The Sweat Sessions are an annual outdoor summer workout series we host in Hudson River Park’s 14th Street Park. Through the years, the district has been lucky enough to work with NYC’s top trainers across multiple fitness disciplines. Lauren Chiarello Mika is one of those incredible instructors. Here’s her story:
MTPK: What is your personal fitness journey?
LCM: I wasn’t sure if I would live to celebrate my 24th birthday. When I was told - you have cancer, all I remember thinking was, I don’t want to die. I have so much life to live. I collapsed in my mother’s arms. My life was changed forever.I went through six months of chemotherapy — I lost my hair and my heart. This was a tremendous life hurdle. I was in remission for six months and trained for my first half marathon while fundraising for cancer research. As I crossed the finish line of the race, I was at the starting line for round two of my battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.More intense treatment was needed to hopefully save my life— chemo, radiation, high dose chemo and a stem cell transplant. I was in isolation at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for nearly six weeks. Exercise and healthy living became non-negotiable in my life. [In 2015] I started teaching for the Sweat Session series! Full circle, I am currently a Cancer Exercise Trainer and teach virtual Core Strength classes for Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Integrative Medicine program.
MTPK: What do you love about fitness and teaching?
LCM: We have a choice on how we lead our lives. We have the power to change anything we want by taking small steps to reach our goal. To me, fitness is a transfer of enthusiasm. Community is everything and I truly adore how we can get stronger simply by coming together.
MTPK: How would you encourage someone who is just starting or re-inventing their workout routine?
LCM: Simply begin and push past the resistance. It really can be overwhelming to start up a new routine. I recommend adding 1-2 days / week to get started. You’ll want to feel like you can accomplish each goal you set out to do. Find a workout that energizes you and brings you joy! Could be Zumba, yoga, Pilates, barre, spin – the options are endless. Try to find a balance of both cardio + strength training for a well-rounded exercise plan.
MTPK: Why do you like teaching outdoors in Meatpacking?
LCM: Moving and connecting in nature is such a gift. I never know who will join the class -- I love meeting new humans! Seeing the sun setting over the Hudson River while teaching is very special.
MTPK: What are some other tips you have for leading a healthy lifestyle?
LCM: Outside of exercise, there are several pillars of health: getting adequate rest/sleep, finding proper tools to manage stress, fueling your body with nourishing food, and reducing exposure to environmental toxins. Like anything, we see results when we are consistent. We are human, so there will be life hurdles that derail our plans. But when we have a vision of where we are going, it is important to take the best next step to get there. Caring for yourself is essential -- you cannot take care of others if you do not take care of yourself.
LCM: Every day we are alive is a true gift. My hope is that folks feel grounded yet lighter and energized yet at ease. I want my students to leave feeling a little bit better than when they arrived.
Join us for the Sweat Sessions all summer long.