Tunde Oyeneyin on Celebrating Her Blackness and 'Cultivating Confidence' in Herself and Others

The best-selling author, Peloton instructor and SmileDirectClub ambassador tells PEOPLE about making the "forever change" that allowed her to develop self-esteem and "live in my joy fully"

Tunde Oyeneyin
Photo: Miguel Herrera

Tunde Oyeneyin celebrates being Black every day.

"I celebrate my Blackness just by virtue of waking up and being joyful," the best-selling author and beloved Peloton instructor, 36, tells PEOPLE this Black History Month. "It's as simple as that. I walk out the door. I have a smile on my face. I come home. I still have that smile on my face."

While noting she's "only been a Black woman," Oyeneyin finds that self-affirmation isn't about overthinking or comparison. Instead, she revels in the details of her own identity and experience. "I love the way my skin glistens in the sun. I love how rich it is," she shares. "I love Black joy. I love everything about our culture that makes us so unique — from the rich depth of my skin to the fullness of my lips to the coarse texture in my hair."

And given Oyeneyin's influence on others, particularly people who don't look like her, she recognizes how powerful it is to be confident in her own identity.

"I work for a company that's global and with that comes knowing you're servicing a large array of people," she says. "There are many people that have told me, 'Tunde, you're the only Black person that's ever entered my home, and you've only entered my home by virtue of a touchscreen.' That doesn't fall on deaf ears."

Tunde Oyeneyin
Tunde Oyeneyin/Instagram

In honor of Black History Month, Peloton has announced a number of initiatives. In addition to pledging to invest in and donate to Black-focused charities and organizations, the company said in a statement that it will be "reverberating that same magnetic energy and celebrating the way our Black Members inspire us. Through themed classes, special Artist Series classes, an apparel collection inspired by our community and more, we'll uplift, celebrate and empower each other all month long, highlighting the Black diaspora that breaks boundaries and moves us forward."

Tunde Oyeneyin
Miguel Herrera

Anyone who's ever been trained by Oyeneyin knows her energy is genuine and infectious. As she sees it, "I'm in the business of gifting people with confidence."

Expanding on her mission to spread positivity both on and off the bike, Oyeneyin has partnered with SmileDirectClub, a telehealth company that provides affordable dental services. Oyeneyin will serve as an ambassador on the brand's Confident Council, which aims to "shine light on the transformational power of a smile."

"I know what it is like to not have confidence in your smile," Oyeneyin says. "I know what it is to feel like you want to light up the room with not only your laugh, but your smile. SmileDirectClub was the perfect fit because it enabled me to be able to continue to do that in a different way."

Through the partnership, Oyeneyin hopes fans will learn that "confidence is a skill" and "not a trait."

Recalling that she was once "the person who would laugh and cover my mouth because I didn't want to [show] my teeth," she tells PEOPLE: "I don't think people are born confident or not confident. I think it's something you develop."

She continues, "So to now be able to laugh openly and live in my joy fully — that's something I've developed. That's why I say confidence is a skill. It's not a trait. I think acknowledging that firsthand gives you license to be able to cultivate confidence. It's easy to look at people and say, 'Wow, that person's just confident. I wish I was like that.' But, when you pull back the layers and you realize that this is something that this person works at, then it becomes something that's accessible for you too."

Tunde Oyeneyin
Tunde Oyeneyin

Oyeneyin describes her own confidence journey as "an intricate story." Before making a name for herself as a fitness guru, Oyeneyin wasn't big on exercise.

"I spent a really good portion of my life overweight. I had low confidence, low self-esteem — all the things. Then, ultimately, I decided to make the forever change," she shares.

"I say 'forever change' because it wasn't like I decided, 'Oh, I'm going to go on a diet and start working out.' At the beginning I did, and I thought it was that simple — but then I realized that in order to sustain and maintain this lifestyle it is just that. It has to become a lifestyle. So, I transitioned out of this idea of me hitting a number on a scale to moving in this space where I said, 'I have to find a way to want to show up for this.'"

So she found activities and workouts she actually enjoyed. Over time, she found that staying fit and healthy was no longer a chore or a short-term goal, but a source of joy and personal fulfillment.

"I love feeling strong. There's something just incredible about it for me," she says. "I love being able to pick up really heavy weights. I love being able to move fast. It's been about finding the things I gain out of it. I gain a sense of power. I love feeling power when I'm moving. I feel confident when I'm moving. I feel confident when I'm moving with others."

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