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Peloton instructor Tunde Oyeneyin speaks on career, gain, loss

<h5>Tunde Oyeneyin, Theresa S. Thames, and Jessica M. Ward.</h5>
<h6>Courtesy of Grace Zhuang ’23&nbsp;</h6>
Tunde Oyeneyin, Theresa S. Thames, and Jessica M. Ward.
Courtesy of Grace Zhuang ’23 

Media mogul Tunde Oyeneyin spoke to the University community on Sept. 28 about her experiences making difficult life choices, dealing with grief, and finding strength and community.

Oyeneyin, a Texas native of Nigerian descent, currently coaches spin classes on the popular fitness platform Peloton and is the founder of the SPEAK Movement, which seeks to spotlight people who have thrived in the face of adversity. 

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“The beauty of uncertainty is infinite possibility,” Oyeneyin explained as she recounted her journey from makeup artist to spin instructor. 

She said she had felt the need to justify the risky career move in spite of her dissatisfaction as a makeup artist. 

“When I see you young people here, I imagine the uncertainties you might face each and every single day, and I invite you to have the audacity to surrender,” she suggested. “When I was in my final years in the cosmetic world, I was pouring from a half empty open spout, with the goal of pouring from a full cup. My cup is now so full that I do not pour from my cup, I pour from the overflow.”

Associate Dean of Religious Life and of the Chapel Rev. Dr. Theresa S. Thames and Associate Director of Athletics/Director of Campus Recreation Jessica M. Ward moderated a discussion with Oyeneyin, asking about her interactions with grief and community both before and during the pandemic. 

Oyeneyin shared her story of loss, having had three immediate family members pass away before she turned 30, and offered advice to those who have faced similar experiences as a result of COVID-19. 

“I am who I am as a result of my experiences … I say it a lot in class, we do not get to choose what comes at us, but we do get to choose how we react,” she said. 

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In speaking of loss, Oyeneyin explained her goal as an instructor was to teach how to gain, not how to lose. 

“I am not selling weight loss,” she noted. “I am selling a lifestyle. I am selling confidence. What I gained was far superior. I gained a sense of who I am.”

The night concluded with a Q&A and some time to meet and take a picture with Oyeneyin.

“I was really able to learn a lot from this experience. Tunde is wonderful,” said Promise Ekpo Osaine GS after the event. “I am a Black woman from Nigeria, the same country that she is from. So seeing her today has really inspired me. She made me realize that uncertainty is a moment of infinite possibility.”

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This event was hosted by the Office of Religious Life and Campus Recreation at McCosh Hall and occurred at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 28.

Christofer Robles is a news contributor for the ‘Prince.’ He can be reached at cdrobles@princeton.edu or @christofer_robles on Instagram. 

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