Creating a healthier work environment is far from a novel concept, its roots in Western corporate culture reaching back as far as Boeing’s pacesetting non-smoking-workplace policies of the 1980s, and the early-1970s craze for executive gyms and mandated annual physical fitness tests for upper management employees.
Ours is a world where every kind of “wellness” imaginable is explored and promoted, whether physical, mental, spiritual, environmental or workplace. But meaningful conversations about, and approaches to improve, sexual wellbeing have been seriously left out of the equation. On the one hand we live in a sex-saturated world: bombarded with hyper-sexualized images and impossible ideals…and a strong message that you, too, should (and can) be having a lot of great sex (or something is wrong with you, so try this pill).
“Let’s go surfin’ now, everybody’s learning how, come on a safari with me.” - The Beach Boys, 1962 It’s hardly breaking news that surf culture has been established as the apex of cool. The worship of surfing “style” took off in the ‘60s when the Beach Boys harmonized about a world where “everybody’d be surfin’ like Californ-i-a, and Bruce Brown’s documentary The Endless Summer brought images of boy-tribes on their globe-trotting quest for perfect waves to the world.
When wellness travel’s evolution is discussed, it’s often represented as a series of consecutive “waves,“ with the first wave all about Zen-like spa pampering, stress reduction and yoga, and the ascendant wave about out-in-nature and high adventure experiences. But it’s not a case of the more extreme adventure trend replacing the Zen trend: more high-adrenaline “rush” experiences—from canyoning, to cliff camping, to circus schools—are now being paired with deep relaxation (i.e., massage or meditation) like never before.
Peach & Lilly, New York Two life-size cardboard cutouts of fresh-faced and stylishly coiffed South Korean boy band stars welcome guests at the entrance of Nature Republic’s downtown Los Angeles store. But Nature Republic is not a music shop, or even a clothing brand. It’s a major South Korean skin care and cosmetics line, one of many that is grabbing the attention of global style-watchers because of its quality, affordability, and colorful pop sensibility.
Students practice Transcendental Meditation as part of the David Lynch Foundation’s Quiet Time program. Parents are learning that to raise healthy children in the 21st century means more than just teaching them to eat their vegetables or look both ways before crossing the street. The poor diets, technological obsessions, and ubiquitous stressors that plague adult life offer no immunity to the young.
With a smartphone in every pocket and more apps than stars in the sky, the world isn’t just at your fingertips—it’s racing toward your front door. GrubHub wants to bring your dinner, Instacart your groceries, Drizly your booze, and Postmates is happy to fetch you everything in between. Long gone are the days when only Chinese food delivered. The beauty and wellness industries are not about to be left behind, and app-driven on-demand options are cropping up left and right, offering people access to healthy options wherever, whenever, and however they want.
Expect a tsunami of innovation that will eventually render the “booze and buffet” cruises of today into the “juice and transform” cruises of tomorrow. Cruise ship spas came on board in the early ’80s with operators like Cunard that brought the iconic Golden Door spa in Escondido, California, aboard its flagship, the QE2, to provide fitness, spa services, and programming, and the innovative company Steiner Leisure Limited heading up hair and beauty services.
Many return home from luxury spa treatments describing themselves as revitalized or reinvigorated, but for those who experience the ancient Mexican practice of Temazcal another word often comes to mind: reborn. Dating back to Mayan and Aztec cultures, Temazcal roughly translates to “house of steam,” yet these simple adobe huts are far more than just primitive saunas. Temazcal is as much a ritual as it is a treatment, with a trained healer (or “Temazcalera”) guiding guests through a process that seeks to cleanse their bodies, minds and spirits.
From Bonnaroo to Burning Man, Carnival to Coachella, the thriving festival circuit promises to fill any enthusiast’s calendar, with the only limiting factor being lack of funds or perhaps lack of sleep. Last year 32 million people attended a music festival in the U.S. alone – that’s more than the population of Texas1. But as the industry expands, a growing number of festivals are celebrating wellness in addition to, or even in lieu of, music, art, and debauchery.
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