By leading with her mantra, “I am. I can. I will. I do,” Christine D’Ercole has become one of the most popular Peloton instructors. According to Carnegie Mellon Alumni News, her rides have been downloaded over one million times by members. She is well known for her high-intensity workouts, her focus on proper form, and her belief that you can reach your goals by focusing on your breath and inner monologue (via Peloton). And while other instructors have come and gone, Christine stuck around and continued to build her following. She now has 148,000 followers on Instagram and sells merchandise on her website.
But how did Christine become a Peloton instructor? Interestingly, it was not a straightforward path. She originally wanted to become a ballerina, then an actress, then a model. She did not think of cycling as a career path until much later in life.
Christine was told she was "too big" by ballet instructors
Since she was a little girl, Christine was attracted to the arts. She pursued ballet from a very young age, but soon realized she was being shut out of certain opportunities, as she discussed in an interview with Insider. “I was just bigger,” she said. “I was too big. Too big to be cute, too big to be pretty, too big to be beautiful, too big to be loved, worthy, successful. You name it.”
In a guest contribution article for Women You Should Know, Christine also revealed that she was rarely cast in recitals where the girls wore short tutus. She eventually realized why. “My thighs were twice the size of all the other little girls around me,” she said. “In spite of trying to minimize myself by almost any means necessary, I simply could not drop under 112 pounds on my 5-foot-6 frame. I was ‘big-boned,’ as they say.”
The ballet world caused so much harm to Christine’s mental health that she left it to pursue other dreams.
Christine also pursued a career in theater
Not ready to give up on the arts, Christine decided to pursue acting at a performing arts high school. Along the way, she fell in love with cycling. She described it as a “new way to dance, balanced on two slick wheels, swerving and swirling downhill” (via Women You Should Know).
After high school, Christine studied theater at Carnegie Mellon University. She biked to class and explored all of Pittsburgh on her two-wheeler.
However, Christine soon experienced another blow to her self-confidence. While working an office job at Carnegie Melon, she once snuck into her personal file and read remarks from her professors. “It said lovely things about my monologues,” Christine confessed during the Insider interview. “And at the bottom, it said, ‘A little heavy in the thigh.'”
Though the comment made her seriously doubt whether she belonged in the theater community, Christine did not give up on acting. After graduating, she moved to New York, got an agent, and began auditioning (via Carnegie Mellon Alumni News).
Christine's nickname in New York was LEGS
To pay the bills while living in Manhattan, Christine worked as a bike messenger and delivered packages around the city. In navigating all of Manhattan on a bike, Christine discovered the city’s bike messenger subculture. As described in We Love Cycling, the subculture is made up of a community of bikers who get to know each other on the job and hang out after work.
Christine revealed that all the bikers she knew had superhero nicknames. As for Christine’s nickname? It was “LEGS,” in all caps (via Women You Should Know). “I was fast,” Christine said. “And my legs were thick. And I started to become a little less embarrassed about my thighs.”
Fortunately, the embarrassment didn’t last. After some encouragement from other city cyclists, Christine took on track cycling and racing. She was quickly recognized as a force to be reckoned with and received a sponsorship deal with Nautica.
Christine loved being pregnant despite the challenges
When she was 27 years old, in the midst of pursuing her career as a professional cyclist, Christine became pregnant, forcing her to put cycling on hold. But this lifestyle change did not bother her. As she explained in a lengthy Instagram post on August 9, 2020, “I felt beautifully magical throughout my pregnancy and deeply embraced the live-giving purpose of my body’s changes.”
Still, Christine faced mental challenges with her body image, especially when she volunteered herself for a pregnancy photoshoot. “When I arrived [at the shoot], I saw the walls lined with images of slim and svelte pregnant dancers,” she wrote in the Instagram post. “I withered inside. I said, ‘My photos won’t quite turn out like that,’ pointing to the folds around my ribs and the thickness of my hips.”
Thankfully, the photographer knew exactly what to say to boost Christine’s confidence. “I cannot recall his exact sentences,” Christine said, “but here are the gems that he gave me: The human body is amazing and fascinating and beautiful in its fluidity, [and] all body forms and shapes tell a story.”
The photoshoot did wonders for Christine’s self-esteem. As she revealed, “This was one of the most healing and empowering experiences I’ve had in my life.”
Christine loves cats
Christine has loved cats ever since she was a young girl. On January 22, 2021, she posted a throwback photo of herself in 1994, holding one of her childhood kitties, Chaplin. “I was obsessed with Robert Downey Jr. in the film Chaplin,” she explained in the post, “and this kitty had that mustache and a white C on his back.”
Then, Christine confessed that Chaplin had a strange obsession of his own. “This cat was obsessed with OB tampons,” she said. “He would steal them from the bathroom, kick them and bat them and kill them, then bring them to me and drop them on my pillow. I’d throw it and he would fetch it back. DOG-CAT.”
It seems that Christine loves any excuse to write about cats. Last year, she celebrated International Cat Day by posting an Instagram photo of her three present-day felines: Penelope, Mancat, and Pigeon. “They are weird, fresh, naughty, and utterly adorable ridiculous animals and we love them deeply,” she wrote.
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