I attended an athleisure festival, and this is what it was really like
If you know me, you know that anything marketed as a “festival dedicated to athleisure” is not my thing.
First off, I don’t really buy into the whole athleisure thing. Sure, I wear leggings, but only if I’m actually going to workout.
Okay, by workout I mean do yoga in my room with a Youtube video for guidance, because I don’t belong to a gym and I don’t do any hardcore “workouts” these days. I’m also too cheap to pay to go to a yoga studio.
So, when I got the opportunity to attend The Retreat powered by MINI, a 4-day retreat presented by FUNKSHION — I welcomed the opportunity for a shift in my mindset.
After all, what better way to get yourself into a fitness mode than HIIT classes from some of Instagram’s hottest trainers and endless avocado toast at Soho House?
Did I leave the weekend a fitter, more motivated, leggings-clad version of myself? Not completely (although I did board my flight home in adorable new leggings from Nux), but I also took away some valuable advice — and a new perspective — on what it really means to be “fit.”
The festivities began on a Thursday evening with a welcome dinner atop the Nautilus South Beach. Dinner was running late, so we were whisked away to a meditation class by Lululemon beforehand, which had me thanking my lucky stars that I chose to wear shorts to dinner rather than the PVC dress I had packed.
After my early flight and the way too soothing sound bath, I was awoken from my almost-nap and brought upstairs, where we dined on deconstructed poké bowls. I sat across from Vicky Justiz, a YouTuber, and her longtime “Instagram boyfriend” Johnny Urra.
Neither of them were strictly “fitness influencers,” and they embodied couple goals while negating any influencer stereotypes. Oh, and they actually followed me back on Instagram, which is more than I can say for other people I met over the weekend.
I made it through night one, but the next day was the real challenge. Not only were we expected to make it through two workout classes, but we had a brunch and panel at Soho House before, which led me to my predicament: was I supposed to wear workout clothes to brunch at Soho House? Or was I supposed to change for the workout class?
Unfortunately, I had this predicament all too late, and I hadn’t really brought cute clothes for brunch, so I wore workout clothes. Keep in mind my workout clothes were probably purchased in 2012, so there was really no chance I was going to pass it off as “athleisure.”
Naturally, myself and one other writer were the only ones in workout clothes. Oops. And I couldn’t help but notice that the avocado toast I ordered was a bit on the small size for people who supposedly worked out regularly.
Once I accepted my fate as the loser in Nike shorts while everyone else dined in their Reformation jumpsuits, I actually heard something that resonated with me in the panel — where Myk Likhov, Nima Taherzadeh, Bianca Cheah, & Gilles Souteyrand spoke about all things wellness.
Cheah, founder of Sportluxe.com, began talking about how she used to do HIIT workouts frequently, but started hating it. She then switched to yoga and she “legit” craves it.
As someone who quit the gym after years of working out intensely and now just does casual yoga in my room, I could totally relate. The rest of the speakers echoed her statements, mentioning about how wellness is all about balance, but also totally customizable and there’s no “right” way to do things.
While that didn’t make my fashion faux pas any better, it did make me feel better about the whole weekend. I was a little nervous that all the fitness influencers, trainers, etc. would kick my ass, but I realized that not everyone in attendance was a personal trainer.
Some were just “regular” people like me. Well, most had a good 50k more Instagram followers than me at minimum, but that didn’t mean they hit the gym for two hours every day necessarily (although many looked like they did).
After breakfast, we headed to the Miami Design District, where most of the weekend’s events would take place.
Miraculously, there was an entire clothing rack of Nux apparel waiting for us. If I had known this, I clearly would have realized the uselessness of wearing workout attire to brunch. Regardless, I upgraded my workout attire and let Glamsquad turn my tragic low ponytail into cute french braids.
But before I could take too many selfies in my new look, we were herded over to the floor for Amanda Kloots’ class, The Dance. I’ll admit, anything to do with choreographed dancing concerns me, because I assume they’re designed for cheerleader-type women (or men), which I am not.
But, I’m never one to refuse a free workout in a new pair of leggings, so I put on my best “facials” and tried to get into it. While it was a bit hard to follow at times, it was actually pretty fun. I mean, who doesn’t want to bounce around listening to Carly Rae Jepsen occasionally?
It didn’t feel like a workout, it just felt like dancing. However, the next morning my sore calves reminded me that it definitely was a workout.
After “The Dance,” we were treated to an amazingly healthy lunch by Lunchology, and I naturally went for the chocolate chip cookies first. This was clearly a good move, because by the time I was done with my actual food, the cookies were all gone.
The rest of the weekend was filled with more workout classes by athletes like Ron Boss (who trains Kevin Hart) and Taryn Toomey, more healthy food that still tasted way better than what most people are able to make at home, more panels where people stressed the importance of balance, and more late night events where fitness aficionados could get their flirt on (naturally).
By the last day, I was extremely sore (keep in mind that I went from working out once a week to twice a day), but I wasn’t desperate to head home to normalcy either.
In fact, while I had envisioned myself on the trip sticking out like a sore thumb and getting lectured by fit people on why I should do more cardio or eat more protein, everybody I encountered over the weekend was not only chill, but also incredibly understanding and accommodating.
When I joked to Gilles Souteyrand about how I hated EDM, he asked me what type of music I liked to workout to and vowed to change up his playlist for his HIIT class the next day. When I sheepishly admitted to people that the closest I got to working out was doing yoga along with YouTube videos, they congratulated me on finding what works for me rather than trying to push some premium workout plan (or more likely, their own branded workout plan) onto me.
Yes, there was a onslaught of avocado toast, as expected, but as someone who tries to eat vegan when I can, I welcomed the plentiful options that didn’t just include boring salads.
Overall, while there was definitely things to poke fun at throughout the weekend (I mean, c’mon, what can you expect when you mix influencers and athleisure together?), I actually enjoyed myself. And maybe, just maybe, the adorable outfits showcased at the Heroine Sport fashion show that weekend could convince me to rock athleisure on a daily basis.
BTW, that cover photo is of @thelifeoflibs looking flawless while pausing during Gilles’ class to take a selfie. I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting my hunched over self glancing over when this was captured. You’re welcome.