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How a DC Goat Yoga Event Exploded, Almost Broke a World Record, Then Withered in the Summer Heat

A tale of the DC goat yoga dream that almost was.

Image via iStock.

It was only supposed to be a couple of goats.

When the local fitness chain Vida Fitness decided to host a free goat yoga workout this weekend, it all seemed easy enough. Get a couple goats out at Yards Park, have some millennials do a few chaturangas and snap a few Instas, clean up any wayward poop (from the goats, not the humans), and pack up the animals and head home.

But, because this is 2019 and we have gatecrashers at Area 51 and Marianne Williamson and hail in Mexico City and a montage of other unpredictable curveballs thrown in Earth’s strike zone, it wasn’t as simple as that.

Instead, word about the goats spread. And spread. And spread. And then there were 500 human RSVPs for a class in which there would only be 20 goat RSVPs (you don’t need to be a mathematician to calculate that’s a less than ideal human-to-goat ratio).

“It blew up,” says Allison Rand, who leads marketing at Vida and therefore was deemed head of mission control for Goat-A-Palooza 2k19, planned in collaboration with Mayor Bowser’s #FitDC campaign.

“We got 500 RSVPs and we didn’t even send it out to everybody. My coworkers were coming up to me and were like ‘You didn’t tell us you were doing goat yoga.’ And I was like, ‘I didn’t have the chance. This has been live for a half hour.'”

So Vida decided to grab the traction by the wiry goat horns and do what any other group would do when presented with 500 humans clamoring to roll around in the grass with cloven-hooved mammals: beat a world record, of course.

The current record for the world’s largest goat yoga class was set February in Arizona, when 351 people and 84 goats came together to seek nirvana. Vida wouldn’t be able to beat the goat portion of that record, but they could break the world record for the most humans participating in a goat yoga session. (Life is all semantics, even with goats.)

The goats, who were coming in from a place in Maryland called Goat to be Zen (its slogan: “Peace. Love. Goats.”), would participate in three hour-long classes, with breaks in between for them to properly rest and hydrate before their next session. The event would be broken down to 125 participants in each, ensuring more human-goat interface.

Naturally, some delightfully goat-centric advertising abounded (“Let go of daily stress and bend it ba-aa-aa-ckwards”), and after the event, all human participants would get a free drink at nearby Willy’s, where they would also be offering a special goat yoga menu. (When asked if there would be goat on the menu, Rand gasped. “We would never let that happen.”)

The ball was rolling, hooves were hitting the ground, and five days out from the event, Rand was determined all would go smoothly—this would be no goat Fyre Festival. “I wouldn’t call it [a] spiral out of control,” she says on the phone when I call, breezing past any suggestion that these quadrupeds were making her life a living hell. “It’s in control.”

She pauses. “It kind of goes beyond my current experience,” she says, which makes sense because she is a marketing director, not a goatherd, “but it’s going on my résumé.”

The advance team tackled the event like it was a presidential inauguration: Walk-throughs were in the works to ensure everything went according to plan, extra yoga teachers would be on-site to ensure no one threw out their backs, and cleaning supplies were ordered for any wayward goat expulsions that may have ended up on yoga mats.

Vida shelled out $500 to make sure all the creatures were up to date on their shots, and volunteers were going to be trained on how to best herd the animals around so all yogis could get in their goat time. (“But if a goat connects with a human and wants to stay with them, that’s the goat’s choice and we respect that,” Rand added).

But then, as tends to happen in the summer on a planet that is slowly cooking itself, it got hot. Like, really, really hot. As in, too hot for goats.

DC issued a heat advisory this week, and the expected high for Saturday is 101 degrees, fine if you’re a human who’s going to plop down by the pool all day. But not fine if you’re a fur-covered baby animal, newly released into this strange, goat yoga-obsessed world on wobbly legs.

(Surprisingly, Googling “ideal temperature for goats” doesn’t yield a ton of answers, but according to the highly reputable, they thrive best in mild climates.)

You can probably see where this is going: Goat yoga on Saturday had to be canceled.

But fear not—this story has a happy ending. Rather than let the dream of a goat-filled DC die, Vida is having another go(at) at it. The event has been rescheduled for September 7, when the weather should be more favorable to yogis both four-legged and not.

And this time? They’re aiming to break the actual Guinness World Record. Which—yep—means there will be a shit ton of goats.

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.