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Seeking Self-Care and Inner Strength with Chi Chi Life Founder Lauren Chiarello

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Lauren Chiarello is a woman of enormous strength and positivity. She has survived cancer not once, but twice, and learned to use her past experiences as a force for good–and thus, Chi Chi Life was born. A NYC-based  company specializing in one-of-a-kind fitness classes, Chi Chi Life seeks to unlock inner strength and power through pilates, fitness, and positive physical and mental well-being. Not only does Lauren run these interactive classes, she's also a fundraising expert, skilled in sponsor activation, venue research, and production scheduling. She uses fitness and pilates as a way to move, connect, and give back to the beautiful community that surrounds her. Read on to discover more about Lauren's journey surviving cancer, the inspiration behind teaching pilates + fitness, and her advice for the modern woman.  
        
(Image courtesy of Chi Chi Life)
   
Chi Chi Life melds your main passions: fitness, fundraising and events, corporate wellness, and cancer advocacy. Can you tell us more about how and when the company came about?
    
My background is in fundraising and special events–mainly within the nonprofit space–and I still continue that work as a consultant. In 2014, I had the idea that I wanted to teach fitness. I didn’t know if I’d like it or be good at it, but I wanted to try. I was a student taking barre classes at exhale for five years before I started my training. From there, I began teaching and expanding my fitness education. Within the corporate wellness space, I curate panels, workshops and classes for companies. Finally, I share my story and experience as a two-time cancer thriver of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I speak on panels and podcasts, I am featured in videos and I deliver keynote speeches–all with the hope of helping others. My mission is to inspire people through movement and in January 2015, Chi Chi Life was born!
    
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(Image courtesy of Chi Chi Life)
   
What was the biggest stumbling block you faced when getting Chi Chi Life off the ground?
   
Self-care. Everyday I wake up essentially unemployed. I continuously work on setting boundaries. Before I say “yes” to a new project or commitment, I have to remind myself: What are my values? Does this opportunity align? And it’s a dance, I will tell you that. I want to do it all, and it’s simply not possible. I’ve learned that the hard way and often run myself into the ground. It's a work in progress.
   
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  (Image courtesy of Chi Chi Life)  
   
Can you talk a little about the different kinds of fitness classes you teach? I also want to throw a fun question in: what is your personal favorite class to teach?
        
I regularly teach pilates (mat and machine), barre, TRX and pilates fusion. All of these methods focus on core strength and spinal flexibility – typically using your own body weight to build strength. Targeted movements, proper alignment and breath are key elements as well. I adore pilates fusion, as I teach a blend of pilates, barre, and yoga for an energizing experience. I end all of my classes with a passage or a quote to offer a moment of reflection. Ralph Marston writes my favorite passages called, The Daily Motivator.
        
social sunday chi chi life balance
(Image courtesy of Chi Chi Life)
        
You’ve spoken about how much your own fitness teachers have changed your life and inspired you to become a teacher yourself. What is the most impactful piece of advice/guidance you’ve ever received?
       
Be yourself. There’s only one you. You have the power to share your magic every day.
   
social sunday chi chi life inspo
  (Image courtesy of Chi Chi Life)  
   
What do you think is the greatest challenge that strong women such as yourself face when trying to make a name for themselves?
        
Being relentless in the pursuit. We can often feel like hamsters on a wheel, spinning forever. Progress takes time, and it’s important to revel in the ride toward your goals. I deeply believe in small steps. It’s in these small steps that the foundation is built. Then, we can soar past our goals.
       
social sunday chi chi life group
(Image courtesy of Chi Chi Life) 
          
I’ve read that you have survived cancer, not once, but TWICE! I’m happy to hear that you have been in remission for nine years! How did you learn to channel all of that pain and frustration into a force for good?
        
I literally wake up with a driving passion to help others. I deeply believe I’ve been given a second chance at this beautiful life to help inspire others to live to their fullest potential. There were certainly dark and challenging times – and there will continue to be hurdles in life– but I believe we have a choice on how we react to difficult experiences. We can move through, learn, and share – and build mental strength, a “post-traumatic growth” of sorts. I share my story in the hopes of letting others know they are not alone – and they will come out on the other side stronger.
        
social sunday chi chi life
  (Image courtesy of Chi Chi Life)    
    
What advice do you have for contemporary women who want to make a difference in their communities?
    
Investigate what lights you up. Is there a certain cause you’re super passionate about? Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few, check out volunteer opportunities within the organization. Lending your time, energy and talent to a mission you’re dedicated to can be energizing and educational. Or, do you feel like a there’s a need in your community that’s not being met? This could be an opportunity to create support to those who are in need. If the service or program doesn’t exist, go out and blaze the trail. The world needs you.
    
You can check out their website here and their Instagram account here!

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