable situations. And that is when our strength shows up the most and you don’t even know it, you can’t plan for it.
When I learned that my mom was sick, you just go into like this solution, solve-the-problem-operator mode. How can I help? This was before Peloton but I was teaching fitness. I quit my job, I moved home, I took over my mom’s gardening business so she could move to Boston to get treatment, and, you know, took a whole pause in my career. It didn’t even occur to me not to do that. What’s more important than your family, right?
So I was like, I can learn about gardening really quick, this will be fine. And I really just learned, you know? It’s very personal and emotional for me to talk about this; I talk about it in my book a little bit deeper, but you know, my parents are divorced. And in that moment, we all came together. I remember my parents hugging for the first time in 12 years and all of us just really coming together to try to problem-solve and figure out how we can be there for my mom and how to get her through this challenging time. And [I’m] happy to report she’s healthy now. She’s doing amazing. What I learned really is how you just turn it on… your strength shows up when you need it the most.
Amy Jo Martin
You get clear so quickly, don’t you? I was like, all right, game on. And what’s interesting is the folks around you — they can hold your fear at times. It’s like we can outsource. What is that proverb, ‘Joy shared is multiplied and fear or sadness shared is halved’ or whatever? It really is true.
So when you look at the future, and you probably have a pretty clear picture of the next several months, especially with the book, but do you try to plan pretty far out? Or are you more, ‘Hey, let’s see what unfolds in front of me’?
I definitely in the past have not been a long-term goal person. I am a short-term goal person. I believe that we should write our goals down in pencil because so much can change. And yes, you need to have a strong intuition and a North star about what you value. But when I look at my career, when I was in high school there was no such thing as a blogger. There was no such thing as a Peloton instructor or a virtual fitness instructor. Those things didn’t exist. How could I have been a kid and said, ‘I want to be that when I grow up’ when it didn’t even exist? So I’m open to what’s out there; the possibility there’s so much that I don’t know.
When I moved to New York City originally [it] was to pursue dance, and I was like, ‘Okay, I’m gonna work on this for a year. If I don’t book anything, or get an agent or make some serious strides, I’m gonna totally re-evaluate where I am and what I’m doing.’ And it was almost at that one-year mark that I ended up signing with an agent. And I was like, cool, this is what I needed to encourage me to keep going in this direction. This door opened, I’m gonna go through it. And that’s just sort of how I’ve lived my life. And it’s worked out so far.
Amy Jo Martin
As you’ve embraced the various stages with your influence, what’s cool is you have the ability to be this — it’s not about Emma, it’s about the service. The service of the message you can deliver is endless. We were just talking about investing backstage a bit and your curiosity, and as a huge advocate of wealth creation for women, money in your own pockets, and looking at it differently, there’s a lot of education needed, right? I would love to hear you on investing, like, you do an hour of Peloton and talking about investing.
But you could share anything you want and have that influence. And I think that’s the thing where you realize, this is my version, but what’s your version? And how are you going to be able to kind of scale your intellectual capital up here, and I love that you realize that it can be through any medium, but to be able to reach more?
I recently saw this video on social media and it was this woman talking about how people are so scared of being seen failing. And she lives by this mantra that’s like, ‘Don’t be afraid of letting other people see you try.’ I identify myself as a lifelong learner; I love trying new things, I love traveling to new places, seeing new cultures, trying new food, and I love sharing that because there’s so much to learn. If you see me try something and I stumble a little bit, you know, does that encourage you to try something and maybe you’ll start to stumble too? And you’ll realize like, we keep getting back up, it’s okay. It’s okay that you see me try something and I’m not an expert. If you wait till you’re ready to do something, you won’t do anything, right?
Amy Jo Martin
I love it. I’m an example of that now, with people following on social for many years and relatively new in my sobriety journey. And I was like, ‘Should I share this or not?’ And I did. And it’s amazing how vulnerable yet welcoming it is to people who are in the same spot. It’s seen as believing and we will slip but it’s, ‘fall [down] seven, get back up eight’ right?
So if you could go back to yourself that day, right before you hit send on that email to John… If you could say to yourself, something in that moment before all this happened, what would you say?
Acknowledge the fear; do it anyway. Just do it while afraid. Be scared shitless and still do the thing. You don’t have to be calm and confident and an expert to move forward to take the step. And I think just, reassuring her, good, be afraid . Do it. Go shut your computer and go pace around the apartment a few times. That’s fine. That’s all okay. Do it while afraid.
This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.
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