One in a Million

One in a Million

Peek inside the audition process to become a Peloton instructor.

By Kate WinickUpdated July 10, 2020


With just 33 instructors streaming classes globally to thousands of Members every day, becoming a Peloton instructor is a chance to have an outsize impact on the fitness industry, and the lives of everyone who takes their classes. And as the most visible employees at Peloton, they represent the company’s values, priorities, and expertise to the world. So when Peloton decides to add to their instructor roster, the team chooses carefully who we’re inviting into our family, and into our Members’ homes. Most of our Members have gotten to share in the excitement of a new face appearing on the tablet many times--but have you ever wondered how they got there? We talked to two of Peloton’s newest hires, Adrian Williams and Chelsea Jackson Roberts, to find out how they began their Peloton careers. Like all our instructors, they come from different walks of life, but they have a few key things in common that set them apart from the rest.

They're committed to a lifestyle.

Chelsea Jackson Roberts first came to yoga while she was experiencing a lot of health challenges, because it seemed like an accessible way to start exercising. In 2004, after she tragically lost her best friend Misty, she came back to the practice of yoga and used it to get through the experience. Chelsea was working as a public school teacher in the Atlanta public school system, and began her yoga teacher training while still a third grade teacher. “I knew that in order for me to cultivate a life that I would sustain, being aware and taking care of my wellness, I said I needed to make this a complete commitment,” says Chelsea. “If I dedicated the time professionally, how could I not reap the benefits of yoga and meditation? It was really during my time as an educator that I knew it was a worthy path to follow.”

While he’d been a high school track star, athletics took a backseat for Adrian Williams while he was a caretaker for his father, working odd jobs when he could. A friend moved out of state gave him her clients, and then studio fitness quickly followed. “Working with people is aligned with who I am as a person, it was natural to me to find my way into doing that,” says Adrian. “Athleticism is something that I walked away from for a while, but having a sense of community is something I loved for myself and wanted.” Once he saw that fitness was a way to help others in his community build good habits that meant his help would really last, he committed to building his career along this path.

They know it’s more than physical.

Peloton instructors are asked to represent an entire company and an entire community of people working towards that being their best selves, and that asks a lot of them as people and as teachers.

When Peloton first approached Adrian, he admitted that he was super reluctant to make the leap. “I’m a very committed person, and I was working in a small business and a startup. The second time, there was a shift in my life, and my ideals around what fitness was becoming were changing,” says Adrian. “The appearance-driven mentality is not my thing, and when I did my research around Peloton, it was the complete opposite. Peloton is about body health and mental health, and I could see that and wanted to revisit it.”

Chelsea’s approach and the power of her work comes from her ability to stay grounded in that larger purpose and focus on fulfillment. “If you’re interested in teaching, hold the practice at the root. Don’t allow it to be reversed into the seeking of fame, or into centering the body--it’s important that teachers have a relationship with their body and their practice first.” In her previous experience teaching to huge festivals full of yogis, she developed that ability to the highest degree. “It is frightening sometimes to be in front of thousands of people, knowing they’re looking to me for direction. It’s not that I don’t get nervous, it’s that I know what to do and how to harness that energy. Having the opportunity to teach so many people at one time definitely contributes to how I show up on camera.”

They’re driven to be their best.

Peloton looks for highly qualified and highly certified instructors as a baseline requirement, but nothing quite prepares you for that first audition! “It was very different from what I’ve experienced as a teacher connecting with students--being in a room by yourself is very different,” says Chelsea. “This was pre-Covid, so I didn’t really know what it was going to be like to be teaching alone. Through my work with Lululemon, I’m so used to being in crowds of people, and I had to bring all those years of teaching students and bring their energy with me into the room.”

Adrian’s first audition was less than ideal--but how he dealt with it showed everyone exactly why he’s Peloton material. “I think I was so consumed with things like figuring out the cameras that I forgot what I was doing. I forgot to look at the tablet, I wasn’t checking my own metrics, I was just overwhelmed at how much there was to focus on. The first time I walked out of the room I was like “Oh, that was awful.” I’m super hard on myself, and I said, if they call me back, I’ll be ready. I literally came home and prepped by running outside for hours while talking to my mother. I wanted to make sure I didn’t sound out of breath, that I sounded clear and smooth,” he says.

The audition process is designed to give prospective instructors many chances to show off what makes them unique, and what they bring to the team. For Adrian, after multiple practice rounds at home, he quickly went from disoriented to having a ton of fun in front of the camera, and behind the scenes as well. “When you’re working with a global brand, you kind of expect certain things from dealing with the company, but it really just felt nice, like a conversation. They didn’t want to hear my accolades, they wanted to know who I am as a person. I couldn’t have been happier. I knew I needed patience with the process; it was about six months start to finish. But then it was like oh, game on. I think it should be a long process, it’s really a stamp of approval and it does change your life.”

They offer something unique.

Peloton instructors across the board have that special ability to transcend the workout and get right into your head with you, no matter what you’re experiencing. “I’m bringing the ways in which yoga, strength, fitness in general, can have practical applications to what we experience in our everyday lives,” says Chelsea. “What I share on the mat can be applied off the mat. I know and I’m confident that I can articulate those connections so our time together just starts while I’m in the workout. Afterwards is when the yoga really starts.”

Adrian started therapy when he came to Peloton, and says that learning how to express his feelings publicly makes all the difference. “If you want to work here, big picture, you need to know your voice and know who you are as a person. Once you’re on the platform, what you’re saying, people are digesting. I tell people about my beet juice, and now my Members are drinking beet juice. Know what you want to give to people, and understand that the community means more than your personal goals.” Chelsea concurs, describing Peloton instructors as people who are creating their own lane, while having some type of connection to those who made those lanes for them. “They’re looking for people who aren’t afraid to create. This is just a whole new way of experiencing fitness and the instructors are pioneers in how they show up.”

They love to connect.

The most powerful trait that’s shared across the Instructor team is a deep understanding and love of community, and a strong appreciation for the work of creating it. Both Adrian and Chelsea came to Peloton through their relationships with existing Instructors. Chelsea first met Robin Arzon when they spoke on a panel together in California, and she then connected with Ross Rayburn, our Master Yoga Instructor, in 2019. Master Tread Instructor Rebecca Kennedy was the person who recruited Adrian into the fold, and she coached him just like she’s coached so many Members along the way.

“You need to work well in a large team here, and work well with others--I don’t see it working if you’re selfish and can’t take feedback,” says Adrian. “People may know more than you do and you can’t take it personally.”

The same connection they have with the Instructor team is something they want to bring to Members, which was something Chelsea was attracted to instantly. “I can get a sense of everyone I’ve met one on one, and it’s consistent with who they are on camera. It gives our Members permission to do the same,” she says.“Peloton shows up for community, and in the end that’s all I want--to be in a space where community is cultivated,” says Chelsea. “I feel that here. I see the Members’ excitement, and that has also been so significant.”

They believe in you--and in Peloton.

Adrian and Chelsea both debuted to the Peloton community in an unprecedented time for the world and at a challenging moment for the company as processes and teams quickly reorganized to take care of business. “It was a very vulnerable moment for me,” says Chelsea. “I had to not be afraid to ask for support; I couldn’t even have physical interaction with the other instructors, and it changed everything about how I entered the space. It’s a testament to the strength of the community, how it responded during Covid and BLM, to where there was an acknowledgement that I was able to handle the moment. To be able to do Breathe In, Speak Up and Juneteenth was definitely a response to the time and how it all aligned for me to be launched during this time.”

Adrian was eager to debut after more than six months of training, and had all the tools in place to knock it out of the park, but what he experienced in reality trumped anything he’d imagined. “I just wanted to teach that first class so badly, to start developing who I’m going to be on Peloton’s platform. BLM really arose a week after I came out, and I feel lucky to have launched at a time when I could really share my narrative and really fall in love with giving love to others,” he says. In class one day, he played a song for a friend who had just lost a brother, and talked about his father and grandmother passing away. “I never anticipated that I would teach a class where I would cry on the Tread. But I felt so emotionally connected through the camera, and I saw names on the leaderboard that I know, and the connection was so big and real to me. It’s so special and so hard to explain, and you can’t recreate this. I know now that I’m in the perfect place for me.”