Fitness Tips

Tunde Oyeneyin and Nike Want Girls in Sport To Believe That ‘If You Have a Body, You’re An Athlete’

Kells McPhillips

"Growing up, I never made any team—ever. I tried out for every single one every year, and I never made the cut," says Tunde Oyeneyin, who now teaches fitness classes to thousands of people a day as a beloved Peloton instructor. Since high school volleyball tryouts, Oyeneyin has come a long way. The fitness community around her is a constant reminder that, as she phrases it, "movement is a celebration of life, and celebration is community." Today, Nike announces a partnership with Oyeneyin with a singular mission: to make sure that every girl has a team to huddle up with in life, and in sport.

Oyeneyin is a firm believer that where movement goes, community follows. "Community builds character, community builds confidence, and community—for young girls specifically—cultivates sisterhood," she says.

Oyeneyin's message is especially critical when you consider that, by the age of 14, girls are twice as likely than boys to drop out of sports, according to the Women's Sports Foundation. And while there are a myriad of reasons girls wind up shelving their sneakers—from lack of funding to transportation to social stigma—we know that an absence of role models and a lost sense of play are at the heart of the issue. With Nike's help, Oyeneyin intends to tackle both.

"Community builds character, community builds confidence, and community—for young girls specifically—cultivates sisterhood." — Tunde Oyeneyin, Nike partner and Peloton instructor

"I realize now that part of my opportunity with this platform is to speak to other people who look like me, just as Nike has communicated to me for so many years by using models and athletes who look like me. Part of me now coming into this space is to continue carrying that torch," she says. She adds that she also wants to teach girls and young women to reinstill a sense of play whether they're on the court, the track, or the weight room—even when they're going toe to toe with the competition. "At a very young age, sport starts out as play. Then it becomes a competition, but there's a way to be competitive and still uplift those around. I think that Serena [Williams] and Naomi [Osaka] are incredible examples of women who are able to compete and still empower other women," says Oyeneyin.

Ultimately, Oyeneyin sees a future where girls experience movement as a basic joy that can't be taken away by a whistle-wielding P.E. teacher, or anyone who tells you that you're just not good enough. "The initiatives that I'll be supporting with Nike's help will bring the celebration [of movement] to life in a bigger way," she says. After all, every girl deserves to wear her sneakers until there's no tread left.

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