Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, October 13, 2023

Book review: Toussaint finds inner ‘glow’ on the pedals of a Peleton

It was all about the balance. You didn’t think of it that way, though. All you were interested in was riding your bike with the big kids, pedaling without training wheels and without an adult holding you up.

You skinned your knees but could see the goal, then one day, zoom, you rode that bike all by yourself. So now read “Activate Your Greatness” by Alex Toussaint and find that determination again.

He had what seemed like a privileged life.

The son of Haitian immigrants, Toussaint grew up in a stable, middle-class household with both parents involved in his upbringing and with education in the forefront. Alas, Toussaint fell in with the wrong crowd as a pre-teen, and his father, who was disabled by then, was unable to claw the boy back himself.

Because of that, Toussaint was sent to “a military school in the middle of Nowhere, Missouri...” and it made him hate his father. Still, he grew there and learned but eventually decided to make the school expel him – which landed him back under his father’s thumb. He was accepted at college, but he quit that, too. After another battle with his dad, Toussaint stormed out of his parents’ house to stay with a friend until another friend offered him a job at a “new company” called Flywheel.

Intrigued by the stationary bikes and spinning classes, Toussaint began to dream. He studied the classes and instructors, taught himself things he figured were important and he asked for a job as a spinning class instructor. From there, he was noticed by an up-and-coming business, Peleton.

To succeed, Toussaint says, “requires confidence.” It means being “comfortable with... failing.” Success is knowing how “to turn your pain into power.” It’s being grateful for things big and small, seeing yourself as you hope to be, being unabashedly authentic, and knowing how to tame distractions.

“And once we glow internally,” Toussaint says, “we start to shine externally. It is impossible to ignore.”

Sometimes, when everything is in pieces around your feet, you just need to take a deep breath and remember that it’s all about the hustle. “Activate Your Greatness” is a great example.

From mistakes to milestones, author Alex Toussaint tells a dual story that readers will find quite interesting. First, he offers his own memoir, filled with bootstrap-pulling and determination, but also a nod to the “angels” who gave him a boost along the way. Surely, this happens all the time but Toussaint makes it feel fresh, exciting and unique.

The other, much smaller part of this book is a memoir of a business. Still a Peleton instructor, Toussaint was there at the launch and he writes about how he does his job. This will be of particular interest to anyone fascinated by an unusual workplace.

If you want a different kind of memoir that brings advice along for the ride, this book could be what you’re looking for. Find “Activate Your Greatness” and put the pedal to your mettle.

Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of business books are read in publications throughout the U.S. and Canada.