wine country
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Fitcations are a booming industry, but it’s hard to know where to turn when picking your next destination. While factors like budget, types of activities, food and accommodations are all important, you don’t want to overlook atmosphere as a key factor in making your decision. If you’re interested in a flexible, welcoming environment that’s as focused on building relationships as it is building the perfect bod, then you’ll want to consider the FitnessMomWineCountry (FMWC) Wellness Weekends. We could sum up the weekend in three simple phrases — wine, gourmet food and work-at-your-own-pace activities — but that would be selling the event short. So we went ahead and turned to the FMWC source, Lynda Benson, to get the deets on the next FMWC retreat taking place May 24-26, 2013.

Girls Gone Sporty: What was your inspiration behind Wellness in the Wine Country?

Lynda Benson: Okay so here’s the deal. I knew after starting Fitnessmomwinecountry on Facebook that I wanted to do more. I wanted a place to say more and talk more, because I love to talk and I love people. After starting my website/blog, I thought “No this is not enough.” I knew that I was connecting with so many different people {both men and women}, that I wanted a way to get closer to them. I wanted to take myself off of the “page” and become real.

This is when I had thought of my Wellness Weekends. I have the perfect backdrop to create these: the Wine Country! That was easy. Everyone loves the area and people come from all over the globe to visit our valley and even our town, so why not? From there, I had to take my passion for entertaining and cooking and eating, along with my love of being outside as much as possible, and create something different, but still fun and very warm and welcoming.

It truly was just that easy. I love putting together events, my hubby and I love to entertain friends, and the kitchen is the heart of our home. This is a way that I can do all that on a larger scale. The idea of bringing people together to my home town and spending time learning, bonding, exercising, laughing, eating and just stopping to enjoy life all together is so amazing and empowering at the same time. The fans inspire me, the strangers whom I have yet to meet inspire me, the emails I receive inspire me.

Girls Gone Sporty: What can women expect to experience while at the event?

Lynda Benson: A great time, acceptance, support, connection, new recipe ideas and more. I know they will leave the event very refreshed and feeling great. I know they will have made new friends.

The weekend’s activities include:

Friday

  • Evening Harvest Bar-B-Q
  • Fire Pit Conversations and wine tasting
  • Tour downtown Sonoma

Saturday

  • Yoga by Stephanie Ring Yoga (located out of San Francisco)
  • Morning Wellness Jumpstart Breakfast featuring Fitnessmomwinecountry Smoothies
  • Fruit
  • Fitness and Body Expert Lori Marioni of Fit Tech
  • Guided Hike with spectacular views
  • Transportation included for off-site hike
  • Gourmet boxed lunches
  • Four-course gourmet wine pairing dinner
  • Private location
  • On-site massages available for separate purchase (event participant discount rate)
  • Shopping, tasting, touring Sonoma Plaza
  • Access to free wine tasting at participating locations on the plaza

Cost of attendance:

  • Friday pass: $50.00
  • Saturday pass: $150.00
  • Weekend pass: $175.00

Girls Gone Sporty: Do most women come on their own, or with friends? If they wanted to come on their own, but were nervous about not knowing anyone, what would you say to them?

Lynda Benson: The event is open to anyone wanting to spend a day or two enjoying the Wine Country in a relaxed setting. If someone were to come on their own, that would not even be an issue. This is not some stuffy, cliquey fitness group. We are all here to just be “normal,” to be “real.” No judging, no cliques, no drama. You can’t help but feel totally at home and welcome once here. I promise you that!

Girls Gone Sporty: What was your favorite part about last year’s event, and what are you most looking forward to for this year’s event?

Lynda Benson: I can’t pinpoint an exact favorite part of the event; however, I know that I spent the entire day just watching and listening to all the women laughing and getting to know one another. Making new connections and supporting one another on each other’s lifestyle journey. It was an almost surreal moment in time for me — a dream come true that actually brought me to tears at one point. Everyone just went at their own pace while hiking, and modified the yoga if needed. The food and cooking demo were the cherry on top and the wine and private tastings throughout the day were just an added bonus.

Girls Gone Sporty: If someone wants to come, what should they pack?

Lynda Benson: Well it depends on if they stay for both days or just one day. The wellness retreats are planned during the “good weather” season, but you never know in spring if we will get chilly or not. We are outdoors all day so layers and comfy workout wear is key. Of course athletic shoes are needed.

For the two day event, the guests would stay overnight and would have access to their room and shower if they wanted to change for dinner or the time we spend at the plaza touring, tasting or shopping. The one day event does include the four course meal and wine pairing at our location (the setting is outdoors under the lights and Wine Country evening sky). This can be attended in the clothes you wore all day with layers added if needed. This is not a “stuffy” event, so a certain dress code isn’t required. The entire day and night is strictly focused on enjoying fitness, outdoors and “chillin” while enjoying good organic food paired with some great wine.

Girls Gone Sporty: Does the pricing include sleeping accommodations?

Lynda Benson: No it does not. Each person can purchase a “Day Pass” to the event. We have a choice of Friday or Saturday, or they can choose the “Weekend Pass.” Once tickets are purchased, I communicate through email and/or phone and am able to help with room accommodations, if needed.

Girls Gone Sporty: It looks like it’s just women who participate in the actual fitness events, but if someone wanted to make a romantic weekend of it with their significant other, is that an option?

Lynda Benson: Yes, yes and yes! This is the Wine Country, after all! Not every event will be the same and this just happens to incorporate an hour of yoga. Some men actually do yoga or some might just want to join in for kicks. I know my hubby attended a yoga event with me and swore he would not participate, but after some eye rolling and sighs, he pulled up a mat right next to me and it made for some good laughs. So this is totally an option for men. If couples do want to come, there are plenty of things to do in the hour while we are out on the lawn. The hike is, of course, couple friendly and the dinner is as well. These events are not run on a strict guideline/time schedule. There is enough “down time” for anyone to have in-between activities.

Girls Gone Sporty: When do people need to sign up by, and how can they purchase their tickets?

Lynda Benson: Tickets are purchased right on my website www.fitnessmomwinecountry.com on the left hand side under the “FMWC Wellness Days” box. Credit cards and/or PayPal options are available. Tickets need to be purchased no later than two weeks before the event; however, Memorial Day weekend in Sonoma pretty much books up to full capacity, so if you want to sign up for a Weekend Pass, you’ll want to make your purchase sooner rather than later. Also, spaces are limited since there is a four-course dinner included. So the sooner someone purchases a ticket, the better.

Girls Gone Sporty: Is there anything else you would like to add or share?

Lynda Benson: FitnessMomWineCountry Wellness Weekends are my passion and dream. I want to see these grow and become more. The events are all about positive energy, support, acceptance and making new connections in the world. Sharing my own healthy lifestyle journey with others is important to me. I do what has been working for me and my family and just love to share it. It is, after all, about Fitness, Motivation, Wellness and Connection.

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