Robin Arzón is one of the first faces many of us see in the morning. As Peloton’s vice president of Fitness Programming, she comes at us with her trademark energy, inspiring us with her mantra that sweat transforms lives. But how did Arzón find her own inner hustler?
It started with a traumatic event. In 2002, Arzón was taken hostage with 40 others in a wine bar in Manhattan. The gunman singled out Arzón, grabbing her by the hair and using her as a human shield while communicating with police. “Ever since then,” she said, “I’ve lived every day as if it were my last.” The incident was a pivot point for her; she began to exercise as a form of self care and eventually turned fitness into her career.
Recently Arzón joined the Salesforce SMB team for a leadership summit to discuss the importance of mental health and wellness. She shared five pieces of advice for growing business leaders looking to build mental strength and create a culture of wellness.
1. Sweat out your inner critic
After her hostage incident, Arzón used movement and exercise to work through the trauma. She started with a mile jog from her apartment to law school, but soon began exercising more and enjoying the mental benefits that came along with it. As she did, she began to unpack the internal conversations she was having and realized there was too much self-doubt brewing. “On those runs, I learned to turn the inner critic into an inner advocate.” Arzón said she now reveres sweat; movement is the medicine that helps her mental state as much as her physical one.
2. Start with one
Arzón makes fitness look easy, but she hasn’t always been the exercise advocate she is now. For those looking to begin, she recommends “start with one” – one step, one workout, one mile, one commitment. “I did ten minutes when I first started running. And I wasn’t particularly unhealthy; I’d just never really worked out and had zero idea what jogging should feel like. I told myself to go for 10 minutes. And then the next day, I said maybe I can do 11.” From there, Arzón got curious about what else she could do; that curiosity took over. “So I invite folks to start with one; then get curious about your own potential.”
3. Define your own self care
We all have those days when the inbox is piling up, and we feel like we’ve lost control of our schedules, but as Arzón notes, “We cannot build an empire on an empty tank.” During those times, we have to listen to ourselves and learn what our bodies need to be healthy and whole. “For me, self care isn’t a bubble bath; it’s a tough workout. That’s how I regain my own energy. For somebody else, it might be making dinner or coloring with your kids. There are so many ways to nourish the various pieces of ourselves.” According to Arzón, self care has to be a conscious lifestyle choice: “Self care is not selfish – it’s sacred.”
4. Protect your yeses
Something Arzón uses ruthlessly is “owning the no’s to protect the yeses.” Dig deep into what truly matters to you, and don’t be afraid to say no to the things that don’t. “When I was a lawyer, I set a calendar appointment for 10 minutes a day for myself, and I was ruthless with that time. And in those 10 minutes, maybe I sent one email or made one call for myself, but I moved the needle little by little.” According to Arzón, that’s how we start to take our time back. Those little moments are important because they add up and grow. Maybe you use your time for a 10-minute meditation or a walk around the block, but “we have to take care of ourselves in order to be of service to our communities, our families, and our teams.”
5. Bend so you don’t break
We all get caught up in what we need right here and now – especially when you’re leading a business. Arzón remarks, “A lot of decisions I make are not for my present state. I always have the future Robin in mind. I’m hustling now to save myself later.” Yet it’s always important to adapt. There are some days where you don’t get enough sleep or something unexpected pops up on your calendar. On those days, the 45-minute workout might turn into 10, and that’s okay. “Being able to bend so we don’t break is crucially important.”
Learn more about mental strength and business
Business leaders today face challenges and stress from all directions, which is why mental wellness and self care are so vital. As Arzón puts it: “You are the CEO of your body from head to heel.” Learn more from Robin Arzón in her new MasterClass on mental strength.