Muscle Milk Fitness Retreat Puts Emphasis on Interaction Over Freebies

By Alesandra Dubin June 22, 2010, 12:55 PM EDT

As it works to move from the gym-only realm into the lifestyle category, fitness beverage brand Muscle Milk presented its first “Muscle Milk Light Women’s Fitness Retreat,” an interactive fitness, health, and wellness pop-up at a rented home in Beverly Hills. The three-week program ran June 1 to 21 and included indoor and outdoor training facilities for classes, educational health seminars, and full-service spas. Lifestyle marketing manager Shane McCassy oversaw the event internally, with production by New Breed and PR from Fingerprint Communications. In all, about 215 people circulated through the house during its run, including class participants and guests of spa nights.

But this was not one of those events where guests just came to scoop up products—or pose for photos and get paid for their appearance—and quickly leave. The brand and Fingerprint turned down a cadre of interested celebrities and guests if they didn't want to break a sweat. Muscle Milk's McCassy said, “We wanted people to come and work out and participate.” Big-name trainers on site for instruction included Under Armour brand ambassador Gunnar Peterson, plus Andrea Orbeck and Jennifer Cohen.

Fingerprint's Jessica Meisels added, “We got the right message out to the publicists and the managers that this wasn't a paid experience, showing up and smiling with [a product]. We said no in favor of people who felt the energy of the brand, and there were plenty who came up just to work out and not get photographed. It was about bringing people into this environment of health and fitness to learn about the brand, not just about gifting and product.” To that end, the house stayed true to its clean-looking residential feel, with simple logos done in black on the white palette, but without overwhelming brand imagery.

Before classes, guests picked out their workout gear in the Under Armour boutique set up in the home. Oakley offered its line of functional eyewear for active lifestyles. Carasoin Day Spa provided spa services, and Alterna styled hair. And, for an only-in-L.A. experience, Healing Hands' Anne Meincke was the pop-up's on-site energy healer. All classes at the retreat were meant to promote women leading a healthy and active lifestyle, with scheduled classes including the likes of boot camps, kickboxing, dance, and yoga.

“Once people learn about our product, they love it,” said McCassy, who said the marketing approach was a first for the brand, which now plans for it to be an annual event. “So for us this was an organic, natural way to introduce celebrities, media, and trendsetters to the brand, and have them come to our event and leave with more knowledge of wellness. And we definitely accomplished that. People left happy and loved our product. It was a huge win for us across the board.”

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