MAGAZINE

Break a Sweat at These 8 Festivals for Fitness Lovers

by Laura Mason | @masonlazarus Mon September 11, 2017 | 02:53 PM

Immersive music festivals may dominate the global festival scene thanks to their oh-so-Instagrammable art, larger-than-life stages, star-studded lineups and wildly dressed attendees, but there's another up-and-coming festival trend on the horizon: fitness festivals. Driven in part by America's growing obsession with health and wellness, these festivals nurture the mind, body and soul by promoting exercise and active lifestyles, healthy eating, and motivational workshops and seminars to empower attendees in their daily lives and beyond, long after each fest has ended.

Just because they focus on self-improvement doesn't mean there's no fun involved. Each of these festivals infuses live entertainment and libations into the mix so attendees can let loose once night falls.

Below are eight fitness festivals worthy of being added to your annual agenda.

Wanderlust Festival (Multi-City)

Wanderlust Festival 2016 Kylie Fly 1

Wanderlust is basically the original modern fitness festival. Now with dozens of one-day and multi-day events around the globe, the festival brand has built a massive, devoted following through an intense dedication to offering classes from some of the world's best yogis, but it's so much more than just a yoga festival. Wanderlust combines natural beauty with fun activities, epic musical performances, organic food and inspiring lectures. It’s a festival full of authenticity, intimacy, and a “we’re in this together” vibe. That all makes it easier to accomplish things you never thought your body could handle, such as trail running, epic sunset hikes, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding and slackline yoga. Once night falls, big artists – such as Moby, Afrobeat king Femi Kuti, GRiZ, and Allen Stone – take the stage so everyone can unwind together.

Warrior Dash (Multi-City)

You might not be an Olympic athlete, but you can conquer Warrior Dash. The fun-yet-challenging obstacle course race has had three million participants worldwide since 2009; think of it as a reinvented 5K run. Push yourself to conquer 12 world-class obstacles like Goliath and Fisherman’s Catch, wade across wooded lakes, and venture through mud-caked backroads as you make your loop to the finish line. You’ll be rewarded with a finisher medal, a sweet t-shirt, fuzzy Warrior helmet, and ice cold beer. Head to the post-race party (its renowned for having the best afterparty in the obstacle racing industry) to relive the course with friends, dance to music, and celebrate your decision to leave your normal weekend in the mud.

Enjoy a live DJ, lawn games and a full lineup of contests like tug-o-war, dancing, best beard, costume, and more. In 2017 Warrior Dash has added the Stein Standoff and Tire Flipping to its afterparty contests. In Stein Standoff, ten Warriors will test their strength as they hold up their stein with a straight arm. Bend, spill or drop the full Stein, and lose the standoff – but the winner walks away with a stein full of beer. Warriors can test their strength or race their friends with Tire Flipping. As always, the festival is free to everyone.

Telluride Yoga Festival (Telluride, Colorado, United States)

Combining the unparalleled beauty of Telluride, Colorado, with immersive wellness classes and more yoga sessions than you can count, Telluride Yoga Festival is one of the country's most highly regarded yoga festivals. The four-day event offers more than 100 classes and workshops including yoga, meditation, music, hiking, dining, standup paddleboard yoga and social events brought to you by 40+ world-class instructors, philosophers, scholars, artists and musicians. It was started in 2007, and today brings 750 participants to its mountain town home.

Virgin Festival of Sport (Multi-City)

Launched by Richard Branson and Mary Wittenberg (former director of the NYC Marathon) in 2017, the Virgin Festival of Sport aims to help motivate the masses to lead healthy, active lifestyles year-round. This past summer it kicked off in London for a 10K race around the city. The race route took runners past Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Westminster and more, culminating in a massive festival at the finish line. There were also high-intensity bootcamps, yoga, group fitness classes, and other road races. Its first U.S. addition takes place in San Francisco in October, where runners will travel up Twin Peaks. Over time, as the festival expands, it will add food, art and even more music while aiming to always showcase the local culture of wherever it's putting down roots.

Pacific Crest Triathlon & Weekend Sports Festival (Sunriver, Oregon, United States)

This festival is not for the out-of-shape; it's all about hardcore endurance sports. Set in the resort town of Sunriver, which is an outdoor recreation mecca, hefty events like a marathon, triathlon, 5K or 10K run or a bike tour are on offer; you can sign up for one or, if you're feeling particularly savage, do three events on three different days. The event attracts more than 5,000 athletes and offers more than 15 events in different disciplines. There are also kids races, which means the whole family can come. Once the races and daytime events end, make sure you have a second wind ready so you can hit the beer garden for live entertainment, local brews and more.

Telluride Weekend of Wellness (Telluride, Colorado, United States)

Telluride Colorado Fitness Festivals 2011 Richard Hurd Flickr Creative Commons

Abbreviated as WOW, this event is often compared to "a weekend-long TED Talk for the fitness industry.” Similar to Wanderlust, attendees can follow up intimate, sweat-inducing fitness classes with inspiring workshops and Q&A sessions with industry leaders whose cutting-edge, holistic approach to health and wellness combines the best of both Eastern and Western philosophies. To get that body moving, sign up for yoga, pilates, indoor cycling, CrossFit classes, hiking, music-driven aerobics classes and more, as well as meditation, massage, and other body restoration sessions. In terms of working out your mind, WOW's in-depth Behavioral Health component (full of classes and workshops) creates lasting behavioral changes so you can continue to better your life even after the fest ends. What's even better is that organizers encourage everyone to unplug from their phones, social media, and the noise of the internet so that everyone can fully dive into the weekend of learning. In order to make sure each attendee's unique goals are addressed, there are many one-on-one individual sessions. Get tickets and sign up for classes early; because of the festival's intimate class sizes, sessions can fill up quickly.

The Color Run (Multi-City)

What began in 2011 is now the largest running series in the world and has welcomed over six million runners worldwide in more than 35 countries. With a goal of creating an experience that’s more about the memories you make than your mile per minute, the Color Run has helped make running feel more accessible to a broader demographic. It's a 5K, un-timed event in which thousands of participants, or “Color Runners,” are doused from head to toe in different colors at each kilometer. There are only two rules: Wear white at the starting line, and finish plastered in color. After Color Runners complete the race, the fun continues with an unforgettable Finish Festival. This larger than life party is equipped with music, dancing and massive color throws, which create millions of vivid color combinations.

Bhakti Fest (Joshua Tree, California, United States)

Get in touch with your inner self at Bhakti Fest, a yoga retreat to bend your body and mind in ways you never thought possible. For several days, your body will pretzel into various shapes while you take in the calming music that guides your muscles. Bhakti Fest is a certified nonprofit 501c3 and has its roots in yoga, sacred music, and meditation. It embraces ancient and modern sacred wisdom and traditional and non-traditional spiritual practices, all while building a community of people drawn to follow the path of the heart – a devotional, prayerful, loving, healthful, respectful family. Beyond yoga, sacred music and meditation, there are workshops, fire ceremonies, and a wellness sanctuary featuring massage, bodywork, energy work, intuitive readings, and wellness enhancing modalities.