WTS International publishes wellness trend report for 2021
Every year, WTS gathers the latest trends in spa, fitness, lifestyle, and wellness from our global staff of directors, service providers, and industry experts. Our findings are presented below.
Americans spend the majority of their lives indoors. According to the EPA, indoor air quality could be 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air.* Scientists are studying the spread of viruses, including COVID-19, and how to remove them from the air. Consumers are interested in new filter technologies capable of capturing and destroying particles. People will expect businesses to include filtration systems in offices, restaurants, fitness centers, schools, and all other shared indoor spaces. These air filtration upgrades will be listed as an amenity to entice customers and tenants. Home units will trend as well, with people prioritizing spending on items that protect themselves and their families.
* U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1987. The total exposure assessment methodology (TEAM) study: Summary and analysis. EPA/600/6-87/002a. Washington, DC.
Mental wellness is finally getting the attention it deserves. Popular apps like Calm and Headspace offer micro-sessions or mini-mental breaks through guided meditations. You’ll now see more devices with build-in alerts to remind you to stop and breathe when it measures that your heart rate is up. Wearables will identify your habits and help track your progress toward reducing stress and being healthier. New features include vibrations and sound therapy that can cue you to get grounded and help improve your mood. Even in gyms, more holistic classes will be offered that connect the body and mind to strengthen total wellbeing. Tech giants like Pinterest are now entering the space with resources that include mental wellness “pins” with positive mantras, breathing exercises, and meditations for browsers.
With fitness centers only open in a limited capacity – or not at all – many trainers have turned to virtual classes. This has allowed gyms to expand beyond their local clientele to reach a global audience, while allowing customers to connect through a live experience, as if they were in a traditional group class. Many gyms have pivoted and can now compete with home brands such as Peloton and Mirror. Those home gym options have gained popularity too as people have become more comfortable with tech in their fitness routines. Nisha Patel, WTS’s Marketing Manager for fitness properties, says, “I’m noticing more people connecting with trainers via social media, especially since there’s been a huge increase in the number of trainers leveraging social media to offer free classes. They are also offering at-home fitness advice.”
People are looking beyond the mere number of hours of sleep they get to better understanding their quality of rest. Research has shown how circadian rhythms, a person’s internal clock, impact health. Circadian rhythms are influenced by environmental factors, especially light. Devices will flood the market that filter out blue light from screens on tablets, phones, and computers, which interfere most with sleep. You’ll see more of these devices in the workplace as growing research supports a link to productivity. Also coming are sleep tracking devices that can dim your lights, drop your room temperature, turn into a sound machine, track your sleep, give you personalized recommendations on winding down, and soon may be able to release a relaxing scent.
Real estate design for community spaces will focus less on well-appointed amenities and more on activities that promote wellness. We are seeing outdoor lifestyle perks like lagoons, meditation domes, community farms, and juice bars. According to Mary Lynn Mellinger, Director of Planning and Design at WTS International, “What we’re seeing in wellness design lately is a desire for fresh air. This is of course driven by the pandemic, but will no doubt continue as time goes by. That includes, more indoor/outdoor spaces, offering people the opportunity to enjoy social interactions while allowing for the free flow of air to combat virus transmission. Windows that function and permit breezes to flow through and naturally cool and ventilate the rooms are popular as well. Everything old is new again!”
Lymphatic health will be included in more treatments and programs from beauty to bodywork. Your lymphatic system extends throughout the body and acts as a drainage network, eliminating waste from your cells that could otherwise lead to health issues. Massage has long included lymphatic drainage to help reduce inflammation and support a healthy immune system, but now look for this to extend to facials and through popular trends like dry brushing, foam rolling, and specific exercise programs like trampoline classes and dynamic stretching to promote the elimination of waste.
New virtual care apps are emerging constantly. Even traditional medical practices are joining the trend. Patients are getting diagnoses and care through virtual connections, and insurance companies are increasing their telehealth reimbursements. Wearables will expand offerings to include much more than tracking activity levels, food, and sleep. You’ll see more goal-setting options that share health data with doctors. Virtual care will focus on preventable medical care to help boost healthy habits, strengthen relationships with care providers, and improve patient outcomes. Virtual care could also make care more accessible, helping overcome capacity constraints due to the pandemic. New technology is emerging that could allow apps to support various home testing like 3D body scans. These advancements in the marketplace could help give doctors a better snapshot of your health.
Renewed Interest in Nature
People have increased their interest in nature in response to more time spent in their homes. Design trends show more people investing in plants to create indoor gardens, also known as “COVID gardens.” Plants help clean the air and provide a sense of companionship. Consumers have shown shifts in behavior with increased interest in biking, hiking, and other immersive trips into nature and away from others. Local travel will continue to trend, with car-accessible nature destinations being desirable.
With healthy lifestyles a priority for consumers, adaptogens (natural substances with medicinal properties) and CBD (or cannabinol, a compound found in the cannabis plant without intoxicating properties), are still trendy. Functional doctors and therapists have been increasingly prescribing these boosts to help with anxiety, pain, sleep, and stress. You’ll see more and more of these blended into smoothies, coffee, and topicals. Jen Daniels, President of Meristem Farms, a CBD farm in Vermont, says, “Creativity in hemp (CBD) product formulations is limitless, from band-aids to beverages. We need only to ensure that our science and regulations galvanize and keep pace with our innovation.”
Some wellness trends introduced during the pandemic will be here to stay. Businesses will continue to offer work-from-home options, decrease nonessential business travel, and enhance corporate wellness opportunities to support employee mental and physical wellbeing. Consumers will accelerate their interest in immunity-related products and items that limit the spread of viruses. Home trends will include repurposing extra bedrooms and other unused spaces to create dedicated home offices. A simpler, minimalistic lifestyle will prevail, centered on activities like biking, gardening, and local travel.
Founded in 1973, WTS International is the world’s leading spa, wellness, and lifestyle consultancy and management firm. WTS’s clients are premier, award-winning spa, recreation, and wellness resort destinations, fitness centers, and community leisure facilities. Today, WTS provides feasibility studies, planning & design consultancy, pre-opening support, and daily management for spas, wellness and leisure facilities worldwide. Website: http://www.wtsinternational.com.