These Peloton Instructors Inspire Positive Change for Women Everywhere — Here's How

Who run the world? These female instructors — and they're helping women across the globe find their power.

Who Run The World? 5 Female Peloton Instructors Reflect on Inspiring Positive Change

Courtesy of Peloton

When it comes to female empowerment and inspiration, these Peloton instructors have it covered. Shape interviewed five Peloton instructors who teach a variety of physical activities: strength training, running, cycling, rowing, and yoga. While they have different backgrounds, goals, and strengths, these powerful women have one common thread: they aim to inspire.

Strength instructor Callie Gullickson describes her role at Peloton as her calling "to inspire others to show up as they are and not take working out too seriously." Runner Becs Gentry aims to encourage "other women to be intrinsically proud of every fiber of their beautiful being every day." Through their classes, these women spread messages of self-confidence, positivity, and strength on an individual and global scale.

Their influence extends beyond the screens of Peloton bikes, treads, and app — particularly for women who are looking to change the status quo. "When I was growing up, fitness was about shrinking and never going too hard or lifting too much," says rowing instructor Ash Pryor. "Now, it’s sexy to be strong, and I love that." For cycling instructor Camila Ramón, what she teaches extends way beyond the bike. "As women," explains Ramón, "we can champion the conversation of training for celebration, strength, and health, rather than to fit societal norms, creating a safe space for women to feel powerful." Yogi Chelsea Jackson Roberts builds on that idea, stating that women are paving the way for women who come after them.  "It is important that we advocate for our own health and wellness so that the generations we raise both directly and indirectly see these examples."

Shape sat down with these powerful women to dig into what drives them, how they use their platform for change, and the women who have influenced them.

What Does Women's History Month Mean To You?

Callie Gullickson: To me, Women’s History Month is a time to honor the strength, courage, and charisma of women from our past, present and future; reminding us just how incredible we are.

Becs Gentry: It signifies the celebration of those who identify as women, the progress that has happened over time, and the progress that is still to come. It allows us to highlight the strength and inspiration of women around the world, the molds they’re breaking, and the ways in which we rise up.

Camila Ramón: To me, It’s a celebration of women’s resilience, strength, and achievements past and present — and it’s a call to action against gender roles and norms. Women’s History Month is a reminder of the work that has been done and is yet to be done for an equal future for all women.

Ash Pryor: It means a moment of happiness because I get to learn and celebrate past women who have fought for me. [It's also a] point of reflection to evaluate if my peers and I are doing what is required for the future generation.

Who Are Some of the Women Who Have Inspired You?

Gullickson: My four sisters and mom. As the second youngest, I’ve witnessed them experience the unimaginable and still managed to continue on despite the sadness and pain. They are truly my inspiration.

Gentry: Katherine Switzer, Allyson Felix, Melinda French Gates, Kate Adie, Christy Turlington, Naomi Schiff, and my Aunty Jenn.

Ramón: My abuelas who grew up in the farmland in Argentina, and my mother who made the decision to bring our family to the US and leave it all behind for a better future. The fight and resiliency these women had — to always elevate the playing field and build a better future for our family with the limited resources available — inspires me every day.

Pryor: My mom, Audre Lorde, Michelle Obama, Shonda Rhimes, Lizzo, Glennon Doyle, and Jeanette Jenkins. I also have countless mentors from undergrad and graduate school whom I lean on and connect with.

Chelsea Jackson Roberts: While I am deeply inspired by the women who came before me, I am also incredibly inspired by young women, specifically the youth of Yoga, Literature, and Art Camp for Teen Girls. I am inspired by the future because that gives me hope.

How Do You Use Your Voice at Peloton to Celebrate and Honor Women?

Gullickson: Our member base at Peloton is full of women who continue to inspire me daily, so it is my goal to remind them — not just this month, but every day — how strong and confident they really are by encouraging them to wear their brightest colors and lift their heaviest weights.

Gentry: Throughout [March], in the classes I teach, I will be talking about the many women who inspire me to be a stronger and better female. I continue to encourage the celebration and honor of women throughout the year and highlight organizations I believe in which are empowering women of all generations.

Ramón: I encourage women to find their power, focus on being strong, and take up space instead of abiding by the societal norms found in the Latine community that sees women as needing to be small, frail caretakers. We are dismantling machismo and building an empire of empowered women who live in their truth and are not scared to speak up and be their authentic selves.

Pryor: Rowing has a certain imagery — white and male — I am honored, because of Peloton, people will start to reflect on rowing as female, strong, and inclusive of people of color.

Jackson Roberts: I love getting creative with my playlists and class planning. Whether it is curating a soundtrack to a flow with the voices of women, or thinking of themes that celebrate the multiple identities women hold in our communities. 

How Does Peloton Empower Women?

Gullickson: Whether it be through our world-class instructors, content, or workouts, I know Peloton has created a space for our members to feel comfortable enough to fail and inspired to try new and difficult things. Peloton is quite literally changing lives — just like it did mine.

Gentry: Peloton proudly showcases their strong women instructors, our achievements are celebrated, and our real lives' highs and lows are visible. Peloton has a consistently fierce Body Positivity message which is shining light on total health, not an aesthetic image. 

Ramón: The varied representation found in the female instructors at Peloton is something I personally find extremely inspiring. I look to my colleagues when I need motivation and a boost and I know I can count on them to always lift me up, celebrate my achievements, and help take me to the next level. It’s that same type of camaraderie that directly seeps into our community of amazing women. The #pelotonmoms, the #pelatinas, the #BGM crew, and so many other groups inspire each other in the same way we inspire!

Pryor: Women are working out to be strong and not letting how they look equal if they are “working hard enough.”  Aesthetics is not the main focus. Our focus is a balance in wellness. I think it is special because the Peloton community is able to see strong women uplifting each other and demonstrating how to work through [and] turn competition into empowerment. It shifts the mentality that there can only be one of us at the top at a time. There is enough room for us all to win. Letting someone else shine doesn’t take away from your own shine.

What Are the Biggest Challenges Facing Women Today?

Gullickson: As a woman, self-esteem has been something I struggled with throughout my early 20s  — and I’m sure other women can relate. Learning to surround yourself with people who exude good energy, leaning into things that make you FEEL good, and prioritizing your self-care are things that can significantly build your confidence.

Gentry: Gender equality across all professional arenas continues to be an area that needs drastic improvement, such as the pay gap. Safety for women, especially in countries such as India and the Middle East. Maternal health is another area, specifically in the USA, where women are facing challenges — from prenatal care, birth care, postpartum care, and maternity leave stipulations. 

Ramón: Representation, autonomy, and equality — I believe that by working through a unified front and highlighting female experts without competition, we can elevate our voice and create more opportunities for women in power which will create change in the protection of women and our rights, and move the needle towards equality.

Jackson Roberts: As more and more women move into positions of power, it is essential to have opportunities, spaces, and people in our circles to hold us accountable. It is important that we don't replicate a lot of the suffering created by patriarchy once we sit in positions of power.

What Advice Would You Give to Young Girls Who Aspire to Follow In Your Footsteps?

Gullickson: Believe in yourself and stay true to yourself! We are all so unique and far too often we strive to change the things about us that make us who we are. The moment you start to believe in yourself, you will stop chasing the wrong things and the right ones will catch you.

Gentry: Ensure that [you] are always doing what makes [your] hearts and souls truly happy. Should is a word that is used towards women too often, we are expected to follow presupposed paths, but having the strength to hear and act on your internal dialogue speaking to you that something doesn’t feel right is a superpower. Be free of 'supposed' and become superb.

Ramón: Build your base and become an expert in your field, so when an opportunity presents itself, you are ready. Even if you have limited resources and connections, focus on working hard, thinking ahead, and taking it one step at a time. Think about what sets you apart and hone into the community you are already a part of. And if you don’t see anyone that looks like you in the position you want to be in, sprint toward that. Your voice is needed, you are qualified, and you deserve to be heard.

Pryor: It’s going to be hard but not impossible. Work on the knowledge and skills so you are confident and competent, and don’t let your ego ever hinder your ability to ask for help. When you have a hard day, return to your why. Have fun! Build a team around you who wants to see you win and aren’t yes people. You need emotionally mature and intelligent people in your circle to feed and fuel from.

Jackson Roberts: Always come back to your why. This practice is a constant reminder to me, especially when I am experiencing challenges. Because yoga, meditation, and fitness, in general, are all connected to other humans, I am reminded by my Teacher to always "drink as I pour," meaning, take good care of myself while I am taking care of so many of our members and students. Finally, never be ashamed of the journey that ordered your steps to arrive at this moment. Every experience is sacred.

Can You Share a Personal Story Related to Your Own Journey as a Woman in the Fitness Industry?

Gullickson: Growing up as a ballerina and then transitioning into the fitness industry was eye-opening for me. It made me realize that I wasn’t only graceful and dainty, but powerful and strong as well. Women can do and be BOTH which is why I love teaching my strength classes.

Gentry: A few years ago I was told I was a fast runner “for a girl”. At that moment something bubbled up inside me and I desperately wanted to scream, “NO! I am fast FULL STOP!” Instead, I politely smiled and moved the conversation on. The two main actions in this story infuriate me to this day, the words of that person and my own placid, polite reaction. To even begin to make ripples in the ocean that lead to the big wave of change, we have to be fearlessly proud and confident.

Ramón: As a Latina immigrant, for many years, I didn’t feel like I was taken seriously because my body did not look like the bodies of female trainers in Latine media. I am so proud to have the platform and voice that I do because, still to this day, it’s hard to come across any body diversity in female fitness professionals highlighted in Latine media. My hope for the future is that the Latine market will make a shift to celebrating strength, health, joy, and levity instead of featuring and consistently pushing a weight loss narrative towards the community.

Pryor: When I first started, I was a Barbell Strength instructor. I loved lifting weights and still do. I specifically wanted to teach strength training because I was tired of seeing women feel like they weren’t as competent with weights as men. I wanted myself [and all women] to have the strength, confidence, and skill to walk up to a busy weight rack and own it.

Jackson Roberts: I remember being afraid that I didn't belong in certain spaces because I either didn't see my reflection before, or my access to what I saw was far out of reach. I remember the first time I headlined a popular yoga conference, it was assumed that I was there to clean the room. Experiences where I didn't feel a sense of belonging are what I use as fuel to include anyone who may think fitness and wellness space are not for them. It has been my own experience of feeling both included and excluded that has inspired me to be relatable to ALL people, not just some.

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