Work It Out!: Health and Wellness with Laura Gentry Carter
Each year, thousands of fans participate in Bonnaroo’s Work It Out initiative while they’re on The Farm, including the 5k Roo Run, 4 yoga sessions per day, and meditation classes in between. Of course, none of this would be possible without the efforts of Superfly’s Director, People & Culture and fitness guru, Laura Gentry Carter (LGC).
We caught up with LGC to get the lowdown on the history of the program, her highlights, and some new classes being offered at this year’s fest.
How did you get involved with Superfly?
I had been at Live Nation for three years and wanted something different. I was interested in working with festivals instead of doing nightly shows at venues. Since Bonnaroo had always been near and dear to my heart, I applied for the office manager position at Superfly. After doing that for two years, we were growing really quickly and I became the HR director.
When did you start to work with the health and wellness initiative?
It started when I was looking for a creative outlet. I’d been programming the yoga experience for a year when I brought up the idea for the Roo Run to Rick Farman (Superfly co-founder). He said they always thought it would be cool to have a run at Bonnaroo, but no one really had the time to take on a new project like that.
Has fitness always been important to you?
For sure! I grew up competing in dance and yoga has been a good mental and physical outlet for me in my adult years. Yoga also offers a great community of like minded people to connect with. Being a part of this community for many years helped me to find teachers to come and share their practice at Bonnaroo.
When did you start to think festival fans would be into this? Was it a bit of a challenge to get their attention?
At first, we didn’t really have many health and wellness offerings. We only had yoga in the guest area and it wasn’t posted online, so you kind of had to be in the know. I thought it would be really cool to move it over to the Solar Stage, which wasn’t being utilized in the morning and already has a great feel with the sustainability and non-profits there.
From this one class in guest camping grew 2 vinyasa and 2 meditation sessions at the Solar stage, 1 class in VIP and 1 class in at Pod Friday - Sunday. All the classes on the Farm have grown. The Solar stage attendance went from about 100 per class the first year to over 600 per class last year.
How did the Roo Run get started? That’s a bit more demanding than doing yoga in the morning!
It sure is, my friend. Three years ago, I had no prior knowledge of how to operate a 5k. We needed a route, water stations, volunteers, bibs, prizes and most of all… people. I was able to work with our amazing event operations team and it was a huge success! The first year had 500 runners. Last year we had 1,200. This year, we want to hit 2,000. I honestly thought only 5 people would show up for the first run!
What’s the route like?
We always wanted it to be out in GA. Everyone already wakes up early because of the sun, so it made sense to keep it near the campgrounds. We changed the route this year to cut out the crossover of the figure 8 which got a bit confusing. This year it’s a full circle around the campgrounds. I hope to see everyone on the sidelines cheering again and eating their breakfast! I run it every year with other employees from the Roo. It’s awesome to see them participate too!
What are some highlights from the H&W initiative?
For the Roo Run I love the people who run in costumes and everyone cheering for us on the sidelines. Then you’ve got the people who take a yoga class for the first time. And they come away wanting to take more classes. It’s nice to see our community not have to change their daily exercise habits on behalf of a festival happening around them. Having this offering allows us all to keep our minds, bodies and spirits healthy so we can go about our days boogieing down on the Farm!
Is there anything new coming to the Farm this year?
Well, you know... not everyone is into yoga or running. So this year we’re going to have a new Work It Out program called Dancercise! It will be our workout instructor paired with a DJ for a live aerobic workout. It’s going to be on festival Friday at the Kalliope stage. We dance all weekend long. It only makes sense to have this added to the roster. We’d love for people to come in costume to this too. Should be another good way for us to move our energy together.