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I went to the Coachella of fitness—here’s what it was like


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Photo: Michelob Ultra

If a music festival and a fitness expo had a baby, you’d get what’s now at the top of every wellness traveler’s list—fitness festivals. While channeling the vibes of Coachella or ACL, these multi-day events have major cool factor with a seriously healthy twist. Because rather than hopping from concert-to-concert, you instead hop from hip hop class to hot yoga to outdoor bootcamp, all led by celeb fitness instructors from around the United States.

With my #fitgoals on the brain (I mean, how many classes a day is too many?) I signed up for the Michelob Ultra’s three-day Ultra Fit Fest held at the J.W. Mariott Camelback Inn Resort and Spa in Scottsdale Arizona to see what all the hubbub was about. What I found was the embodiment of everything-in-moderation at work (and I do mean everything): workout classes, panels, wellness experiences, poolside meals of cauli rice, zucchini noodles and tacos al fresco, and of course, a brew or two. Here’s everything you need to know about Ultra Fit Fest ahead of signing up for your very own fit fest.

I went to the fitness equivalent of Burning Man

Work up a sweat with star trainers (and recover like a pro)

I arrive at the resort, surrounded by dusty mountains, and was greeted by two afternoon fitness class options: bootcamp with Dara Hart, a trainer at New York City’s buzzy Dogpound gym or a Cyc spin class. Considering how beautiful the scenery was, it felt (almost) wrong to spin indoors, so I opted for the outdoors option and planned an early a.m. hike the next morning.

The next morning, my alarm rang at 5:30 a.m., and despite the early wakeup call, I was so happy as we moved along the Camelback mountains at sunrise. When we got back to the basecamp, we headed over to breakfast, where everyone was hydrating and caffeinating for a full day of classes and wellness experiences ahead. My line-up looked like a “studio crawl”: 8 am dance cardio plus sculpt class with Megan Roup (BTW she’s also leading our next Well+Good Retreat in Miami), a hair refresh and braid bar by cruelty-free hair brand Virtue Labs, a panel with some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the industry, including Y7’s Sarah Levey, Booth Camp’s Shawn Booth, and MNDFL CEO Ellie Burrows.

Even though I was tempted to take back-to-back fitness classes all day, I decided to break things up with a few more panel discussions, so I attended another panel on “Nutritional Info Overload” with an all-star lineup of nutrition and fitness experts, including celeb trainer and functional nutritionist Adam Rosante, Nutrition Conditioning founder Heidi Skolnik, endurance athlete Chi Pham, and Arizona Cardinals team dietician Kali Gallagher.

In between classes and panels, you could stop by the Hyperice and NormaTec Recovery Lounge to stretch, foam roll, or use the NormaTec compression boots. The weekend ended on a super-relaxing note with a MNDFL Sound Bath before the closing ceremony.

I went to the fitness equivalent of Burning Man

A class is only as good as its playlist (and this case, the DJ and live performers, too)

The entire event was set to killer playlists and live music—from the classes to the concerts to a live DJ (think: loud music blasting from every studio, whether it was the ballrooms or outside on the sprawling lawns that overlooked the mountains). One night Kali Uchis performed on-stage, followed by an outdoor party DJ’d by fitness influencer Hannah Bronfman.

In contrast to everyday workouts which, with the rise of digital streaming, are more-and-more happening at home, these IRL experiences are a nice way to balance out solo fitness pursuit. Over the course of three days, I connected with friends, pumped up with all the endorphins, and had a really good time celebrating all the hard work that I put in over the course of the weekend.

As more of these fitness festivals come on the rise (read: yoga-centric festival Wanderlust, Propel:Co-Labs Fitness Festivals popping up all over the country, the upcoming Distric Fit Fest in West Palm Beach, and the Telluride Yoga Festival in Colorado), so too, do the ways in which fitness serves as community and connection. And as if that weren’t enough, you can now get the Coachella experience with a side of fitness goals being crushed. Game on.

If your travels aren’t taking you to a fitness fest (yet), try this workout you can do in your hotel room. And here’s how 11 wellness pros get their sweat sesh in when they’re on the road.

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