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Boozy Wellness Retreats Combine Everything That's Good In the World

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Photo: Godong/Getty Images

Outside a cafe near Wanderlust's Squaw Valley, California retreat, a blackboard reads, "We have kombucha and tequila because life is about #balance." That sentiment sums up both Wanderlust and the growing trend it's a part of: the fusion of wellness and fun.

Since its inception in 2009, Wanderlust festivals ("an all-out celebration of mindful living") have spread to seven locations throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. As Wanderlust CEO Sean Hoess says, "Our motto is 'find your true north.' That may mean getting up early to watch the sunrise on the mountaintop, or staying up late dancing at our main-stage shows or silent disco—or both." (Check out these 10 fun running events for the kid at heart.)

By day, young women with rolled-up mats strapped to their backs wander from aerial yoga classes to lectures on Ayurvedic medicine to food trucks peddling natural fare. By night, those same women release their ponytails and groove to DJs until the sun comes up, hit up wine tastings, or belt out karaoke with their fellow yogis.

Wanderlust is one of many festivals combining fun and wellness that have cropped up in recent years. REI Outessa is another: a weekend-long wellness retreat that includes outdoor adventures like mountain biking, trail running, and hiking, then ends with a massive dance party (find upcoming retreats here).

There's also Roam Bike Fest, a biking festival for women with '80s music at night, and Momentum Fest, a three-day Pilates festival with a summer solstice party.

You don't need to carve out a full weekend to enjoy the wellness/party combo trend, though. Wine yoga (exactly what it sounds like) and Beer Fit Club (an organization that holds fitness classes in breweries nationally) only require an hour or so of your time, and you'll still come away feeling both relaxed and energized. (Related: I Went to Wine Yoga and Got Drunker Than I Expected)

There are major benefits to a more ~balanced~ approach to both partying and fitness. For one, less of a hangover. You'll rarely see anyone falling-over drunk at these gatherings. You'll also see less focus on the "no pain no gain" fitness mentality. Exercisers have finally accepted that logging 40 minutes on the elliptical sucks and that training for a color run with friends or belaying a partner on the rock-climbing wall, well, doesn't. People don't want to deprive or punish themselves anymore, and they don't want to descend into total debauchery either. (Here's why finding balance is the best thing you can do for your health and fitness routine.)

Perhaps, more importantly, the fusion of fun and fitness brings us back to basics in a fundamentally natural way. "As children, we didn't exercise as punishment for eating too many cookies," says Faith G. Harper, Ph.D., author of Unfuck Your Brain. "We played because it was fun—and usually with other people, often outside. Whether it's Pilates and champagne or hiking with a good friend, we're restoring joy to our lives, not taking away things we love." Wine included.

 

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