A sneak peek of what’s about to blow up on the wellness scene.
Has wellness ever been bigger, broader, or cooler than it was in 2016? From Silicon Valley CEOs to the stars of the silver screen to our grandmas in Milwaukee, innovative approaches to fitness, diet, mindfulness, and the environment have taken root. It’s an exciting time to be alive, with so many ways, new and ancient, to improve ourselves. Plant-based food is moving from the side dish to the entree plate. Meditation is taught in Fortune 500 boardrooms. Starched suits have given way to breathable, bendable workout wear. We’re refocusing our priorities, individually and as a society, and we’re reaching for new tools to help us.
Now 2017 dawns. The new year brings with it fresh approaches to the practices that are defining us. In looking ahead, we’ve spoken with wellness authorities and our top contributors, we’ve read the tea leaves and tarot cards, and we’ve identified 8 trends we’re certain will shape the coming months. Get excited for a new year of living well.
NUTRITION GETS PERSONAL
The year 2016 saw one-size-fits-all eating prescriptions take a back seat to individualized nutrition products. In this new year, we expect that trend to continue, with emerging brands taking personalization further than ever. Take a look at Habit, a company that uses clients’ DNA to suggest optimized meals. Founder Neil Grimmer spoke at mbg’s annual revitalize event about the need for differentiated approaches to diet, asking “Do we all need the exact same food, at the exact same time, in the same way? Intuitively you’d say ‘no.’ Some of you were out hiking, some of you were meditating. There are all different sizes, shapes, ages in this room.” Habit gathers the results of at-home health kit and analyzes 60 biomarkers to craft optimized meal plans, which a team of chefs then whips up and delivers to your door. Their business plan was convincing enough to earn a $32 million investment from Campbell Soups.
DNAFit takes a similar approach, using genetic insights to recommend tailored nutrition and fitness advice. DayTwo is using clients’ intestinal microbiome to better ascertain their needs. Care/of, a vitamin startup, uses a broad-reaching questionnaire to curate users’ selections of supplements. “Our mission is to help folks achieve their goals, and those goals are unique, so our packets are, too,” says Care/of CEO Craig Elbert. “We have folks looking for healthier hearts or bones, or improved digestion, greater energy, or lessened stress, and we guide them to make decisions based on their values.”
Not convinced you need your own bespoke plan? A study published this August adds scientific cred to the trend. It found that “personalized nutrition advice helped people to make bigger and more appropriate changes to their diets than the conventional healthy eating advice which was followed by our control group.” That’s enough to make us embrace our individuality.
WELLNESS IS MORE THAN YOGA & MEDITATION: IT’S A SENSORY EXPERIENCE
In the past few years, more people than ever have turned to yoga and meditation as a means of improving their lives and coping with anxiety and stress. In late 2016, all-inclusive wellness studios began popping up in the healthy hubs of the world, New York and Los Angeles.
Largely inspired by the immersive experience of Burning Man, multisensory wellness centers aim to help their clients experience a natural high by playing up the senses. One studio of note is the Manhattan-based WOOM, which focuses on delivering yoga-inspired experiences that also utilize sound healing, visualization, scent, and are sealed with an elixir.
“We figured that, similar to a well-balanced diet, if we fed all of our senses with the right nutrients, even if only for short increments every day, we would be able to achieve personal transformation,” says Elian Zach, co-founder of WOOM.
Inscape‘s spacious meditation center is another Manhattan-based studio worth noting. Founded by Khajak Keledjian, the former CEO of Intermix, Inscape uses sound healing, sight, texture, and taste to deliver a 360-experience.
“Meditation shifted—it used to be about spirituality but now people understand its benefits, the science, and how it can empower them to connect to their best selves, to live to their fullest potential, to be present,” says Khajak. “Multisensory experiences are immersive. By actively engaging the senses and the mind, we empower people to be fully absorbed in the present moment. That immersion allows for something to enter into a state of ‘being’ when often we are all in a state of “doing.”
In 2017, we expect to see more of this included in yoga studios nationally, and even more studios opening with the intention of appealing to all of the senses.
THE SOBRIETY MOVEMENT WILL EVOLVE FROM FRINGE INTEREST TO PERVASIVE CULTURE
In the past, if someone said they were “sober,” it usually meant they were a recovering alcoholic. But over the past few years, a shift has started to occur. We’ve seen Americans put more focus on health, and the next frontier is our drinking habits.
In the last year especially, helmed by wellness influencers like Light Watkins and Biet Simkin (both mbg class instructors) the sobriety movement has presented itself as one solution for the growing dissatisfaction we have with our lack of real, genuine connection and/or careers that don’t challenge and energize us.
Biet, a musician and meditation expert, believes substances actually disconnect us from our true selves, making sobriety not just beneficial but actually a prerequisite to finding and fulfilling our purpose. “Having explored alcohol and drugs in some depth myself, I know that they don’t propagate intentional living. When substances get involved, the experience you have tends to get farther and farther from the experience you intended to have.” So, what does she say to people who think they need “liquid courage” to be honest—for whom alcohol is a means of facilitating intimacy? “Vulnerability requires authenticity, and authenticity requires vulnerability. Neither of these outcomes is encouraged by the crutch of substances.”
We’ve already seen that spark of insight catch on, as evidenced by the popularity of events like DAYBREAKER (a prework dance party that made mbg’s 2015 trend watch) and mindfulness/music/meditation event The Shine (the brainchild of meditation leader Light Watkins).
The popularity of these alcohol-free shindigs is only growing, and in 2017, we’ll see even more of a shift toward mindful interactions and refreshing alternatives to booze. Bellwether cities like LA and NYC are already gaining momentum, propelled by trendsetting watering holes and restaurants eager to catch the wave. In New York alone, high-end bar and eatery Gabriel Kreuther has added a selection of nonalcoholic drinks to their cocktail menu, and farm-to-table resto Riverpark is offering Temperance Coolers, inspired by and composed of local, seasonal ingredients—just like everything else on the menu. But this isn’t just an East Coast thing.
At the opposite end of the country in San Francisco and Oakland, breweries like Copenhagen-based Mikkeller are beginning to cater to the connoisseur who wants to enjoy the experience of a well-crafted beer without the buzz. Mikkeller’s Drink’in The Sun 13 rates at just 0.26 ABV, but features flavors as rich and diverse as lemon, grapefruit, peach, and apricot. At the same alcohol level, Drink’in The Snow gives you a holiday flavor profile complete with clove, coriander, and orange.
This year, we’ll see the availability and variety of nonalcoholic options expand even further. Along with that, we can expect our choices to become more intentional and better integrated with our long-term dreams and goals. Founder of alcohol-free movement One Year No Beer, Ruari Fairbairns has experienced this change personally and has seen it in other converts of the program as well: “I’d always dreamed of achieving so much, and part of me suspected the booze was holding me back. Now I can say with absolute authority, ‘The booze was holding you back, mate.’”
LESS IS MORE: THE AGE OF FASHION MINIMALISM
Post Marie Kondo’s decluttering bible, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (which we talked about last year as a wellness trend to watch) and helped introduce the philosophy to the mainstream in 2014, nowadays, minimalism is part of the cultural zeitgeist. The fashion minimalism movement gained massive traction on social this year as a reaction against excessive consumption. What started as a very basic concept (clean lines, few prints, and no excesses), has morphed into a personalized, curated kind of minimalism (themes include sensuality, simplicity, androgyny). The nearly 5 million images tagged #minimalism on Instagram include monochromatic apparel, white sneakers, clouds, and grassy fields. So long as it’s stylishly austere, it seems, it’s minimalist.
America’s tradition of fashion minimalism can be traced back to Calvin Klein’s runway launch in 1968, defined by its simplicity and purity, although his was not a clinical minimalism. On the contrary, his designs aimed to reveal or enhance a sense of the body. In the decades that followed with fashion, minimalism started leaving room for personality in a way that garments that were too constructed or too embellished didn’t allow. This idea of streamlining your wardrobe and spending less time fussing over an outfit certainly resonates with the modern woman and extends beyond the look—it’s about consumers becoming completely aware of the whole process, from design through production, through use, and through the potential to reuse.
The result is that it’s the small details that speak the loudest. A growing number of homespun labels are currently at the forefront of the trend, proving that minimalism is anything but boring, and signals that the fashion industry is evolving toward greener practices and products. Many of the latest wave of sustainably minded designers have shifted their focus away from strictly organic materials (which tend to be basic) in favor of a more holistic approach that takes into account the entire life cycle of a piece of clothing, from its carbon footprint to the livelihood of who made it.
Launched this fall, Khaite is a balance of masculine and feminine that encapsulates the capsule wardrobe concept completely. Then there’s designer Alnea Farahbella of Toit Volant, who’s causing major fashion waves with her USA-made label committed to sustainable sourcing and manufacturing practices. LA-based label Saul shows that minimalism and pattern aren’t mutually exclusive—everything is crafted from dead-stock vintage fabrics, giving the clothes a nostalgic feel. For Siizu, sustainability is the driving force behind every decision, and it all begins with the fabric. Dedicated to exclusively using textiles that are 100 percent organic and eco-friendly (even the packaging is completely recyclable), this is an online eco site for no-fuss pieces.