How This Portlander Became a Peloton Star
From a growing roster of more than 50 global instructors, 6.2 million Peloton members choose to devotedly follow their favorite trainers, declaring allegiance with a teaching style, a stage presence, and a catchphrase. Perhaps it’s no surprise that one instructor with a unique, calming presence, who teaches gentleness in taking care of your body, calls Oregon home: Hannah Corbin.
Though now based in New York City, Corbin’s connection to Oregon runs deep. Her grandfather was part of the Oregon Forestry Service, her mother was born in Sweet Home and grew up in Philomath, and Corbin herself spent her childhood in Beaverton. “I feel like I’ve always had a big connection to the state,” says Corbin. “I really am proud to be from Portland.”
Corbin is one of the founding instructors at Peloton, where she teaches cycling, stretching, Barre, Pilates, strength, and dance cardio, and has amassed a huge following on Instagram. Portland Monthly caught up with Corbin recently to talk about her Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, growing up in the Pacific Northwest, and how she landed the gig with Peloton.
As a founding Peloton instructor, how have things most changed since the company’s start?
I’ve been at Peloton for almost eight years. In my first many years, I was still dancing a show six nights a week and teaching. We were lucky to have one person on the leaderboard, and now we have 6.2 million members worldwide, which is so thrilling. Our instructors have a really strong base of knowledge for certain things, and we have a supportive production crew that helps us make them happen. A lot of the things we’ve always wanted to bring to fruition have now happened.
When did movement become an important part of your life?
I started dancing at Beaverton Dance Center when I was very little, back when it was just learning to clap on the beat. I’m not sure there is a location in the greater Portland, Tigard, Beaverton, Milwaukie area where I haven’t danced. Dance eventually led me to New York City on a scholarship when I was 17. As dance shifted into my career, I searched for other ways to let loose and have fun—to move my body for myself. At Peloton, it comes down to that deep love of movement and sharing that with others while also sprinkling our unique personalities around it.
Why is stretching such an important part of your approach to fitness?
As you get older, recovery takes longer, and injuries are a real kick in the buns. I started to become really fascinated by finding the weaknesses in my body that were my pain points and turning them into strengths. Whether it’s from bad habits or daily stressors that start to turn your shoulders into earrings, I found that recovering lost length and that stuck stress comes from elongating. Stretching is a way to unwind and melt into a new state of calm, and I love sharing my favorite stretches with the world.
You’re very open about being adopted. How has that shaped your identity?
My parents are both white, and I am Mexican and Puerto Rican. I was adopted at birth, and my parents were there when I was born. My dad actually cut my umbilical cord. Saying that I was adopted resonated the same way as it did to say I have brown hair. It just was; it was very normal. My parents did such a good job at never covering up the past but really enriching everything by leaning in and educating me about heritage and culture, making sure I knew about my roots.
How has the Pacific Northwest influenced who you are?
My family used to go cabin camping in Clear Lake, and I have really fond memories of day trips to the coast, whether it was Seaside or Lincoln City. I went tubing on Mt Hood quite often and used to do a thing I called “snow plopping” where I would find a large patch of snow and just plop down and see how fluffy it was. It brings back joy as soon as I start thinking about it.
Most of my friends in New York are from Oregon, and none of us knew each other in Oregon. Our personalities gravitated towards each other because I think you’re raised having certain mannerisms that are very uplifting toward others. Everyone in Oregon is so nice. In New York, when you’re that nice, people get suspicious. But in Oregon, it’s just a way of life.