It’s just before 6 a.m. on a Wednesday morning and Matt Wilpers is sitting in an empty studio atop a sleek black stationary bike. He fiddles with the mic propped by his cheek, does a quick scan of the screen in front of him, then looks directly into one of several cameras surrounding him. As a light flashes action, Wilpers smiles, raises his arms above his shoulders and bellows three familiar words: “What’s up, Peloton?”
It’s this phrase that incites excitement (and, sometimes, heart-palpitating fear) in the thousands of Peloton members who routinely pop into the cycling and running classes that Wilpers teaches via livestream or downloadable on-demand. An instructor known for delivering killer-but-purposeful workouts with an easy-going attitude, a wry grin, and an impish laugh, Wilpers, 37, is often referred to as the “baby-faced assassin” among his loyal followers.
“That means I’m getting inside of people’s heads. I’m getting them to do what they need to do to improve, but what’s not always comfortable,” Wilpers said of his nickname. “That means I’m doing my job.”
And it’s a dream job—although Wilpers admits he never saw himself in a fitness-oriented career. When he initially moved to New York City from his home state of Georgia (where he ran cross-country and track for Georgia State University), he set himself on a path towards finance, working as a CPA for KPMG and Goldman Sachs. But, after picking up side hustles coaching endurance athletes and teaching group fitness classes, he became fascinated by physiology and tuning the body for prime performance. The result? He enrolled in medical school.
Then, a relatively unknown boutique fitness company called Peloton came calling, offering him a spot as an instructor after an audition. “I knew it was going to be a massive opportunity, but also a risk since I was leaving medical school behind,” he said.
And it’s paid off. Wilpers had already developed a cult-like following before the pandemic, but in the last year, he and his fellow Peloton instructors have become household names. After all, with more and more people turning to at-home fitness options, Peloton saw a huge boom in growth—and part of that are the five live sessions Wilper now teaches weekly, including his popular Power Zone bike classes based on his own power-based training as a cyclist. He does that while continuing to run his coaching business and squeezing in time for his own athletic endeavors (he boasts a 10:38 Iron-distance PR and ran the 2019 New York City Marathon in 2:54:53). He often peppers his Peloton workouts with anecdotes from his experiences as an athlete—a technique he hopes makes him more relatable to those he’s coaching, regardless of their fitness level.
How does he do it all?
“Coaching always comes first in my schedule,” Wilpers said. He frontloads his days with his Peloton classes and personal client interaction before focusing on his own fitness, and builds long runs and rides into his weekends. “During the week, I like coaching early, because that gives me the rest of the day to fit my own workout in and complete my work for upcoming sessions.”
Wilpers, who isn’t married, admits his career and dedication to his own training doesn’t leave much time for, say, going out with friends. “Usually in the evenings, my energy is spent and I like to be in bed by 9 p.m. As you can see, my life is very exciting,” he joked.
Despite the sacrifice, Wilpers said he is deeply fulfilled by his career—and the constant interaction he has with his followers, who delight in getting the occasional Strava kudos or mid-workout high-five from the Baby Faced Assassin himself.
“It’s just my way of saying I see you and you’re doing a good job,” he said. “In some way, I try to connect with every athlete. Because if they’re not having the best workout, then I’m doing something wrong.”
A Day in the Life of Matt Wilpers
|5 a.m.||Wake up|
|6:15 a.m.||Arrive at Peloton studio|
|7 a.m.||Teach classes|
|9:30 a.m.||Strength train and stretch|
|12 p.m.||Work on upcoming classes, attend meetings, answer emails, work on social media|
|4 p.m.||Physical therapy|
|6 p.m.||Head home to make dinner and get organized for the next day|
From March/April 2021