Peloton's Tunde Oyeneyin Shares How She Grew to Become the Confident Queen She Is Today

"Confidence is a skill, not a trait," she says. Learn her tricks to find her sparkle even on the gloomiest of days.

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A few hours before I'm scheduled to chat with Peloton instructor Tunde Oyeneyin, I hear her offer a pearl of wisdom at the end of a (brutal) Intervals & Arms class that's so perfectly in line with our upcoming conversation, it feels fated.

"This piece of machinery is a confidence booster," she says during the much-needed end-of-class stretch. "The point is not to jump on and critique what you did. What you did was good enough today."

And that off-the-cuff but hard-hitting truth is just one example of why Oyeneyin could be considered one of Peloton's top authorities on building, fostering, and maintaining a sense of self-assurance, even through adversity. But if there's one thing the powerhouse instructor — a soon-to-be first-time author — wants to get across to fans and followers, it's that confidence is a learned habit that requires practice and patience.

"Confidence is a skill; it's not a trait," says Oyeneyin. "I have brown eyes. I was born with brown eyes, I will always have brown eyes; I was not born with confidence. Confidence is something that I've acquired. It's a skill that I developed over the last 36 years. And like anything that you're building, it wavers. Sometimes there are high-highs, sometimes there are low-lows. I think that's what always gets me back on course is knowing that I know how to access it, so when I'm feeling less confident, I'm more forgiving with myself because I know it's just a moment and it'll pass. I'll find my way back up." (

Oyeneyin has been candid about her journey to finding this kind of self-assurance, sharing her early struggles with weight and how exercise played a pivotal role in helping to build her self-esteem. "When I first started working out, my confidence was lost," she says. "I put up a front because I didn't want people to know that I didn't like the way I looked, so I faked that I was okay. And when I started my wellness journey, I was like, 'am I okay?'"

While Oyeneyin may have initially hidden behind this facade, she says she eventually allowed herself to be vulnerable — a gradual evolution that she reflects on as ''work at it until you make it.' (

Transforming her relationship to fitness played a major role in growing her confidence, but Oyeneyin says that addressing another physical feature helped take it to the next level: her smile.

"I was a very gap-toothed kid and adult, so working on my smile is something that really boosted my confidence," she says. "I used to be one of those people who would put my hand in front of my mouth when I laughed so no one would see my teeth. And what I realize now is that I was silencing my joy. I was masking my joy. I was covering my joy."

Oyeneyin says she did alter her bite a few years ago ("I did it for me — everyone said I didn't need to do it"), but she's now partnering with teledentistry company SmileDirectClub in hopes of inspiring others to reclaim the joy in their own smiles. "I'm so honored to have this partnership because I love their mission about making a smile — making confidence, if you will — affordable and convenient," she says. (

Oyeneyin joins SmileDirectClub's newly launched Confidence Council, speaking about her own experience overcoming obstacles and triumphing over adversity. One particularly tough moment she managed to navigate? Botching her first Peloton audition.

"When I first found out I didn't get the job, I was shattered and very confused," she explains. "But I didn't allow it to hold me down because I realized, 'wow — the fact that they thought that I was worthy, that's a compliment in itself.' Look, if Denzel Washington met me at Whole Foods and said, 'I think you're great. I want you to come audition to be my counterpart in this movie,' and then I didn't get the part, yeah, I'd be sad because I didn't get to be on screen with Denzel, but I'd be like 'wow, Denzel auditioned me, there's something to that, right?'"

With that fresh perspective, Oyeneyin says she went back to teaching at a Los Angeles-based cycling studio with a renewed swagger. "If anything, at the end of the day, it was a confidence driver and a confidence booster," she says of the Peloton interview. "I showed up to teach my three classes a week like I was walking onto the Peloton stage — it lit a new energy and a new level of confidence in me."

Of course, if you're reading this story, you know how this story ended for Oyeneyin — a year later, she returned for her second Peloton audition and crushed it. Still, that doesn't mean she hasn't had to continue fighting to stay on top of her game. (Read more: Oyeneyin Also Partnered with Nike to Bring More Women and Girls Into Sports)

"I posted something on Instagram the other day talking about how I didn't want to work out," she says "And people were like, 'oh my God, there are days that you don't want to work out?' And I'm just like, 'I am a human being!' There are definitely days where I don't have confidence. I am very grateful for the skin that I'm in, but I also critique myself and beat myself up, too."

So what in the world does someone who's in the business of instilling confidence in others do when she's not feeling her best?

"Honestly, something as simple as a 10 or 20-minute workout," she says. "It doesn't have to be something depleting. It can be a dance party in my living room or a bodyweight class or a low-impact ride — whatever it is that helps me feel recharged. Sometimes it's a few extra minutes on my beauty routine. And sometimes it's just about sitting in front of the mirror, looking at myself, and saying kind, nice things. I put on a mask, I put on some [SmileDirectClub] Fast-dissolving Whitening Strips (Buy It, $30,, and wash my face. I look at myself and I acknowledge how grateful I am to be in my skin. And some days when that still doesn't fit the bill? I allow myself to just be wherever I am. I allow myself to meet myself in this space that I'm in and I trust that I'll move through and the next day, hopefully, I'm better. I allow myself grace." (

Those self-reflective conversations are something Oyeneyin says can help anyone struggling to find their confidence. "There's something to being able to allow yourself to see the beauty in your smile and your face and shoulders, and all the things," she says. "It's not even about making yourself say something nice — it's about getting the hell out of your own way and allowing yourself to see all the good, all the beauty."

Aside from those personal pep talks, Oyeneyin offers this wisdom for anyone who hit a bump in their self-love journey: "I think the best way to build confidence is to do things that make you feel good," she says. "Allow yourself moments that make you feel like you're winning. I think that when you access those moments of [victory], you're able to build these little pockets of confidence." Hold on to those little moments of strength, so when you're having a moment of self-doubt, you can tap back into what it felt like to win!

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