By Elizabeth Gulino
According to the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness industry is valued at $4.5 trillion — and it’s been steadily growing now for quite some time. Each year, we see certain wellness trends take off: wellness tourism, sleep health, even “well fashion.” But the COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the face of the wellness industry in less than a year.Changed, but not diminished. “[Wellness] is one of the bright spots of the economy right now,” Beth McGroarty, Vice President of Research at the Global Wellness Institute, tells Refinery29. While there are plenty of wellness trends we’re itching to leave behind in 2020 (detoxes, fad diets, and anti-masking, to name a few), there are some that have cropped up that we’re more than happy to keep around. Here, McGroarty gives us insight into the top wellness trends you can expect to see gaining steam in 2021.
Surprise! Online, at-home wellness is going to continue to be a major trend in 2021, which you probably already saw coming. “It’s almost a cliché, but anything that was digitally delivered has just taken off,” McGroarty says. “Whether it’s telemedicine, virtual therapy, meditation apps, digital fitness platforms — even reiki classes are moving online. As soon as the pandemic hit, we saw an immediate, exponential explosion of people doing some kind of class online.” Fitness equipment sales have also gone up 170% during COVID-19, as those of us with the space and the means turned our homes into makeshift gyms.Though the move to virtual platforms that allowed us to bring wellness practices into our homes was driven by necessity, it had a very positive trick-down effect: Virtual wellness makes services much more accessible to everyone, including those who may live in areas where certain classes or practices aren’t offered. “We’ll see a return to classes someday, but most people predict that there will be a very strong digital component or mixed digital, in-person component,” McGroarty says. For almost a year, people have become very comfortable taking fitness, yoga, meditation – you name it – classes at home; this is permanent behavioral and cultural change.
Traditional Western medicine has typically had a solutions-oriented approach to wellbeing. Meaning: It focuses on treating health problems after they crop up. But recently, consumers have been pushing back, demanding a more preventive approach. We want to know how to stay healthy to prevent problems in the first place. And the pandemic accelerated that shift. “It immediately strengthened the case for what I would call responsible, preventative wellness,” McGroarty told Refinery29. By that she means an emphasis on exercise, healthy food, sleep, and stress reduction, which she refers to as “the pillars of wellness, which have this huge evidence-based impact on preventing underlying conditions.” So, less powders and potions that vaguely claim to “boost immunity” and more science-backed strategies that support your body’s individual needs.