Ally Love is the founder of Love Squad, the host of the Brooklyn Nets, and a cycling instructor. We spoke with her about the misconceptions and challenges of being a dancer for a professional sports team, the importance of inner love (#beautylikeyou), and how to develop true confidence.As a kid and young adult you were a big dancer. How did you get interested in dancing, become a Knicks City Dancer, and then transition to cycling instructor at Peloton? What was the arc that you took to get there?
When I was 9 I got hit by car. As part of the recovery I has told it was important to try to get my body moving and to do something active, so I started dancing at a community center, and the teacher thought I had a knack for it. I kept at it and eventually auditioned for dance as part of the admissions process of a performing arts high school. After college - I went to college for dance - I got into fitness through hot yoga and exploring other ways of being active beyond dance, which led me to cycling and Peloton.
As a kid I used to love go to basketball games, tennis matches, and all kinds of sporting events. I always loved sports and dancing was a way of being part of all of that and living a sports lifestyle. I became a Knicks dancer because a friend of mine was one and suggested I audition, which seemed more interesting to me because I knew I didn’t want to work in theater dance. So I did that for three seasons before becoming the host of the Brooklyn Nets.
There are a lot of challenges that most people aren’t aware of: you don’t get any benefits, you don’t get paid for rehearsals, and you don’t paid well for the actual game performances. But some of the benefits were meeting a lot of people, extremely close friendships that I still have to this day, and I came away feeling personally enriched, even if I wasn’t rich.
The Peloton format is different from a traditional cycling class since it is recorded and available to people around the country. Does that change the interaction and relationships you have with people riders?
The beautiful thing about community is how technology has evolved our traditional view of community and how we communicate with each other. I answer every DM and Facebook message I get, though I am sure some fall through the cracks.
I have built better communication and rapport with people online than those that come to the studio because people that come in person run out after class, but interactions online can be worked into your schedule, and doesn’t have to be right then and there. I am always surprised and humbled by the personal stories people share with me via email and how a quote or something that I said can be helpful to them. It is amazing how small things can have such an impact on people's lives.
I think there are probably a lot of misconceptions about what the job requires. You have talked about how continuous learning has been part of your growth. What other actions or demands of the job (dancer/host) do you think people are unaware of?
Endurance is so important - it is my human superpower. When I am hosting a game or teaching a class it requires continuous mental presence and engagement, not just being present physically - it is physically and mentally taxing. Even if I am having a bad day, I still have to be the best that I can so that comes through to the fans or riders.
You exude self confidence, a strong sense of self, and a go-getter attitude. Was this always the case or something that you worked toward or developed?
Being an instructor requires taking other people's classes and continuously learning. Even when I travel I find classes to take. The same thing is true for being a host. I have others look at my tape, give me feedback, and help me find the ticks or the idiosyncrasies so I can improve. I try to push myself to the limit and continuously open up to learning in other areas. I like political news a lot because it motivates me to try and change the world.
In my career my confidence comes from the hard work I put in, and as I have grown, I have become more confident because there is so much more to accomplish. Confidence is also relative. When I am in my element, I am confident. When I am on the bike, I am confident. When I am on camera, I am talking to one person even though it is broadcast, so I focus and don’t let that overwhelm me. In other, unfamiliar situations I am not always that way. I think it is a constant process of learning about what confidence means. True confidence is being grounded in situations that are uncomfortable.
Self love and inner love is very important aspect of what you try to install in others. You have said that you feel “it is accepting your own imperfections.” Was that ever something that you struggled with? What were the imperfections that you have learned to accept?
I struggle a bit with body image, and I see a lot of people struggling with this as well. People think that they aren’t beautiful enough or wish they were skinnier, or had a nicer butt, etc., so it is about redefining the meaning of beauty on a personal level. As a woman and a public figure I hear comments like “I wish I looked like you” etc. Regardless of how much money you make, or how smart you are, or how pretty you are, we are all the same and we experience these imperfections. It is about getting to a place where we are comfortable with who we are on the inside. You don’t always have to want to change yourself.
A love squad has been an important part for me of championing diversity and using sweat and conversation to help people realize their self worth. So this month I wanted to focus more about what beauty is and what beauty isn’t. “Do your makeup in 3 minutes or less” is a call to action to focus more on the internal. It is to challenge people to see what beauty means and to focus on being a better a person and the virtues and tools for self improvement.
You are know for guilty pleasure being a donut, what is your favorite donut in NYC?
Dough on 19th Street. Sometimes I eat it with a knife and fork to be fancy!
To learn more about Ally, check out her website or connect with her @allymisslove and @lovesquad