Five Things We Learned From The 2018 Wellness Summit
Illustration by Mr Andrea Mongia
From magic mushrooms to transformative travel, here are the next big health and fitness trends.
What venue could be better suited to host the 2018 Global Wellness Summit than the Technogym Village in Cesana, Italy, headquarters of the design-led fitness equipment manufacturer (or as it presciently christened itself a quarter of a century ago, “the wellness company”)?
The world’s first “wellness campus” is situated in the Wellness Valley (can you spot the theme here?), the brainchild of Technogym’s charismatic founder and CEO Mr Nerio Alessandri, in Romagna, northern Italy, where it’s estimated locals are now 10 per cent more active than their fellow countrymen. The futuristic complex boasts a T-Wellness Garden with a path for running and biking, a T-Wellness Restaurant serving locally sourced, nutritionally balanced cuisine and the T-Wellness Centre: a two-storey showroom that doubles as a gym for staff to use on their two-hour lunch break. (Delegates were ferried there at 6.30am for an optional pre-summit workout.) The lift doors bear the instruction: “Take the stairs to burn more calories.” Exhausting, perhaps, but please hear us out.
The theme of this year’s summit, which took place earlier this month, was “shaping the business of wellness”, which by all accounts is booming. The headline news, as is customary, was the Global Wellness Institute’s annual health check of the industry: $4.2trillion in 2017, up 12.8 per cent in two years. (By way of comparison, the fashion industry is estimated to be worth $3trillion.) The summit’s own trajectory is also illustrative: what began in the early 2000s as a spa industry convention has grown into something much more wide-ranging and vital. The 650 delegates included Dr Richard H Carmona, the former US surgeon general, who announced a “moonshot” to eradicate all preventable disease by sharing information and knowledge from around the world: wellness is about more than self-indulgence and pseudoscience.
Below are five trends from the summit of which well-informed MR PORTER readers should be well aware.
Fungi were a focus of time-lapsing cinematographer Mr Louie Schwartzberg’s opening address. Previously the preserve of Full Moon partygoers, the psychedelic variety are being re-evaluated by academics as potential treatments for depression and anxiety; the stress- and inflammation-relieving regular variety, meanwhile, are springing up everywhere from coffee to tea and hot chocolate.
Ms Melisse Gelula, co-founder of US healthy lifestyle publication Well+Good, had the lowdown on cannabidiol or CBD, an extract of cannabis that supplies the wonder weed’s benefits without the high. As legalisation for medicinal or recreational use rolls on, its uses seem almost unlimited: aiding sleep, boosting immunity, alleviating aches and pains, soothing sunburn and puffy eyebags…
One of the fastest-growing sectors, wellness tourism is going places. Health-club group Equinox is leading retreats and opening its first hotel, in New York, next year. Wellness cruise lines such as Blue World Voyages meanwhile are capsizing the sedentary, buffet-raiding stereotypes. The buzzphrase is “transformative travel”, where you return changed on a deeper level than a before and after shot.
The $134billion market for wellness real estate – buildings designed to support healthier living – is predicted to extend to $180bn by 2022. Several speakers talked about architecture’s positive effects; trend forecasting agency the Future Laboratory, which also presented, even foresees a space-age smart home that could, say, detect when your heart rate is high and spritz a calming aromatherapy spray.
The leading cause of disability worldwide is depression. Happiness was therefore a prevailing mood, from “the economics of happiness for businesses” to “coffee and happiness” by Mr Andrea Illy of the eponymous java purveyor, which sponsors the World Happiness Report. The secrets include strong IRL social connections – or moving to Scandinavia, which has four of the top 10 “sunniest” countries.