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Kendall: Both things happened, and it was never part of my plan. I was a big three and five-year planner, or so I thought in high school and college. Sure enough, the joke was on me. The older you get, the more you realize you can make a plan, but there's a bigger plan that just ends up evolving anyway. My boxing coach opened a studio in LA and asked me to teach classes. At the time, I was broke in LA so I decided to try it out. After a year and a half of teaching those boxing classes, Peloton slid into my DMs and I auditioned. I got the job and had to move to NYC in a week - I’ll never forget the day I got the call. It was a gorgeous California day, and my phone rings - it was Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby, who said, "Hey Boo! You got the job. Can you move in a week?" So it just kind of fell into my lap in many ways, and here we are now!
Kendall: I teach two types of classes: fitness first and music-based rides. For fitness first, I focus on essential training principles and accommodate multiple skill levels in one class. It can be challenging to create a plan that works for everyone but I give ranges and encourage people to honour their limits, while pushing themselves to their own personal best. As a woman, I also understand the importance of adapting workouts to my body's needs during different times of the month. When it comes to music-based classes, the playlist is key. I love to ride to a beat drop or a chorus and feel the music in my soul. With a bike, even people who don't consider themselves confident dancers can feel the rhythm because their feet are clipped in and I give them the exact cadence to follow.
This creates a sense of alignment and satisfaction that brings everyone in the class together and helps them gain confidence.
Kendall: What’s cool is that if there's music in a class, we [Peloton instructors] pick it ourselves. We have an incredible music team that constantly provides us with fresh tracks and works hard on licensing deals so we can play them. When choosing music, I'm always on the lookout for new tracks and thinking about how to weave a story into my playlist. It's important to know when to give riders a break or ramp up the intensity. When it comes to ending a class, I always try to finish on a high note with an empowering and energizing track.
Kendall: I have struggled with mental health for a long time, dealing with anxiety, depression and OCD. I even contemplated taking my life during my senior year of college. It was a dark time, but getting help and having the support of my family was crucial. There's this idea that asking for help and not being able to be this independent, self-sufficient person means you're less than worthy. For a long time I hid my struggles out of shame, but when I started teaching at Peloton, I realized I had a responsibility to use my platform to raise awareness about mental health.
I started sharing my story and teaching mood rides, like anxious and sad rides, to help people who may be struggling. I feel that my mental health and all of the hell that I went through have become my superpower.
There's a level of empathy, love and compassion that I have for people because I know what it's like to be in such a dark space, and I just want to see people thrive. I want people to see how brilliant, special and important it is that they're here right now.
Kendall: Yes, and my fitness philosophy has evolved through the years, especially in college, when I was going through a difficult time mentally and was not able to vocalize what that feeling was. Fitness became an escape for me and allowed me to take control and feel my power. I could shut my mind off during workouts and escape negative thoughts. To me, fitness is all about building a deeper connection with myself. Of course, growing up in the society that we live in and looking at magazines, especially during the time that I grew up, Photoshop was everywhere. I remember this Ralph Lauren ad where they Photoshopped a model's waist so small. I had that photo in my school binder, thinking I had to look like that. I eventually learned to prioritize fitness as a way to connect with myself rather than striving for an unrealistic body image. Boxing played a significant role in this shift as it helped me discover a unique connection within myself that I had never felt before.
Kendall: This is advice I still need to give myself, but it is to remove expectations as much as possible. It's difficult because we live in a world where we compare ourselves to others constantly and get feedback from social media and "likes" which create an expectation of validation and change. Investing in yourself every day with discipline and self-love is key. It's important to give yourself grace and understand that it's a lifelong process. Don't punish yourself if you don't see the changes you expected.
Celebrate every small victory and focus on tapping into your inner power. Self-love and self-empowerment are what will create real changes in you.
Kendall: Well, there's one thing I do that people may know about. I started when I moved to New York City and got the job. Before class, I drink an intense cold brew to get a little jolt of adrenaline, even though I hate coffee. It's not enjoyable, but it does the trick. I also always stretch a little bit and take a little prayer moment to clear my head before I teach. I remind myself to trust the process and let whatever is supposed to be said come out of me. I think that always helps to take the pressure off. During a class, you have eight cameras and thousands of people watching live, so it's easy to get in your head, especially when I first started teaching. Realizing and trusting the process helps, as does a couple of swigs of cold brew, depending on the day and class.
Kendall: I love what I do now and want to keep doing it as long as I can. I went to film school at USC and have always wanted to produce and create TV and film content. Just for fun, I'd love to do vocals on an EDM track and have a podcast chatting with friends about pop culture and real-life topics. I'm grateful to have designed capsule collections of clothing and want to continue to do that while continuing to build and create things that empower people. The sky's the limit, and I'm excited about that. I like that I've rejected trying to control things with a five or three-year plan. I've learned you can make the plan and it happens anyway. So I'm just looking forward to seeing what opportunities come across.
Kendall: This summer is going to be an epic one! I'm excited to be filming something special and I have a fun plan in the works with a good friend of mine. Plus, we have some awesome Peloton content coming your way. It's going to be a summer to remember!
Kendall Toole continues to shatter boundaries and challenge expectations. With her unwavering commitment to self-love and empowerment, she is an inspiration and a shining example of what it means to never let anyone knock you down. For more, check out her collaboration with Spiritual Gangster, follow her on social media at @kendalltoole, or check out her classes on Peloton.
This interview has been shortened for brevity.
If you or someone you know is in need of support, it’s OK to ask for help.
If you are struggling with mental health please visit:
CANADA: Government of Canada
Need someone to talk to?
CANADA: Call 1-833-456-4566
USA: Call 1-800-273-8255
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