Where did you grow up and how did you get into fitness?
Emma: I grew up on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. I think that being from a small island you have to be very active because there are not enough kids in the town to only do one activity. There was the band, theater, chorus, sports, dance and I did all of them! In college, I studied Chinese and Communications, but I was also taking a lot of dance classes. At one point, I took an internship in NYC where I worked at a theater in the marketing department. I then worked and rehearsed with an all female hip hop dance company in Brooklyn. I went on a couple dance auditions that I ended up booking and realized, “Wait, I could do this professionally? This is amazing!”, so I graduated and moved to NYC to be a professional dancer. Over the years, dance and fitness starting merging for me. I started teaching dance at a gym, and then through that I found indoor cycling and just loved it because to me it reminded me of dance, but on a bike!
Denis: I grew up in central Florida where I was a beach kid. Some of my first memories are body surfing on my dad’s back with my arms wrapped around his neck. I never pursued fitness, I just always wanted to be able to move! We didn’t have television or electricity after sundown. We had to be outside so I was always climbing trees and playing sports and games with my brother. When I was 22, yoga gave me something that was so challenging and fun that I wanted to be better at it. I worked hard and did yoga every day for 16 months. Yoga led me down the road to cycling and by that point I was already committed to athleticism and looking for creative outlets. I think Peloton is a really good platform for reclaiming athleticism. You know, we grow up and we climb trees and we row boats and we run in circles in all these organized sports and then gradually as we start to emphasize school, work, responsibility and family we de-emphasize physical activity. I like to think that every day is another opportunity to reclaim your athleticism and I’m so excited to connect with so many members on that.
What do you love most about teaching?
Emma: I like connecting with people and seeing their transformations. I love to see them change physically and mentally and just being able to be a part of that is inspiring to me!
Denis: What I like most is the unexpected feedback that I get. Even after doing it for over thirteen years, I’ve heard a lot from people about how it changed their life, their day, or that it made them see themselves in a different way.
Why are you most excited to join the Peloton team?
Emma: The Peloton community is already so big, and it’s something I have seen grow exponentially for the past few years. It’s so exciting to be a part of a community that’s already thriving! It’s also exciting to be at the forefront of something so innovative. I love hearing about people creating new things that help more people. This is one of those things that has never really been done before so to be a part of it is awesome.
Denis: I’ve been able to reach 50 people at a time for years. Peloton gives me the opportunity to reach hundreds of thousands instead!
What can riders expect in your class?
Emma: I love playing music that makes me want to dance and that motivates me! If I am going to ask you for a very big push then I am going to give you very intense music. I like my class to be a sensory experience through the music, lights, and the energy. I like everything to blend together, so you get a “journey” to explore. However long the class is, there is definitely a beginning, middle and end that we all experience together.
Denis: I want riders to be physically challenged and I like to think that they’re going to have themselves pushed to that focal point where everything else has to fall away.
Are you excited about getting to coach people from all across the country?
Emma: I think from living in a few different places I’ve learned that fitness is a universal language but it’s also very different for everybody. Everyone is going through their own journey and I think it’s so exciting to be able to reach a wide net of people but yet still be cognizant of their own personal fitness journeys.
Denis: Super excited! To be able to reach so many more people and have those connections and change so many people’s lives is just so thrilling and really humbling.
Who are your heroes?
Emma: My mom! She is originally from Taiwan and she moved to NYC when she was 19 years old. She entered a new culture, a new country, and a new language. She came here and was in business school and then she realized that her true passion was painting and art. Her entire family was angry at her for pursuing art but she still went for it. She started her own gardening business in her 50’s and she is constantly innovating herself and not constrained by social boundaries. She’s the rebel and I am so happy because of that she encourages me to pursue whatever I want. She’s never told me I can’t do anything! More recently she was diagnosed with cancer and that has been a whole new challenge where I have watched her totally conquer it. She has been doing awesome – she’s still gardening and she’s still up and about. Watching her overcome that is pretty impressive; she’s 65 and she keeps going.
Denis: My dad!
What’s your favorite music to work out to?
Emma: My taste in music depends on my mood and what I am doing. There is a definite difference between music that I like to work out to and music that I like to relax to. My workout music is definitely more EDM, rock and hip hop.
Denis: Tupac, Rage Against the Machine and Rihanna.
What is one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
Emma: I drive a motorcycle!
Denis: Probably that I live in my head so much!
What are your favorite motivational techniques you use while coaching?
Emma: There is definitely a psychology behind motivating somebody. My biggest inspiration, however, is how I am feeling. When I am coaching myself is when I give coaching. I think, “so what is going to get me going”? What motivates me is something deeper. It’s not just like, “sweat out the margarita”; that doesn’t do it for me. I like to approach things more like, “think about this push or this hill as the biggest obstacle in your life. Are you somebody who gets deterred during difficult times or do you take them on?”. I like to think of it as manipulating your mind into realizing your strengths and realizing that you’re stronger than you probably give yourself credit for.
Denis: I just remind people that you know your comfort zone. You can either stay there or rise; your potential is yours!
How do you motivate yourself?
Emma: I am not going to lie, there are days when I am feeling tired or fatigued either emotionally or physically. But I think about how there are people counting on me to be there so when I think about that, that is my motivation! You know we are not supposed to be alone, I think we are supposed to have connections with people for that reason, we inspire each other and we motivate each other to show up.
Denis: I think of how a lot of people would love to have this day or simply the ability to just move! I mean it really is like it sounds: so basic and simple. Take advantage of what you’re working with in the current moment and set out to accomplish!
What is your pro tip?
Emma: I try to write every morning. I will write for three pages whether it’s, “my dream last night was totally crazy” or, “I don’t know what to say but…”. You end up just vomiting out these thoughts so it clears your head a little and then you get them all out of the way instead of holding onto garbage in your mind.
Denis: Very simple: make sure you take some time for yourself every day!
Get ready to sweat it out with Emma & Denis! Stay up to date on our social channels for more details on their debut rides on the bike.