The Plus Factor: Stadium-size workouts are the new rock shows

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Photo: Facebook/@AshyBinesOfficial

Well+Good is your healthiest relationship, hooking you up with the best, most interesting things/people/food in wellness. And nothing gets at this concept better than the plus-sign in our logo, which acts like a gallery window where we showcase the most exciting, transformative objects and ideas that add wellness to your life. And this week we’re spotlighting the undeniable rise of…massive workout events that rival concert tours.

So you haven’t gotten tickets to see Queen Bey perform “Hold Up” live during the Formation World Tour? Don’t sweat it.

Actually, scratch that. Sweating is exactly what you’re going to be doing in stadiums from now on.

Increasingly, fitness stars are taking their sculpted shows on the road, hosting workouts around the world in front of crowds of fans who set alarms to scoop up coveted tickets, wait in long lines to get to the front row, and show up ready to squat instead of sing along. Trainers are the new headliners. And Instagram trainers in particular.

Photo: Facebook/@k.itsines
Photo: Facebook/@k.itsines

Instagram-famous trainers, many of whom don’t teach regular IRL classes, are leading the movement. When Kayla Itsines (a fitness force with 5.6 million Instagram followers) brought her 2016 Sweat Tour to New York City in June, more than 4,000 people showed up to do burpees and push-up planks while Taylor Swift music was pumped in. No, Swift was not there, but the energy in the room was definitely reminiscent of one of her shows.

Photo: Facebook/@AshyBinesOfficial
Photo: Facebook/@AshyBinesOfficial

Ashy Bines, who’s also based in Australia and has about 900,000 followers on Instagram, launched her Booty Tour in April with a sold-out event. And since she’s been taking it all  over that continent to venues that hold between 1,000 and 3,500 sneaker-wearing women. She’s set to hit North American cities like Vancouver, Miami, and Los Angeles in 2017, where you can safely expect the same throngs.

Photo: Facebook/@AshyBinesOfficial

And Dawn Estelle Archer’s story reads exactly like a movie script about an up-and-coming musician’s path to playing sold-out shows. The Richmond, Virginia-based trainer started teaching her SWEAT classes out of a parking lot in 2013 and quickly became a fitness sensation, locally and on Instagram. “People started asking me on social media, ‘Can you come here to teach? Can you come here to teach?'” she says. “So I put on my Instagram, just in a comment, that if I hit 100,000 followers by New Year’s Eve, I’d go teach in all 50 states in one year.”

Photo: Instagram/@estellearcher
Photo: Instagram/@estellearcher

By January 1, 2014, she had 115,000 followers, so she put everything she owned in a storage unit and hit the road for her #sweattour2014, in which she taught weekend classes in parks and other random spaces in cities all over the country, using only her own social media platforms to promote them.

After she made her way back home, Archer opened her own fitness studio in Richmond, and with a following that’s now well over 200K, when she travels to teach now, her trips are sponsored and booked in event venues.

Photo: Facebook/@AshyBinesOfficial
Photo: Facebook/@AshyBinesOfficial

Still, like a muscled (way prettier) version of Willie Nelson, she misses the freedom of touring . “I never wanted to have somewhere where I was committed to be because it felt too much like having a real job, but now I feel differently,” she says, detailing the supportive community that’s formed at the workout studio. Still, “I would love to be on the road again.”

If that happens, she’ll likely find more fans waiting, and encounter more trainers building their followings a la pop stars. Maybe there’s a multi-act sweat fest on the horizon? Sweat-chella 2017?

Get to know some of the stars that are leading the sweaty world tour movement: These are Well+Good readers’ favorite healthy Instagrammers, and this is what Kayla Itsines’ workout app is really like.

Temperatures may be dropping, but your workout routine is heating up! Check out our Fall Fitness Preview, your guide to having your healthiest fall yet. And make sure to mark your calendars: Well+Good’s annual Fitness Biathlon in NYC is back this October 22.

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