The Argentinian cycling instructor — the platform's first to teach in both English and Spanish — shares her personal body-image breakthrough and how she hopes to pass those lessons on.
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Camila-Ramon-Peloton-Interview-Courtesy-of-Peloton
Credit: Courtesy of Peloton

Almost seven years ago, Peloton instructor Camila Ramón trudged up the nearly five miles of Miami's Key Biscayne Bridge, berating herself every step of the way. "I remember being so frustrated with myself," she tells Shape. "I got to the top of the bridge and I legit broke down."

Ramón, a lifelong dancer and runner, had taken a hiatus from fitness to take on what she calls a post-college "big-girl job" in international relations representing global businesses throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. She was miserable. "I was working ten to twelve hours a day," she says. "So I got out of the routine with my training and I didn't feel comfortable or confident with my body because I also had gained some weight. And as I got back into training, I felt like I was hitting my head against the wall. I was torturing myself, trying to see changes immediately. I felt like I was starting from scratch."

On the bridge that day, Ramón looked out at the epic view mid-breakdown and had a life-changing realization. "There might as well have been dolphins jumping out of the water — it was the most beautiful day," she says. "And I thought, 'how ungrateful are you that you have these strong ass legs that are taking you up this bridge and you're choosing to talk crap about your body rather than thank it for what it's doing for you?'"

From that day on, Ramón says she vowed to heal her relationship with her body and herself. "It later became my mission to help people develop a positive relationship with exercise by removing aesthetic pressures and focusing on performance-based goals," she says. Seven years later, she's not only made good on that promise to herself, but she's channeled that passion into her trailblazing role at Peloton as the fitness platform's first cycling instructor to teach classes in both Spanish and English. (Related: The Best Peloton Instructor to Match Your Workout Style)

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ramón moved to the United States at age seven, settling with her mom, dad, and brother in Miami, Florida. She developed a love for athletics early on and danced both in college and a bit professionally before transitioning to that notorious desk job. The epiphany she experienced on the bridge set off a chain of life-altering events: In 2016, she moved to Los Angeles with her husband, a military officer who served in the U.S. Coast Guard. Once in California, Ramón decided to ditch the business path and dive back into fitness, training in a variety of modalities including cycling and strength.

After several years of building her brand and business, Ramón launched her own fitness app: POWER by Camila. The venture was exciting, but the timing proved to be troubling. "I launched my app in October 2020, like, in the middle of the pandemic," she says. As she continued to train clients online, the former runner sought out something to round out her own at-home fitness journey. "I love running but my knees can't take [too much], so I was like, 'let me get a Peloton.'"

When Ramón's husband left the military in February 2021, the couple moved back to Miami to ride out the continued pandemic in more spacious surroundings. Another major transition prompted Ramón to take a bold risk: reaching out to Peloton. "I did, and they wrote back to me," she says. "I didn't think twice. I dove head-first into it and it has been the best decision that I've made."

Today, Ramón has the distinguished position of being Peloton's first cycling instructor to teach classes in both Spanish and English (fellow instructor Mariana Fernandez teaches Spanish and English yoga classes on the platform). "I feel an insurmountable honor to be here and I hope this is only the beginning — not only for me but for Latinos in this capacity," says Ramón. "And it's also cool to see that Spanish content is being valued within our platform and the PeLatino community [Peloton fans who identify as Latinx or Hispanic, but all are welcome] has been so supportive."

Ramón has taken her role as one of the company's pioneering bilingual instructors seriously, and she's also made it her mission to use her newfound platform to promote body positivity — a concept she says the Latinx community has a long way to go in embracing. (As does the medical community, considering that BIPOC individuals and those in the Latinx community often fall through the cracks of eating disorder diagnosis and treatment.)

"I grew up very active and we were very healthy in my house, but I feel like my mom was always on a diet," she says. "From what I can remember, whenever she would talk about exercise, it would be in the form of shrinking herself. And that's something that did stay with me growing up. Other family members would praise me for being thin while I was running and then would give me more of a weary attitude when I would gain muscle mass, with comments like, 'be careful' or 'you don't want to get too big.' I would hear them make comments about my cousins looking too muscular or whatever, and the more I speak about these topics, the more I hear that these comments are present not only in my family, but within the Latinx community as a whole." (Related: How to Teach Kids Self-Confidence By Modeling It Yourself)

Ramón says she internalized many of those attitudes and beliefs, which eventually led her to that breaking point on the bridge. "Working in the dance industry and living in Miami, I always felt an extreme pressure to be as thin as possible," she says. "Especially because I have a naturally larger frame than some of the women that I was standing next to. In dance, it's weird because you just stand half naked in front of a huge mirror with thirty beautiful women and you can't help but be like, 'why don't my hips look like hers?' And during this time I was spending a lot of time with people in the bodybuilding industry. I was restricting, I was overtraining. And looking back, I was very unhappy with myself. To this day, there aren't many dancers with varying body types in the Latinx community." (Related: What It's Like Being a Black, Body-Positive Female Trainer In an Industry That's Predominantly Thin and White)

When Ramón decided to launch her own online training app, she intentionally wanted to set an example for other women who had felt similarly underrepresented. "If you are within a Latinx household, then you've probably heard comments that have made you feel a certain way or that have pressured you to take certain actions or that have unmotivated you to continue down a path that was the right one for you — a path of balance, strength, and mental stability — and that makes me sad to think about," she says. "When I first started in the fitness industry, I had so many moments like, 'this is not going to be it — people are not going to accept me because I'm not as toned or lean.' I had to work myself through that, and be like, 'no, you're a professional, you are strong, you are an athlete, you know what you're talking about.' I felt that if I, as a kid or even as a trainer, had seen a body similar to mine, then I wouldn't have struggled as much with imposter syndrome and self-doubt and criticism of my body. I didn't see any other instructors talking about movement for health, happiness, balance, or mental stability — it was all to change our bodies."

Since joining Peloton, Ramón has continued her commitment to representing a healthy approach to exercise for all, but especially for fellow Latinx women who may have felt alienated by the fitness industry in the past. That resolution is partially what inspired her creation of the imaginary character, "la Tía Tóxica" (aka "The Toxic Aunt"), who she references regularly in classes and social media.

"La Tía Tóxica" is essentially the nagging family member who always has something negative to say about how you look or what you're doing with your life, with a sentiment that you're never good enough as-is. (See: How to Unlearn Toxic Body Image Narratives)

"It kind of started when I did my Latin Heritage Month celebration ride," she says. "It's so common to hear unsolicited comments about your body and what you should be doing and that's just not where it's at...Then I was like, 'well la Tía Tóxica lives inside of us and we can't be our own Tía Tóxica', and that kind of flowed into the rest of my classes. I mainly say, 'don't be your own Tía Tóxica — don't talk to yourself negatively. You gotta stay positive in there.' And I've gotten messages from people who are like, 'I'm not Hispanic, but I have a Tía Tóxica!'"

The character has also made a cameo in Ramón's body positive social media content, like a post from December 2021 in which she agonizes over whether to wear a pair of neon yellow shorts before realizing "who TF I am & that my body is perfect the way it is."(Related: How Negative Self-Talk Hurts Your Health — and How to Stop)

"Those posts are very vulnerable," she says. "I used to feel a little self-conscious about those because I was like, 'wow, I'm really putting myself out there.' But it's so necessary because I want to help little girls out there know that they're not alone in their struggles. These are thoughts that we all have, regardless of what we look like or what position we're in."

As Ramón starts a new year at Peloton, she's looking ahead to all the unprecedented opportunities to come. "It's been a huge blessing, not only to share this with Latinos in Spanish, but also to be teaching in English and to be respected by Peloton that way and to show both sides of who I am," she says. "My goal is for people to be happy in their bodies and to enjoy fitness and to have a positive space to do that and feel celebrated. I feel really humbled to be in this position and I hope this inspires other Latinos and immigrants — or anybody who feels like their goals are outside of their reach — to go out there and fight for what they want."

On Ramón's 30th birthday on December 18, she fought for what she had so desperately wanted seven years ago by conquering the Key Biscayne Bridge from a whole new outlook. "Last time I ran this bridge…I broke down at the top bc i was so upset at what my body didn't look like," she captioned a series of photos and videos from that day. "Today I reached that peak with so much love for everything I already am and gratitude for what my body has done for my in my past 30 years. I am strong, I am confident, I am valuable, I am freaking unstoppable and I lead with gratitude always. I love myself — and I'm not sorry about it."