I got lucky. Then I got super-lucky. I heard about the Clinton “Health Matters” Conference scheduled just prior to the Bob Hope Classic Golf Tournament (now called the Humana Challenge Golf Tournament) that was going to be taking place in Indian Wells, CA just a week before it was actually going to happen. Then I found out they were only giving out 200 tickets – yikes. Through a flurry of emails and phone calls, I was lucky enough to be able to attain one. Actually, it was two; I ended up attending with Deborah Szekely, founder of Rancho La Puerta and the Golden Door – my mentor and, in recent years, a very close friend. So we went together.
Oh yes, I should mention right up front, we did have a chance to chat with Clinton at the end of the day. Deborah gave him one of her Rancho La Puerta cookbooks which he loved, and I told him something that he could add to his story: that Bob Hope walked an hour a day and lived to be a 100. (Bob Hope also had a massage every day!)
There we were – Deborah almost 90 and the “godmother of the modern spa industry” – and me, feeling fortunate to have been part of the industry she ushered in for the past three decades. Both of us noticed that it wasn’t super well organized (they served a nice healthy buffet breakfast with fruit, eggs and such but provided exactly three tables with four chairs each to sit down). Very odd. However, we gave them a pass because it was their first health conference – a somewhat last minute idea I believe. Kudos for hosting the event however. They pulled in a slew of VIP’s:
- President Bill Clinton – personal health crisis, now vegan, has lost 20 lbs
- Chelsea Clinton – focus is childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes
- Dr. Nancy Snyderman – Today Show’s medical expert
- Jillian Michaels – former Biggest Loser drill sergeant
- David Satcher – former U.S. Surgeon General
- Billy Jean King – tennis legend
- Goldie Hawn – actress and advocate for Brain Health
- Notah Begay III – first Native American golfer to win a PGA title
- Dick Gephardt – Former House Democratic leader
- Reed Alexander – teenager and star of Nickelodeon’s iCarly
- Susan Dell – wellness advocate and “super-mom”
The audience that Deborah and I were a part of, which included Donna Karan and singer Barbara Streisand, was a very mixed bag: national school lunch program administrators, advocates for physical education in schools, non-profit organizations, medical folks from nearby hospital facilities, and sponsors such as Humana – a very large insurance company. What we all had in common was an understanding that there is a health crisis in the U.S. and that it is going to take involvement from a broad spectrum of people to affect the changes needed. The time to help people make lasting healthy lifestyle changes and spread the message of prevention (the one thing everyone seems to agree on as a solution) is NOW.
If you want to get an idea (well, actually more than an idea) of what took place at the conference, have a quick read through my twitter notes below. I tried to include the key points (keeping it short) from various speakers but throw in an occasional personal comment to keep people (and myself) awake. At the end I share five things I think the spa industry might consider as a result of what I learned at this one day conference.
- Am in Indian Wells at one day #Health Matters Conference by the Clinton Foundation. About 300 people in audience, Clinton to speak soon.
- Clinton speaking. Mentions this is a first – that they are focusing on encouraging each person to be involved in their health + #wellness.
- This conference is with Clinton Foundation and Humana and replaces Chrysler as sponsor of Bob Hope Classic (financial problems for auto industry)
- Greetings by commissioner of the PTA TOUR – explains this tournament raised money for charity in the past, now it is raising awareness.
- Clinton spoke about how Bob Hope walked every day which is why he lived to 100. (Bob Hope also had a massage every day – something I have known for years. And that’s what I told Clinton at the end of the day when Deborah and I had a chance to speak with him. He responded that Hillary finds that regular massages help her with her brutal travel schedule. And asking him if he had regular massage therapy, he replied just now and then.)
- Am here with Deborah Szekely (founder of Golden Door + Rancho La Puerta). She told me last evening that she agreed with me knowing that Bob Hope had a massage daily – and added that it was always at 4:00!
- Clinton explains that he spoke w Bob Hope who told him that he walked one hour every day – no matter what – even in Russia in cold and snow.
- Clinton played golf with Bob Hope when he was 95 – and Bob Hope hit par on the first hole. So he decided that an hour walk daily might be a good thing!
- Clinton explains big issue is type 2 diabetes. This morning on NBC Paula Dean (known for cooking w lots of butter) says she has diabetes 2.
- (Clinton didn’t mention Paula Dean – that was my commentary.) Seems an interesting coincidence however – and it was mentioned later in the day by Dr. Nancy Snyderman. )
- Clinton mentions – unfortunate that the Occupy Wall Street movement never identified that the reason there are fewer raises for middle income people is because of high healthcare costs.
- #Healthmatters Clinton emphasizes this is a BIG deal for our country, ageing baby boomers, children.
- Clinton introduces panel: Dick Gephardt, Billie Jean King, Dr. Mark Hyman, Jillian Michaels, Dr. David Satcher.
- #healthmatters byline is “Activating Wellness in Every Generation.” (I notice people don’t realize how important the term WELLNESS is in bringing us together. In fact they throw it around like it has been in our vocabulary forever. Not really true…..the Global Spa and Wellness Summit Research actually did an entire study on tracking the term wellness and it is a mere few decades old and has only really been used widely in the past 5 to 10 years.)
- Panel discussion now is how unfair it is that poorer people are at a huge disadvantage in this battle against health challenges.
- Jillian Michaels makes point to quit belabored the problems + start doing something. Suggests everyone do SOMETHING. We need to be creative.
- Dick Gephardt starts by saying that he is nostalgic for when there was a President that could work in a nonpartisan way. Clinton downplays.
- Clinton reminds everyone that he also had a contentious third year and things got better and he thinks that will happen with Obama.
- Dr. Hyman says Chelsea Clinton suggested a book about how we can learn from developing countries – and it is about being community based.
- Dr. Hyman spoke about the program he started with Dr. Rick Warren (Pastor of Saddleback Church) where they lost collectively 250,000 lbs – and the pastor lost 60 lbs!
- Dr. Hyman is all about community support as the research shows people do better with support than alone – something the spa industry knows well.
- Gephardt talks re company that paid smoking employees to go through program + quit + there was huge improvement. Weight loss more difficult.
- Dr. Satcher emphasizes that schools have to be part of the solution. He says that there should be PE in K through 12.
- Clinton says we have become spectators instead of participants. Jillian interrupts President (not a good idea by the way) + talks re passion needed.
- Satcher brings focus back on poor people. Clinton is passionate here as well – it is a struggle for those with few resources.
- Dr. Hyman makes point that getting healthy is a team sport – that poor countries have success w community programs more than with the medical field.
- Gephardt makes pt that this problem will bankrupt our country, seriously. We need to focus on prevention; the results of prevention are fast. (that is clearly where our spa and wellness industry plays)
- Clinton says that when he mentions prevention people clap like he has discovered gold. He says that is ridiculous. I agree. Yet, here we are.
- Billie Jean King talks about her parents being active and she and her brother grew up in the public parks.
- Clinton tells about Herschel Walker who never lifted weights and only ate once a day – he grew up poor. The point is you don’t need money.
- Move more,