Guest post by Charise Stephens

Macon-Bibb County has long been known as the “Heart of Georgia” because of our geographic location in the middle of the state, our rich heritage of music being created in this historic city, and our vibrant artistic community. Now, Macon is on its way to getting a new name –“Fit City” – because of its growing focus on health and wellness.

Why is Macon deserving of this new nickname? It can be attributed to the creation of the Georgia Wellness and Fitness Festival (GWFF) and its year-round programming and special events in Middle Georgia. GWFF is headquartered at 555 Poplar Street in downtown Macon with a satellite office opening in Atlanta in 2019.

A bike ride as part of the Georgia Wellness and Fitness Festival
A bike ride as part of the Georgia Wellness and Fitness Festival. Photo courtesy GWFF.

The Georgia Wellness and Fitness Festival started in 2013 to celebrate fitness with a weekend devoted to inspiring an active and fit lifestyle. The event has grown rapidly, from 1,500 participants in its first year, to an audience of over 20,000 healthy living enthusiasts from across the state who participated in 2017. With the support of many Middle Georgians, GWFF is one of the fastest growing fitness events in the Southeast. It now holds the distinction of being the only one-week fitness festival in the United States.

This is a milestone year for the Georgia Wellness and Fitness Festival: GWFF will be celebrating its 5th fitness birthday! For its 2018 event, GWFF is pulling out all the stops. This year’s theme is “For the Love of Fit,” and we want to share our love of health with Georgians.

Across the state, ten different cities will host festival programming, including 35 featured fitness events. There will be something for everyone, with activities ranging from traditional fitness favorites like boxing and running to more recent fitness trends like yoga and paddle boarding. There will also be health-related training sessions and a one-day conference.

So, mark your calendar for this nationally recognized fitness festival: it will take place from September 3 -9, 2018. Middle Georgians of all health and fitness levels are encouraged to participate in the festival.

You may ask yourself, how can I get involved? The answer is simple: there are many opportunities for your church, workplace, family and friends to participate in the 2018 Georgia Wellness and Fitness Festival:

kids joining a bike ride as part of the Georgia Wellness and FItness Festival
Kids joining a bike ride as part of the Georgia Wellness and Fitness Festival. Photo courtesy GWFF.

Register your church for the Church Challenge and pledge to share a sermon on “Healthy Body, Healthy Spirit.” Encourage your church members to participate in the festival activities with you.

Beginning in the month of August, check out our website at for a list of events with their times and locations. Mark your calendars so that you can participate in these events. Spread invitations to your social media followers with the hashtags #gafitfest, #fortheloveoffit , and #2018gafitfest, and make plans to attend the festival activities with your friends and family. Challenge your neighbors and co-workers to participate with you!

If you are interested in hosting an event or becoming a community partner, please call our organization at (478) 747-7920 or email us at

The Georgia Wellness and Fitness Festival is currently looking for businesses interested in becoming corporate sponsors for our events, and we have a variety of sponsorship packages with flexibility to fit your outreach needs.

GWFF is just around the corner and we need your participation to be successful. Join the movement and let’s make generational change. Our goal is to make Macon-Bibb County one of the healthiest communities in the nation.

Georgia Wellness and Fitness Festival and its Living Healthy cities series is your community voice for health and wellness. We were created to be a resource organization to advocate, educate, train and support all types of physical activities, healthy eating, and self-care opportunities. The organization has 2020 goals and 2030 goals to change the health landscape of the communities we serve.

Charise Stephens is the founder of the Georgia Wellness and Fitness Festival. This young lady is a National Spokesperson for the National Fitness Museum, an America Walks Fellow (and the only representative selected in Georgia), a Go 4 Life representative and the first black woman in the nation to start a fitness festival of its kind. She was just selected as a local Jefferson Award nominee and Who’s Who in Nonprofit service.



Published by Guest Columnist

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