Wellness Is Becoming A Focus At Music Festivals, And The Recovery Rodeo At Stagecoach Shows Why


A few weeks back at the first weekend of Coachella, I walked about 80,000 steps, or 33 miles, over three days. At Stagecoach, with fewer stages and artists — and a conscious decision to “take it easy” — I walked a more manageable 16,000 steps per day, a bit over seven miles. Still, I was fighting rising heat, toxic dust clouds, and noisy hotel neighbors keeping me up half the night. Sure, most people don’t go as hard as someone working at a music festival, but if you take away the pressure of trying to see as much music as possible and replace it with narcotics, booze, Zyns, and an all-pizza diet, it all spells out to tens of thousands of people treating their body suboptimally.

This stands in contrast to much of the reputation that Generation Z holds. We always hear about them drinking less, taking better care of their bodies and mental health, and often turning their backs on unhealthy lifestyles of their parents, and music festivals seem like they face a bit of a conundrum in serving both what people expect out of a typical experience and the way more and more people are actually living their lives. Many music festivals offer things like morning group yoga sessions, guided meditation, and countless other wellness activities, but this is usually more on the fringe of festival culture, more common at a camping event like Bonnaroo and Lightning In A Bottle.

Brands like Plunge, The New Bar, and Hyperice are trying to change this and merge wellness with music festivals in a more seamless manner, going beyond things like IV drips and cold-pressed juices. This was highlighted both by brand presence over the three weekends of music in the Coachella Valley, and culminated with Plunge’s Recovery Rodeo on the final day of Stagecoach Festival, held at a gorgeous property just a few miles from the festival grounds. At the day party, guests enjoyed the experience and healing qualities of Plunge’s cold plunges along with assorted non-alcoholic beverages (I now stan Mela, the watermelon water beverage) and N/A Micheladas from Best Day Brewing, testing out the Hyperice Normatec 3 boots, and a surprise performance from country-artist-of-the-moment Shaboozey.

“We saw an opportunity to integrate Plunge into festival parties not only as a recovery experience, but also to set a new precedent as a premium hospitality offering,” says Dom Cianciotto, Director of Community & Experiences at Plunge, about Plunge’s presence at this year’s festivals. “The idea was being of service to the guests of these parties during a time of need, when they may be experiencing hangover symptoms, dealing with extreme desert heat, and are prone to having sore legs and feet from all the walking, standing, and dancing during these multi-day music festivals.”

It’s a movement that Cianciotto notes benefits both hosts and guest, and it’s only growing. “In just one year, comparing our 2023 vs. our 2024 planning, this category of wellness integrations has grown substantially,” he says. “We have tons of creator houses and brand-sponsored houses asking us to integrate, which makes us feel confident that the Plunge experience is here to stay. We also feel like this helps open up room for local recovery studio businesses to develop their own experiences and showcase their services.”

Cianciotto recounts his own personal experience of coming back from Coachella several years back and thinking that he needed to adjust his lifestyle, and it is a thought that resonates for any of us who have used festivals as a place of indulgence. But even if you aren’t partaking in debauchery, you have to contend with “Coachella cough,” a local catch-all for the respiratory infections that people return with. It didn’t take more than looking around at the hundreds of people having fun at the Recovery Rodeo to realize that this is more than a trend, it is a movement that resonates widely.

“Our guest attendance swelled from 50 people to 300+ within a couple events,” Cianciotto notes. “There seems to be a consensus that moderation is on the rise and it’s definitely not inhibiting the fun. Whether people are hitting the plunges purely for recovery, attempting to cure a hangover, or finding a new way to socialize, the mood-boosting effects work and the demand is growing.”

Hyperice, the innovative company that’s creating recovery technology good enough for athletes like Patrick Mahomes and Naomi Osaka, went as far as having an actual integration on-site at Stagecoach, as well as a presence at the Recovery Rodeo and some other area branded events. As VP of Marketing Steph Smith notes, a big part of this presence if moving Hyperice away from just something associated with the Erling Haalands of the world, and something for everyone.

“A big focus for us right now is accessibility,” Smith says. “In the past a lot of these premium experiences have only been available for the most elite athletes, performers, and artists, so we can continue to look at ways to prioritize the masses and ensure our wellness products are available for all.”

This meant that festivalgoers and party attendees could try out their Normatec Boots and Hypervolt massage gun, seeing their powers first-hand as they incorporated them into their festival routine. “The response from those who experienced Normatec at Recovery Rodeo expressed gratitude for the opportunity to be able to rest and recharge after a weekend of walking and dancing through festival grounds,” Smith says. “They also appreciated the thoughtful integration of wellness into an event and found Normatec to be a helpful addition to their festival experience.”

As someone that tried these products, the benefits can be felt instantly. The boots inflate, tighten, and massage your legs for the length of your choosing, creating a moment of relaxation and mindfulness that goes beyond the affects on the legs. But after the session is over, your legs feel lighter and ready for whatever exertion lies ahead. For the festivalgoer, this means being able to put leg pain in the back of your mind. And for athletes or anyone else needing it on a more regular basis, the attributes are even more meaningful.

But wellness and changing attitudes as music festivals goes beyond things used to aid recovery, it also stems to the decisions made that need to be recovered from in the first place. The New Bar, a nonalcoholic cocktail concept, set up shop at both Coachella and Stagecoach, with a presence on the grounds and in American Express’ activation. Sampling drinks in both places, I was taken by how much The New Bar subverts the expectations of a “mocktail,” a word I shudder to even type. Often times, these drinks are just excuses to pack a bunch of sugar and juice into a glass to get cash out of non-drinkers, but The New Bar is far more thoughtful. Here, you’ll have a margarita that actually packs a similar bite to its alcoholic cousin, allowing you to take time and enjoy each sip. As founder and CEO Brianda Gonzalez states, a good cocktail forces you to slow down, and that’s just what the drinks at The New Bar do.

Gonzalez notes that she’s already seeing a difference in how festival attendees approach their work. “It’s been really interesting to observe the themes in my conversations with festivalgoers this year versus last year,” she says. “Last year, I felt a lot of folks had never tried a nonalcoholic drink, or had more hesitation about ‘the point’ of it all. This year, most people I spoke with had tried a drink or at least had awareness of the category in a more meaningful way. I think people are sick of feeling worse at the end of a long, fun weekend than they did when they entered it. People are looking to come back from their vacations feeling re-energized and alcohol doesn’t quite facilitate that.”

Gonzalez sums up The New Bar’s goal to “make being good to yourself fun,” and that’s the lasting thought that resonates to all of these brands and what they brought to this year’s festival season kickoffs. Festivals and festival culture is always evolving, and while the 2010s felt defined by localizing events and bringing the best in food, wine, and experiences from a particular area to the festival footprint, maybe the 2020s will be defined by a focus on self-care. It’s long been said that festivals are endurance contests that people age out of, where depriving yourself of basic necessities like quick and easy access to water and bathrooms makes little sense to anyone caring about their physical health. More and more, though, people are pushing back on this and brands like Plunge, Hyperice, and The New Bar are leading that charge.

“It just seems like health-conscious and wellness-centric party elements are in the zeitgeist,” Cianciotto says. “Consumers should be able to optimize their festival experience and shouldn’t feel like they have to choose between an all-out day-rager vibe or a quiet spa experience. I see a future where there’s room for both elements at the same event.”

Uproxx was hosted for this story by Plunge. They did not review or approve this story. You can learn more about the Uproxx Press Trip policy here.