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From technology to diet books – what’s the future of health and wellbeing?

The wellness industry has been booming over recent years. Whatever’s going on with Brexit be damned because we’ve all woken up from the health malaise of the ‘90s and we’ve realised how we feel in mind and body is a number one priority. So where’s it all going?


Driven by personalised technology and experience-led services, the wellness industry is changing the landscape of more than the local gym. It is impacting the high street, the fashion industry and the way we work, giving employers plenty of food for thought.

Feeling good has never been so important

A recent study in The Telegraph explored the trends that seem to be defining the trajectory of the health and wellness industries. One area has its roots in a nuanced change to a longstanding trend; when times are tough we look for ways to make ourselves feel good.

Leonard Lauder, chairman of Estée Lauder companies, described it as “the lipstick index”, referring to how cosmetic sales often boom in troubled times. During the credit crunch it is said that the beauty industry profits fell just 1%.

These days however, it’s less about lipstick and more about healthy recipes with Joe Wicks’ first title in his Lean book series becoming the best-selling diet book since records began last year.

It is also recognised by employers that the health of individuals isn’t a perk that they can support, but a vital part of ensuring a happy and productive workforce, especially in a world of 24-hour communications.

University lecturer Ms Rosamond told The Telegraph: “Workplace wellness programmes are becoming more of a corporate social responsibility. They have shifted attitudes to action among organisations globally, raising awareness and entitlement to holistic wellness.”

Technology means health is really getting personal

Technology has been a big driver in the way we approach our health and wellbeing - data seems to be king as we can take greater control, while delivery services such as HelloFresh allow us to mitigate against supermarket temptation and busy schedules, having health delivered straight to the front door.

Instagram has also had its part to play in overhauling how health and wellbeing information and products are marketed, but it’s not without its pitfalls. Individuals are that much savvier to the pitfalls of buzzwords such as ‘clean eating’, which have peppered the blogosphere over recent years.

However, while we may feel that a lot of these trends are universal, the reality according to Lauren Armes, founder of Welltodo, is that:

“Wellness is still largely an urban-centric pursuit, especially when you look at boutique fitness, natural beauty, yoga and meditation-focused technology.” Nonetheless, there is a sense that there is a quest for real information rather than trends, fads and prescriptive ways of doing things.

We spoke earlier this year about personalised wellness, and the increasing move towards a health industry that recognises the individual rather than a mass rush to cut out all carbohydrates and survive solely on kale.

Another challenge, is that with change there is an economic and structural impact on wellbeing. What is the effect of an increasingly digital approach to health on salons and gyms? Lauren Armes suggests that the answer is in businesses that have a flexible approach such as pop up spaces and, here’s the golden nugget - a more personalised approach to treatments and customer service.

It’s all about experience

So when you bring together this increasing capability for the individual to take control of wellbeing and diet through cost effective and convenient apps and technology, what it means for expert facilities is that the emphasis on personalised experiences is more important than ever.

We’ve got the data we need in our iPhones, we’ve got the resources deliverable on tap, but what we can’t create in the comfort of our own homes is the expert experiences that we go to the pros for.

One person who knows this as well as anyone is Nelson Philippe, international marketing and strategy director of Endermologie. He told The Telegraph: “Treatments and experiences must be quick, convenient and accessible to encourage our audiences to visit bricks-and-mortar locations.”

Meanwhile, Jessica Bates, founder of online spa boutique Sulis and Thermae. “Uniqueness is becoming more important as the marketplace becomes more saturated. This doesn’t mean always finding a new niche or trend. Sometimes it can be as simple as improving on an already popular product with a different take or unique philosophy.”

Wellbeing is not a luxury

For our own take on it, the increasing opportunity for us all to take control of our wellbeing means one, extremely positive thing for professional experiences like spas: it’s personal.

For a long time we have been banging the drum for spa experiences to be recognised as a necessary part of wellbeing rather than confined to the realms of a luxury experience. It is something that those across the spa and wellness industry recognise with the increasingly high stress levels and stress related health problems that come through the door.

Our own Managing Director Abi Wright has said: “In the UK we see more than 15 million work days a year being lost to conditions such as illness, stress and anxiety, so it’s inspiring to see more leaders in industry and society helping widen the debate and ensuring it is given the priority it deserves. Wellbeing is something which needs to be incorporated into our work and home lives - a little and often rather than tacked on at the end of the working week.”

Equally, Rachel O’Malley, who won the Best Spa Therapist Award at this year’s Irish Tatler Spa Awards said: “I wish people would start viewing spa treatments less in the luxury line of things and more as maintenance.”

The result is that with increased transparency and understanding about our health and wellbeing, individuals are empowered to seek professional support in a targeted and meaningful way like never before.  Spas and other health institutions have an opportunity to offer a much more sophisticated and personalised experience than the history of 30 minute sample treatments that has been historically popular.

Now that we know and understand the value of our own minds and bodies, we are seeing more people invest in longer and more meaningful treatments, knowing full well that the spa experience is so much more than a little bit of pampering.  It’s an opportunity to really make all that technology garnered knowledge work to better your wellbeing, and have a meaningful impact on how you feel as well.


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