Founded in 2012, Peloton introduced a revolutionary spin on the spin class. Participants could work out on a Peloton bike at home, following along with virtual classes led by an instructor. Described by Money Inc. as the “Netflix for Fitness,” Peloton users — which include President Joe Biden — purchase not just the bike but also a monthly subscription service. In 2019, Peloton was valued at $1.4 billion — not too shabby for a company that was founded on an investment of $400,000.
A big part of that success rests on the muscular shoulders of Peloton’s instructors. Among this diverse and popular group, Jess King has proven to be a standout. A former dancer, King has charisma, enthusiasm, and a penchant for wild, glittering outfits that have made her a fan favorite among the Peloton set.
Devotees of Peloton have embraced the company’s workouts with a cult-like fervor, and many of them want to ride with King. There’s so much her fans may not know about this emerging fitness guru and her fascinating backstory, so keep reading to find out the untold truth of Peloton instructor Jess King.
Jess King got her start on TV's So You Think You Can Dance
Long before Jess King began pedaling for Peloton, she was a dancer who performed on the TV dance competition series So You Think You Can Dance. As a profile in the New York Post reminded fans, she made it into the top 10 during the 2008 season. “Before I made the transition into the fitness industry for myself, I had an abundant career in dance that started on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance,” she said in an interview with The Path.
However, her time with SYTYCD was cut short. As Entertainment Weekly reported at the time, when King ultimately left the show, it wasn’t because she’d been eliminated, but because she was forced to withdraw due to an injury. “The pain in my side that I’ve been having is a little bit more than just a cramp. I broke two ribs and fractured one,” said King at the beginning of her final episode, as reported by Reality TV World. “The doctors told me that I could not dance anymore, for about four more weeks. So I’ve got to heal and get better so I can go on tour.”
Jess King was a part of a Cirque du Soleil-style production in Vegas
Another of Jess King’s career milestones prior to her career as a Peloton superstar saw her take to the stage each night in Sin City. “I toured the world teaching and performing and was the lead role in a Cirque du Soleil production in Las Vegas,” King said in an interview with The Path. According to a piece in the Las Vegas Review-Journal that discussed the live touring So You Think You Can Dance show coming to Vegas, King was, at that time, appearing in Le Rêve at the Wynn Las Vegas resort.
Le Rêve wasn’t technically a Cirque du Soleil-branded production. It was, however, created by Franco Dragone, described as the “mastermind” behind such Cirque shows as O and Mystère – and Le Rêve certainly had all the elements that went into one of those live spectacles. What set Le Rêve apart from other Vegas shows, noted Exploring Las Vegas, was its aquatic nature, performed on a stage designed to resemble the ocean floor and combining such elements as “music, dance, water movements, acrobatics, flight, light tricks, hydraulics, and exquisite costuming.”
Jess King's mother was a competitive bodybuilder
While she began her career in the world of dance, Peloton instructor Jess King eventually gravitated toward the fitness industry. As she explained in an interview with The Path, fitness is in her blood. “My mother was a competitive bodybuilder, the owner of personal training boutique fitness studios, and she educated and exposed me to all the things fitness and wellness,” said King. “Making the transition into fitness was natural.”
King’s mother, Ximena Bernales, is actually still involved in the fitness industry. Judging by the photos she posts on Instagram, she remains in amazing shape.
In fact, one way Bernales maintains her fit physique is by taking her daughter’s Peloton workouts. “Sweat/Steady Ride!!!” Bernales wrote about participating in one of her daughter’s classes, writing in an Instagram post she shared on Mother’s Day 2019. “Feeling inspired by this young woman on Mother’s Day,” she added, describing her daughter as “my inspiration and my light.”
When she first met with Peloton's CEO, Jess King had never been on a spin bike
Jess King has risen to the top of Peloton as one of the company’s top instructors, proving to be one of the company’s most popular personalities. However, as a profile in Fashion pointed out, before she met with Peloton co-founder John Foley, she had never before used a spin bike.
Even though King is no slouch in the fitness department, there was still a learning curve in order to get herself up to speed. As a result, King took a deep dive into getting to know everything she could about Peloton and the spin bike that she’d be soon teaching others how to use.
“[My training involved] learning the metrics of the bike, the number pairings, resistance, and cadence,” she told Self. Then there were also some practical aspects of the gig that needed consideration, such as how to structure the ebbs and flows of each bike ride, and getting a handle of mastering the ability to maintain top form when riding the bike while simultaneously encouraging and instructing her students.
Jess King was driven to Peloton by fame, not fitness
During Jess King’s first meeting with Peloton founder and CEO John Foley, he made her an offer that sealed the deal right there on the spot. “He looked right at me and said, ‘We’re going to make you a celebrity,'” King revealed in an interview with The New York Times. “And I said, ‘Yeah, sign me up.’ That was the sole motivating reason to do it.”
While Foley’s promise of fame did, indeed, come to fruition, King told Fashion that what she wound up experiencing was something that actually transcended her original concept of celebrity, placing her and her fellow instructors in a whole new category of fame that she felt hadn’t really existed before. “We’re not just some exciting thing they see in some movie or TV show, we are speaking directly to them in the form of shout outs, in the form of motivation that is specific to their needs or current experience,” she explained. “This has never been done before so there’s this moment of newness, realness and excitement — but also I would say a little caution.”
Jess King and fiancée Sophia Urista got engaged in 2020
It’s certainly not news to fans of Peloton instructor Jess King that she’s an out and proud member of the LGBTQ community. In fact, King has frequently featured her significant other, Sophia Urista, in her various social media posts over the years.
In February 2020, King shared a sweet post on Instagram to reveal that she and Urista had become engaged. “We just celebrated 5 years together,” she wrote in a caption accompanying a pair of romantic photos, one in which they share a kiss in front of a blazing fireplace. Celebrating their knack for “finding creative ways to celebrate our life & love,” King ruminated on how playing by society’s rules “in all my heterosexual relationships” was never really a good fit for her. “None of it felt right. None of it felt like me,” she wrote.
In her relationship with Urista, she wrote, she’d come to find a soulmate who could join her on the same page, someone “committed to writing an original love story, together.”
Jess King has shared some of her favorite fitness moves
Jess King is about as knowledgeable about fitness as it gets, and she shared some of her top workout moves with E! News. One of her favorites is an old standby: the pushup, with back straight and body in full plank position. From there, however, she likes to mix it up by adding alternating shoulder taps, using one arm at a time to support the full weight of the body on its own, then switching to the other.
She also detailed one of her top routines to strengthen legs and glutes, which she shared in a video that appeared on the website of Men’s Health. “You have ski season, snowboarding season right around the corner,” King told viewers. “Your knees are vulnerable, just from your lifestyle, and that’s OK.”
To strengthen knees and glutes, she recommended standing with “hips and feet same distance apart,” with a resistance band around the ankles. Then, she took side-to-side steps, “away from the midline.” According to King, this move allows whoever does it to “organically feel the burn, and you’ll know exactly where it’s working.”
Jess King is also a social media influencer
Peloton’s Jess King isn’t just a dancer-turned-fitness instructor — she’s also become a social media influencer in her own right. In fact, as of February 2021, King’s Instagram account boasted more than 288,000 followers. King has proven to be savvy in her use of social media, promoting both the Peloton brand and her special once-weekly dance-party workouts, dubbed “The Jess King Experience,” which feature the musical accompaniment of Peloton DJ John Michael Di Spirito.
In addition to promoting Peloton on social media, King has also proven to be adept at promoting her own personal brand. This, she said in an interview with Self, is something that the company encourages. “Peloton has provided us with a platform, and if I have the drive to connect and share more of what we’re passionate about, I can,” she explained. “They support our [personal] brands. The bigger our personal brands, the stronger we are there.”
Why therapy is an essential part of Jess King's fitness regimen
For Peloton’s Jess King, physical fitness is just one aspect of her overall health. She also places a lot of focus on her mental fitness, and a big part of that has been undergoing therapy. “I have worked my a** off in therapy and mental health and healing so I don’t spiral out,” King said in an interview with Insider. “I feel a duty and a responsibility to do that for myself.”
Other ways she maintains mental well-being are by sticking to a strict routine and journaling. “If I’m not doing that,” she admitted, “everything kind of goes off the rails.”
And while King has been known to gush positivity and enthusiasm in her Peloton classes, she was candid in confessing that some days are better than others. “It’s not 100 percent of the time that I feel joyful,” she said. When that happens, she feels that honesty is the best policy in her classes, admitting to her students that “I did not want to be here today, but let’s make the most of it,” King said. That, she feels, is something that resonates with everyone, because “no one is rainbows and butterflies all the time.”
Jess King doesn't count carbs, fat, or protein
Another aspect in the overall health and fitness of Peloton’s Jess King is her diet. When it comes to what she eats, King told Insider, she’s less concerned with counting calories or balancing carbs than with taking a more holistic approach, fueling her body with what she intuitively thinks it needs. “I don’t really keep track,” she explained. “I’m a feelings person, I’m not a numbers person.”
However, King is also quick to point out that she doesn’t necessarily recommend her particular method of eating to anyone other than herself and explained why. “I’ve been in this relationship with my body for so many years, I know how to nourish myself,” she said. “I can’t say that any of this would work for anyone else.”
That being said, King also likes to have fun with her meals. This comes across loud and clear in the online cooking demonstrations that she and fiancée Sophia Urista host on Instagram. The series, which they’ve dubbed Ooo, Mami, has seen the couple showcase their techniques for whipping up such favorite dishes as short rib tacos and vegan enchiladas.
Jess King is a life coach who believes in the power of mindfulness
Jess King was a dancer before she transformed into a celebrity Peloton instructor, but there’s another hat she wears: life coach. On King’s Mindfull3 website, she promotes a life-coaching technique she calls Process. Described as “a collaborative life coaching conversation that explores the themes of your conscious life,” she encourages those who engage with her to “confront the fear causing your suffering and learn to call in love instead.”
King promises a “no-bulls**t conversation” designed to “bring you out of your myopic state” in order to refresh one’s viewpoint, all with the goal of allowing a client to “rewrite your story.” She asks participants to “check your judgement at the door.”
The way King sees it, there’s a direct connection between her role keeping people fit via Peloton and the impact she can have on other aspects of their lives. “Our purpose is to impact the lives within our community by transforming them, elevating them, empowering them,” she told Fashion, an experience she described as “overwhelming, beautiful and wonderful.” According to King, she and her fellow Peloton instructors aren’t “driven by celebrity status,” but “by the idea that we’re making a difference in people’s lives.”
Jess King has a very specific "self-care Sunday" routine
Peloton instructor Jess King gives her all when instructing her classes, and she’s come to appreciate the importance of rejuvenating and revitalizing herself so she can maintain the level of excellence she sets for herself. Self-care, she detailed in the Peloton blog, plays a key role in that.
Sundays, she explained, are her days to indulge in her weekly “resting and recharging” ritual. “I don’t sit on my couch enough,” she said, revealing that one ritual she enjoys on her Sundays is to read The New York Times — the physical, newsprint edition, not online — as her way of staying “connected” to the news. “I don’t watch the news, I prefer to read it,” she said.
King also tries to ensure she does something creative. In her case, that’s usually some time spent drawing or sketching. Having studied fine arts in college, “drawing and painting are a huge part of who I am and I never have time to really spend making art,” she added. “So I try to at least doodle or have something that I’m working on to honor that part of myself.”
Jess King doesn't appreciate trash talk
As Peloton instructor Jess King pointed out, she and her fellow trainers inhabit a fairly unique space within the spectrum of fame. King and the other instructors are superstars within their realm, yet they’re also regular people with somewhat typical lives, not movie stars insulated in their Malibu mansions.
They also plug into social media to receive feedback about their classes, which isn’t necessarily always a good thing. “What really blows my mind is when people make comments on Facebook and think that I can’t see them,” King explained in an interview with Men’s Journal. “A woman once commented, ‘No wonder my husband rides Jessica’s rides. He can get lost in her cleavage.’ And then a whole thread, 60 or 70 comments, goes on about my boobs. It’s like, ‘Hello?! I can read this!'”
With that in mind, King has a key message she’d like to impart to people about Peloton instructors, particularly when it comes to social media. “Try not to forget that we’re people. It’s a really vulnerable thing for us to be on the stage, sweating, half naked, baring our soul,” she said. “Sometimes feedback is welcome, but whatever you do, don’t talk s**t.”
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