MEET LAUREN McHALE
Being passionate about fitness is not something that I was born with. It is something I have grown into. I remember those early years of having to be pried out of bed before swim meets, throwing tantrums over early soccer games on Saturdays, and crying during basketball practice when my coach was too hard on me. Yet, I persisted. I continued to show up, put in the work, and develop as an athlete. If you were in the pool or on the court with me, you might not know that I was also facing some pretty heavy challenges at home.
My mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was sixteen years old, but her condition worsened from the time I was about 4-years-old until I was a young adult. As her condition worsened, it was very difficult to not let this circumstance define what I could and could not do with my life. As I watched my mother struggle to get well, I learned that being happy and feeling good about yourself and your life isn’t always easy. Throughout this experience, being a multi-sport athlete is what helped keep me grounded and focused.
Although it was no one’s fault, I was often left confused, sad, and helpless. As a young child and teenager, there weren’t many people to talk to about what was happening or resources to better understand what I was going through. Thankfully, there was one place that did make me feel better.
I first started practicing yoga when I was 13-years-old with my mother. What started as a way to spend quality time together eventually helped me realize I had a deeper spiritual connection to my practice. I decided to conclude my athletic career in college because I believed I had another calling—to become a broadcast journalist—and this became my primary focus.
I had a lot of fun as an entertainment industry intern. I was able to work on many different productions for shows like “The Daily 10” and “The Soup” at E! Entertainment, and eventually I was hosting a show on KCAL Los Angeles called “California Adventure TV.” It was perfect on paper; however, this drive and determination left a void in my life. I was still practicing yoga regularly and working out at the gym, but there was something lacking and I began to feel unfulfilled. I realized that I needed to refocus and make some major changes to my routine.
My low point was when my grandfather passed away just a few months before I graduated from Loyola Marymount University. My grandfather had always been my rock throughout the ups and downs of my life and this eventually led to weight gain and depression. I felt lost, alone, and completely confused when it came to answering the question, “what are you going to do with your life?” I was no longer happy spending hours in my car driving to shoot segments for my show, and I knew that I needed to turn my life around.
My physical, emotional, and mental health became a priority, and soon what began as a mental shift turned into a complete lifestyle change. I remembered how being an athlete helped get me through some of the most difficult times in my life, so I knew that was where I had to start. My first step was to stop drinking diet sodas and start adding vitamin and mineral supplements to my water. This somewhat minor shift in diet and perspective caused a snowball effect that eventually led me to apply for a part time receptionist job at a spinning and yoga studio in Venice Beach. I lived nearby and walked past the open-door spin studio frequently, but never dared to enter. I remember glancing inside and thinking, “that looks absolutely miserable.” Ironically, I was the miserable one. So, one day I decided to throw myself into a world I knew nothing about and honestly, terrified me.
My first class completely destroyed me, but it also reignited a flame within my heart and I wanted more. I was working the front desk and riding almost every day. Eventually I went through instructor training and I was on the road to becoming the instructor that I am today.
As a full-time SoulCycle instructor, I have learned that strength and inspiration come in all different forms. I have trained experienced athletes working on changing up their workout regimen, held rider’s sweaty hands while they cry through high-intensity training, and spent quality time with clients who use endorphin highs to heal their hearts and strengthen their minds. Going to the gym is one thing, but having a coach and a community that pushes, motivates, and supports one another is what really makes being an athlete such a deeply spiritual experience.
We don’t have to treat our challenges as deep dark secrets; rather, the strength we gain when we overcome obstacles in our lives should remind us that we are capable of more than we may think.
Witnessing my mother’s battle with mental illness taught me that having a strong support system and the ability to lean on others during our darkest times has the power to teach us that we are truly stronger than we believe. When it comes to facing the circumstances of your life and not allowing them to get in the way of your health and happiness, that is where I come in.
Certified in Yoga for Athletes and by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), my mission is to help others accomplish their physical, mental, and emotional goals through fitness and community outreach.
You can find my full SoulCycle teaching schedule, subscribe to my personal blog, or use the contact page to inquire about private yoga sessions and upcoming events.
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