Millennials are having birthday parties at the gym

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When San Francisco-based wellness coach Caroline Jordan turned 31, she wanted to host a big celebration in a nightclub. She wanted to play her favorite music and get sweaty, but she didn’t want to feel pressure to wear heels or drink alcohol.

Instead, she rented out a club called City Nights and hosted a “Birthday Bootycamp.”

Her friends spread out among the nightclub’s various stages as she led them in a routine of squats and lunges under a glimmering disco ball. The night culminated in all of the students doing 31 burpees.

Jordan is one of an increasing number of young people who are shunning the bar in favor of the barre (or the spin bike, squat rack or yoga mat). To celebrate their birthdays, they sign their friends up for 5K races, or convince them to join them for a SoulCycle class.

Gyms have long hosted birthday parties  but those have historically been for little kids.

MyGym, a kid-focused fitness facility with outposts nationwide, also offers party packages with games and puppets. Even the New York-based luxury health club chain, Equinox, offers children’s party packages at some of its locations.

But other fitness facilities are learning that there is a market for parties beyond just hyperactive children.

CrossFit Triple City in Milwaukie, Oregon had been offering $185 birthday packages for kids, which includes an “American Ninja Warrior”-inspired obstacle course. But after CrossFit Triple City employee Sally Brown hosted birthday parties for each of her kids there, she realized the missed opportunity. The gym recently started advertising parties for adults too.

The love-hate relationship with the ‘Suffer-fest’

Jordan says she believes the shift in partying at gyms over bars comes both from a desire to be healthy, as well as a desire to foster deeper connections with people.

“When you’re out partying, you aren’t actually bonding with people,” she said. “You can’t hear them, and you probably won’t remember it the next day.”

She says people naturally want to do things collectively as a team and suffer together — just not the hangover type of suffering.

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