If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I research everything. But when it came to Oprah visiting my hometown, I went in blindly. Oprah could do no wrong. I had no idea what to expect.
Oprah’s Virtual Tour
With the recent turn of events, Oprah decided to take her tour to you virtually: Your Life in Focus A Vision Forward. This time it deals with mental and physical health during the COVID crisis.
You can catch her Saturday mornings beginning May 16 through June 6 at 11am ET / 8 am PT.
If you register on the WW site, you even get the workbook that I reference below.
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Some things worth knowing about Oprah’s 2020 Vision Tour before you go:
1. Oprah Winfrey Visits 9 Cities on her Wellness Tour
Here are the complete list of cities, dates, and special guests:
- January 4, 2020, Sunrise, Florida with Lady Gaga
- January 11, 2020, St. Paul, Minnesota with Tina Fey *
- January 25, 2020, Atlanta, Georgia with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
- February 8, 2020, Brooklyn, New York with Michelle Obama
- February 15, 2020, Dallas, Texas with Tracee Ellis Ross
- February 22, 2020, San Francisco, California with Kate Hudson
- February 29, 2020, Los Angeles, California with Jennifer Lopez
- March 7, 2020, Denver, Colorado with bestie Gayle King
I was lucky to catch her on the second stop of her tour.
To get tickets, check out Ticketmaster. I also recommend checking your local Facebook groups if it’s sold out.
Can’t make it to all (a dream of mine) or any of Oprah’s nine-stops of her wellness tour?
You can follow along and catch up on all of her celebrity interviews on Oprah’s Facebook Page.
2. This is a full-day event
I figured Oprah would speak for an hour or so, mainly acting as a facilitator with her guests, right? I was shocked to find that Oprah took the stage for close to 7 hours. When she wasn’t physically onstage, she was on the floor, mingling with the audience.
And, just as you would expect from Oprah, she seemed so sincere and authentic. She ad-libbed. She joked. I never caught her looking at a teleprompter.
Oprah revealed some of the other possible names for the tour. She tells the audience that she immediately disregarded one, Oprah 2020 because she didn’t want to get the audience too excited.
What’s included in the ticket price?
While you could spend upwards of $1000 for VIP seats, our $170 seats were actually incredible. Close enough to really see her and with a screen right in front of us for all of the close-up shots.
On the floor, she interacted with her famous friends: Suze Orman, Mindy Grossman who is the CEO of WW, and Tamryn Hall. (She later brings the first two up to the stage for a chat).
I had a great view from above but if you have floor tickets, you have a chance of meeting the Great Miss O.
You’ll also receive a swag bag and boxed Panera lunch (more on that below).
3. Wear comfortable clothes
This is a long day, starting at 8:00 am. You (and 15,000 others in our case) will be on your feet for much of it:
- Radha Agrawal and Daybreaker starts the morning with its electrifying pre-show dance party
- Julianne Hough leads everyone through dance moves as part of her new fitness program, Kinrgy (not so easy in our tight seats)
- Jessie Israel of the Big Quiet guides you through a meditation session
Leave your cute heels and tight pants at home. Many people wore yoga pants and sneakers (or running shoes as they like to call it here in Minneapolis).
4. Each Event is Unique
If you have the opportunity to go to more than one event, do it. While I’m some parts would remain the same, Oprah tries really hard to get to tailor her material to her audience and host city.
She started the show with a nod to the Minnesota Vikings. She remarked that here, the Color Purple means as much to us as it does to her (there was an afternoon Vikings game that day). This, of course, brought a big roar from the crowd.
And yes, Oprah, mentioned the extremely cold Minnesota temperatures a lot that day, despite having been a long-time Chicago resident.
Both Oprah and Tina Fey discussed the impact The Mary Tyler Moore show had on their careers, mainly that a woman could have a life outside the home. Oprah went on to say that early in her career, she actually applied to WCCO, the local Minneapolis television station.
She played a montage on the screens of her and Tina Fey visiting the Mary Tyler Moore statue in downtown Minneapolis and even showed an old clip from her show, remaking the opening to he Mary Tyler Moore show.
Oprah brings audience members up to the stage
Oprah called up two women to the stage who had gotten locked out of their hotel room earlier. Rather than missing the event, they showed up to the XCel Energy Center, wrapped in borrowed hotel comforters.
She brought another group up, holding signs asking for a hug.
5. You’ll receive a swag back full of goodies
Upon entering the arena, you will receive a burlap tote which includes your workbook, a pen, some snacks (WW approved: a bar and a bag of tortilla chips), deodorant, Love and Beauty sulfate-free shampoo, and conditioner. There’s also a coupon for WW but you’ll currently get a better deal online.
6. You’ll write in a journal
At some point, Oprah will ask you to open that workbook. Part professor and part therapist, Oprah will lead you through a series of exercises. The ultimate goal goes back to the name of the event, your life in focus.
You will set a wellness intention (physical or emotional) and sign a contract committing to it. Through this, you build your own personal definition of wellness.
Suze Orman, a long-time guest of the Oprah Show, came up on stage to discuss her definition of wellness: (1) live below your means but within your needs (and not your wants) and (2) wellness is created when you get as much pleasure from saving as spending.
6. This is a WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) Sponsored Event
In 2018, Weight Watchers officially became known as WW, with a focus on wellness rather than dieting. Oprah, a spokesperson and part-owner, mentions WW frequently. However, it’s done in such a way that it’s inspiring rather than preachy.
With its CEO on stage, Oprah shows a 10-minute video on the history of WW, recent changes and the rebranding of the company.
A local WW member takes the stage
In each city, Oprah invites a successful WW member to share their story on stage. In ours, a twenty-something woman tells how through WW and a dedicated fitness program, and lost half her body weight.
Everyone got emotional when she explained that one of her proudest moments was when she could tie her shoelace in the middle of her shoe, and not on the side, something thin people take for granted.
Oprah discusses her lifelong battle with weight
One of the most heartfelt parts of the day occurred when Oprah described her first experience on the Tonight Show. She dressed for the occasion, buying a new pair of shoes to match her dress.
Instead of Jonny Carson, Joan Rivers hosted the show. Oprah unexpectedly gets asked about her weight and gets publicly fat-shamed on national TV. Oprah reminds us that this tactic never works.
Oprah shares more of her lifelong struggle with weight. She remembers the shock of seeing her larger-size reflection in a storefront window. And, she played a scene from the most-watched episode of her show, the one when she drags a wagon filled with fat, the same amount that she lost. (You can see that video at the footer of the above-mentioned post). But Oprah tells us she wasn’t healthy. She had been living on a liquid diet for months and as soon as that episode ended, she proceeded to gain eight of the pounds back in one week.
Rather than losing, Oprah now uses WW to maintain her weight.
This marketing technique works
This sponsored event reminded me of my own success years ago with WW. I always liked their program. My youngest child is turning nine and I’ve never gotten close to my pre-kids weight. Days after this event, I rejoined WW.
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7. You get lunch
You will receive a ticket for a boxed Panera lunch, including its WW points calculation. We had three options: a turkey sandwich, mixed green salad, or a Mediterranean hummus sandwich. All came with water, apple, and chips.
I would suggest sneaking out around 11:30 or 11:45 and asking the Panera kiosk what time they will serve lunch. Long lines formed quickly. Our line ran out of food so we moved to another. It took the full hour to get our lunch. This was the most disappointing part of the day.
Your local venue may sell its own food. I saw women walking around with wine, pizza, and coffee.
8. Make time for the gift shop and photo opps
My advice is to hit these first before the pre-show. I bought a $35 T-shirt. They also sold hoodies and water bottles.
There were several staff members set up to take your photo with a cardboard Oprah. Again, the lines were long so it’s best to do this early.
9. Oprah’s a Natural Storyteller
She’s super funny
Oprah’s show aired for 25 years. At 4pm, every day after school, I like many of you watched her show. I know she’s smart and passionate, but I forgot just how funny she can be.
Even though Tina Fey was the celebrity-guest, Oprah got most of the laughs that day. Her delivery was dead-on. With every story, you remember why you love her.
Tina Fey’s best line of the day involved this photo (except The Rock’s face was in the center).
She suggests that as humans, we should start over, and send all these guests to an island to re-populate the earth.
Her stories will stick with you
Two stories, in particular, stuck with me. One, of gratitude and the other of intention.
- A story of gratitude
Early in her career, Oprah got invited to a party at a rich woman’s house. How did she know she had money? First, by the expensive cars in her garage but secondly by the trees in her yard.
You see, this woman had six trees. Oprah looked through the back window of this woman’s house and thought, one day, I’m going to have enough money to have six trees in my backyard. This, of course, Oprah achieved. She counted her six trees. And then, she decided to count the trees in front of her house. She needed to hire a tree counter. And when he was done, he told her, you have 3400 trees.
Every time Oprah returns home, she stops the car in front of her house and shows gratitude–gratitude for her life and gratitude for her trees.
- A story of intention
For the second story, Oprah gives us a bit of history. She was born to a couple who had sex just one time. People called this an accident. But that’s not true. You see, she says, people are created for a purpose.
Her grandmother raised her as a young child. They lived a modest life, with no running water. Her grandmother taught her to do laundry outside so that one day, Oprah can learn to do it too. But Oprah knew that she would never live that life. And, we all know how that ends. She explains that her grandmother, a domestic worker’s, greatest dream for her granddaughter would be to find nice white folks to work for. Oprah smiles and tells us of all the nice white folks who now work for her!
Oprah on aging
Oprah just turned 65 and she has never seemed more comfortable in her own skin. And, that’s what she wants for her audience.
- In your 20s, Oprah says, you are finding yourself. You’re making mistakes. She tells a story about one of her “daughters” from her school. This girl, in her early twenties, calls Mama O one day and complains that she wants to quit her job in finance because she’s not passionate. Well, the audience expects Oprah to have responded, “go find your passion, girl.” But instead Oprah tells the girl, don’t you dare quit that job. Do you have money? When you make some money, then you can find that passion.
- In your 30’s Oprah tells us, you grow into becoming more of yourself.
- In your 40’s, you work on your disease to please. Oprah tells a funny story of the fear she had telling Stevie Wonder that she could not go to his party. And when she nervously makes the call to tell him, he responds, OK. That was a turning point for her, knowing that you can say no and it’s OK.
- And your 50s, Maya Angelou once told Oprah, is everything you’ve been meaning to be.
10. You will leave inspired
Another guest, not mentioned earlier, Angela Manuel Davis, took the stage to tell us about her wellness journey. An athlete growing up, Angela found herself battling depression after having children. After one spin class, she was hooked and signed up to become a spin instructor. (She became one of Soul Cycle’s most famous instructors, with a huge celebrity following). She literally “spinned her way out of depression” (sic). She tells the audience to “change your mind, change your body, change your life.”
Both she and Oprah tell us that “challenges are not happening to you; they’re happening for you.”
There is no way that you can’t feel moved after a day with Oprah. If Oprah wants me to put my life in focus, well then, that’s what I’ll do.