RIDE OR DIE | Emily Palley-Samson, Instructor
Meet Emily – an Ossington Instructor who defines what it means to honour your uniqueness, both on and off the bike. Emily’s classes are just that – unique. She makes every Rider, new and old, feel welcome and a part of the pack. She challenges you and pushes you to your limits while keeping things fun, vibrant and dance-y. Emily’s classes fly by in the best way – fuelled by unique playlists, chill yet fiery vibes, and a whole lot of towels up.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in the Beaches and grew up in the suburbs. I lived in Thornhill, Ontario until I moved to Montreal for university.
Can you remember your first RIDE class?
Yes! It was three years ago in Vancouver and it was all thanks to Sarah Kriesman’s recommendation.
I sat on a bike in the third row off to the side. I just remember class starting a million miles an hour and watching in confusion as everyone around me hit each beat with grit and grace. Meanwhile, I was just wobbling around. One thing’s for sure – that was the first time I had tried a workout that was so focused on music, and it was my favourite part. Little did I know how quickly things would escalate once I got back to Toronto and the UNDRGRND opened…
For anyone new to RIDE, remember that everyone starts out the same way, and everyone can improve the same way.
How long did it take until you realized you wanted to become an Instructor?
A while…I’d say over a year. Only when I built up the strength and confidence to really be myself in that room (which includes dancing and cheering) did I realize that I wanted to teach. It also took time for me to build up confidence in my style of music. I play a lot of Dancehall, Afrobeats and Reggaeton in my classes, plus a ton of other music from Latin America…slightly different than what was played in most classes when I started training. Trying that music in the RIDE studio was a bit nerve-wracking at first…but I’m so glad I did!
Shoutout to Rebecca in Toronto and Joc in Vancouver for becoming my music spirit animals this year.
How would you describe your teaching style?
I’m trying to create the workout-version of your favourite basement dance party; the one that’s packed with people and the music slaps and everyone’s in a good mood, dancing right up against each other. You’re smiling and sweating and before you know it, it’s 4am and the night flew by. You leave exhausted and excited and hug new friends on your way out the door. That’s what I hope you feel in my class.
I would say my teaching style is hype, positive, challenging and inclusive. I’m excited to be in there with you, and I want you to know that…but we’re all going to work hard together.
Best part of being an Instructor is…
Finding out how your classes impact others. When someone takes the time to tell you that your classes helped them get through a breakup, or that they recommended it to their best friend, or that they look forward to riding with you every week…that kind of stuff stays with you for a long time. When you play a song that you know is going to make someone’s day and you catch that look in their eyes the second it comes on the speaker, that’s a shot of pure joy right into your veins.
Track you’ve had on repeat.
‘Got To Tell You’ by Busy Signal. ‘Toast’ by Koffee. ‘COMO UN BEBÉ’ by J Balvin, Bad Bunny & Mr Eazi. Anything by Rosalia. I’ve also been listening to a lot of my old favourite R&B tracks these days, like ‘Who Is She To U’ by Brandy.
Take a peek at a playlist called EPS RADIO on Spotify; I’m adding new music there all the time.
AM or PM RIDES?
PM. Taking a RIDE class after work completely resets your day. It was the routine that made me fall in love with RIDE in the first place. That’s what I hope my Thursday 6pm class is for others.
PM also counts for mid-day RIDES. My Wednesday noon class has become one of my favourite times of the week. If you haven’t made it to RIDE for a mid-day class, switch up your schedule for a week and give it a go.
Favourite way to sweat outside of RIDE?
Exploring a new city on foot the whole day long. That, or dancing.
How has becoming a RIDE Instructor changed you?
Becoming a RIDE Instructor has helped me step into the best version of myself. Both inside and outside of the studio, I am healthier, more confident, stronger, and prouder of the things that make me unique. Ultimately, RIDE has made me happier and more comfortable in my own skin. Getting emotional over here…next question!
Go-to quote or words to live by?
Who motivates you?
That handsome man who rides in the front row and works in real estate. Micah Polowin. Ultimate partner in crime, #1 cheerleader, 9 years running. There is no one who motivates me more than he does.
RAP ABCs. It’s for little kids, but is also how we all should have learned the alphabet growing up. M is for Missy Elliott, T is for Tupac Shakur.
What’s your #1 life hack?
Don’t check bags when you fly. Carry-on only.
Where can we find you on a Saturday afternoon in the city?
Probably outdoors in a park downtown, or on my way to steal your pool. Toronto is an amazing city to live in and there are so many options no matter what you’re into (especially during the summertime), which means I usually pack too much into my Saturday afternoon, but it’s really fun to bounce around from spot to spot with your friends all day in this city.
Any hidden or not so hidden talents?
Larger-than-life charcuterie spreads and flower projects, usually for events. The largest one I was brought on to build was twelve feet long and three feet wide. It’s fun to be creative with each design, and I spend a lot of time ensuring that all of the ingredients taste good together.
I also started a capsule collection jewelry brand called spoken thread and hand-assemble tassel earrings here in Toronto. I still buy yarn from the same market in Peru that inspired the whole project a few years ago.
If you could brunch with any person (past or present), who would it be and why?
My Dad, because we lost him almost three years ago and I miss him terribly. RIDE would have blown him away. I wish I could have brought him to the studio and introduced him to everyone; I think they’d see where I get my sense of humour from.
I also think my Dad would have made his way to the front row in a RIDE class; he was a great cyclist and his last charity ride was 500km across a desert in Israel. He was raising money for a seeing-eye-dog foundation.
Best memory since you joined RIDE?
At least let me choose two!
1) a class in late August 2018, the first time I felt really strong teaching after training all summer. I think I met my RIDE alter-ego that day (she still needs a name, taking suggestions). I’m not sure how else to describe it besides I felt totally free and I saw everyone start to trust me.
The second would be my first Dancehall class with Rebecca. Everyone in that room, including myself, was just going bananas.
#1 piece of advice for someone looking to have a killer RIDE?
You’re in the driver’s seat. Any class is as easy or as challenging as you want it to be, and it’s pretty powerful to know that you have that control over your workout. If you lose focus and start to coast, recognize it, take a deep breath, crank that tension, and get after it.
What has you stoked on life right now?
I’m getting married this September!
What does RIDE mean to you?
Release. Growth. Endorphins. Friendship. Purpose. Happiness.
RIDE is the most positive and meaningful community I’ve ever been a part of. There’s a weird stigma around fitness cults and the idea of friendships that revolve around one singular thing; to me, RIDE proves the complete opposite. These people might work out together, but they’re also an interconnected web of real friends. They go to concerts together and on vacation together, support each other’s businesses, babysit each other’s kids (and pets), refer each other for jobs and help each other through times of loss. They adore and uplift one another, and are still always welcoming to new faces. I’m biased, but I don’t care – this is one of the best crews in the world.
Thank you to everyone who has made RIDE a second home for me, I’m grateful to be part of it.
RIDE with Emily – find her on the Ossington Schedule.