As we move into a new decade, Form asked man of athleisure Jamie Millar to take a look at the latest wellness trends and what we might expect from them in 2020.
Not necessarily working out at reduced speed, although it can be, but more in the sense of “slow food”: wholesome, nutritious, sustainable. Trend forecasting agency The Future Laboratory terms it “conscious deceleration”: a reaction to the quick-fix mentality and productivity mania that only lead to breakdown and higher-intensity burnout “by focusing on slowing down to build up long-term endurance and allowing space to breathe, both physically and metaphorically”.
The Future Laboratory terms it “conscious deceleration”: a reaction to the quick-fix mentality and productivity mania that only lead to breakdown and higher-intensity burnout
Mindful versions of many activities, such as running (tuning into the sensations instead of out with music can actually be more relaxing), are figuratively gathering pace. But the clearest illustration of the trend are the bright, roomy studios teaching “movement” or gymnastics-style training, such as Lift: The Movement and Move Hackney. You’ve got the rest of your life to get and stay fit. What’s the rush?
Having hiked up Morocco’s Atlas Mountains in May on the inaugural Equinox Explore trip, the transatlantic it’s-not-fitness-it’s-lifestyle brand is not coincidentally tipping “achievement-based travel” to take off in 2020, with cycling the Hudson Valley, “Surf + Life + Balance” in Costa Rica and a running tour of Florence on its itinerary.
London healthista club group Third Space, which also launched its Escapes last year, also to Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, is getting away to the Sahara for a triple-threat Challenge (running, cycling and kayaking) and Crete to Restore. Equinox-owned indoor cycling cult SoulCycle is also retreating, to famously clean-living, spiritual Las Vegas and nearby Sedona, Arizona. And Men’s Health’s first-ever holiday, on Italy’s Adriatic Coast, encompasses cultural excursions, medical tests on arrival and a plan to take home.
The American Council for Sports Medicine has named “wearable tech” No1 in the 2020 edition of its annual worldwide survey of fitness trends, as it has for three years now out of the last four – even though data has previously indicated that a third of users stop wearing their device within six months. There has also been, as the ACSM acknowledges, “some question of accuracy, which seem to have been resolved well enough”.
Quibbles aside, the estimated $95bn industry will march inexorably on – at least until under-skin sensors and reactive tattoos render “wearable” obsolete. The next generation of trackers, such as Push (power and velocity of reps), K’Watch Athlete (lactate) and LVL (hydration), can also do more than just monitor heart rate or count steps.
Instead of sweating the human asset, companies are encouraging it to sweat – whether to attract and retain talent or just wring more work out of it. According to management consultancy Deloitte’s Health & Wellness Progress Report, 78 per cent of employers plan to implement physical activity programmes over the next three years, while the Global Wellness Institute put the workplace wellness market in 2018 at $48bn – a fraction of the economic burden of unwell-ness and covering less than ten per cent of employees worldwide.
Investment bank Goldman Sachs boasts a 20,000 square foot fitness facility at its London office with studios for spinning, yoga and Pilates, plus complementary therapy treatment rooms; “wellness workspaces” such as Fora, where services include bookable PTs are standing out by putting health at their offering’s firm core.
Boxing isn’t new, as a trend or otherwise, but the flurry of fight clubs that most definitely are. Like Jab in Mayfair, founded by erstwhile England boxing team captain and Bodyism PT George Veness. Or Rumble (not to be confused with the US studio) in Dalston, a multi-discipline, zero-carbon boutique combining boxing with HIIT, cycling, treading, climbing and yoga.
Sweat by BXR in Canary Wharf, which opened in September, is the studio spin-off of the Anthony Joshua-backed member’s in Marylebone, which this year is leading retreats at the five-star Daios Cove resort in Crete. Aldgate and Paddington’s 12×3, co-founded by Darren Barker and Ryan Pickard, a decorated former pro and amateur respectively, is again not new, but the Hykso punch trackers used there to clock power, speed, frequency and type are bang up to date.
Sustainability is on the top of almost everybody’s agenda, except the world leaders. Gazing into her crystal ball for 2020, GWI chairman and CEO Susie Ellis predicts, or rather declares, “We need to broaden our thinking and adjust our businesses so that we are not just talking about wellness for people, but also wellness for our planet.” She cites economist Thierry Malleret, who warns that wellness businesses that neglect the latter “are going to be punished”. But she also cautions against “swinging that pendulum so far in this direction that we lose our foundation of focusing on people”. Then there’s the issue of which people are focused on: “We need to increasingly incorporate wellness for all into our business models, even while serving our more traditional target market.” Health may be “the new wealth”, as the saying goes, but it can’t only be for the rich.