When I arrive at the clean, white offices of Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, Toro Adeyemi greets me in bright red shorts and shoes with a white blouse. Red, I will learn, is her color—it is also braided through her hair. It’s a fitting color, too, since Toro exudes a confidence most women dream of, walking with a quiet power and grace along the halls of this marketing agency that focuses on promoting consumers’ well-being.
An Integrated Producer at SSW, as it’s known, Toro is responsible for managing several in-house projects at once. She gives me a tour, spending time in the photo and design studio, where she loves to check in on photography and design projects that stir her creativity. Here, and by occasionally doing voice-overs for the company’s recorded media projects, she feels inspired.
We sit and chat at her desk, sprinkled with notes from co-workers—my favorites say ’Toro, you are good at getting dressed’ and ‘Toro Pump Time' with a little drawing of a woman looking tough. Because when she is not at SSW, Toro is a certified Bodypump (a low-weight, high-repetition weightlifting class) and Bodycombat (a non-contact, high-energy workout inspired by martial arts) instructor at gyms in New York.
Graduating college without a job, the gym became Toro’s routine. An instructor noticed her technique and asked if she’d consider teaching. She did, and stuck with it even after getting hired at office jobs she ultimately did get. Not having a job after college also led Toro to start her own marketing and PR strategy business,Toro Communications, which she continues to maintain as well. Working with boutique arts companies across New York, she has been able to get them press in places like The New York Times.
Soon, Toro swaps her red heels for sneakers, her office attire for workout clothes, as she goes to teach Bodypump. She would love to move to Thailand for a while and get her massage therapy and yoga certification in one go. “There’s more to life than this, you know?” she says, tapping her foot on the concrete for emphasis.
She puts her braids in a bun and arrives in a room full of women who have already begun setting up barbells, mats, and towels. In her nearly three years as an instructor, Toro has developed a following of sorts, with people coming specifically to take a class with her even when she teaches at different locations. Some of her regulars are here, and she greets them by name, also introducing herself to people she doesn’t know, before putting on vibrant, bass heavy music and setting up her own equipment. Preferring not to be just a voice, Toro does all the exercises along with her class.
“This is not supposed to be easy!” she says to the class over the music as they lift first barbells then weight plates then themselves. “Your body will thank you later!” Sweat drips down her face, somehow with the same grace and power as before.