Many Peloton parents recognize that all the work they put into their fitness isn’t just for them–it’s teaching their kids a lifelong lesson about the importance of health and taking care of themselves. In honor of Father’s Day, we sat down with Oliver Lee and his father, Matt, to talk about the value of sport and how to instill a love of fitness in children.
What’s your first fitness memory of your dad, Oliver?
Oliver: My first fitness memory would definitely be in his bedroom, when I was very young, maybe four. I remember my dad had a bench with a barbell and some dumbbells, and I used to sit on the sofa in the bedroom and count my dad’s reps. And I guess that’s the honest story of how I learned to count.
And Matt, what’s your first fitness memory of Oliver?
Matt: His first visit to the gym was when he was five days old. I put him in his little carrier and I took him to the gym, and the girls that worked at reception used to look after him while I was doing my training. There weren’t all the same rules back then, and he was there all the time, as a toddler and as he grew up. He enjoyed coming down.
Were you involved in sports growing up?
Matt: I used to play rugby. I played a lot, and at a decent level. I ran some half marathons, and the gym was a progression from the rugby training, to get a bit of size on, and just carried on through there.
And when you found out you had a son, did you immediately envision him as an athlete?
Matt: Definitely. I can remember the very first day he played soccer. I remember the kit, he was quite tall and playing against boys who were a couple of years older, and he was a star. He played until the day he passed his driving test, every weekend, all through from 14 to 17, it was football, football, swimming, football.
Oliver: Every weekend from the age of 5 to 17, really. But then I got more competitive, at 14, and started to play summertime tournaments.
Matt: He played on two different teams, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. That was my life.
That’s a lot of time in the car with your dad! Was that meaningful to your relationship?
Oliver: Yeah, it was. Especially going off in the summer doing tournaments, I’d spend all day with my team and my dad would come with the other parents, and we’d have packed lunches and sit from 8am to 4pm if we got to the finals, and that was nearly every week of our summer holidays. That was definitely not only bonding but also a good time. It was always really good fun.
Matt: Even now, I’m still friends with the kids and parents that he played with. I’ve seen them from 5 or 6, and now they’re 27 and they’ve got kids, and I see them and we chat and talk about things. It all stems back to those days playing football. It’s pretty cool how sports keep everyone connected.
Oliver: They’re good times. If you lose, it was still good fun.
Were you a competitive person, though? Did you want Oliver to win?
Matt: Yeah. I was quiet, though. Some parents watch a game and they shout a lot, whereas I would just whistle, and he would look at me, and I would say “do this,” or “do that.” I never shout. I hate it when parents shout, or get too involved in telling their kids what to do.
Oliver: And that’s rubbed off on me now, too. I’m not that type of person.
What did you think when Oliver first started getting into fitness professionally?
Matt: As a family, he’s got lots of influences, and I really wanted him to move forward in something he wanted to do. I know some people told him, “Oh, you won’t earn any money, you want to get into a proper job.” They didn’t see it, but I knew that he had an infectious personality, that people would enjoy spending time with him, and he’s done it. He’s done it on his own. I wanted him to be happy in what he was going to do as a career, as I’ve been in mine. He’s doing great.
What do you think being involved in sports meant for the person your son has become? What do you think he learned from that?
Matt: I think he takes things from different people; he’s like a sponge. He doesn’t know everything; he really doesn’t know anything.
Matt: No, you don’t! You’re always learning.
Oliver: I didn’t know anything, when I came to Peloton, about working in front of a camera.
Matt: But you learned. And you absorb it. I think he’s been lucky with the people he’s been involved with, like the managers, the coaches, he hasn’t had any real bad experiences. When we were going to these tournaments we’d see other teams with managers really digging out kids, and I noticed with him, he’s always on a nice level. He never makes anyone feel inferior.
Oliver: I do my best to make people, Members at Peloton or just generally in life, feel equal. I like to lift people up.
What was it that attracted you to sports when you were young, Oliver?
Oliver: I think the fact that my dad had been playing sport and participating, and my grandfather as well, they would always talk about it in a positive light. How many stories would you and granddad tell about funny, good times that you had that was surrounded by playing sport? I guess that was a subconscious influence for me to get involved. It wasn’t about winning, or becoming a professional, it was just to be a part of a team and a community. That’s maybe why I thrive in this now, in the Peloton community, because I like being part of a team.
Matt: You always talk about everyone here, how they support each other within the team. He’ll call from the changing room and everyone will jump in and say hi, and I’ve met most of the instructors and they’ve all been super, super lovely. They really take time. You know when someone asks you a question, how you can tell whether they’re just making conversation, or whether they’re actually interested in what you say? They’re all really interested in what you say.
When Oliver told you he was moving to New York, what was your first reaction?
Matt: I was gutted. I was. He’s my only son, my only child, so it was difficult. But I was genuinely happy that he was coming here. I knew coming to New York was the best thing for him, that Peloton is such a fantastic company to work for, and they really look after the instructors. I knew he was going to be happy, so I was genuinely happy he was here, although he’s 5,000 miles away from me. It’s a lovely place to come. I didn’t know what Peloton was at first. He was telling me, and I had to Google. It was a lot for me to take in, because it was all new.
Oliver: I’d been a personal trainer or just teaching group classes, the standard way of doing it.
Matt: But then you realize, Peloton is the Premier League of fitness. They’re top team, Manchester United. I didn’t realize, when he first told me, but when I saw it, it was like “wow.” Now that Peloton is in Europe, we’re seeing all the television commercials, and I got to the gym now and people look at me with my Peloton shirt and recognize it.
We have a lot of Members who are raising kids right now. What would your advice be to someone who wanted to raise a kid with a love of fitness?
Matt: I think it’s so important that you support your child’s passion. It is about commitment, and it is about enthusiasm and it is about support. They will find their own steps within that, whatever part of the fitness world it is.