How Peloton’s Selena Samuela Keeps Moving Forward Despite Setbacks

“The surest way to actually fail is by doing nothing.”

Selena Samuela is one of Peloton’s newest instructors. Raised in Italy in a family of professional soccer players, sports were always a part of her life. When she moved to Hawaii for college, she developed a passion for surfing and for the spiritual side of fitness. After relocating to New York City, she began a career training as an amateur boxer and teaching boxing. Now, Samuela brings her dedication and fortitude to Peloton.

She is is one of the instructors taking part in the company’s Pelothon. The 4-week series of goals and special events supports hunger relief efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this they are donating $1 million dollars to four nonprofit partners and highlighting their impact around the world.

Samuela sits down with Thrive to share what motivates her, brings energy and her secret life hack. 

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed? Do you have a time-saving trick for the morning?

Selena Samuela: I brush my teeth and then I workout. Unless I’m teaching a morning class (in which case I’m working out anyway), I work out first thing in the morning, even if it’s just something quick like a 20 minute run, or a 20 minute ride. Moving first thing in the morning helps me wakeup, it makes me feel accomplished and ready to crush the day, it really puts me in a good head space and I tend to be more productive that way! 

TG: What gives you energy?

SS: Water! Staying well hydrated has been the key to my good energy levels. But also the ocean and riding waves makes me the happiest person on earth.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?

SS: Try not to sweat the small stuff.  Try to see the positive in the opportunity—to pivot or to learn when something doesn’t go exactly as planned, often, those are the moments where we discover greatness. In sports, in life, at work, getting hung up on a little mistake, a setback, or something unexpected can derail your progress. I’ve been playing a lot of golf lately, finding harmony and balance is everything; you want to stay focused, but you also can’t get rattled when challenges pop up or something doesn’t go exactly how you planned it to go. The second you start getting in your head and beating yourself up is the second things start to unravel. Instead, be the maverick, see a new line, see a new opportunity to take a challenging shot you’ve never taken before. 

TG: In this new normal, we’ve had to pivot how we manage work and home. Can you share a little about how you have pivoted?

SS: I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of the Peloton family, we have such an incredible leadership team that has helped create an environment that is as safe as humanly possible in this new “normal.” So while my schedule has shifted, I’ve still been able to record classes in the studio. However, the schedule is condensed and we do a lot more work from home than we used to, less chatting at someone’s desk and more emailing and zoom calling! Because I’m in the house more, it’s been really important to find time outside of the house. I moved out of the city and into Westchester County back in March so I’ve been taking my runs outdoors and playing a lot of golf. Golf was a socially distant sport before social distance was a thing, the only difference now is that we carry our own golf bags and we don’t have caddies.  

TG: What have been some of the best tips to stay focused while working from home?

SS: Even when you don’t want to do that thing, just do it.  And honestly I totally swear by working out in the morning to get that blood flowing.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it? Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace. 

SS: I have failures all the time—a project falls through, I didn’t do well in a class, I hit a bad shot on the golf course, I fall off my board on a wave. “Failure” is only a “failure” if you do nothing about it. If you don’t get back up. The surest way to actually fail is by doing nothing. One of my favorite quotes is a Winston Churchill quote where he said “success is not final and failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.” Movement is life, if you’re not pivoting, or learning, or using failures as an opportunity for improvement then that’s when you’re in trouble. If you keep moving forward, you’re gonna be alright. 

TG: How do you prioritize when you have an overwhelming amount to do?

SS: Whatever has the closest deadline gets tackled first. 

TG: When you notice you’re getting too stressed, what do you do to course correct?

SS: I try to find some time to get in the water and surf if I can. I also pray. Prayer has helped me countless times and in the hardest and darkest of times in my life.  I don’t only use prayer in these moments, in fact, I use prayer to express gratitude on a regular basis.  I’ve found that when I have developed a good practice in prayer and gratitude, it’s much easier to access the peace that comes from it when things get tough. 

TG: What’s a surprising way you practice mindfulness?

SS: Honestly I think I can piggy back this onto the last question because I’m not sure folks would peg me for the praying type. If you think of it as a form of meditation, which in many ways it is, that is a way I practice mindfulness.  Another way is by steady state running. I find running to be very meditational, running without music or headphones forces you to focus on your breath and your footstrike, your heartbeat, the simple sounds of the world around you. It’s pretty wonderful. 

TG: How do you reframe negative thinking?

SS: I think I have a few different ways I do this depending on the situation and on what kind of negative thoughts I’m dealing with. If I’m dealing with a frustration over something I can’t change, I know that the only thing I can change is me, so I make moves to do that. The way I do that, is to focus on the next thing I need to do that I know will result in something positive “the next right thing.” Then, I like to remind myself that time heals wounds, there will come a moment where whatever that thing that hurt me will become old news and I’ll look back at it and think “wow I can’t believe I ever paid attention to that thing that much.” 

TG: What brings you optimism?

SS: HOPE! Always find room for hope in your heart. 

TG: What’s your evening routine that helps you unwind and go to sleep?

SS: Wash my face, brush my teeth, and snuggle up with my partner, and my cat Chu with a good book or a documentary (I like nature docs). 

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