Peloton’s Kendall Toole on Mental Health Defense

Kendall Toole is ready for a break.

No, die-hard Peloton fans, that doesn’t mean the beloved cycling and shadowboxing instructor is walking away from the studio, so feel free to catch your breath. But while Toole and I chatted via Zoom the first week of October, she was preparing for a weekend without social media — just an intentional tactic she’s implementing to protect her sanity.

“This weekend, I’m going off the grid,” the 29-year-old California native says. “I love everyone, but I’m calming down and coming back to social media when I want to come back.”

It’s also important to ask people how they’re really doing — give some vulnerability and watch yourself receive it in return. This is how we are all going to heal, but we have to do it together.

This kind of delineation is somewhat new to Toole, who, along with his fellow Peloton instructors, has become a household name (and face) over the past few years. Since joining the company in 2019, in addition to guiding thousands of people through their daily workouts, Toole has become one of the platform’s most outspoken mental health advocates. She promotes awareness and offers resources in a variety of themed courses and shares her personal experience with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts in an Instagram Live series which she has dubbed ” Cats on the Green”. But it wasn’t until recently that Toole realized that all of this energy production — as fulfilling as it can be personally and professionally — requires some serious rest so she can maintain her own sanity.

“The bigger things get, the more I need to recharge my battery,” she says. “I always show up 100% because I know what a joy it is to be at this place in my life – even on the hard days I’m grateful. But now I appreciate the rest and being a hermit – I accept it! I know I need it, and I’m not ashamed of it anymore.”

In addition to deliberately withdrawing from strenuous activities when she needs a break, Toole has also reinforced her commitment to mental health by taking on work projects that align with her values. In addition to being an ambassador for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Toole has collaborated with brands like Revo and Spiritual Gangster, both of which donate a portion of proceeds from her collections to the nonprofit. for Mental Health Bring Change to Mind. Toole teamed up with the latter again, this time also bringing Peloton Apparel to the party. Kendall Toole’s Peloton x Spiritual Gangster collection features references to Toole’s iconic phrase (“they can knock you down, but they can never knock you down”) and symbols that she says are meant to serve as helpful reminders for stay in the fight, no matter what life may throw at us.

“The prospect of the three of us working together was really exciting and it made sense,” she says. “We wanted the message of what we were doing to be so ingrained that when people put the clothes on it was like armor. I’m sure there are some days when we’re softer and not as tough. It there’s something powerful about putting on clothes that have a message, so when you have a moment, you can look at the sleeve of the green sweatshirt, and it says “never knocked out,” and you can be like , ‘Wait, I have this. I just wanted people to remember their own power within, and I hope when they wear it, they feel it.”

Since Peloton Studios in New York officially reopened this summer after a two-year closure, Toole has had the opportunity to meet throngs of loyal fans who have not only supported her career endeavors, but also considered her as a source of strength and inspiration. “It’s an emotional exercise after class because you have such joy and an energetic high, and then all of a sudden someone is going to give you their heart and share this battle they’re going through,” says -she. “You hear about everything from miscarriages to marriages to building a family, loss, grief and joy – you recognize how life is lived. I was already a very empathetic person, but now i look at everyone and i understand i know nothing about their world and nothing about what they went through but i know it matters i really feel like this place has made me a better human being, and I’m grateful for that.

As her star continues to rise, Toole is more determined than ever to use her platform to normalize mental health conversations and showcase vulnerability as strength. Case in point: She frequently uses social media and class time to draw attention to the 988 mental health crisis hotline that was recently launched in the United States. “It’s not just a suicide prevention line, it’s also for those who need to know how to help a friend,” she says. “Data collected on how many people need and access this support will drive action and change. It’s also important to ask people how they’re really doing – give some vulnerability and watch yourself receive it in back. This is how we’re all going to heal, but we have to do it together.”

Given the emotional intensity of his work and his growing visibility in the public eye, Toole now takes his privacy and downtime more seriously than ever – hence the occasional social media hiatus. “Peloton has provided the opportunity to have these very deep relationships in a very deep, soul-to-soul way, and that calls me to be at the highest possible level and to be honest with myself and to care of me,” she says. “All the things that we do throughout the day – building a business and a brand, being part of people’s lives and creating content and giving, giving, giving, giving – I had to learn to receive. And I’m working on it; it’s a work in progress, but it’s very important.”

Image source: Courtesy of Peloton

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