Peloton Star Kendall Toole on How Her Hair Gives a Hint to Class Difficulty — Plus, Why You Never See the Sweat
When it comes to styling her blonde curls, the Peloton coach jokes, "The higher the hair, the harder the class!"
When Peloton instructors clip into the Bike or step onto the mat to teach a class they planned out down to the second, they're as camera-ready as any actor getting ready to go on camera.
The key difference: Peloton instructors are responsible for their own glam, and it's got to last through a grueling workout.
For Bike and Pilates coach Kendall Toole, who joined the company in Sept. 2019, getting ready can be one of the most fun parts about planning her classes.
"I came from a mom who went to fashion science school. She would make every Halloween costume the way I wanted. So I blame my mom for a lot of it because she set a very interesting precedent," Toole, 28, tells PEOPLE.
Whether she's preparing for her head-banging metal rides (if you know, you know), a chill tropical house low impact or the beloved Artist Series classes, Toole puts plenty of thought into what she wears and how she does hair and makeup. Read on to see everything it takes to get ready to teach, plus an inside glimpse into the way Toole practices self-care once she gets off the Bike and mat.
Styling the Outfits
Toole has the most fun with fashion when she gets to teach an Artist Series class (which features songs from just one musician — she's done Gwen Stefani, Megan Thee Stallion and Billie Eilish-themed classes, among others). She goes all-out for the occasion but says she doesn't necessarily want to mimic the artist's exact style.
"My goal is, if they had a backup dancer, I would match their vibe [and] energy," Toole explains. "Just because I'm a nut and I love this so much, I actually make mood boards. I go through a lot of their recent images and interviews for inspiration."
For Toole's Gwen Stefani ride, she sported a Peloton-logo bra (the instructors are required to wear one piece of Peloton apparel in class) with thrifted plaid pants inspired by Stefani's No Doubt "Hey Baby" days.
"I ordered an outfit from Amazon but it got delivered to the wrong location and never showed up. I was kind of freaking out because I was like, '[Gwen Stefani] is my favorite human ever. I have to do this right and now this isn't going the way I planned.' I actually found a vintage store and I called up the girl to ask, 'What do you have that looks like Gwen Stefani? Do you have plaid pants?'" Toole says. "I randomly went in there two weeks before just to take a peek around because I love vintage shopping, and sure enough, that's where those pants were from. It was very stressful that day!"
When she channeled "Hot Girl Summer" rapper Megan Thee Stallion, Toole actually bought a sky blue tie-dye romper from the Megan Thee Stallion x Fashion Nova collaboration.
"That thing was so comfortable, I've actually worn it again," Toole says with a laugh.
On a regular day of teaching, Toole leans towards bright colors like blues, oranges and pinks, one-shoulder sports bras ("Now people kind of know me for that," she says) and fun prints including camo and leopard. She also communicates a message with her outfit choice. "If I'm wearing neon green, there's a mental health component. If I'm wearing a beanie, it's [a] pop punk emo [class]. That's a clue and our own way of communicating," she says.
The fitness guru also set the record straight regarding a big misconception: that the female Peloton instructors don't sweat!
"I definitely do sweat. Oh my God, so much! I found the more I cycle, I sweat differently," Toole admits. "I'm going to be honest, as a woman, sweat collects in certain spots and you always have to check."
She's noticed that lighter-colored leggings and sports bras tend to show sweat patches, so the fitness instructor asks for a helping hand in the Peloton studio when dressed in a neutral tone. "I do a sweat check in the lighter colors. And look, there are days when it happens and we all have jokes. One of the production assistants will be like, 'Oh, sweat check' and you just kind of put a towel in front and you're good," she says.
"People are like, 'You don't sweat.' I'm like, 'Oh my God, if you were there in person,'" Toole continues. "If you saw how gross and sweaty our mic belts are! I will say, great lighting will work miracles. There are two fans blowing on us. It's not as hot in the studio now that it's empty but once people come back, it gets hotter. But a lot of the sweat you don't notice is because we have great lighting our way."
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Of course, a career in fitness means maintaining a massive collection of workout gear. But with that comes the need to purge the old to make room for the new, which Toole says she does at least once every six weeks. "You have to edit, edit, edit, always. I don't have the space!" she says.
When the star's activewear is lightly worn or a gifted piece that's not quite her style, she donates it to a non-profit that promotes mental health for underserved communities and helps women start their own businesses. "I give a lot of my clothes [to them]. You feel kind of gluttonous when you have all of this excess and it's wonderful pieces. I'm like, 'I know it is going to a good place,'" Toole says.
Doing Her Hair
If you're trying to gauge the level of difficulty in one of Toole's classes, you can always reference her hairstyle. "I will usually say the higher the hair, the harder the class," she says.
Since Toole has natural curls, she prefers to wear it down. But that isn't always possible when she's coaching intense 2:1 tabata rides or heavy climbs. "The more chill the ride, the lower the hair will be. I try not to pull it back too much because I don't want to create breakage. But if you see Dutch braids, a braided high pony or the hair is completely off my neck, you've been warned," Toole says with a sneaky smile.
On a typical day, Toole arrives to the Peloton studios in N.Y.C. about 45 minutes to an hour before a class is scheduled to begin. She gets herself glammed there and admits that the beauty looks for early-morning rides tend to be a bit more spontaneous. "I'll be honest. On Sunday at 8:00 a.m. there are days I am like, 'We're going in a pony because your girl can't be bothered. It's too early,'" she says.
For a few Artist Series rides, Toole clipped in some extra-long blonde extensions, which led to a live hair malfunction while she taught her Gwen Stefani class.
"Halfway through I feel weight slipping. In the mirror I could see a piece of my shorter hair sticking out. I was kind of looking at the camera and said something like, 'Sometimes that hair just gets wild,' to indirectly ask [the production team to check it out]," Toole remembers.
They picked up on her hint and shot Toole an alert on her Peloton bike touch-screen that read, "FIX HAIR." As she called out cues on the live class which had over 11,000 members riding, Toole grabbed a few bobby pins next to her and twisted the hair into a bun. "You have bobby pins, hair ties and a backup microphone, God forbid anything happens, next to you. I stuffed bobby pins in and prayed to God we'd make it happen," Toole says. "It's so human. We've all been there."
When it comes to keeping her curls healthy, Toole likes to wash it about two times a week and in between, she swears by dry shampoo. "Before every ride I pull my hair up and spray dry shampoo all around the crown and nape of my neck — anywhere sweat collects," she says. "It soaks it all up. When you get off, quick hit it with a blow dryer and a little more dry shampoo. I kid you not, it soaks up all the sweat and prevents frizz."
She slathers hair oil on her ends before teaching, too. "Sweat is so salty and it strips the hair dry," Toole says. "Especially if you have colored hair like me: Put some type of protective oil at the ends!"
Putting On Makeup
Even though Toole teaches in front of a camera, she prefers to keep makeup minimal — yet locked in — while on the Bike. "I try not to do full coverage foundation because with the sweat, it can start to kind of clog up my pores," she says. Instead, she leans towards a BB Cream, Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer (she also loves Maybelline New York Fit Me) and keeps her base in place with her holy grail powder from Sweat Cosmetics. "It locks it all in," Toole says.
She draws attention to her eyes with her ride-or-die mascara that never smudges: Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara. "There's nothing worse than it running and this never does," Toole says. "I've never once had a racoon moment under my eyes. Plus, I feel like it has helped my lashes grow. I'm obsessed."
As for her lips, the Peloton pro loves a good affordable find. "I'm a drugstore beauty type of girl. If it's cheap and easy, I'll do it," Toole says.
Mauve nude hues that look like her "lip color but a little bit elevated" are Toole's favorite. The star's current go-to's? "I love Wet 'N Wild MegaLast Matte Lipstick in Rebel Rose. I also love NYX Cosmetics Slim Lip Pencil in Mauve," she says.
Hydrate and Refresh
Right after clipping out, self-care is a top priority for Toole — and she urges the same for Peloton users, too. "The first thing off the Bike is a head rush. The energy is on another level, kind of like coming down from a wave. I always towel off and chug whatever is left in my water bottle. For any given 40 minutes of time I have two water bottles to stay hydrated," she says.
Since Toole likes to connect with riders on Instagram Live post-class ("It helps me relax!") there isn't always time for a shower. So she quickly wipes down with cleansing body wipes. "Especially if I feel sticky in my elbows. I hate that," the pro says.
Then before heading home, she gets in "a good foam roll and lots of stretching" to keep her muscles ready for her next ride.
Refuel With Food
Toole says she "eats like a monster" after class. "It's the running joke. My boyfriend is like, 'Babe, are you hungry again? It's been an hour and a half,'" she says, laughing.
The Peloton coach makes sure to give her body the fuel it needs. "Honestly, I think a lot of us actually don't eat enough. We've been given this false narrative about this many calories a day, and I'm like, 'That's not true at all.' Everybody has a different metabolic rate. Everybody's at a different point. Often, it's because we're not eating enough that we're not seeing what we want to see," Toole says. "So it's fun for me to be like, 'What am I going to eat after?' I always love planning my meal."
Lately, she's been stopping by N.Y.C.'s vegan Mexican spot Jajaja. "I'm not a vegan but I get their version of a fish taco. It's in breading and so crispy. These tacos are so damn good. I also love their Mexican corn," she says.
Toole also loves a vanilla protein shake — which she says taste like milkshakes! — and a big sandwich or savory meal.
Sneak In Some Sleep
Don't undervalue the need for rest, Toole says. She likes to squeeze in a nap whenever possible, so she's recharged and ready to teach cycling and Pilates classes for Peloton members.
"I want to normalize this. I nap so much," Toole says. "I'm a sleepy girl!"
Since "sleep, rest and recovery are absolutely everything," Toole makes her bedroom a serene space. "I love calming down and lighting candles (I blow them out before bed!). I listen to a meditation track, sometimes the Peloton sleep meditations, and take that moment to put a close on this and give my body rest," she says.
Toole adds: "Getting good sleep, making sure your bedroom is nice and cold [and] making that a space that you feel comfortable is the best thing."
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