Peloton Instructor Kirsten Ferguson On Becoming a Mom After Miscarriage
In early 2020, Kirsten Ferguson jotted down a dream on a Post-it note: "I am going to be a Peloton instructor." She's a firm believer in the power of manifestation, even though her journey up until that point had taught her that life can be unpredictable and inexplicably heartbreaking. But she held on to that stickie — even now, nearly a year after making her debut as one of Peloton's most beloved running coaches.
Fans of all fitness levels have found reasons to show up for Ferguson's classes. But she's gained a particularly loyal following amongst parents as a self-declared member of the "Ratchet Mom Club." For the uninitiated, that means Ferguson proudly represents the mothers who aren't afraid to belt out Megan Thee Stallion songs while flipping pancakes or let their energy loose on the road when running late for pickup. And while Ferguson has become a Peloton member favorite for her self-aware sense of humor and superb music tastes, her camera-ready smile (yes, that's her modeling Ivy Park like a pro) doesn't tell the full story. Before joining Peloton, she experienced unfathomable loss and says it made her stronger than ever.
Ferguson's story started out in Danbury, Connecticut, where she was raised by a single mom who she says instilled "strong, independent woman vibes" in her. Ferguson enrolled in New York's Fashion Institute of Technology, envisioning a future as a buyer ("I thought, 'how fabulous — I can shop for a living!'") but quickly learned that the track wasn't a fit for her. She set her sights on public relations instead and explored opportunities in the sports world, inspired by her experience playing high school basketball. When she scored an interview at the NFL, she jumped at the opportunity — and nailed it, kicking off a seven-year tenure during which she worked her way up the corporate ladder. "My last event was the Beyoncé Super Bowl Halftime Show, which was a mic drop," she says. "There's nothing you can do after that."
The NFL is also where Ferguson crossed paths with pro athlete D'Brickashaw Ferguson. The duo married in 2011 and in 2013, Ferguson stepped away from her career to focus on starting a family. Six months later, she was pregnant; but at the first ultrasound, there was no heartbeat. "We waited a couple of weeks and went back for another ultrasound and there was still nothing," she says. "At that point, they said I was probably going to miscarry."
Miscarriage, i.e. loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks, occurs in about 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies, according to the Mayo Clinic. There are myriad reasons why they occur, and in many cases, they can't be prevented.
Ferguson chose to pass the pregnancy at home rather than undergo a surgical procedure known as a dilation and curettage (D and C). "They give you a pill to insert," she says. "I remember being fine and then all of a sudden it was excruciating pain — the worst pain I've ever had in my life. I got up to go to the toilet and that's where the baby passed. There was so much blood, so much pain — not just physical, but emotional." (Related: Bachelor Alum Ashley Spivey Wants to Change How Society Talks About Miscarriage)
The experience itself was traumatic, but the aftermath was also devastating. Ferguson developed an abnormal blood vessel on her uterus that caused spontaneous, heavy bleeding and massive blood clots. She underwent a procedure to address the issue and after several months of recovery, tried again to get pregnant. She conceived almost immediately.
"It was unbelievable and exciting," she says. "But that first ultrasound was terrifying. And there was the baby; there was the heartbeat. I think one of the most beautiful sounds a mother will ever hear is that first time hearing the baby's heartbeat. We were over-the-moon excited."
Three weeks later, Ferguson went in for a check-up only to find out that her worst fears came true. "The baby was just lying there at the bottom of the sac — not moving, no heartbeat," she says. "My body went numb. I couldn't believe this was happening again." Ferguson opted for a D and C this time so her doctors could test the fetus and search for any possible clinical explanation. All the results were "normal."
"I didn't know if I would ever be a mother," she says. "But I'm not a quitter, I'm a fighter, and I wanted to try again immediately. And we got pregnant a month later. I remember being excited and even more terrified [than my first pregnancy]. Every test, every scan, every ultrasound, I would hold my breath. But there's a happy ending to the story."
Eden Grace Ferguson was born in 2015. "She is a ball of life, the sweetest girl you'll ever meet, the love of my life," says Ferguson. "She is my 'why' in all things I do — and [so is] her surprise sister who came 16 months later!" Emery Faith Ferguson arrived the following year. "She's now 5 going on 15 and also the absolute love of my life," says the Peloton instructor.
Her journey to motherhood was rocky, to say the least, but over the course of those trying two years, Ferguson says movement truly became her medicine. "Everywhere I went, I could not escape stories of kids and pregnancy announcements and baby showers," she says. "The only place where I could really turn it off was when I went to a cycling studio. It was dark and I just rode my heart out on that bike. I cried, I laughed, I smiled, I let everything go in that room — all my pain, all my worry, all my anxieties, everything."
When Ferguson became pregnant with Eden, she received a life-changing push present: a Peloton bike. "I've been a member since 2015!" she says. "I rode at home whenever I didn't have anybody to watch my kids. And when I went back to the studio, someone one day was like, 'Have you ever thought about being an instructor?' I was like 'No, I'm a mom! When am I gonna do that?' And honestly, I'm terrified of public speaking. It blows my mind that this is what I do for a living now."
But something about the suggestion piqued Ferguson's interest and she investigated teaching opportunities at a local cycling studio. "I went to audition and it wasn't 'til I looked at myself in the mirror and put the mic on that I was like, 'This is what you were called to do,'" she says. (Related: 5 Peloton Instructors On How They Look So Damn Good Through Every Class)
Ferguson began teaching a handful of cycling classes a week at the local studio and saw her classroom grow. "I watched people's lives transform," she says. "It wasn't about the class, it was about touching people's hearts — it was amazing. And then COVID happened…and then my divorce happened."
By mid-2020, Ferguson was feeling lost once again. "We didn't know what was happening in our world and I didn't know what was happening in my life," she says. "But I knew the more honest I got about my feelings, the more it helped others. So I hopped on my Peloton bike and started teaching classes on Instagram Live and it blew up from there. Then one day I got a DM from Peloton."
The rest is essentially history, but there was one minor snafu in this dream come true. "I was a cycling instructor [but] I don't teach cycling now," says Ferguson. "I auditioned for everything and they said, 'What do you think about the tread?' I'm not a marathon runner and I've said multiple times out loud, 'I hate running.' But I was like, 'I'm gonna bet on myself and do it.'" Over several months of training under the platform's expert instructors, Ferguson found her footing as a runner.
Today, Ferguson is helping countless Peloton members surprise themselves with their own strength, on and off the tread. And she hopes sharing her story will inspire people from all walks of life to stay positive, determined, and focused and to know they have support. "You are not alone," she says. "You can go through dark times and come out on the other side better for it, stronger for it, and changed. I would not be the instructor and the woman I am if I didn't walk through what I did. And I'm grateful for it."