Robin Arzón, STRONG MAMA

Robin Arzón, STRONG MAMA

Zibby is joined by Peloton’s Head Instructor Robin Arzón to discuss her first picture book, Strong Mama. Robin talks with Zibby about how she was inspired to show parents that self-care isn’t selfish, especially when you have a newborn child. She also shares some of her most motivating messages, the story of how she surprisingly only became an athlete while in law school, and why the best way to workout is often for just ten minutes each day.


Zibby Owens: Welcome, Robin. Thank you so much for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books” to discuss Strong Mama, your children’s book.

Robin Arzón: Thanks for having me.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh, it’s my pleasure. Please tell listeners how you decided to write this children’s book, the whole inspiration for it, and all the good stuff.

Robin: I wrote the children’s book on my babymoon. My husband and I had rented a cabin. We were taking some amazing time to decompress after the holidays last year. I was just really called to write this. It was a love letter to my baby girl. We didn’t know, actually, what we were having at the time. I really felt like baby and I were training partners. I was very active throughout my entire pregnancy. I taught at Peloton until I was nine months pregnant, on the bike, on the tread, and as well as our strength classes. It was really a pretty magical time. I wanted to kind of memorialize that as well as write something that allowed parents to model self-care and show that self-care is not selfish and that movement is medicine and that little people can also develop their own relationships with movement and really, really sending the message especially to moms that when we take moments for our workouts, for our whatever, bubble bath, breath work, whatever it is, it’s not selfish. We can’t take care of them if we don’t take care of ourselves. That was really the inspiration behind Strong Mama.

Zibby: Then once you had your daughter, did you find that you had time to do those self-care things, or not?

Robin: You make the time. If it matters, you make it happen. That’s just the truth.

Zibby: Your career, of course, includes all this movement and all of this inspiring stuff for other women and men everywhere. You have that part taken care of. That’s a yes, definitely. I feel like there are all these different buckets of self-care and what works best for you. For me, reading is more self-care for me than working out. Although, I should work out more. I do the Peloton. I’ve taken your classes and everything. Do you feel like sometimes you get sort of sectioned into one area versus another?

Robin: Yeah. I think that we have to pay attention to what we find we need, our mind and spirits need. There is no one version of self-care. Certainly, we don’t want to get into the stumbling block of feeling like self-care is yet another thing that is stressing us out. It’s totally not the point. For me, it’s definitely movement. Although I do work out for a living professionally, I live my life as a professional athlete. I do my own workout every single day in addition to the classes I teach. My own workout is sacred. It’s prioritized. Literally, my entire family organizes to make sure that I get that workout because I’m not functioning if I don’t. Strength training, running, cycling are my main modalities. For me, self-care isn’t as much the bubble bath and those kind of moments. Although, I totally understand how those can be very necessary depending on, again, what our mind and spirits need.

Zibby: Tell me about you growing up. Was movement always a huge part of your life? Did you know immediately that this is your thing?

Robin: No, not at all. I was not an athlete as a kid. I really started running and getting active when I was an adult.

Zibby: You only started running as an adult. That’s fascinating for me to hear. What were you into as a child?

Robin: I loved school. I was the straight-A student. I liked arts and crafts. I was the book kid. Anything that involved school. Even through college and law school, I was the kid who ordered the books on the syllabus and started reading them during the summer. That was really my identity. We are the stories that we tell ourselves. I told myself I was not the kid who was going to get picked in gym class. I wasn’t going to run and wasn’t going to go swimming. It was as an adult, during law school, that I really started to lace up and discover movement.

Zibby: Wow. You would never know. From your children’s book, it seems though — obviously, I know you’re more than that, but you would think that this was your calling. I read a children’s book by Simone Biles or something like that. She was turning around doing cartwheels off the bed and sitting there watching gymnastics and then going out and flipping around. It’s funny how people discover their calling.

Robin: Yes.

Zibby: How did you end up at Peloton? Do the quick version. Law school, then what happened?

Robin: I practiced law in New York for a number of years. Gosh, I was really counting down the hours in the day until I could work out and go running or go to spin class. I thought, how do I make that my life rather than counting down just for thirty minutes a day? And that was on a good day that I had time to work out, that I made time to work out. I’m trying to condition myself not to say I don’t have time. Frankly, if you say you don’t have time, just replace it with, it doesn’t matter. If that feels okay, then fine. Then it doesn’t matter. I’m not conversant in excuses.

Zibby: You think saying that people don’t have time is just an excuse and that you should say —

Robin: — Yes, absolutely. I’m taking my own medicine because I was just saying I didn’t have time. I made the time, but I only would make thirty minutes max. The joy that I had in running was really something that I wanted to infuse into other areas of my life professionally. Two weeks before the London Olympics, I decided to leave my law firm job. I had already created my first book proposal for Shut Up and Run. I bought a plane ticket to the London Olympic Games. I was just writing for my blog from the games and meeting athletes and getting totally inspired by these incredible humans participating in the Olympics. Then I read about Peloton. I reached out to the company. I would say about a year after leaving my law firm job is when I joined the Peloton team.

Zibby: Wow. What has that felt like for you, becoming this superstar in the Peloton world, and the outside world too, but just having this cult following?

Robin: It’s all about our community. It happened very gradually. For us, we just keep showing up and doing the work and creating something that we love. Thankfully, folks are joining and participating. For me, the crux of it is all our community. Seeing people, whether they’re novice athletes or have never worked out or are professional athletes — we have Olympians who join us. I love seeing that moment when they really catalyze what they can’t do into what they can do.

Zibby: For people who haven’t taken your class but maybe they’ve gotten your book or something, what are some of the main messages, some of the main sayings, some of the main takeaways that you’re known for?

Robin: As a whole, we’re a connected fitness company. We provide folks access to movement of running, cycling, meditation, yoga from whatever screen they can access us on, whether it’s the app, the bike, or the tread. My classes, they’re challenging classes. I believe that discomfort is a way for us to find confidence. I think confidence is a side effect of hustle. That’s really the philosophy that infuses into my classes.

Zibby: Peloton is actually a sponsor of this podcast.

Robin: Oh, okay. I had no idea.

Zibby: It’s true, yes, one of my latest sponsors. I have been involved with the Peloton Moms Book Club very much.

Robin: Cool. I wasn’t aware that they had a book club. That’s so neat.

Zibby: They have a book club, yes. I have to put you in touch. I’ll put you in touch with the founder of that. You should talk to those ladies, who are amazing. I have my own Peloton experience through the pandemic and before and beyond. My Peloton was a gift when I had my third kid. Then I had a fourth kid. I was kind of offended by the gift, to be honest. I was like, what are you saying about me? Here’s your baby gift. I’m kidding. I have seen the power of these amazing, intense workouts. It’s just so awesome. In fact, a girlfriend of mine who was at this school moms’ night recently got divorced. She said, “To be honest with you, it’s because of my Peloton classes. They were telling me, this is your life. Take charge of your life. This is it. Go do it.” She’s like, “This is not what I wanted my life to be.”

Robin: Oh, my gosh, that’s so powerful. Wow.

Zibby: Waiting for an essay from her when she can write it. She said she took so many of your classes. You were a whole part of changing her life.

Robin: Wow, that’s incredible to hear. That’s astounding to hear.

Zibby: It’s true. Peloton changed the whole thing, you and, I think Cody Rigsby was her other guy.

Robin: I love it.

Zibby: I have this anthology that just came out. This author, Richie Jackson, wrote a whole essay called “Peloton and On and On and On” in the anthology. He spent the whole pandemic and completely redid his whole body and philosophy and mind with Cody. Just FYI. What is it like marketing and dealing with the publicity of a children’s book? Are you going to be reading to groups of kids? Are you excited about this? Tell me about that aspect of it.

Robin: Oh, my gosh, I love it. I don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like. I’m still waiting to hear from my team, what that’s going to look like, and especially because we’re seeing what is safe to do and what formats and all that. I love it. As a new mom, it’s such a joy to revisit children’s books in general. My daughter, thankfully, is all about books. The Scholastic Book Fair was the highlight of my entire childhood every year. I just really want to impart a love of reading to her. Kids pick up on what we’re excited about. If parents are excited about reading, I think we can pass that energy on. Any way that I can create community around Strong Mama is very exciting to me.

Zibby: Does that mean you have some other plans in mind?

Robin: Yes, we have quite a bit of plans in works. Nothing specific that I can reveal now. Of course, we’ll disclose it publicly when the time is right.

Zibby: Amazing. Whatever I can do through this platform. Not that you need the help.

Robin: I appreciate that.

Zibby: I love it. It’s so true, moving your body is — my mother, who’s seventy-three, this weekend was like, “That is the one thing to longevity, is movement. Just got to stay moving.” Meanwhile, she’s like a whirling dervish. She never sits down. I’m like, “You don’t have a problem with this.”

Robin: I love it. Tips from mom, that’s so cool.

Zibby: How was it working with your illustrator and everything on the book?

Robin: It was amazing. It’s the first time I’ve worked with an illustrator. I fell in love with Addy’s — just the spirit of her illustrations were so fun to me. I knew it was the right illustrator. My daughter was only a few weeks old, but I would show her some of the mockups. She wasn’t even seeing colors yet, but her eyes would get wide when I showed her some of these pictures. I thought, okay, this is the right one.

Zibby: Aw, that’s so cute. I have a children’s book coming out too, actually, in April.

Robin: Congrats.

Zibby: Thank you. My kids are so excited. I have four, I think I just said. I dedicated it to one of them, which was the biggest mistake of my life.

Robin: So now you have to write a few more.

Zibby: That’s what they said. I’m like, okay. Then my other daughter’s like, “I want the next one.” Then my son’s like, “And then me.” I’m like, okay, how many of these am I going to write? I don’t know. I got to talk to my publisher about this.

Robin: Now it’s a series.

Zibby: Now it’s a series, yeah. What advice would you have — two advice questions — to people who feel like they don’t have time to work out — actually, that will be my first question. What do you say to them?

Robin: Just BS. I’m sorry, but it’s BS. You might not have time for your dream idea of the workout. We have this idea that if it’s not X amount of minutes or a certain amount of intensity, then it doesn’t count. I realize, especially as a new mom, peel away ten minutes, and you’re going to feel a little better. The consistency of very small acts of movement actually, in terms of longevity, goes further than sixty minutes going super intense once a month. I would say to someone, if you make it matter, you will make it happen. Prioritize it for yourself. Hopefully, you have a support system who can help. Take some of the restraints around your time and claim at least ten minutes a day of your power back.

Zibby: Love it. If you only have ten minutes a day — let’s say, okay, fine, you’re giving the ten minutes a day to working out. There’s so many different things with so much advice. Do you hop on a Peloton? Do you walk? Do you lift?

Robin: It depends. If you’re a true beginner, never worked out a day in your life, you’re deconditioned, steps, movement. Literally, walking is the most basic and intentional thing I think someone can do. Then of course, there’s body-weight strength and things like that. If you do have access to Peloton, in my opinion, the most efficient workout is a ten-minute interval ride or a climb. I believe ten minutes of intervals would literally amp up your system for the entire day. Again, that’s an intense workout, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that to somebody on day one. Intervals make athletes.

Zibby: What about people who want to write a children’s book?

Robin: I’m still a novice myself.

Zibby: I know. Still, it counts.

Robin: I don’t really have advice except for, have it come from a place of love. There’s such a beautiful energetic exchange when someone sits down with a kid to read a book. The ones that I think are most heartwarming and heartfelt land the best.

Zibby: Very true. Are you reading anything great lately? Do you still love to read?

Robin: Yeah. What am I reading right now? I just picked up, it’s actually a nonfiction book, Winning by Tim Grover. Relentless is his first book. Winning, I think it’s his second. At least, it’s his most recent. I was trying to get myself into the headspace for the marathon, so I started that book.

Zibby: Awesome. Have you read Limitless by Mallory Weggemann? She’s a Paralympic athlete. She just won in Tokyo again, the gold and silver medal. I feel like you would like that one.

Robin: Cool. I love reading athlete’s bios. I finished Abby Wambach’s second — it was such a short book. It was her speech about the wolfpack. I love that stuff.

Zibby: Lolo Jones, she also wrote a great —

Robin: — Oh, no. I follow her on social media, but I didn’t realize she wrote a book. Cool.

Zibby: She wrote a book in the last six months or so. I think it’s called Over it, Getting Over It.

Robin: I know , I think, is coming out with a book. I know he just recently launched a MasterClass.

Zibby: I love athlete books. I love athlete movies. I’m about to watch King Richard.

Robin: I watched it last night.

Zibby: You did? Was it good?

Robin: It was. Will Smith, I thought was so excellent. I forgot it was Will Smith, which is a feat because it’s obviously so recognizable.

Zibby: I’m really excited for that. Now I’m trying to think of other athlete books. Open, Andre Agassi, did you read that?

Robin: No.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh, that’s one of my favorite memoirs of all time.

Robin: Okay, Andre Agassi. I got to make my way through the tennis folks.

Zibby: Awesome. Robin, thank you so much. Thanks. It’s so nice to meet you. You’re such a powerhouse and so intense and focused and helping so many people. It’s just really cool. Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s really awesome.

Robin: So nice to see you today. Best of luck with your books.

Zibby: Thank you. Appreciate it. Buh-bye.

Robin: Bye.

Robin Arzón, STRONG MAMA

STRONG MAMA by Robin Arzón

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