Get Ready to Row Forward: This Team Has Your Back
September 20, 2022
Get Ready to Row Forward: This Team Has Your Back
Meet new Peloton Row instructors Alex, Ash, and Katie—plus Matt Wilpers and Adrian Williams join the crew.
The Peloton Row is here, and our newest instructors are fired up to show you all of the ins and outs of this exciting new way to work out. Alex, Ash, and Katie bring a wealth of diverse experience to class—and are as engaging as they are inspiring. You already know Matt Wilpers and Adrian Williams who teach classes across the Peloton platform—but below, meet the trio who are bringing rowing into ultra-motivating new light.
Tell us how you fell in love with rowing.
When I decided to pursue rowing in college, I was attracted to the determination, the hard work, and doing something together [with my teammates] that we could not do without one another. My senior year, we ended up in fourth at the Under-23 World Championships—and that was really my first step on to, okay, maybe I could actually keep doing this.
Your rowing career has taken you all the way to the Olympic level. Can you tell us about this journey?
We would train for 47 and a half weeks out of the year for the World Championships or the Olympics. Those events are one week of the year. The average week of training consists of 16 and 20 hours a week, but it all comes down to five and a half minutes of “Can you produce this?” You’ve got to get results and maintain that strong mental fortitude.
You’ve invested so much of your life into rowing—what lessons has it taught you?
Why I love rowing now and I've stayed with it so long is that I think it's also helped me as a person. Not to react so knee-jerk, and instead try and digest for a second or two. I do think rowing offers me the outlet of, take the time, take a beat, you know, take a couple strokes and breathe.
How does it feel to add Peloton Row to your arsenal?
I actually get to try to bring the sport that has truly defined who I've been for the last 15 years to everybody. Row opens that initial door into, “Wow, this is something different.” Rowing is not—and I say this with all due respect—but it's not super skill based. It's very much a mentality and an attitude that then determines your success. Because if you sit down and you're willing to put in 10, 15, 20, 30 minutes of your time, which is absolutely valuable, what you get out of it—what I've gotten out of doing this for 15 years—is immeasurable.
Your college rowing career didn't end at graduation. Can you tell us about your coaching experience?
After my first year out of grad school, I came back to the university president, and I said, I really want to do [the OSU women’s rowing] program. Like it's really on my heart. And the president was falling ill and needed someone to come work for her and kind of take it over. And so she's like, give me one year, work for me. We'll help get this off the ground, and we're good to go. And then two years later, the director of operations for Ohio State Women's rowing opened up. So to me, that was my chance to come home. That was my chance to sit at the table, be able to be a voice of influence for athletes who aren't at the top of the roster, for them to see that you're going to gain so much from being a part of this team. The ability for me to be successful in life was really molded through my experience as a D1 athlete.
A few years ago, you received a Hashimoto's diagnosis, an autoimmune disease that impacts your thyroid. How has fitness and rowing helped you navigate the adversity you've faced?
I'm a better athlete now, because I have the knowledge matched with the determination matched with the ability. I understand now that being an athlete is not an aesthetic. It's about our ability to show up, get it done, and bring other people with you. I underestimated people following me when I no longer looked like the status quo of an athlete or fitness instructor until I started doing adult Learn to Rows. And women would come up to me and be like, I signed up because you have hips. And I know that if you can do it, then I can do it. I have this necklace that I wear that's from one of my Row House members when I left, and she was one of the first people that were like, I changed my schedule to come row for your class, because you let me know that being strong is okay. And I don't need to be small.
And of course, tell us about what we can expect from your classes!
I'm excited to bring a party on a rower! I think a lot of people see rowing as serious and really intense. We're gonna have some fun. I'm excited to bring happiness and funny jokes. We can let you be weird and goofy, and get an amazing workout.
You left a tech career to pursue fitness. Tell us about that journey.
Growing up in Silicon Valley, I always felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole in terms of what my career would be. For so long, I felt like I was trying to sit at a table that wasn't meant for me, and I can now look back and recognize what I was really chasing was the fire, the passion, the excitement, that my parents embodied in their careers, and I found that in fitness. I've always enjoyed group sports, and I emphasize group because that's where I find myself thriving: within a community. So during this deep darkness, where I felt lost and confused, I found strength, and I found endorphins, and I found happiness in myself and in the people around me. I wanted to chase that feeling, and I started to teach group fitness.
What’s your favorite part of rowing in particular?
It's a full-body workout. I love that you're gonna get a lower-body workout and an upper-body workout together, which is why it pairs so beautifully with strength. Regardless of what your muscle focus is for strength—you're doing an upper-body day? Great. Add rowing to it. You're doing a lower-body day? Great. Add rowing to it. It works with everything. I also love breaking the stigma of rowing. I think a lot of us think it's super rigid, super structured, super by the book, and the best part is this Peloton Row team breaks it down in a way where it's fun, where it's accessible, where anyone can do it, and you unlock this next level.
How do you want Members to feel after your classes?
I'm musically driven. I need music to create the energy, to create the vibe that I want to get out of my workout. My class should always leave you feeling better. When you start my workout, it's okay if you're not showing up at 100%. I don't ever expect 100%—I don't ever want perfection. But when you leave my class, you should feel better than when you started it. Whether that's physically stronger or just emotionally lighter, just those endorphins, you're going to end up feeling better. But you don't want to miss my EDM rows—they’re gonna be a thing.