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#AskMcHale: Handling Self-Criticism


#AskMcHale: Handling Self-Criticism


"I'd love to know how you deal with your own self-critical mind, if you have that issue... Stopping yourself from being too hard on yourself, etc. Thanks!!"

Being my own worst critic is something I have dealt with my entire life. I have always been a self-starter and relentlessly independent when trying to accomplish a goal with excessively high expectations set for myself; however, when I receive criticism or feedback about myself or my hard work, no matter how constructive, I have a hard time showing myself the same compassion I would show to anyone else in the same situation.

It can feel like self-inflicted emotional abuse at times.

When this happens I get really quiet and everything around me starts to blur. All I can hear is my own voice telling me that I f*cked up and I should feel ashamed about it. This self-criticism can take many forms, like when someone pays me a compliment and I somehow turn it around and feel bad about myself because of it....

I'll never forget when my boyfriend told me that I was having "beginners luck" when we first started dating (this is my first serious relationship) because I was doing such a good job at "trying to be a good girlfriend." Of course I didn't take this compliment to heart the way he intended; instead, I started beating myself up about it, wondering what I was doing that was signaling to him that I was trying to be a good girlfriend. Isn’t that something that comes naturally or am I changing how I act and not being my true self because I’m in a relationship now? Does he like me for me or the version of me that I am trying to be so that I am a good girlfriend? Why is the idea of trying to be a better version of myself making me feel bad?

I had taken a perfectly sweet compliment and turned it into a whirlwind of self doubt.

Sometimes when I'm getting ready to teach my SoulCycle classes, I can get caught up in my head and question whether I have enough energy and inspiration to give to my riders and I worry about letting them down. As you can imagine, it can be extremely intimidating trying to meet the expectations of a large room full of different personalities all at once.

The days when this struggle seems the hardest—when that self-critical voice gets too loud—I have to take a step back and reassess my attitude and perception of what's really happening. What is the story I'm making up in my head and what is the truth? I try to remember how hard I have worked to get where I am and trust that I wouldn't be here—I wouldn't be allowed to put on a microphone and teach a SoulCycle class in the first place—if this wasn't exactly where I was supposed to be. I remind myself to trust that The Universe will always guide me to where I need to be, even when that road seems relentlessly challenging. I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Be where you say you are. I make a conscious choice to flip the script in my head and choose words of strength and empowerment rather than hurtful banter.

I invest my energy in faith, rather than fear.

It's our responsibility to ourselves—to our sanity—to choose to see the positive side of any challenge or unexpected obstacle that we face. Setting high expectations for ourselves is a sign of good self-esteem and ambition, so if things don't go the way you want, trust that any setback is really just a setup for a comeback.

The words you use to describe how you feel create the reality you live in, so give yourself space to reevaluate the internal dialogue you are choosing to use to describe what you're experiencing and do your best to keep your words positive and motivating. When you notice that you're beating yourself up or being too hypercritical of yourself, make an effort to shift your perspective. Heightened emotions can be blinding. Take a deep breath and remind yourself about something that genuinely makes you feel happy and proud of who you are then come back to the situation with a new attitude and a clear, open mind.

If you notice that you're the only one being hard on yourself, talk to someone you trust—someone completely uninvolved with the issue at hand who can give you a reality check...

When I was going through the SoulCycle instructor training program, there were several days when I would leave the studio feeling extremely self-critical about my performance. Luckily at that time one of my closest friends, Sibyl, was also living in Manhattan, so she became my safety net when I knew I was being too hard on myself and needed someone confide in.


That's the power of true friendship... it doesn't matter where you are or how long its been since you've seen each other, when you need them they are there for you. One day after telling Sibyl about how I felt like I had completely failed at my first day of training drills, she laughed in my face the only way a true friend would. She consoled me, reminded me that I was going to be OK once I learned from the situation and corrected my mistake, then we indulged in a night of champagne and reality television.

One of the reasons why I truly believe people love SoulCycle so much is because it provides a sense of belonging to something much greater than just the outlines of our bodies. We feel supported, loved, and safe when we ride together and this experience can be incredibly healing. When you're feeling too self-critical, take a step back and do something that makes you happy. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and trust that time will always move you through whatever emotional slump you face. A fresh perspective on the situation can provide the clarity you seek.

You are stronger than you think you are.

What do YOU do to alleviate feelings of self-doubt or criticism? Please share your story, leave a comment and check out my SoulCycle schedule in San Francisco this week!

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#AskMcHale: Your Crotch and You


#AskMcHale: Your Crotch and You

“I’ve been riding at Soul and obviously love it, but what I don’t love is the irritated skin in the crotch area. I’ve gotten rashes, ingrown hairs, the works (and I know I’m not alone!). What’s the best way to treat this and prevent it from happening again? Also, is shaving or waxing a good or bad addition to this?”

The struggle can be really real with this one and this is such an important topic to discuss. I have tried many different cleansing, moisturizing and repair routines throughout my teaching career so I am happy to help.

When it comes to your crotch’s relationship with the SoulCycle saddle—and it is definitely an intimate one—it takes a good amount of riding before your pelvic floor is strong enough to maintain a subtle lift from the saddle during seated intervals. The longer and more consistently you ride, the less impact on your crotch, which is why we recommend gel seats for beginners. I can’t speak for men, so I’m hoping we can get some male input on this, but as far as your lady bits are concerned, I recommend using a cleansing cloth that works well with your skin type immediately after class, followed by applying tea tree oil to prevent ingrown hairs then changing into clean, dry clothes. If you already have ingrown hairs, the tea tree oil is also great for spot treating those areas. Using coconut oil to moisturize the area also works wonders, but if you’re already suffering from a rash, Aquaphor is the way to go (before and after class).


When it comes to shaving versus waxing, it's really a personal preference based on your comfort level but I do not recommend riding less than a few hours after getting a wax because the area needs time to heal.

Do you have another skin saving/healing regimen? Please share your tips and tricks by leaving a comment below and check out my SoulCycle schedule in San Francisco this week!

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"Why SoulCycle?"


"Why SoulCycle?"


This is by far the most common question I'm asked and sometimes I feel like there are so many different ways to tell the same story but the point is, I gave myself permission to change my mind and redirect my life completely in 2013. In May of 2011 I graduated magna cum laude from Loyola Marymount University with a B.A. in Communication Studies and a Pre-Journalism Certificate. I had been working in television for about three years and had finally moved up the ladder to become the on-camera host for "California Adventure TV" on KCAL Channel 9 in Los Angeles. To everyone around me, I was living my dream. All of my hard work at various internships ("Good Day LA," "The Soup" and "The Daily 10" at E! Entertainment) had paid off and now I had set myself on a trajectory towards becoming a successful broadcast journalist...

old headshot

The truth is I was miserable.

Between work and school, my schedule was stacked with research papers, conducting interviews and writing articles for the CATV magazine, driving to shoots all over Southern California and somehow making time for a social life. My health was no longer a priority and other than the few yoga classes I was able to take at school every week, I was gaining weight, eating poorly and feeling terrible about myself. This was of course made worse due to the fact that my job was to see myself on television everyday. I couldn't hide from the fact that I was unhappy and it showed from the inside out.

At the same time I found out that I was nominated to apply to be valedictorian of my graduating class, my grandfather's battle with cancer was worsening and the initial grieving process began. My grandparents were very hands-on raising me, and losing my grandpa was the most overwhelming loss I had ever experienced. As you can imagine, writing an inspiring speech for thousands of graduates felt impossible. How could I offer a message of encouragement when all I felt was overwhelming sadness?

One of the last times I saw my grandpa smile was when he heard about my nomination, but I was never able to write that speech.


My grandfather passed away three months before graduation and I was completely devastated. Nothing could fill the void I felt in my heart, but eventually we had to "buck up," move forward and acknowledge that life was going to be different from now on—without him.

It was a far cry from a seamless transition for me, but I inevitably had to return to work.

My aunt Diane offered to take me shopping.

We pulled into Nordstrom Rack and my aunt reminded me about why we were there: "We are here for professional, business attire—no hippie outfits should hang on your body, not hug it... It's ok to go up a size if it makes it more flattering." I was bored and humiliated by what I was doing. Trading in my free-spirited style for gray skirt suit sets in sizes that reminded me of how far I had fallen. I held back tears of disappointment as I looked at myself in the mirror.

It felt like I had given up. I was pursuing the same dream but it was no longer making me happy and I wasn't excited about the new phase of my life that these clothes represented. It felt like I was settling on a dream that was no longer mine.

When I returned to LA I decided I needed to take a step back and reevaluate the structure of my daily routine. Once school was out of the picture, I called my contact at a yoga and indoor cycling studio in Venice Beach and asked if they were hiring a receptionist. She said yes and I was invited to start taking classes for free. I had been practicing yoga for many years at that point, but indoor cycling was completely new to me.

I had to walk out and throw up after my first class, but something much greater than vomit was also manifesting.


I kept coming back, over and over, week after week until I was finally confident enough to ride in the front, cheer as loud as I could and crank up that resistance so much that I could barely move the next day. I was addicted to the feeling of being alive again and I finally felt like there was no limit to how strong I could become.

My indoor cycling instructors helped me believe that I still had more to give to others and myself, even in the depths of despair after losing my grandpa and feeling professionally lost. I could still find light in the darkness; a glimpse of happiness from the pain. Every pedal stroke truly felt like a breakthrough; I was finally being the person I was put on this Earth to be and my grandpa was there, cheering me on as he had been since I was born—helping me push past my physical limitations and fight for greatness.

During his final days, my grandpa would always tell us to "buck up," and as frustrating as that was to hear, I finally started to understand why he didn't want us to waste our energy on feeling sad. Life—real, painful life was happening, and no amount of sadness could keep my grandpa alive—but that didn't mean we were allowed to play the victim and give up. Finally, I had the fresh perspective I needed to fight for myself again.

After six months of working at the front desk I was offered free instructor training while there was all this buzz about a New York based indoor cycling studio expanding on the West Coast.

SoulCycle had two locations in LA at that time, West Hollywood and Brentwood, so when my girl Gina Heekin came back from instructor training I was both eager and terrified to take her class. What was so special about SoulCycle? Why were my employers so angry about it? Why did my favorite instructors want to teach there instead? Obviously all of these questions and much more were answered after taking that first class with Gina. I walked in feeling so confident having been teaching for a handful of months at that point, but that class destroyed me in the best way. I laughed, I cried, but most of all I felt like I belonged to a community full of strong, courageous, loving people and that was exactly what I needed.

It was physical, emotional, mental and hard as hell.

Even though I struggled through that first class, Gina didn't hesitate telling me that I should audition. She told me that I would have to move to New York, that the training program would break me down before building me back up, but that it would also be worth it. We didn't go into too many details but I started riding regularly to prepare for my audition. I was still shooting segments for CATV at this point, but there was a huge shift in focus that many of my friends and family had a hard time understanding. My family saw teaching as a temporary gig while I looked for a position at a news station, but the truth was I was giving my whole heart to SoulCycle and trusting that The Universe would guide me through this transition.

I soon received an email from my employers about their new policy regarding SoulCycle:

"If we hear that you are riding or auditioning at SoulCycle, you will be fired immediately and banned from our studios."

The message was clear but I wasn't going to let them scare me out of doing what I knew I had to do. I auditioned in West Hollywood about a month after receiving this email. When I told my employer that I had accepted an offer to move to NYC for SoulCycle instructor training, her response was a testament to why I was making this decision in the first place:

"Lauren, I thought your career goals was to be in TV... so you are giving up your true goal for an ego move."

There it was, the grammatically incorrect closure I needed.

Sometimes we have to make a choice for ourselves, even if no one else understands, so we can live a life that truly makes us happy and that we are proud of. Sometimes I think about this email exchange and the things I was told before I went to that SoulCycle audition and I am so thankful that I didn't allow anyone else's negative opinions to hold me back from making the choices I did.

What's more, I can't help but think about the valedictorian speech I was never able to write and the fact that now I have the privilege of putting on a microphone and speaking to 40-65 people at a time, 15 times a week, as a full-time SoulCycle instructor. I've realized that the darkest times in our life can also provide us with the clarity that we need to grow into the people that we truly want to be. I miss my grandpa everyday, but its the lessons he taught me that I use to inspire people in every class I teach.

What challenges have YOU faced that have helped you become the person you are today? What darkness have you experienced that helped direct you toward the light? Please share your story, leave a comment and check out my SoulCycle schedule in San Francisco this week!

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