Kendall Toole is ready for a break.
No, diehard Peloton fans, that doesn’t mean the beloved cycling and shadowboxing instructor is stepping away from the studio, so feel free to resume breathing. But while Toole and I chat via Zoom the first week of October, she was prepping for a social media–free weekend — just one intentional tactic she’s implementing to protect her mental health.
“This weekend, I’m going off the grid,” the 29-year-old California native says. “I love everybody, but I’m peacing out, and I’ll get back to social media when I want to get back to it.”
It’s also important to ask people how they’re really doing — give a little bit of vulnerability and watch yourself receive it right back. That’s how we’re all going to heal, but we have to do it together.
This sort of boundary setting is somewhat new to Toole, who, along with her fellow Peloton instructors, has become a household name (and face) over the last few years. Since joining the company in 2019, in addition to leading thousands of people through their workouts every day, Toole has become one of the platform’s most outspoken mental health advocates. She promotes awareness and offers resources in a variety of themed classes and shares her personal experience with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts in an Instagram Live series she’s dubbed “Chats on the Green.” But only recently has Toole realized that all this energetic output — as personally and professionally fulfilling as it may be — requires some serious rest so she can preserve her own mental health.
“The more that things grow bigger, the more I need to recharge my battery,” she says. “I always show up 100 percent because I know what a joy it is to be in this place in my life — even on the tough days, I’m grateful for it. But now I value rest and being a hermit — I accept it! I know I need it, and I don’t feel ashamed of it anymore.”
Besides deliberately opting out of energy-draining activities when she needs a break, Toole has also bolstered her commitment to mental health by taking on work projects that align with her values. In addition to serving as 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 the proceeds from her collections to the mental health nonprofit Bring Change to Mind. Toole teamed up again with the latter, this time bringing Peloton Apparel to the party, too. The Peloton x Spiritual Gangster by Kendall Toole collection features references to Toole’s signature phrase (“they can knock you down, but they can never knock you out”) and symbols she says are meant to serve as purposeful reminders to stay in the fight, no matter what life may have in store.
“The prospect of all three of us working together was really exciting, and it just made sense,” she says. “We wanted the message of what we were doing to be so ingrained that when people put on the clothing, it was like armor. I’m a big believer that there are certain days when we’re softer and just not as tough. There’s something powerful about putting on clothing that has a message to it. So when you’re having a moment, you can look down at the sleeve on the green sweatshirt, and it says “never knocked out,” and you can be like, ‘Wait, I got this.’ I just wanted people to be reminded of their own inner power, and hopefully, when they wear it, they feel that way.”
Since Peloton Studios in New York City officially reopened its doors this summer after a two-year closure, Toole has had the opportunity to meet droves of loyal fans who have not only supported her career endeavors but also considered her 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 will pour their heart out to you and share this battle they’re going through,” she says. “You hear about everything from miscarriages to marriages to family-building to loss to grief to joy — you recognize how much life is lived. I was already a very empathic person, but now I look at everybody and understand that I know nothing of their world and nothing of what they’ve gone 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 committed than ever to using her platform to normalize conversations around mental health and portraying vulnerability as a strength. Case in point: she frequently uses social media and class time to bring attention to the 988 mental health crisis hotline that 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. “The data that’s collected around how many people need this support and access it will cause action and change. It’s also important to ask people how they’re really doing — give a little bit of vulnerability and watch yourself receive it right back. That’s how we’re all going to heal, but we have to do it together.”
Given the emotional intensity of her job and her increasing visibility in the public eye, Toole is now taking her privacy and downtime more seriously than ever — hence the occasional social media hiatuses. “Peloton has provided the opportunity to have these very profound relationships in a very deep soul-to-soul way, and it calls me to be the highest level that I can be and to be honest with myself and take care of myself,” she says. “All of the stuff that we do throughout the day — growing a business and a brand, being a part of people’s lives and creating content and giving, giving, giving, giving — I’ve had to learn how to receive. And I’m working on it; it’s a work in progress, but it’s very important.”
Image Source: Courtesy of Peloton