A Day-in-the-Life of a Full-Time Fitness Instructor


This one’s been a long time coming, you guys… Woo hoo!

day in the life at soulcycle

I’m often asked what I do during the week, so today I thought I’d share a little day-in-the-life. I love writing these and documenting various times in my life, and from the response I’ve gotten (most recently on a similar post from Paris), you guys seem to like the glimpse into the fitness/blogging worlds as well.

My day-to-day schedule is essentially based around when and where I teach at SoulCycle — we have three studios here in Chicago. (If you’re new here and unsure what Soul is, you can check out this post.)

saucony long sleeve shirt workout leggings and colorblock sneakers in pink day in the life of a soulcycle instructor

I’ll use my Tuesday/Thursday schedule as an example, as that’s when I have the most time in between classes. (Monday and Wednesday I generally spend much of the day teaching, cross-training and commuting.)

From hours of music research and playlist making to meal prepping, blogging and, oh, getting enough sleep — here’s a glimpse at a (week)day in my life this summer:

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5:10 a.m. Woof. My alarm goes off just after 5 a.m. three days each week — and I’ve gotten much better about not snoozing. It’s not so bad once you’re up and at ’em.

5:15 a.m. I prep everything for my day the night prior, so all I have to do is slip into my clothes, pour some all-natural almond milk over the espresso that chilled overnight in the fridge and I’m out the door. (My Nespresso machine has been a serious game-changer — they’re 25% off at Williams Sonoma this week, too.) Aren’t my color-block kicks awesome? They are — believe it or not — by Saucony (and less than $60). I get lots and lots of questions about them!

5:25 a.m. Luckily, there aren’t many people vying for cabs at this hour, so I easily grab one and settle into the back seat on the 15-minute drive to our Southport studio (which is near Wrigley Field/Cubs stadium). Here, I’ll plug into my playlist and make any last-minute changes based on my mood or my perceived mood of the day.

chicago fitness instructor at soulcycle hallie wilson

5:40 a.m. Once I get to the studio, I usually have around 15 minutes to prep, stretch, say hello to riders and chat with the staff.

6:00 a.m. Rooster classes (as we call them) are quickly becoming one of my favorite time slots to teach. It’s hard to wake up, yes, but once you’re in the room it’s a really cool experience. I also love, love that early morning “vibey” type of music, you know? You know I hit ’em with a few bangers once they’re fully awake, though.

6:55 a.m. After class, I wash my face (an important thing to do after you’ve been sweating) — I bring a travel-sized bottle of my favorite facewash in my bag, as well as a good moisturizer and anti-aging, all-over eye cream.

7:00 a.m. After just a few minutes, I call an Uber and head off to yoga. My morning schedule is tight, but if I don’t go now, I won’t go! (Some weeks I’ll go to acupuncture instead of yoga, but that’s a story for an upcoming post that I’ll mention below.)

7:05 a.m. In the car, I’ll eat whatever post-class snack I packed that day — usually,  it’s Greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs or a banana with almond butter. I’ll eat a bigger meal when I get home later, but it’s ideal to eat (or drink) protein 15-20 minutes after a workout to maximize muscle repair and recovery.

soulcycle chicago teacher stretching

7:15 a.m. In the last year especially, I’ve really grown to love yoga. For one, it’s the perfect complement to how much time I spend on the bike each week, but it’s also become my fitness “escape.” SoulCycle used to be my literal therapy, but that’s changed now that I’m on the other side of the curtain, which you can read a bit more about in this post about how my life has changed since I made the switch.

8:20 a.m. Afterward, I take a (very, very necessary) shower, quickly get dressed and make my way to physical therapy at Chicago Cryospa. I’ve been wearing a handful of items of Saucony’s new Life on the Run collection (including the colorful kicks), which you can explore here. I keep my make-up very basic for the day — bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Foundation, NARS velvet matte lip pencil in ‘Never Say Never’ and a swipe of mascara.

fitness bloggers in chicago midwestplaid sports bra

8:22 a.m. I’m usually starving by now, so I’ll eat another high-protein snack — one of the snacks mentioned above or a protein bar of some sort. I’ve been really into Quest bars this year. Not ideal, but better than nothing — this bitch gets hangry.

9:00 a.m. Twice a week, I come to “freeze” at Cryospa, which takes no more than 10 minutes. Cryotherapy is a recovery method where you’re blasted with liquid-nitrogen from the neck down for a few minutes. (Think of yourself standing butt-ass naked in front of a freezer, but with gloves and thick socks to prevent frostbite.)

Side-note: I’m doing a separate post on Cryotherapy/all of the “modern medicines” I use to recover and whatnot this month, but essentially, it’s great for muscle recovery, reduced inflammation and blood circulation (which gets rid of toxins).

saucony sports bra in plaidsoulcycle teacher auditionssaucony color block pink and purple sneakers

9:06 a.m. Afterward, I slip into the next room and pull on a pair of their NormaTech compression boots, which send pressurized pulses all the way up and down your legs. It feels like a mix between a massage and compression socks. This also reduces inflammation, knocks out soreness and swelling, and increases blood flow to accelerate the removal of metabolic waste from your muscles. In other words, my legs feel a lot better, lighter and more “normal” after the treatment. I try my best to multitask in the chair, but I usually end up passing out cold — mouth open and lightly snoring, I’m sure.

9:50 a.m. I head to the train and trek home to start my workday and — more importantly — eat my first real meal of the day, which is usually fried eggs over avocado Ezekiel toast (plus another almond milk latte). Tip: Once the eggs are cooked, I fork the yolk out of them — it saves on calories but you still get some of that delicious yolky drip.

soulcycle instructor day in the life

10:15 a.m. I spend the next few hours of my day working… Theoretically, that is — which I’ll get to. This typically entails in-person meetings, phone calls, answering emails, invoicing, managing finances, editing photos and writing. Being a business owner/blogger in general is so much work, especially if you don’t have anyone to help you with the day-to-day, more administrative tasks. I try to focus more on the creative elements of it, but it can be challenging when that red number on your iPhone inbox creeps on up. Often I’ll have to fully re-shower and get ready to shoot a look or a feature with my photographer, Melissa.

11:05 a.m. Since I am always listening to music, I’ve really grown to enjoy plugging into audiobooks — mainly on my commute or when I’m running errands and can really focus. At the moment, I’m listening to “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero and “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown. Any other good reads you’d recommend?

2:30 p.m. Here’s where that “theoretically” bit comes into play… The hardest part about working from home (and getting up at 5 a.m. on an almost-daily basis) is not allowing yourself think about how your bed is a mere 50 feet away from you at all times. Gah! I really try not to nap, but that’s typically impossible. Depending on my workload, I’ll pass the f–k out for either 30 or 90 minutes — 30 minutes is ideal for an energy boost, 90 will give you more of a full sleep cycle. Anything in between (the next ideal interval being 120 minutes) will actually leave you feeling groggier… The nap game is an art and a science, who knew?

hallie wilson soulcycle instructor in chicago saucony life on the run black leggings with mesh panels

5:00 p.m. Closer to the end of the day, I’ll get back into teaching mode. My laptop and I will transition to the floor, where I’ll foam roll a bit and begin making a new playlist for that evening’s class. I’ll also make another meal with a good mix of carbs, protein and healthy fat — usually, it’s deli turkey on a low-carb wrap with lettuce, avocado and hummus; or avocado smeared on brown rice cakes. Maybe a frozen banana blended with some protein powder and berries. Freakin’ delish. (Is it also necessary to mention that by now I’ve gone through at least three grapefruit-flavored LaCroix’s… At least.)

6:45 p.m. I’m very conscious about moving my body as much as possible (within reason) and getting my 10,000 steps in each day, so I make it a point to walk to the closer-to-me studios each day… It all adds up.

7:10 p.m. Back to my pre-class routine of stretching, greeting and the like.
spin instructor at soulcycle hallie wilson

8:30 p.m. After teaching, a few friends and I have gotten into the habit of going to one of the many nearby bars for big, oversized salads and a beer (or two) to cap off the day. And, okay, we tend to split a pizza more often than not, too… YOLO, you know? Summertime in Chicago is gorgeous — there’s way too many outdoor patio situations to take advantage of. (Read more of my summer must-do’s in Chicago here!)

10:35 p.m. By the time I get home, I always think I’ll be able to spend some time on the blog, but I am so tired I usually pass out within the hour — sometimes sitting upright at my computer, no joke. I check my alarm obsessively before finally succumbing to my drooping eyelids… Off to bed and ready to rise bright-and-early again tomorrow morning.

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So, there you have it!  As mentioned, I’ll make this a quarterly or semi-frequent post series, as I’m often asked what I do during the day and my routine shifts when my teaching schedule does. In the meantime, you can follow me on Snapchat (@coralsncogancs) and Instagram for more daily peeks and updates in real-time.

What’s your day like?

pink and purple sneakers

Thanks to Saucony for partnering on this post. Click here to check out their Life on The Run collection — including all of the pieces I’m wearing today. All opinions are, of course, my own.

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Iron & Honey Photography

15 comments

  1. Love this post.

    I work at a local yoga studio part time and then after usually apply for full time jobs since it’s a full time job to find one.

    I take one or two classes a week. I am going to start running. Hope to make it Soul Short Hills soon!

  2. I’ve written a couple posts like this about what I wish I had known before becoming a trainer and an instructor and one of my favorites which is a day in the life and why I chose the 5-9 instead of the 9-5, since many of my clients I see either before or after work, which makes for long days. It’s something I love so far and I like being able to have time in the middle of the day to work on the blog, similar to what you do. It’s a lot of work, but I’d much rather be hopping all around the city than stuck in a cubicle all day long!

  3. I loved this post! I think it’s so fun to see into other people’s lives – what a busy and varied day you have! Keep up the great work, lady!

  4. Love this! And I LOVE following you on snap chat! hopefully
    I can get back into the city (my parents love in the ‘burbs, I’m out of state) to take
    One of your classes!

  5. Hallie, Maybe you’d like Picky Bars! They are made by a professional runner (so they are very popular in our community) — they are made with REAL ingredients and I believe they are sold in TJ’s now! Happy Training!

  6. Hallie this is awesome! I just love your 4:30 Wednesday class (though I missed yesterday! I’ll be there next week though!). Your passion really shines through and you’re such a fun person to work out with! I’m so glad I took a leap to try something new–thanks for doing awesome work! (My sister and I LOvED the Hamilton ride!)

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  10. Hallie!

    You posted that you go to get acupuncture in Chicago usually too-where do you go? I am interested in trying it out!

    Jess

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