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Global Wellness Summit’s Top 10

From Manning Up to Multisensory Immersive Art,
2024’s wellness trends are anything but usual

Okay all you men out there, man up and let your emotional armour down. There’s a men’s wellness retreat ready to guide you to better connect with your inner self and others. The rise in men’s wellness offerings is just one of 10 trends from the Global Wellness Summit’s (GWS) annual Future of Wellness report released in January this year.
According to the report, the wellness market has expanded its industry presence and economic impact as it infiltrates the sports and arts sectors. The economic impact measured by Global Wellness Institute (GWI) on the world wellness economy in 2022 was worth US$5.6 trillion and is forecast to reach US$8.5 trillion by 2027.
Here at home, Canada makes valuable contributions to the world wellness economy. In GWI’s latest rankings, Canada was eighth in its US$128-billion wellness economy in 2022 out of 218 countries worldwide.1 The nation’s wellness economy per capita, according to the report, was US$3,287 in 2022. Politicians and civic leaders take notice—the wellness economy as a percentage of Canada’s GDP is 5.98%.
All those involved in the spa and wellness industry will find the GWI Canada report (published in November 2023) informative and useful for their own marketing plans and where the industry is headed.

Defining Wellness and the Wellness Economy
When reviewing new trends, however, consider how GWI defines wellness: “[T]he active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.” The wellness economy includes industries that enable consumers to incorporate wellness activities and lifestyles into their daily lives. Eleven sectors fall under the wellness economy: personal care and beauty; healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss; public health, prevention, and personalized medicine; traditional and complementary medicine; spas; thermal/mineral springs; wellness tourism; workplace wellness; wellness real estate; physical activity; and mental wellness.

While the pandemic created many challenges (shutdowns, new safety/hygiene protocols, staffing shortages), we began to see the industry getting back on track in 2023 and continuing into 2024. People are much more aware of how important physical and mental wellness is for overall health and well-being. Weight loss drugs were in short supply as people looked for a quick fix for all those pandemic pounds they put on. Mental and sexual wellness programs have also taken on new importance in the industry.

1. Climate-adaptive Wellness

Expect innovative technology and treatments to cool our bodies, homes, and cities. As the planet becomes warmer and the effects of air-conditioning contribute in negative ways, there will be new thinking in home and building designs and architecture. Consider wild swimming, smart-tech cool clothing, and other wearables to monitor body temperatures. “Cool-cations” to mountain areas, more focus on hot/cold therapy facilities, and nighttime wellness programming will become more popular.

2. Power of the Pilgrimage

During the pandemic, people walked more when many gyms had to close. Walking is making a comeback with pilgrimages (think Camino de Santiago in Spain) on ancient trails and multi-day hikes with spiritual and cultural components and holistic tourism to places like Sri Lanka, Bhutan, India, and Italy. Resorts will offer programs to sacred sites, almsgiving (to monks like in Thailand), and other ceremonies.

3. Manning Up

You will see a rise of EVRYMAN and junto-style men’s retreats—not the old “let’s beat our chests” warrior-style retreats—where men can be their authentic selves, share their feelings, and become more introspective. Programs will be designed to cater to all stages of life.

4. Postpartum Wellness

A long overdue trend is a focus on postpartum care with quality and deep rest, baby-care education, massage, therapeutic bathing, postpartum retreats, apps to address postpartum depression, and counselling. More pelvic floor care products and services will be offered, along with supplements and skincare.

5. Longevity Has Longevity

Consumers will be flooded with longevity-related information. Longevity clinics will be popping up everywhere offering diagnostic testing, biomarkers, genetic tests, and full-body MRIs. Ozone therapy, cryotherapy, and IV drips will be some of the treatments used for apparent longevity purposes. However, buyer beware when it comes to longevity claims; more research is required, and only the well-off can afford the latest tech tools, treatments, and longevity retreats.

6. Weight-loss Drugs

Consumers were fed daily success stories of GLP-1-inhibiting weight-loss drugs. These have had major impacts on traditional diet, fitness, and weight-loss programs. Just take a “magic prick” and all will be lost. No sweat. More drugs will come on the market in 2024. Look for more whole-health weight-loss approaches combining nutrition and fitness coaching, health services, and metabolic health analysis. There will be a more evidence-based approach in the future that is not so reliant on drugs solely.

7. Sports in Hospitality

Let’s get social with sports. (Look at Taylor Swift!) This trend explores getting beyond the gym (usually a solo pursuit) and engaging in more social-empowering sports such as pickleball. Hospitality destinations are raising the bar to provide more pro-level facilities and even pro-trainers—a welcome development, especially for seasoned and pro athletes, that has been lacking in the past.

8. Home Tech Health Hub

Watch out for new home design and product environments that feature intuitive, sensory-enhanced, and personalized wellness support. This will go beyond the standard saunas, cold plunges, and yoga rooms.

9 Multisensory Immersive Art

Museums, hotels, and spas are offering multisensory art experiences—no longer simply gazing at a painting but involving all our senses through projection mapping, spatial sound technologies, and generative AI. Wearable technologies will allow generative artworks to become hyper-personalized, participatory, and therapeutically effective.

10 Under the Radar

Susie Ellis, the chair of GWI, reveals ideas from the GWS that have potential to become trends. This year, one key theme stood out: destigmatizing mental health issues and creating new solutions as rates of mental unwellness continue to rise, especially amongst teenagers. One suggestion is for wellness centres and spas to lower the age limits so younger people can participate in evidence-based healing treatments.

A Canadian Spa Expert’s View

Julie Simcox, director of Spa & Reservations at Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa in Cambridge, Ont., and chair of the Leading Spas of Canada, is the perfect person to weigh in on the recent trends report.

Simcox says that the Manning Up trend “resonates” in her own household. “My husband has joined and participated in two retreats from EVRYMAN in the last two years. It will only help relationships between women and men and between men and other men.”

She is also fully on board with the Postpartum Wellness trend. “There are so many health-related issues that women go through that do not get the recognition, studies, and data to combat and deal with them effectively,” she says. “I would also like to see it expanded to include menopause and women’s health in general.”

Weight-loss drugs touched a nerve with Simcox. “I am hoping the weight-loss medicine trends go quickly away. They are worrisome and show us how influential celebrity culture actually is. I think we have all wished for a magic pill to give us a body that we wish we had, but there are too many other side effects to make this a helpful trend for the wellness industry at this time.”

No matter if you agree or disagree with the trends outlined by GWS, one thing is for sure: wellness will increasingly play a more important role in society, in the economy, and in our daily lives. It’s up to the industry to develop the tools and technology so that everyone in society can benefit—not just those who can afford the latest and greatest.

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