Fitness Possibilities at Burning Man

Scene from the 2013 Burning Man 50K.  Photography credit: Jeff Clark.  Photo from the website: http://www.burningman50k.com/
Scene from the 2013 Burning Man 50K. Photography credit: Jeff Clark. Photo from the website: http://www.burningman50k.com/

They say anything goes at Burning Man. You can do pretty much anything at any time and for however long you like. But for lots of us, fitness is about routine. And it’s easy to lose that routine when you’re off schedule.

And it’s hard to imagine being more off schedule than at Burning Man, where a good deal of people take long siestas to escape the blazing afternoon sun and stay up until the wee hours, maybe even catching a few sunrises.

If you’re not sure what Burning Man is, check out the website here.  I’m headed there with Renald next week. We’re meeting up with some friends who have been before. It’s our first time and we are super excited.

It’s a week off the grid, in the desert, with 60,000 other people, in the dusty environment of Black Rock City, Nevada, more fondly known as “The Playa.”  It’s a temporary community that springs up once a year. They have a “leave no trace” policy, meaning that once the event is over, people are expected to pack up and take everything with them, leaving no trace whatsoever that there was ever anything going on.

So what are some of the fitness options for me at Burning Man?

1. One thing that intrigued me but I decided, ultimately, I’m just not ready to do, is the Burning Man Ultramarathon called the Black Rock City 50K. For a few years now they’ve been running this 50K race, and this year it starts at 5 a.m. on Wednesday, August 27th. Race headquarters will be Pink Lightning. Competitors will run a few laps around the perimeter of Black Rock City until they reach 50K.

I was intrigued because the idea of running with a bunch of people on the cracked desert surface from the early hours of the morning sounds like fun.  I decided against because the furthest I’ve ever run is 14.5 km, and I figure it’s not wise to jump from that to 50 km, especially in the inhospitable setting of Burning Man.

Still, I might just go out and do 15K with them, then bail. It sounds like a fun time. They describe it as “the healthiest party on the Playa.”

2. Yoga. There are a few different yoga options at Burning Man this year, including an “Iyengar Style Yoga Practice” at Camp Armageddon on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:30-8:30 a.m.  Lots of other yoga classes too.

3. Dancing.  The night we arrive, one of the camps (Planet Earth) is hosting a 70s and 80s dance party from midnight to 4 a.m.  No yoga the next morning, so that’s a possibility. And there are other dance parties throughout the week. And really, you can just dance anywhere, anyway, and any time you like.

4. Other Running. There is a group run on three different mornings around the perimeter of Burning Man from 7 a.m.-9 a.m. That sounds more do-able to me than the 50K and might be a nice way to meet up with other runners. We’ll see. It competes with yoga a couple of times.

5. Tennis.  Not for us, because it’s the day we arrive, but on Monday, August 25th there’s tennis on a regulation clay court from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Camp Ganesh Oasis. Renald would have loved that.

6.  Bicycles!  Other than some approved art cars and “mutant vehicles,” there are no motorized vehicles at Burning Man. Bicycles are the main mode of transportation.  And they encourage you to have fun lighting up your bike to make it visible at night and decorating any way you like.

Renald and I ordered two very cheap cruising style bicycles from Wal Mart and picked them up in Las Vegas on Monday just after we got our rented RV. They’re single gear with coaster brakes and yes, they’re not the highest end bikes out there. We paid $100 each for them.

But you know what? This morning we rode up the Vegas strip and back on our cheap cruisers, and it was one of the funnest bike rides I have ever had in my life!

Renald and I in front of Caesar's Palace with our cheap cruisers on our pre-Burning Man vacation.  Fun times!
Renald and I in front of Caesar’s Palace with our cheap cruisers on our pre-Burning Man vacation. Fun times!

So we’re pretty excited about riding our bikes at Burning Man (and tomorrow at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon).

That’s just a sampling of what’s on offer fitness-wise at Burning Man this year. It’s not an exhaustive list. Want to learn to hulu hoop?  Sure thing. What about competing in the Hippie Hunger Games? Show up at Camp Orphan/Endorphin Monday to Saturday at 3 p.m.  Or you can learn some pole dancing.

So if you’re going to Burning Man and don’t want to let your fitness routine slide, or if you want to try something new, there’s lots to do!  I’ll report back about my Burning Man experience (at least the fitness part) when I get back.

See you on the Playa!


2 thoughts on “Fitness Possibilities at Burning Man

  1. Intriguing activity options, Tracy! I look forward to hearing about what you ended up sampling. Also, I can relate to the single-speed fun ride; once in South Beach in Miami, a friend and I rented single-speed cruisers, and we had a fabulous time, both riding on the beach itself and all around town. It is a whole different vibe than road biking– I love them both, but the cruiser is not to be denied…

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