As a Coachella first-timer, I learned A LOT this weekend.
I came out to Indio, CA, with my co-worker Katie to see what all the Coachella fuss was really about (aka, we were assigned to cover the festival and we were straight-up giddy).
Armed with only a vague general idea of what to expect and a few essentials, we arrived late afternoon on Thursday ready to hit the ground running -- metaphorically running that is, because in reality, we hit the ground walking.
I was warned about all the walking so I did something I usually don't do and only packed comfortable flat shoes (I really don't know if I've ever packed a suitcase without heels until now, but I wanted to do this right).
First, here's a little background. I live in New York City and walk everywhere. I really enjoy walking and typically avoid taking cabs and Ubers in the city unless I'm going much farther than a mile. I am THAT person in the group who begs everyone else to keep up.
So I was extremely curious what exactly people meant when they said there is "a lot of walking" at Coachella. How much is "a lot"?
The answer: 20.9 miles in three days.
I walked an average of nearly seven miles a day by simply attending the festival.
After eating some incredible food (and drinking some deliciously refreshing drinks that were not exactly calorie-free), I figured I would feel like I needed to immediately jump out of vacation mode and hit the gym when I got back home, but the truth is, I feel like I was on one long desert hike all weekend.
It's also worth noting my steps in NYC typically involve pavement. This was walking through a little bit of grass and a whole lot of dust through the hot desert sun. I don't think those miles technically count more than other miles, but they sure felt like they did at the time.
And the numbers don't lie. Based on an online calculator and assuming we walked between 3 and 4 mph, we burned over 1,700 calories just by walking -- which, by the way, is really the only option.
The path from the drop-off to the festival entrance is reserved strictly for pedestrians (and pedicabs, but that's going to cost you and they don't even take you all the way).
Now I will note if you have a VIP wristband, you walk a little less. The VIP entrance is much closer to the Uber drop-off and the Black car drop-off is much more convenient than the regular Uber drop-off. (We did not have these wristbands, by the way, and we did not travel by fancy car service.)
This means your average festival-goer must walk several miles just to get to the stages and back. If you get lost, have an aggressive schedule designed to hear the most music at all the stages or are attending parties with long, winding entrances, your festival weekend might have included even more steps than mine.
All I know is I traveled back to New York on Monday a little tanner, a lot more tired and -- at least I'd like to think -- with some seriously toned leg muscles.
So to everyone fighting off the post-festival fatigue this week, don't feel too bad about missing your workouts. If you went to Coachella and all you did was walk around, you certainly got your steps in. And if you danced the night away, you burned even more calories.
That's right, people. I'm telling you to cancel your gym memberships and only attend music festivals. You're welcome.
Oh, and a little pro tip (yes, I'm considering myself a pro after one weekend): There are no shortcuts at Coachella. If you leave the festival through what you think is a back gate that will plop you out closer to where you need to be, you will regret it (I learned that the hard way).