How Being a Fitness Instructor Changed My Life | SoulCycle

How Becoming a Fitness Instructor has Changed My Life

Growing up, I’ve always been an athlete (I actually played soccer in college), but I never expected that I’d revolutionize my life through fitness — starting in my late-20’s, no less.

cheetah-sneakers

My life has pivoted in a lot of ways since I made a gigantic career (/lifestyle) switch from my corporate job to the fitness industry — from beauty routines to sleep habits and can’t-live-without laundry detergent. (Yes, really.)

So, today, I’m sharing 14 things I’ve learned and a few of the ways my life has changed since becoming a fitness instructor:

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First, though, a quick cliff notes-style back-story in case you’re not familiar:

When I moved to New York a few years ago, Jess encouraged me to try this amazing workout called SoulCycle. A fast-and-sweaty 45 minutes later, I was hooked – and now, more than three years later – here I am, as an Instructor for the company. (The back-story on that/my SoulCycle journey is detailed here.)

athleisure-outfit-adidas-sneakers

Let’s get to it:

  • I eat constantly. I don’t eat right before I teach, but if there’s time in the morning, I’ll start the day with something light and carb-y (like eggs with avocado smeared on sprouted grain toast). Post-class, I go for something protein-packed, like a Quest bar or a smoothie. I’ll take the time to make a salad when I can, or top rice cakes with (more) avocado or almond butter and banana. “Toast” toppers are my jam! Dinners are usually zucchini noodles (you need a spiralizer), turkey burgers or grilled chicken with sweet potatoes. And wine, of course — I don’t deprive myself. Remember: What you put in your body matters just as much — if not more — than the exercise you give it!
  • My nap game is strong. SO strong. Especially if I’m teaching multiple classes per day, I typically have to nap. And I know it’s nerdy, but I’m strategic about it: The optimal time for a power nap is around 28 minutes, which allows you to rest without entering into deep sleep, which will leave you feeling even more tired when you wake up. Our average sleep cycles are around 90 minutes, so you either want to take a 25-30 minute nap, or — if you can — a 90-minute nap. The latter will allow your body to go into REM sleep, which makes up for lost sleep and will leave you feeling really refreshed.

bloggers wearing athleisure tennis shoes sneakers

  • I’m always doing laundry. Like, four times a week. Tide Sport is a total game-changer — and literally the only detergent I can use. If you are constantly washing sweaty, smelly workout clothes, too, I’d recommend it. (And no, I wasn’t paid to say this.)
  • I don’t wash my hair everyday. I used to, since I have such baby-fine hair and it always gets greasy. (A hair-related post about my everyday routine/tutorial can be found here.) The best trick I’ve learned, though, is powder dry shampoo. Rub a generous amount between your palms (you can use baby powder, too) and run through your damp hair, then blast your head with a blow dryer and you’re out the door. Works like a charm!
  • My shoes are much more functional. I used to be able to run all over town in six-inch stilettos, but now it’s typically Nike’s, New Balances’s or bust. (Well, okay – sometimes… On weekdays. A girl’s got to have a reason to wear her snake-skin lace-up pumps, right?) Per a reader request, I’ll be sharing more about where I actually shop for athletic-inspired gear and workout wear later this week, but here’s a few of my favorite kicks in the interim:

*Click to shop:

(Most often, I’m in my classic, neon NB’s or Nike Flyknits.)

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new-balance-574-tidepool

  • I am always listening to music. This one isn’t much of a change for me personally, but I am always – and I mean always – researching new music. Making playlists is the best and also most challenging aspect of my job; it’s kinda like blogging in that you’ve got to keep your content (jams) fresh, relevant, unique and interesting. I’m usually plugged into my Beats headphones when I’m walking, traveling or working. And, yes, I’m that girl that’s going to politely interrupt you during your story at the bar so that I can Shazaam whatever is playing in the background. You’ll thank me! (And you can follow my music on Spotify or Soundcloud.)

rebecca-minkoff-mab-backpack

*Shop my backpack

  • I spend more time offline. You know this by now given a few of the consistency changes in content around corals + cognacs, but as my lifestyle has shifted to being more about moving my body and connecting with people, I’ve come to value my offline life more and more every single day. I encourage you to do the same — Instagram and blogging are wonderful communities, but don’t get too caught up playing the comparison game in the digital world. Live your life!
  • I need time for mental recovery. Being a group fitness instructor is a very unique, dynamic way to help, train and work with people. It’s unbelievably rewarding, but you really have to multitask — between music, choreography, every single person in the room and so much more. Energy is a key component — and the Instructor is responsible for guiding it. A lot of raw emotion comes out in class– whether you’re teaching or riding —  and I mean that in an awesome, therapeutic way. Soul riders, you know!
  • I do something active — beyond SoulCycle — every day. Lots of people say things like, “You’re so lucky you can work out for a living.” Sure, I suppose. But that’s actually the least of it — As the Instructor, class isn’t about you; it’s about everyone else in the room. So while getting my sweat on 10-16 times on the bike each week is great, it’s the stuff outside of the studio that really makes a difference. I like yoga at CorePower or HIIT workouts at Shred415 (with my friend & favorite instructor, Kate). Honestly, just aim to do something active every day, no matter what — get a Fitbit and be better about walking. And sit less, if you can. It all adds up.

new-balance-shoes

*Shop my shoes

  • Foam rolling is just as important as stretching. Foam rollers kinda look like pool noodles, but they’re shorter and much more dense. Basically, they allow you to use your own bodyweight to stretch sore muscles and apply pressure to trigger points (“knots”), so it’s basically a simple, effective way to self-massage. I use mine every day — and if you don’t have foam roller, I’d encourage you to get one. (Here’s a few tips on how to use one.)
  • I know that if I feel “off,” I’m probably dehydrated. Same goes for you, my friend. Drink more water. Just do it. Your pre-workout habits are just as important as your actual workout, too.

smartwater
Last but certainly not least…

  • I’ve learned that your age, background or circumstance is just a mindset. I’m 29-years-old and I have only recently started my journey as a SoulCycle Instructor (about a year ago). None of it has been easy and I’ve had to overcome a lot of obstacles along the way — and you can too, whether it’s a career in fitness, your dream job or wherever else your mind wanders to often. Think about it — that’s where your passions lie!

I truly believe that if you stay active, keep learning and have a sense of humor about life, you can stay youthful as you age. Screw genetics, to hell with your busy schedule and get over your supposed lack of rhythm — the only person stopping you from getting into shape (or achieving that goal) is you.

Change your perspective and watch the rest of your life follow suit.

adidas-originals-sneakers-for-women

*Shop my shoes

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Click here to read more about my SoulCycle journey — and to come take a class with me, click here. As always, too, feel free to sound off with questions and feedback in the comments below!

Join the Convo:

  • I have to say that watching your journey has been so inspirational – loved reading this post!

    http://www.pennypincherfashion.com

    • Thanks so much, Kim! Hope things are going as well for you as they seem x

  • This is awesome, Hallie! It’s no surprise that so many positive things have come from you being an instructor, but you are seriously killin’ it! Everyone needs a little reminder to put Instagram away and just live life, so thank you 🙂

    PS: I always thought the ideal power nap time was 20 minutes, so am thrilled to know that that extra nine is highly encouraged!

  • Lauren

    The Tide Sport is going to be a game-changer! <3

  • That last line stings a bit – in a good way! I’m painfully aware that I need to change my perspective on a few things to get right in other areas of my life 🙂 As always, thank you for the reminder! I’m also glad to know that power naps are a-okay and that it’s okay if one of my best friends just so happens to be dry shampoo 😉

  • Love that part on staying youthful: Be active, keep learning and have a sense of humor about life. Great post!

    xo, Laura
    http://brightandbeautifulblog.com

  • I too, used to work in the corporate world every day, and am now a fitness trainer, instructor and blogger. My schedule is so much different these days — no regularity –, being that I teach in the mornings and evenings, so I have to be sure to really work smart during my “off” times from the gym so I can get everything I need to do done. And YES, casual and comfortable clothes, a lot of laundry, food, water and “prep time” for classes. I think it’s awesome that you’ve begun this journey and are loving it! Wish I could take your class in the Bay Area! I’ve only done SoulCycle once in SF, and it was quite the good time.

    • Thanks for sharing your story! So many similarities here. NAPS, girl. It’s all about those naps!

  • I’ve been waiting for a post like this!! Definitely resonate with appreciating offline life more – blogging can suck you in and the comparison game kills me. I love hearing more about your career change, though…looking at one for myself and it’s encouraging to hear what a positive experience it has been for you! XO

  • You may want to try Sport Suds! More gentle than tide and works just as well on sweaty stuff 🙂

    http://www.comfortablycasey.com

  • Meagan

    Great post! So glad you are happy and making your dreams come true!
    -Meg
    http://www.smalltownsisters.blogspot.com

  • This was a really encouraging post, I’ve always wanted to try SouCycle but it’s not offered in my area. One day I will though!

    Xo Ally

    http://www.allysoninwonderland.com

  • Love this post! I’m a fan of The Laundress sport wash and spray, have you tried it? The spray is phenom for double workout days when morning workout stinky clothes have to sit in the bag for a while. Your routine reminded me so much of Karyn’s, she’s my Soul guide in NYC and I just published a podcast featuring her. Thanks as always for sharing your REAL stories, lady.

    here it is, in case you’re interested: http://www.well-aware.co/well-aware-show-009-living-in-the-moment-with-karyn-nesbit-of-soul-cycle/

    I’d be so curious to hear about your biggest blocks when it comes to this journey. I think it’s endlessly helpful as someone whose mind wanders to other things (ahem yoga, wellness, etc.), like you mention, to know that we’re not alone in struggling with them.

    xox Linds

    • I’ll have to check out The Laundress — thank you! Spray sounds like something that’s right up my alley.

      I actually listened to your podcast with Karyn last week. It was so inspirational! Going to have to give it a second read.

      Miss running into you at Birch, my friend!

  • Love this post! You are the most real blogger I follow and I have loved keeping up with your journey here!

    I have always been so scared to take a cycling class – especially SOUL. I know it is mental, but I need to get over the hump and go try one! I love the way I feel post work out, but getting there is ALL the battle for me!

    I know it may sound silly, but I would love to hear about any mental blocks you have had when it comes to exercise.

    Thanks, Hallie!

    Emily
    http://www.deltachic.com

  • Joy

    Love this post! Great reflections. Where are those Leonard sneakers from?!

    • Thanks, girl! They’re Rebecca Taylor — really old/sold out everywhere. I’ll try to find a similar pair for you though!

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  • Jaime

    Love this post and your soul classes! It’s so encouraging as I too want to work in the fitness industry!

  • This is such a great post! You are truly inspiring, and I love when I get to see a little more into this side of your life. Keep doing you!

    Xx Taylor
    http://www.lightscameracatwalk.com

  • My mom gifted me a spiralizer last spring (just a handheld one for my teeny kitchen) and I am obsessed/convinced my friends and coworkers to get in on the zoodle action. If I work late and I’m ravenous, my go-to dinner is zucchini noodles with chopped tomato + a scoop of pesto. Also, I recently made a “skinny” Buffalo chicken zucchini noodle salad (https://instagram.com/p/7lHGfuC8uy/?taken-by=dcgirlinpearls) and it was pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

    Wow, I have a lot of feelings about spiralizing…Love this post, you’ve convinced me to get a foam roller!

    • Um, but can’t wait to try your buffalo chicken recipe. ON POINT! Thanks for sharing. (And yes, you need a foam roller!)

  • Lephan T

    I’m feeling inclined to tell you how inspirational your journey has been, thank you for sharing!! Your story is actually the reason why I tried Soul Cycle!

    I’ve actually been dying to take one of your classes, I must make that happen pronto!

    Cheers,

    LT

  • I love this post and really miss Soul Cycle! One needs to come to Omaha!

    Her Heartland Soul
    http://herheartlandsoul.com

  • Meg Hall

    I am so, so inspired by your perspective Hallie! I still remember our breakfast at LPQ (strawberry in your coffee…) and I am in awe of how much happiness you’ve found by following your heart. I miss you and I need to see you and Jess ASAP. Sending lots of love from CT 🙂

    • I’ll never forget it! [*Plop.*] Miss you and can’t wait to see you soon. I almost didn’t recognize your name/e-mail address! : ) x

  • Palmer

    Great post- you are the best! Thanks for making my first few weeks in Chi so much better, see you in class tomorrow! <3

    ps- my nap game needs no work, but after reading this post I DEFINITELY need to up my sneaker game….

    • You rock. So glad we crossed paths this year — soo much more memory-making to come!!! See you soon xx

  • Sincerely, Jennie

    I love this post! They’re actually ways I want my life to change, a reminder that just being more active can help get me there!

  • Great post! I have also learned that water cures that “blah” feeling, so I try to keep up with it throughout the day. And baby powder for fine, second-day hair is a must!

    Jamie
    http://www.treatsandtrendsblog.com/

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  • Loved reading this! Interesting about the foam rollers; I’ve been taking a pretty intense workout and they offer foam rollers which I always completely ignore because I have no idea what to do with them. I thought stretching afterwards was enough but many classes don’t do it well so I’m left to my own devices but I’ll definitelyt check the article you linked to if it’s important!

    http://asequinloveaffair.com

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  • Samantha

    Love this post. Where are your cheetah wedge sneakers from in the top photo?

    • They’re Rebecca Taylor! Old, though – I’ll see if I can find a similar pair to share. x

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  • Nancy

    I stumbled on your blog last night via soulcycle and I am sooo inspired by you. Very genuine, very sex in the city but also very real. LOVE IT! I like the depth and density of what being a woman is- you have truly embodied that. Thank you for sharing your life!

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  • Fionn

    Hello 🙂 may I know where’s the Adidas white sneakers from and what collection is that?

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