Peloton instructors are by design, incredibly aspirational; they’re hot, they’re fit, they say all the right things. But the latest addition to the cultish fitness platform, Rad Lopez, manages to be all this and more. Lopez debuted as one of Peloton’s newest strength instructors in June, and from the moment I laid eyes on him, I knew that I’d found my imaginary fitness husband and nothing could tear our bond asunder. Except for burpees. No one is worth more than five burpees.
Lopez’s unmistakable Bronx kid charm makes him such a standout in a crowded field of chiseled instructors. Everything about him, including his well-composed Instagram, gives an air of earnest authenticity that can often feel missing in the platitude-filled world of fitness. Lopez spoke to Jezebel via email about how he got into fitness and the woman he talks about most in his workouts, his mom. Or should I say, my imaginary mother-in-law?
JEZEBEL: What’s your full first name, and why did you shorten it to Rad?
Rad Lopez: My full name is Radichell. I’m very proud of my name, first and foremost. That’s the name I was given, so I gotta represent it! But, I think, just shortening it to Rad made it a little more universal and made it a little easier to work with; easier to build a brand around. There’s just so much that you can do with the name Rad, you know, I think it goes a long way. Again, I’m very proud of my full name, but Rad is also really fun.
When you told your mom—who you mention often in your workouts— that you were being considered for a job at Peloton how did she react? Did she know what that even was or did she not think it was a real job?
She was extremely happy for me. She knows that every time I’m taking up a job, it’s always better than my last. I take this from her, we’ve always had a “growth and hustle for the better” mindset. We try to never take any steps back. So when she heard that I was being offered a job, I explained it to her; I explained the magnitude of it, and she was probably more excited for me than I was.
There’s a workout you did where you asked (I’m paraphrasing a bit) if the viewer was tired and wanted to take a break. You then responded to yourself by saying something along the lines of, remember that not everyone has that privilege of stopping when they’re tired. What was the motivation behind that line?
The lessons of perseverance that I’ve been taught by my mother. Being raised by a single mother, she often didn’t have the option of not going to work because she was tired. The lessons of perseverance are what motivated that. At the end of the day, she worked so hard to get us to where we are today. That’s what was behind that line because, at the end of your struggle or whatever it is that you’re fighting, there is a better outcome.
There’s a photo on your IG with the caption “Papito from up the block.” As a fellow Bronx native, your dude from up the block energy is very palpable to me and it makes your workouts more fun because it’s almost as if we are just two friends getting in shape. But that kind of personality isn’t exactly common in the Peloton landscape. When you were auditioning, were you concerned it could be a hindrance? Are you ever self-conscious about it?
I think being 1000 percent authentic to who I am and where I come from is what got me here. Peloton holds true to allowing all of their instructors, employees and members to be genuinely themselves. Our individuality and the parts that we’re made of is what got us all here. I believe that if we were trying to fit a mold, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
A few days back you also posted an Insta-story with a sandwich that you made for breakfast and I was surprised to see you still eat bread because I was under the impression everyone with abs gave up bread to get them. What else would people be surprised to know you still eat?
It’s honestly all about balance. I eat ice cream. I eat cookies. You just have to know your body well enough to know what it needs. I don’t want to ever feel guilty about food. Just because I ate ice cream last night, doesn’t mean I have to go to the gym for two hours today. It’s all about balance.
What’s the worst fitness-related advice that people continue to follow?
It’s not really advice, it’s just the way fitness culture is sometimes presented. In regards to what we see through social media, we immediately resort to comparing ourselves to what we see and it should never be that way. The only comparison we should make is whether we’re better in one way or another than we were yesterday in our own individual way.
When you envision your at-home audience while coming up with what to say during a workout, who do you see, and what’s the main thing you’re trying to communicate to them?
I don’t think I see anyone in particular. The main thing that I try to convey to our Members is to step into their power. Don’t be shy. Don’t be afraid to take up space. Believe in yourself, and that self-belief is going to take you a long way. I’m always speaking from my own experience. I was very timid growing up. I played a ton of sports, and I was really good at all of these sports, but, what hindered me from getting to the next level or being a star on the team was my confidence. When you start stepping into your power and allowing yourself to take up space, that’s what is gonna take you to the next level. So, that’s what I try to convey to my audience; to just believe in themselves and take up space and step up to the challenges.
Fitness culture is often a toxic place for women. Do you find that the same toxicity exists for men?
Yes! Fitness culture can be, not always, a challenging place for everyone; for women, for men, for kids. I think it can be for humans all across the board. It can be becauseーI fall victim to it myself, I’m not immune to itーwe compare ourselves to people we see on social media. I think the way to change it would be to just accept yourself for where you’re at, set your goals, and get there without trying to compare yourself to anyone else. Constantly trying to better yourself goes a long way.
Leg day or upper body, you have to get rid of one forever.
I would say upper body day. I love a good leg day because your legs are ultimately going to carry me through life. The only thing that I’d need to lift with my upper body would be a spoon!
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading a couple of books! This is Just Kids by Patti Smith. I’m also reading The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz, who is a Dominican author. I’ve been loving his books because they’re so relatable, it’s like ‘Oh, I know what you’re talking about!’ or ‘I know what that means!’