Part 2: Global Wellness Summit Trends Forecast 2021

By Sarah Todd


By Sarah Todd

04 February 2021

The annual Global Wellness Summit Trends Forecast shines a light on key developments predicted to shape the future of wellness.

With the Global Wellness Institute now citing the value of the global wellness economy as US$4.5tn, we are seeing a broadening of how we perceive wellness as demand grows within mainstream audiences.

The challenge for spa and wellness businesses will be how to adapt to this new era and adopt new delivery methods and revenue streams for the future.

In the second part of a new series dedicated to sharing the Global Wellness Summit Trends Forecast 2021, we bring you the highlights of three further key trends.


Just breathe…

The way we breathe has profound effects on our mental and physical health and breathwork practitioners from Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof to behavioural physiologist Dr Peter Litchfield, who has been on the vanguard of breathing science for nearly 40 years, are bringing the practice to ever-larger audiences.

Backed by increasing scientific evidence, breathwork is being used to address more and more topics, including physical rehabilitation; fitness; community building; and relief from chronic stress, trauma and PTSD. It might even help us strengthen our immune systems.

Even the simple act of reciting a Shakespearean sonnet can put you in a therapeutic zone, says spiritual breathing pioneer Dan Brulé: “Reading certain poems and prayers out loud slows your breathing to somewhere between four and eight breaths per minute, which lowers blood pressure and decreases cortisol levels.”

Breathwork parties and festivals are on the rise, such as Blisspoint, run by digital nomad Lisa de Narváez, which curates club-like soundscapes embedded with customised frequencies to help people connect with their breath.

There are even studies that point to breathwork as a possible therapy for one of the world’s deadliest diseases: hypertension. Perhaps the best part of all,  breathwork costs absolutely nothing.

According to James Nestor, author of Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art and a 2020 GWS keynote speaker, there is a bright future for breathwork: “I think a lot of people have ignored breathwork because it’s so simple and it’s free. There is so much research out there and so many people are discovering for themselves how transformative it is, I think it will keep growing. I certainly hope so because we need it now more than ever.”


The self-care renaissance

With the Covid-19 pandemic moving health up the agenda for governments, businesses and individuals, the GWS predicts that the world is about to undergo a new kind of medical renaissance in which two complementary yet often competing entities – healthcare and wellness –  will converge.

Wellness is learning to ‘lean in’ to science, establishing standards and holding itself accountable. In tandem with this, there is a broadly growing realisation that it’s better to stay well than to wait for illness to strike.

Healthcare is also beginning to borrow from wellness ideology, transforming what was once a sterile and strictly curative industry into a more holistic, lifestyle-oriented and even pleasurable one.

Integrative medicine pioneer Dr Kenneth Pelletier predicts a future where the two entities converge in a deeper way: “If you look three to five years ahead, it’s inevitable that there will be a much more seamless exchange between healthcare and wellness, where there’s mutual respect and wider acceptance based on evidence rather than bias.”

As we look to this future where healthcare and wellness converge, an excellent example is exemplified by Octave’s Sangha Retreat in Suzhou, China [pictured above], which represents what the GWS believes could be next for healthcare and wellness.

It is predicted that, in this new era, hospitals may well take inspiration from five-star resorts; yoga studios could measure improved telomere length; and prescriptions may be coupled with hyper-personalised guides to optimal health.


Adding colour to wellness

Graphic videos and the protests of summer 2020 prompted many global businesses across a wide range of industries to voice support for anti-racism.

In the wellness industry, companies including Lululemon, Nike and Goop quickly issued statements of solidarity, affirming their commitment to diversity and inclusion.

This has become a popular topic in the wellness industry but, to generate substantive change, the wellness industry must recognise and address the false narrative that its offering is mainly for affluent white people.

A discussion must take place about how the industry can add colour to wellness by valuing Black consumers and wellness professionals, acknowledging the different ways that Black people  experience wellness offerings and spaces to highlight racial inequalities.

The GWS here provides insights into the future, illustrating how companies are changing the current wellness narrative, and gives suggestions for how the wellness industry can remove tired stereotypes and misconceptions.

Companies that value wellness for all racial groups and income levels are predicted to thrive as they expand their consumer markets and increase both their business innovation and profitability.

According to this trend, wellness enterprises that value diversity, respect Black wellness needs, and work to support more equitable access, represent the future of wellness.

Be inspired...

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