10 Wellness Trends to Watch in 2016
The year 2015 was an exciting one in wellness. The healthy food “bowl” took over our breakfast, lunch, dinner, and our Instagram feed. Amanda Chantal Bacon’s adaptogen dusts (hello, Sex Dust) became a staple of our smoothies.
We saw the rise of the fitness omnivore, partially fueled by the growth of Class Pass. Vegans got glam as our dear friends Rich Roll and Julie Piatt graced the New York Times Styles section, and vegan restaurants become some of the most desirable dining destinations, thanks to Gracias Madre and Crossroads in Los Angeles and Dirt Candy, Semilla, and by Chloe in New York.
We expect 2016 to be even better for wellness enthusiasts as healthy living is sweeping the world. Here are 10 trends to watch over the next year:
1. Juice as we know it could change forever.
It was a good year for juice companies. Coca-Cola invested $90 million for a 30 percent stake in juice company Suja with an option to buy. In Los Angeles, Live Beaming added locations and Moon Juice has big plans to expand in 2016. Jugo Fresh in Miami continues to grow, with a recent expansion into Whole Foods Market. And globally Punch Detox and Genie are making waves in Hong Kong, private equity is circling China (trying to get a winning HPP concept off the ground); there are juice bars around every corner in Sydney, but strangely London still has a long way to go.
But there’s going to be a new player in 2016 that — if it lives up to the hype — will forever change the juice landscape: Juicero. Founded by former Organic Avenue co-founder and CEO Doug Evans, it has reportedly already raised more than $100 million from investors, making Juicero worth more than Suja and it hasn't even launched yet!
And the $100 million is coming from an elite group of investors including Campbell's Soup, Google Ventures, Double Bottom Line Ventures, Artis Ventures, Thrive Capital, Kleiner Perkins, and Vast, according to Business Insider.
So how is a juice company that hasn’t launched yet worth so much money? Well, imagine a coffee Keurig but for juice. That’s right, yummy juice in your home sourced from farm-fresh fruits and vegetables — like the kind you’d get out of a juicer but with none of the ugly cleanup.
Sounds awesome, right? The machine won’t be cheap but will have a selection of reasonably priced juice pods to choose from. That’s the ambitious product that Juicero is working on. If they can deliver, it will change the juicing world forever.
If there’s anyone who can pull this off, it’s Doug Evans. For those in the wellness world who know Doug, he is one of the sharpest, hardest working guys around who is passionate (almost maniacal) about quality. So when you marry that passion for juice with Silicon Valley money and connections (Doug rolls with Jony Ive) you might just have the magic combination that can really change the juicing world forever.
Stay tuned as Juicero is expected to launch in the first half of 2016.
2. Athleisure start-ups will keep ascending.
Athleisure was destined for a big 2015 when Merriam-Webster added the word to the dictionary. And later in the year Quartz reported that Vladimir Putin had made athleisure official after getting photographed in $1,400 Loro Piana sweatpants.
So what we have now is a giant land grab for the billions at play. You’ve got Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Lululemon, and Land’s End flexing their marketing muscles. Fast-growing Athleta reaches new women in the fashion set with its recent Derek Lam collaboration while still being the go-to brand for barre and boutique fitness devotees.
Then there are the fashion first brands like Tory Burch, Cynthia Rowley, Mara Hoffman, and Kate Spade debuting their new lines and even Beyoncé’s debuting a line with Top Shop (scheduled to hit stores in 2016).
And what might be most exciting are the newbies: Carbon 38, Sweaty Betty, Manduka, and Outdoor Voices are leading the way, each fresh off of institutional funding so they can take on the big boys in the category. We expect to see these up-and-comers continue to gain traction and some might even be acquired in 2016.
So how are these start-ups competing with these billion-dollar companies? Outdoor Voices founder Tyler Haney believes the secret formula is a combination of being nimble and having more of a community. She says, “Bigger brands have built very strong positioning around performance or competition — we've recognized that there are a lot of people out there that don't see themselves as an athlete per se, but are still very much interested in being active. People nowadays don't necessarily want to be told who they are — it's all about being less prescriptive and allowing people to be the 'color in the clothes.' We're shifting the perception of what it means to be active and what it looks like. I would say building a community around inclusivity rather than exclusivity is why we're seeing such great traction.”
Carbon 38 co-founder and CEO Katie Johnson has also focused on community, adding, “The big guys are focusing on merchandise innovation, which is great. But where I see true disruption is in how we get our product into the hands of our customers. When we launched two years ago, we were disrupting how consumers shopped for activewear by creating a multibrand experience. Now, we look to where our customers are going every day (fitness studios) and who they are trusting for the latest and greatest (fitness professionals), and thus we are utilizing these networks as new channels of distribution. We all know that health and wellness does not just start and stop in that hour at the gym.”
3. We'll see more all-inclusive wellness studios.
The thing about wellness is that it’s a lifestyle. You just don’t go to a yoga class and then go to Burger King. You go to yoga and then you’re probably craving a plant-based meal. Same goes for when you go for a holistic treatment. Afterward, you probably want to hang out and meet like-minded people. Enter the birth of wellness centers.
L.A. is driving this trend with the 10,000-square-foot Wanderlust Hollywood, equipped with yoga and meditation spaces, lots of events, and a café from Seamus Mullen.
Wanderlust co-founder Jeff Krasno says, “’Retail fitness’ has typically been about churning people through their workouts and out the door. The magic of places like Wanderlust Hollywood, The Springs, and others lies in the spaces / the soft tissue — the small groups of people on the patio sipping tea, passionately exchanging ideas, telling stories, sharing dreams, making jewelry after sweating through a yoga class together. That’s juicy.”
Speaking of The Springs, it’s another great Los Angeles option to hang out with your wellness tribe. This new 13,500-square-foot center in downtown L.A. offers yoga, a café, spa, and jade-stone therapy. The Springs co-founder Jared Stein told the New York Times earlier this year that it was a no-brainer to combine wellness and dining, saying, “We figured that people who like one will also be interested in the other.”
Here in New York City I’ve heard rumblings of similar wellness-themed centers opening up within the next year. This is one trend I selfishly hope really picks up steam — sign me up!
4. Guacamole will keep climbing the culinary ranks.
It might have started in July 2015 when famed New York Times food writer Melissa Clark posted about “pea guacamole,” which she had adapted from Jean-Georges's critically acclaimed restaurant ABC Kitchen. A tweetstorm ensued, with even President Obama weighing in about the merits of peas in guacamole.
Before pea-guacamole-gate, Epicurious reported on other star-studded chefs getting creative with the traditional Mexican dish: Top chef Hugh Acheson added toasted pecans, and Alex Stupak of New York City’s Empellon added pistachios. And then there’s my personal favorite: olives via Tara Stiles Make Your Own Rules Cookbook (pictured above). We expect more chefs and restaurants to get creative with this heart-healthy fatty superfood in 2016 to prove that healthy food can also be exciting.
Celebrity chef Seamus Mullen thinks we’re just getting started, saying, “It’s no secret that the go-to wellness food of choice of 2015 was the avocado … it seems we’ve finally managed to wrap our heads around the notion of healthy fats, and avocados are one of the most approachable and diverse sources of good fats. I think that in 2016 we’re going to see more and more creative takes on guacamole and crushed avocado, adding in everything from fresh wasabi and seaweed to toasted pumpkin seeds. I think we’ll start to see Asian and even Mediterranean twists on this Mexican classic.” As we become more and more aware of the value of a high-fat, low-carb diet, we’re going to start to see alternatives to the classic tortilla chips, perhaps lower-carb options. His personal favorite? Using seaweed as a vessel for guacamole and adding in sardines, anchovies, or tuna with some spicy radish sprouts.
5. Wellness will turn to sound.
There’s lots of research that sound — or music — has the ability to influence or even alter our emotions. And in 2015 we begin to see sound as a wellness tool pick up steam through sound baths and through another experience, Mind Travel, the brainchild of Murray Hidary.
Sound Baths aren’t new, but the coverage and attention is, with the New York Times shedding light on two of the more well-known sound bath studios in Los Angeles, The Sound Space and Temple of Intuition.
Do they really work? Well, you’d have to experience it for yourself, but Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a psychiatry professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA told the New York Times that participants will often experience “deep mental and physical relaxation” that would “increase the parasympathetic autonomic nervous system tone” and decrease the stress response.
And then there’s Mind Travel, an experience like no other. Imagine a concert pianist improvising beautiful, peaceful music with imagery in the background that matches the beauty of the music — combined, it is almost meditative or trancelike. Well, that’s Mind Travel and it’s exploding. Going into 2016, Hidary plans to take his live show on the road to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans, London, Berlin, Tel Aviv, and Istanbul, among others. He also has a Headphone Concert Series (pictured), which he’ll be taking to Santa Monica Beach, Central Park, and San Francisco Bay.
Hidary says, “The abstract nature of these musical compositions and patterns act as a canvas for the listener to lay their personal details on to. In this way, it becomes a very intimate yet universally connecting experience. The healing occurs for the individual at both the level of their personal details as well as reuniting them with their infinite nature.”
6. Your travel will get better and healthier.
Travel is exhausting, and more and more travelers are demanding an experience that helps bring calm to the chaos of it. First there were Esalen, Rancho La Puerta, Miraval, and Canyon Ranch driving wellness (and the luxurious Post Ranch Inn, which is stealth eco-luxe at its finest). But now the larger hotel giants have awoken, and there’s a new crop of eco-retreats. Leading the way is New Zealand’s Aro Ha, and New York’s intimate Treehouse Retreats.
In the hotel world at the higher end (and a huge cool factor), the founder of W and Starwood Capital, Barry Sternlicht, is on to something big with his new 1 Hotel, which serves the higher end of the market. Currently there are locations in Miami, Midtown Manhattan, with Brooklyn around the corner but Barry doesn’t do small — the “king” of hotels created W and we all know how successful and big that brand became.
Recently at Art Basel, the 1 Hotel South Beach (picture above) was clearly the place to be as the lobby was filled with actors (Hillary Swank), supermodels (Karolina Kurkova), and billionaires. And then there was celebrity chef Tom Colicchio literally in the kitchen of his restaurant, BeachCraft (serving up organic and locally sourced food). The property also has a juice bar, a Spartan Training Gym, and a SoulCycle is opening in January. It’s clear that wellness travel is very much en vogue and that Sternlicht is onto something huge.
In the midlevel range, one of the biggest players in the hospitality industry, IHG is making a statement with its new EVEN hotels concept. It’s got all the wellness bells and whistles, like a juice and smoothie bar, a top-notch fitness studio (with an erg machine and spinning bikes) and healthy snacks. The hotel’s general manager even leads a daily run at the Midtown property. It’s just what the middle market needs. Adam Glickman, Head of EVEN Hotels says, "Our studies have shown that there are 17 million wellness-minded travelers who find it hard to stay active and eat right, and often fall off the wagon when they travel."
7. We'll start to see more balance in the workplace.
We all want balance. Last year we wrote that “balance was the new achievement,” and now we are seeing this movement pick up steam at the corporate level and at arguably the most unbalanced place on earth — Wall Street! According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Goldman Sachs has struggled here. In previous years it never had a problem hanging on to young talent
“This generation is different,” said Jeanne Branthover, head of the global financial services practice at Boyden, an executive search firm. “They want and are serious about having a work-life balance. Most are saying 'I know this looks good on a résumé, so I’ll do this for two years. But I’m using this to go somewhere else.'”
If balance can happen on Wall Street, it can happen anywhere. Silicon Valley might be next! Mark Zuckerberg is certainly setting a precedent that's gotten people talking by taking two months' paternity leave. According to Fortune, the valley is the home of “grueling hours. Stress. Junk food and Red Bull.”
Anne Hubert, head of Scratch, a consultancy within Viacom, thinks there’s a titanic shift occurring, saying, “Millennials aren't just looking for a job; they're searching for a calling. Our research shows more than three-quarters believe 'there's a perfect job for me,’ but most don't yet know what it is. So they are looking for experiences, mentors, and guides to help them discover their superpowers.”
And she adds that the lines are blurred between work and play, hence the yearning for balance, “Millennials don't distinguish between themselves at work and themselves at home or in the rest of their lives — it's all one, so this process of searching for their calling isn't just about 'work'; it's about the lives they want to live.”
On a personal level this is one trend I’m excited about as my book about my own quest for balance, Wellth: How I Learned to Build a Life, Not a Résumé, comes out on March 1, 2016.
8. Sensory deprivation tanks will take off.
Imagine stripping down and stepping into a water tank filled with 1,000-plus pounds of Epsom salt. Free of sound, free of gravity, and free of light (yes, you are in total darkness). Just you and your thoughts, floating in the water in total darkness for an hour. Welcome to the latest in wellness treatments: sensory deprivation tanks. The tanks have been around for a while, since 1954, when scientist John C. Lilly supposedly took LSD and did experiments in the tank.
Our own Allie White reported earlier this year that the “tanks promise total-body rehabilitation. Physically, they're effective at treating certain chronic pain and illness and can even help with high blood pressure and fatigue. Mentally, floating is believed to help with stress by lowering levels of cortisol and allow for a deep state of relaxation (aka the perfect place for mediation). It's also supposed to help get creative juices flowing by removing distraction and instead allowing the floater to focus only on what's happening in his or her brain.”
More athletes are beginning to use them as a way to get a mental edge. But what does a real doc think?
“I like sensory deprivation tanks,” says Dr. Frank Lipman, founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center. “I used to go about 20 years ago when there was only one place in New York City that had them. It’s a great way to get you into a deep state of relaxation and sort of forces you to meditate or get super relaxed. But they are obviously not good for anyone who is claustrophobic.”
Joe Dowdell, founder & CEO of Peak Performance, will have a flotation pod in his new New York City facility opening in February. He sees athletes and executives embracing it and explains that ”the float pod helps promote a parasympathetic state, which can speed up the recovery process. Floating is not just great for athletes but also for anyone who is dealing with a lot of work and/or life stress such as busy corporate executives.”
9. We'll see our homes as sanctuaries.
“Does it spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, discard it. “When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too. As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don’t.”
That simple system is the building block of Marie Kondo’s runaway best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The book has now reportedly sold 3 million copies worldwide, is being turned into a new half-hour comedy on NBC, and has inspired the world to rethink our homes and lives on a spiritual level in America. Not bad for a 31-year-old woman who lives in Japan and doesn’t speak a word of English! And she’s got a new book, Spark Joy, hitting stores January 5, so we expect to see more of the KonMari method sweeping the world in 2016!
What’s the secret to her success? The Wall Street Journal reports that Kondo has “captured the imaginations of readers around the world at a moment when many people seem to have reached a tipping point of clutter in their lives. It coincides with the recovering economy, an increase in donations of clothing and household goods to charity, and a trend toward downsizing as U.S. population growth shifts from the suburbs to city centers in many areas.”
The KonMari method is just one way in which people are investing in their home space and turning it into a sanctuary. Services like Homepolish, which connects people with interior decorators for consultations or project work, are booming.
Noa Santos, Homepolish co-founder and CEO, believes there is a connection. "Decluttering is a refocusing — find the few things that matter most to you and make them a larger part of your life. In a world where an excess of choice has become paralyzing, curation has become key — I think that's why what Marie Kondo encourages has become so popular.”
What’s interesting is that it’s not the traditional homeowner who is making the investment in their personal space, as a large percentage of Homepolish customers are renters. Santos adds, “Renters make up a huge part of our client base because they're on the go and busy but they still want a home or office they love. Renters believe they deserve that and they do."
10. Say hello to Nitro Coffee.
It looks like Dave Asprey's Bulletproof Coffee (hello, grass-fed butter!) was just getting the party started in the coffee category as consumers are looking for a better-for-you boost in their cup of joe.
Enter Nitro coffee. That’s right, it is what it sounds like: nitrogen-infused coffee. It’s cold, frothy yet creamy, and it’s on tap, just like Guinness. Its proponents claim it helps blood flow and is also less acidic than traditional brews — big health benefits for java lovers.
Eater reports that Austin's Cuvée Coffee was the first to serve nitro coffee on tap as it made its debut in August 2012 and then the first to hit the shelves in stores back in November 2014 with others following in April 2015.
Coffee favorite Stumptown (now owned by perennial Peet’s) launched their nitro coffee cans in April 2015 and other specialty roasters are not far behind with brands like Highwire in San Francisco and its “Howling Wolf” nitro coffee being one of the early leaders according to Barista magazine.
New York City’s RISE coffee is making nitro coffee in an even more mbg-friendly way, according to co-founder Hudson Gaines-Ross: “Our coffee is organic, sustainably sourced, highly caffeinated, and uses ultra-purified water without anything artificial or additives.”
Honorable Mentions: These trends just missed the list this year but are still worth watching in 2016!
11. The quest for immortality.
It’s especially real in Silicon Valley. And especially real when it’s a Newsweek cover story. Billionaire investor Peter Thiel wants to live to 120; Google (or should I say Alphabet) is already in the anti-aging race with their wholly owned Calico Labs, which, according to their website, is “a research and development company whose mission is to harness advanced technologies to increase our understanding of the biology that controls lifespan.” Cynthia Kenyon, the genius behind Calico is “one of the world’s foremost authorities on the molecular biology and genetics of aging and life extension.” Things might get real interesting real fast.
12. Indoor plant power!
This focus on the home as a sanctuary is driving a boom in “designer” home plants. As people invest more in their personal spaces, plants can contribute by improving air quality and improving your mood.
New York City’s The Sill is shipping succulents, cacti, and ferns nationwide. While Miami’s Plant of the Future (pictured above), developed by Paloma Teppa, is reinventing the traditional houseplant through a fusion of design, art, and nature. Think cacti and succulent gardens in gorgeous containers and statues. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen cactus growing out of a Star Wars stormtrooper!
Nootropics are essentially smart drugs that could be a vitamin or nutraceutical that increases cognition and focus. Nootropics are part of the $9 million funding plan for Bulletproof and are definitely trending right now.
Dr. Robin Berzin of Parsley Health thinks it’s because people are looking to “improve performance on all levels. I'm also noticing in our members at Parsley that phones and computers have led to a never-before-seen level of distraction — so many people are having issues concentrating that it's affecting short-term memory. Combine that with high-sugar, high-caffeine, high-carb diets and you have a recipe for anxiety, insomnia, and inattention that I see people trying to combat. The irony is adaptogens like ashwaganda are the original nootropics and have been used for centuries.”
14. Sandwich shops get sustainable.
Seattle’s Homegrown will continue to expand in 2016 with plans to double their number of locations, and Portland’s Bunk has taken its signature marinated garbanzo bean sandwich across the country, as it just opened its first East Coast location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
And the biggest sustainable sandwich news of the year came when Whole Foods Market made an investment in Southern California’s Mendocino Farms (pictured above), which should fuel their expansion in 2016.
15. Traditional Chinese Medicine goes mainstream.
According to the Associated Press, there are now 30,000 licensed practitioners in the United States, and medicinal herbs from China have a bit of a quality-control problem. This makes for a big opportunity for U.S. farmers. If they can start growing medicinal plants it could add up to $300 million per year.
That’s all, folks! I’m looking forward to seeing what the wellness world will bring us in 2016!