The wellness space is constantly transforming. This edition of 52INSIGHTS continues our exploration of the trends for the year and decade ahead, through the lens of youth health and wellness.
HEALTH AT HOME
Home-based health innovations help people to do curated wellness in their own way, in their own time. With young people expecting offers and plans to bespoke to the individual, this is set to become even more of a priority for the health and wellness industry.
There are many new products that are shaping the future of indoor fitness at-home - notably high-tech machinery that come with a high price tag. If you haven’t seen the dystopian Peloton ad and subsequent online reaction from viewers yet, you’re welcome. The indoor exercise bike is fitted with touchscreens and you can access classes streamed live on demand.
Individuals are also taking charge of their health at home in innovative ways through tech - for example through advancing AI apps like Babylon that give users access to healthcare 24/7. Think mobile banking - but for medical needs.
GAMIFYING WELLNESS + SPECIALISED TRAINING
Expect evolutions of apps like ‘Nike Run Club’ and ‘Zombie’s, Run!’ (an app that sets missions to encourage you run to survive a fictional zombie epidemic) that personalise and gamify training programmes for individuals:
“I’m in marathon training and have entered all my details into the Nike Run Club app and it gives me a personalised running plan. What I think is really interesting is how I get so much validation when I get to tick off my runs and goals on the app. Even every day on my FitBit I love when it celebrates the daily goals of hitting my steps or hydration etc… Even with apps like Headspace too - I love when it tells me I’ve done a two week non-stop streak. The rewards really incentivise you to keep going.” Fin, 26
‘Whoop Strap’ is another example of a FitBitesque wearable tech that moved to a more affordable subscription-based model enabling more people to access the tool. Young people find the gamifying of exercise beneficial - paying for a service to make sure you’re accountable for the exercise you’re doing is an added layer that keeps people on track to working towards their goals. Plus it’s fun too.
Youth are also not just sticking to one thing when it comes to wellness and are up for trying new things. To get the best in specific wellness or exercise areas, some dedicated folk are going to one place for yoga, and another for strength training etc… Which means that niche specialisations are a space for growth in this sector.
Elsewhere, body positivity guru Jameela Jamil’s online movement called ‘iweigh’ has been part of the cultural nurturing of confidence around physicality - especially for women.
“I think it’s really important to see inclusivity in media and acceptance of all shapes, sizes and body types. I’d like to see it become even more mainstream, having fat or plus sized characters that aren’t defined by their body size. I think it’s also important to continue to have discussions around body shape and health. They’re not always related and ignorance of that leads to a lot of hate and shame online. No one cares if a really skinny person eats nothing but junk food, because they’re skinny, but it’s easy to say you’re concerned about health if they’re fat, it just doesn’t make any sense. I also hope we see more people caring about mental health and physical health - when it comes to health bloggers/influencers/spokespeople, rarely do they talk about how exercise and eating well benefits your mental health as well as your appearance. Focusing on how we feel, rather than what we look like should be the next trend.” Eleanor, 27
This shift toward feeling well over looking well is only going to get more mainstream as Gen Alpha come into their teens and radical inclusivity permeates their outlook. Holisticism, for example, is a community dedicated to making wellness more accessible. “We’re here to support any human on a journey to becoming more truly themselves… especially if you’ve ever felt like you just didn’t fit in in the “wellness” space.”
We’re likely to also see more advocates for psychedelic drugs in the wellness space. With cannabis more in the mainstream, explorations into deeper consciousness as a way to identify therapies for the likes of addiction. Psychedelic retreats like Synthesis are already ‘pioneering’ transformative wellness through psychedelics.
EDUCATION: FROM FAD DIETS TO FAUX HEALTH
With more and more people turning vegetarian or vegan for the sake of our planet, could potentially see the concept of the ‘fad diet’ being replaced with ‘faux health’ diets that lack the diversity that people need. While plant-based diets can be great for health on the surface, restrictive eating may result among people following ‘sustainable’ diets without consulting nutritionists, and in doing so aren’t necessarily fuelling their bodies right.
“I think it’s important to give platforms to registered nutritionists rather than people who love the gym - because they’re the ones who know what they’re talking about. We need to educate people more. More teenagers than ever are choosing to be vegan now and I think it’s important that if they’re making these choices that they know how to properly balance their diet with what they need to be healthy.” Grace, 27
Expect education and science drives to tackle ‘faux health’ fads by debunking vegan myths and driving an understanding of nutrition and food as fuel. Places like Orangetheory are already marketing themselves on science-based credentials.
SLEEP & MEDITATION
Meditation has proved to not be a passing trend and will certainly be an area that we can expect innovation in over the coming years. Guided meditations aided by technology - think of apps like Calm (now valued at $1 billion) and Headspace (31 million users) - have driven a market for apps that help people to relax and unwind - at home and on the go. The Calm app provides you with ‘sleep stories’ which is a growing trend in itself - people using audio books and aural stimulation to bring them safely (and quickly) into dreamland. One sleep-story writer notes:
“Each one is written in such a way that the listener should never make it to the end. They are full of descriptive prose and, crucially for my stories, a journey that’s interesting enough to capture the imagination and make someone want to hear it, yet soothing enough to make them nod off. The idea harks back to when we were kids and an adult would read to us to make us fall asleep.” Phoebe Smith
Sleep training and ‘premium’ sleep techniques are likely to play key part of the future of wellness for young people.
SIMPLY MOVING & MOVING SLOW
There’s great interest now in movement for wellbeing - and this is set to be an increasingly hot topic in the wellness space in the coming years.
“I really believe the future of wellbeing lies in movement. The reason people - especially older people - are weak, slow and fragile is their inability to move properly. Movement classes like Animal Flow are becoming more popular and moving more will absolutely improve people’s quality of life. The difference in this versus say traditional ‘fitness’ is that it’s not about being toned and muscular, it’s about achieving functionality.” Jeff, 28, Qualified Personal Trainer
Ido Portal is a champion of ‘movement’ work, who talks about movement culture that ‘represents a contemporary paradigm shift in physicality, moving us away from main culprits in movement and fitness as well as the separation between health, aesthetics, performance and art.’
Other forms of this trend include things like ‘stretching’ classes - which may very well be the next pilates:
“Outer Reach’s website maintains that “Stretch is a way to live taller, higher and longer.” Its motto: “Aim higher. Extend yourself.” ...The idea is that stretching is not something to quickly run through before or after a workout but that it can be the main event, improving posture and circulation and mobility no matter your fitness level.” Marisa Meltzer
So this is about slow exercise rejuvenation - people finding ways to become more physically optimal, dynamic and functional - without the exhausting gym routine.
As our climate changes and concerns about the wellbeing of our planet interconnect with concerns about our own wellbeing, expect wellness to be a topic of increasing importance to young people. Whether it’s seeking mental sanctuary in the wilderness, or cultivating physical resilience through innovative aided-technology, there are a wide variety of avenues through which young individuals will seek to progress and improve their mental and physical wellbeing. The trends are tipping toward inclusiveness, slowing down and working on optimising the functionality of the inner world, just as much as the outer functions. Could you create a product, place or programme where the wellness of inner and outer worlds connect?
Both the gamification of wellness and the trends towards wellness inclusivity are connected with fun as much as they are with achieving successful results. If you can find something that’s as wacky as it is wonderful for your wellness young people are likely to be intrigued.