In her trademark bandana, the ‘Ambassador of Sweat’ practices what she preaches: the power of sport to transform lives. But growing up, Robin Arzón (34) wasn’t an athlete. In fact, the lawyer-turned-fitness-coach logged her first mile at age 23. Now she runs ultramarathons and inspires people to discover their full potential through movement and sweat – and to use that as a vehicle for healing.

Her turning point dates back to summer 2002 when a casual night out turned into a nightmare of cinematic proportions. Robin had just caught up with friends in an NYC bar as an armed man stormed in, taking all 20 patrons hostage. With a lighter in hand, the man soaked everyone in kerosene and grabbed Robin as his human shield and line to the police. As luck would have it, Robin came out alive through the chilling sequence of events that culminated in two brave souls tackling the attacker.

Following that harrowing night, she was determined to re-write her story as that of a survivor, not a victim. A key device in that narrative was a pair of running shoes.

“I see running not only as moving meditation, but also as moving therapy,” ponders Robin.

Every day of her next seven years in law, Robin was counting down the hours to her next run. In 2012, she abandoned a promising career and a steady income to pursue a path in health and fitness. Today, along with being a running coach, she serves as VP of Fitness Programming at Peloton cycling studio.

Whatever the question, sweat is the answer

Trading security for the unknown is a bold career move that defies conventional wisdom. Robin’s family, having been through hardships themselves, supported the decision from the start.

“The independent view of the world is something my mom encouraged from a young age,” she tells. “As refugees from Cuba, my parents always understood the American Dream to mean more than dollars. It was also freedom and happiness.”

Having found her liberation from trauma through running, Robin is proof that sweat transforms lives – a mantra she swears by. Grateful to be part of other people’s fitness journeys, she recalls the story of a woman who for two years was cycling at the back of her spin classes. One Thanksgiving, she got a note from the woman, telling how the fitness community had empowered her to seek a way out of an abusive relationship.

“You never know what people are battling with. In the back row of my class was this silent warrior all along. And there are so many like her. With the support of the right community, they’re going to be pushing lots of envelopes and motivating others along the way,” says Robin, adding that the most gratifying part is seeing people unlock those moments of confidence and pride.

#3for31 Challenge is in effect! The first step is taking the first step. Xx #shutupandrun 📷 @iamdrewbutler

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Robin Arzon (@robinnyc) am

When leaving law, Robin told everyone she wanted to be an ambassador of sweat, which prompted the question, What the heck is that?

“Not everyone will be ready for your idea,” she knows. “Dream big, yes, but also take an honest assessment of your current skill set and what bricks you need to build that house. Do you need certifications? Should you go back to school? Or do you need to network your ass off and develop an elevator pitch? Once you marry your dream with practicality, then you’re only limited by your own thoughts and work ethic.”

Summarizing her values, Robin admits to having a low threshold for bullsh*t – she takes pride in things that are earned.

“You can’t buy endorphins,” she asserts. “You reap them through hard work. But it doesn’t matter whether you’re cobbling together your own mish-mash of fitness or going for a walk around the block. As long as you’re doing it, you’re earning it.”

Robin’s life mission now is to get people off the couch and out to create themselves in a way that’s unapologetic to who they are inside. In doing so, she calls for everyone to “sweat with swagger” and to own the pen to their story.

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