Peloton's Robin Arzón On Resilience, Recovery, and the Power of 'No'

The famed instructor, who gave birth to daughter Athena in March, has returned to Peloton stronger, wiser, and more driven than ever before.

Peloton's vice president of fitness programming and head instructor, Robin Arzón, is always on the go. Even during a recent Zoom interview, she was skillfully juggling her time, receiving a beauty treatment from stylist Tiffanie Garrett whilst discussing her life. As a new mother, she's acutely aware that time is an irreplaceable commodity, especially with a six-month-old baby at home. Arzón's life has undergone significant changes lately. In March, she and her spouse Drew Butler welcomed their first child, Athena. Following her maternal leave, Arzón returned to Peloton over the summer for the All For One Music Festival. Now fully back at work, she's more committed than ever to balancing rest and personal growth. Arzón attributes her effortless pregnancy to treating it like an endurance event and focusing on self-care. She explains, "I wondered 'Am I nurturing my body as if it's another person's primary residence?' This is my initial venture into motherhood, so I sought similar experiences and abilities that I could rely on. It reminded me of how I took care of myself when I was training for my inaugural marathon or ultra-marathon, or when I was teaching numerous Peloton classes, tackling special projects, and heavy lifting. There's always a complex mix of physical exertion—and pregnancy is profoundly physical."

Arzón navigated her journey to motherhood with an outlook of plenitude, dismissing any pre-set beliefs around what being a mother "should" entail. "I was not inventing something new; instead, I relied on experiences that always made me feel positive, confident, and powerful, while trying to identify what I could do versus what was beyond my ability," she details. "I already knew the benefits of retiring to bed at 9 p.m. or staying well-hydrated — I tried to manage what was within my control. I went into it without any expectations, placed no pressure on myself, and discovered with pleasant surprise that I could maintain a lot of my routines well into the final month of my pregnancy."

Interestingly, Arzón admits to discovering reserves of strength she didn't know she possessed during her pregnancy. She hopes her experience can motivate other expectant parents to remain as physically active as they wish during their pregnancy, provided they have their physician's approval. "I was working out before I got pregnant too. I didn't take up a new vigorous sport — which is discouraged — but I was pleasantly surprised by how robust I remained physically," she recounts. "I set personal records in deadlifts." (Related: Modifying Your Exercise Routine During Pregnancy)

However, those admiring Arzón's rapid post-birth body transformation should be aware that she does not endorse the idea of a 'snapback,' or a quick recovery post-childbirth. In a June post on Instagram, Arzón described her postpartum recovery journey as requiring a great deal of "patience," "grace," and time. Moreover, Arzón points out she had to consciously avoid anything during and after her pregnancy that might cause self-doubt or promote comparison. "It's a fact, concerns about body image are genuine," she states. "I significantly reduced my social media activity towards the end of my pregnancy to avoid any potential triggers — including even old photos of myself! Questions like 'Will I ever feel like that again, or will I ever look like before?' started bothering me." (Making a deliberate shift towards paying attention to her internal experience rather than external expectations played a crucial role in her journey.)

"I had to remind myself constantly to concentrate on how my body was feeling and its capabilities in continuing to create life," she explains. "While recovering from childbirth, my focus was more on maintaining consistency rather than intensity. I still haven't checked my weight. When they weighed me during my check-in, I asked them not to tell me as I didn't want to know. That's because the focus shouldn't be there. I needed to concentrate on rebuilding my core and pelvic floor strength, rather than worrying about what the scale showed."

Arzón advocates for approaching media consumption in the same way we approach our diet: by choosing nourishing and balanced options daily. "We're taking in images as well as words, lyrics, conversations with our partners and peers — how do you interpret these conversations and how do they affect your self-talk?" she questions. "I paid special attention to this during my pregnancy and postpartum period, and I can honestly say I've never felt better."

Putting in significant time and energy, Robin Arzón has meticulously planned her diet to support her lifestyle. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2014, Arzón learned to identify foods that provided the energy she needed for daily activities. She communicates this passion in a dedicated segment of her recent Masterclass.

"Credit must be given to T1D athletes. It's undoubtedly possible and achievable, but it necessitates critical thinking and self-advocacy," says Arzón. "Luckily, I was already highly self-aware and had adopted a plant-based lifestyle. I knew which foods affected my body in what way - something most people overlook."

Arzón believes it's essential to focus on how our bodies respond to food. Feeling lethargic or unwell after eating isn't normal; food should energize us, whether plant-based or not."

Furthermore, Arzón has mastered the art of self-care by focusing on recovery, an aspect she wasn't always adept at. As a global ambassador for Hyperice, she praises their holistic approach to wellness. Arzón is particularly fond of Core, a meditation tool from Hyperice's new acquisition that uses dynamic vibrations and feedback.

"Mental fitness has always been integral to my physical fitness," she adds. "My introduction to meditation coincided with my marathon running while working as an attorney, and it has entirely transformed my game."

The brand's latest offering, the Hyperice X device, which serves as a high-tech ice pack and heating pad, has also caught Arzón's attention. Emphasizing the importance of mental wellness and fitness has always been part of her physical training regimen.

The mental health advocacy shown by elite sports personalities like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles has deeply impacted Robin Arzón. She found their ability to prioritize their psychological well-being in a global spotlight, especially as young women, immensely inspiring. According to Arzón, these two athletes have taught the world the importance of setting boundaries and using 'no' as a complete response. Emphasizing that boundaries can be empowering, she suggests that they allow us to focus more on what truly matters. The lessons we can learn from Osaka and Biles, she believes, can help us safeguard our mental health better. A dedicated practitioner of meditation herself, Arzón admits her routines have adapted since the birth of her daughter, Athena. Previously an early morning habit, her meditation sessions have now shifted towards the end of the day. Mornings are now reserved for tending to Athena's needs and the cherished playtime they enjoy together. Arzón enjoys involving Athena in her daily activities, creating a meaningful bonding experience. Despite this shift in routine, Arzón remains committed to her own wellness with her special morning "H20 cocktail". Arzón also regularly consumes half of her husband's unique 17-ingredient smoothie, a recipe featured in her Masterclass. Key ingredients include protein powder, magnesium, matcha powder, and Athletic Greens (Buy It, $99, athleticgreens.com), a supplement filled with vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and plant extracts. Following this nourishing breakfast, Arzón passes Athena over to her husband, Drew, before embarking on her first workout session for the day. Acknowledging her status as a professional athlete, Arzón emphasizes that her fitness regime and post-pregnancy recovery may not mirror everyone's experiences. While she appreciates if people find her journey inspiring, she doesn't want to set unrealistic expectations. She firmly believes that each person's journey is unique and should be respected for its individuality.

In her younger years, exercise was not a part of Robin Arzón's routine. She recalls being self-conscious as a youngster and facing mockery from her peers for her lack of sportive finesse. This led her to seek refuge in academics, theater, and the arts rather than the playground. It wasn't until she survived a traumatic incident, involving being held at gunpoint during her university years, that she began exploring fitness. "I discovered a passion for movement out of necessity," Arzón shares, explaining how running became an outlet for her while she was studying law. For Arzón, running was a solitary endeavor that pushed her to focus inward, leading her to ignore any external judgments and concentrate on her inner dialogue. As she navigates her new role as a mother, Arzón is eager about continuing her journey with Peloton, along with assuming new responsibilities, one of which includes becoming an author of children's books. Although Arzón has authored a book before (Shut Up and Run: How to Get Up, Lace Up, and Sweat with Swagger, $20, amazon.com), her upcoming book, Strong Mama (Buy It, $15, amazon.com) marks her debut in the realm of family-oriented literature. "I penned the book during my babymoon!" Arzón exclaims enthusiastically, sharing how she narrated the first draft to her then-unborn daughter Athena. "It just felt right. I am excited to embrace my ambition, my identity as a mother, and everything beyond that. I aspire to continue expanding the ways I can use my voice."

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