These range from Wellvyl, a fitness-focused social community in New York, to Virgin Sport, the newest arm of the Virgin behemoth, which aims to expand the reach of mass participatory sports events.

Virgin Sport has so far held one “festival of fitness” in the London neighborhood of Hackney this April. Two more are planned: one in London’s Westminster in July, and another in San Francisco in October.

Richard Branson with KIPP Newark photo credit Joanna Ference
Richard Branson with KIPP Newark. Photo credit Joanna Ference

“We created Virgin Sport to get millions more people moving, while connecting with others and having fun along the way,” Mary Wittenberg, global CEO of Virgin Sport, told JWT Intelligence.

“We think there is a unique market position for something we call hard-earned fun. We want people to push themselves and experience the transformation of a hard fitness challenge, with a little push from Virgin wit, flair and service.”

Virgin describes the festivals as the “Coachella of sport.” Wittenberg notes that she wants the festivals to echo the “spirit, commitment and passion of the community” that comes together for music festivals. “We think there is an opportunity for a similarly empowering experience with fitness and active lifestyle at the heart,” says Wittenberg.

“We know people want to be healthy, and we think that spectacular experiences can launch and support healthier lives.”

New York’s Wellvyl, meanwhile, describes itself as a “next-generation social club,” with a similarly community-driven mission, putting on events designed to hone the body and mind. “Wellvyl’s mission is to create a healthier world, to help ourselves and others dig past our fitness and wellness goals and unearth our psychological and holistic health aspirations,” the company says.

The health and wellness hangout2
Meet mingle bewell
Join wellvyl 2

To achieve that, the platform puts on fitness events with a cheeky twist, such as Love Thy Neighbor: Social Boxing, Chill the F*** Out Meditation, and Wine-Down Yoga complete with organic wines and vegan cheese. When the club launched in 2016, Christopher Krietchman, founder and CEO, stated that he wanted to target the “strong community of wellness-minded people…who go to gyms, classes and eateries surrounded by their peers.”

He added that “within this emerging community, people still don’t seem to be getting what they really want out of these activities—social connection…We bring the yogi to the CrossFitter and the marathon runner and bodybuilder to the soccer player, where they all actually connect, meet, mingle and be well. We’re creating networks and influencing people to adopt a healthier way to socialize.”

Creating a sense of community in an increasingly isolated, digitized world has become integral to the wellness movement. Brands that might not have thought of reaching consumers during their fitness regimens in the past should explore whether this makes sense at a time when the context of fitness activities is rapidly changing.

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