Wellness: just expensive hype, or worth the cost?

September 13, 2018

From superfoods to yoga, this 500 bn-plus global industry often comes at a high price

Exhausted from working 15 -hour days operating her own marketing agency in London, Jo Miller’s evenings would consist of a cocktail of takeaways, Ubers and impulse purchases.” I’d end up spending PS100 at Waitrose, grabbing a takeaway or going out for dinner as I didn’t have the energy to cook. At the train station I’d feel the need to buy something, so I’d end up spending loadings at Oliver Bonas. It was all instant gratification .”

That was two years ago. Since then, Miller has closed the business, endeavoured to Margate and launched a new career as a sound therapist, use a combination of alchemy crystal singing bowl and her voice to relax clients. And with the life change, she has dramatically focused her day and money on one particular area: wellness.

Instead of unhealthy takeaways and excessive shopping, the 42 -year-old expends PS18, 000 a year on her wellbeing. This includes PS3, 200 a year on a transpersonal psychotherapist, PS3, 000 on retreats, and PS1, 000 on supplements, probiotics and vitamins. She also receives a weekly organic fruit and veggie box, has a CrossFit membership and enjoys regular treatments such as massages.

Jo Miller with her alchemy crystal singing bowl in Margate

For Miller, wellness is about” people reconnecting and being comfy in their mind and spirit level. Before, people were confusing themselves through consumerism .” Now, Miller says, she has ” completely switched” her expenditure.” Wellness is the new currency ,” she adds.

But at PS18, 000 a year, how can Miller afford it? For her, it’s about refocusing their own lives choices.” I spend very little on anything else. I don’t have a mortgage- and I have lodgers to support the money I construct from running as a sound therapist .”

Miller is far from the only person spending their hard-earned cash on wellness, which can scope from spin class and meditation conferences to organic food and kombucha drinkings. In fact, the world markets for health and wellness reached PS532bn in 2016, and is expected to grow to PS632bn by 2021, according to Euromonitor International.

Yoga at the Soul Circus festival, soundtracked by Faithless star Maxi Jazz

Wellness encapsulates everything from superfood-charged smoothies to sleeping aids and yoga mats. Festivals, which used to be primarily focused on music, are also placing more emphasis on wellness.

This year’s Womad devoted two acres to its spa and wellbeing area, and featured 40 vendors and therapists offering everything from meditation with a Buddhist monk to shamanic healing. Wellness celebrations such as Soul Circus in the Cotswolds, which expenses up to PS199, are also budding up, devoting festivalgoers the chance to tap into everything from meditation and kids’ yoga class to nutrition demos and sober morning raves.” I wanted to create a balanced event that left you feeling rejuvenated and inspired rather than hungover and unhealthy ,” says Soul Circus founder Ella Wroath.

James Veal, 42, research projects director working in central government, describes his wellness journey as a” slow burn for the best part of a decade” before he seriously ramped it up two years ago.” I started feeling my age a little- I felt stiff when exert, and I was reaching that midpoint where I thought I have a whole other half of my life left and I want to make sure it is in better quality ,” he says.

James Veal takes fitness seriously- including climbing

He invested in a Vitamix blender( from PS299) so he could construct smoothies from nuts, leafy greens and a micro algae supplement, which sets him back about PS100 for two months’ render. He now spends about PS30 a week buying organic food from the local farmers’ market plus PS50 on an Abel& Cole delivery.

He also has plans to visit a wellness retreat abroad.” I’m fortunate as I have some disposable income, so it doesn’t feel like a huge sacrifice ,” says Veal, who calculates he expends about PS250 a month on his wellbeing. However, his health kick entails the Londoner expends less feeing out, as he avoids food that may contain pesticides, and he has cut back on alcohol. The outcome, although more costly, has had benefits.” I feel astonishing. It’s candidly been a revelation to me- I sleep much better ,” he says.” I used to have occasional periods of insomnia, but I’ve lost weight, my skin is clearer, and people comment that my scalp is glowing .”

But is this level of wellness only attainable to a few middle class high earners with the income- and some might say credulity- to afford the high spending? Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellbeing business Goop, which has been under fire for endorsing therapies such as vaginal steaming and inserting jade eggs, stocks aromatherapy oil for $85( PS66 ).

Demonstrating the Vitamix food blender, which expenses from PS299 and upwards. Photograph: Alamy

” The trend has developed a reputation for being quite expensive and elitist ,” says Sarah Housley, senior editor of lifestyle at tendency forecaster WGSN.” At the more luxury objective of the market, wellness also became a style for people to show off their wealth more subtly than by buying an expensive handbag or auto- instead, they could go to exclusive yoga classes and drink expensive juices- a trend that we call’ wellthness ‘.”

Gina Clarke, 31, a freelance PR executive, says she moved to a more wellness-fuelled lifestyle in 2016 after she visited her parents and ensure they had invested in a juice blender.” After a quick Google and realising the health benefits, I was soon juicing up my own smoothies ,” she says.” I used to have a green juice for breakfast and then something avocado or egg-based for lunch .”

However, she soon saw keeping up the lifestyle was too much to bear.” I’ve gone to my fair share of yoga retreats but determined it so hard to recreate at home. My yoga ball lies deflated- a little like me. I soon realised the search for the Instagram lifestyle was get a bit too tiring alongside run and a family life. Now my stress levels have come down considerably .”

Gina Clarke says wellness can be an affordable lifestyle. Photo: Scott Miller/ Wiltshire Photography

Despite the pricey fitness studios and PS10 green smoothies, Housley says wellness can be affordable:” You can drink more water for free, you can do yoga or pilates from a YouTube video at home .”

Veal is the first be recognised that he undertakes wellness activities that don’t cost money: he meditates twice a day for 20 minutes and operates several times a week.

Housley says there is a move to more conscious dialogue around wellness, with a focus on inducing it more accessible and inclusive.” People are increasingly trying to find a balance, changing their priorities from self-care to community care, and there’s a growing backlash towards brand partnerships that exclude certain people or don’t genuinely support the community ,” she adds.

Wellness, including reflexology, has become more of a focus at festivals such as Womad. Photo: Alamy

Despite the myriad of trends that crop up in wellness, whether it’s acai bowls or forest bathing, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, believes the essence of what keeps us healthy remains the same.

” These include not smoking, only drinking alcohol in moderation, getting enough sleep, feeing a nutritious, well-balanced diet and taking regular exercise ,” she says. She warns against fads that claim to improve health and wellbeing.

” They might be well-intentioned, but they are often not supported by robust clinical proof. Trends is helpful for raising awareness of new or changing health matters and for getting people involved in improving their own health, but by definition they might not be around for long. That’s why it’s essential that as a society we all work together to encourage each other to lead healthier lifestyles , not just for a few months of the year, but permanently .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com


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