2020 Spa and Wellness Trend: Closing the Wellness Gap

Donation-based yoga classes are one way to make wellness more accessible to everyone. // Photography: Shutterstock

According to the Global Wellness Institute, the global health and wellness industry is worth approximately $4.2 trillion. Unfortunately, for many, wellness remains exclusionary, expensive, and unattainable. In an effort to democratize wellness, some, like Millana Snow, founder of Wellness Official, are working to make it more accessible to all.

“I think it’s really exciting to see how industry leaders are stepping up to reach more communities,” says Snow. “For example, Rachel Cargle, an academic and writer who has a huge Instagram following, raised thousands of dollars to pay for therapy sessions for black women. I’m also seeing a lot of practitioners offer services at sliding rates based on income, so that finances aren’t a hindrance. Lastly, we at Wellness Official have built a platform that makes wellness accessible to everyone by creating a first-of-its-kind community, marketplace, and transparent booking system to connect with thousands of practitioners at every price and modality in the market.” Snow, who is a healer herself, has made diversity and inclusion part of the foundation of everything Wellness Official does. “Democratizing the wellness industry means that not only does everyone have a seat at the table but that everyone can enjoy the bounty of what is available,” says Snow.

Another trailblazer working to democratize wellness is Nicole Cardoza, founder and executive director of Yoga Foster, a national nonprofit that empowers educators with yoga and mindfulness resources for the classroom. She has also founded Reclamation Ventures, a fund that invests in high-potential, underestimated entrepreneurs making wellness more accessible in their communities. From donation-based yoga classes to services priced on a sliding scale to influencers who have taken up the cause, wellness is moving beyond its aspirational and luxury place in society. 

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Rona Berg, editorial director for Organic Spa Media, does her best to educate readers about a wide range of programs and opportunities. “Not everyone can afford to spend a week or two at a luxury destination spa immersed in a wellness program, no matter how fabulous it is,” says Berg. “But most can afford bite-sized morsels, and the industry is moving more in that direction in terms of offerings—an expert lecture on tips for wellbeing, sharing smoothie recipes and cooking classes, meditation, and group hikes.” She uses her position to share information on the small things everyone can do to make a big impact, such as learning to breathe, eating healthfully, moving more in daily life, and spending quality time with friends and family. 

In regard to the buzz the wellness gap is creating, Berg likens it to how our views on organic food have evolved. “I remember when organic food was too expensive to be affordable,” she says. “But we all knew we should eat organic as much as we can. It is better for human health and the health of the planet. But until we were able to scale—now you can find everything at Trader Joe’s and Costco—it was about as accessible to most people as a week at a five-star spa.” Fortunately, the tides are beginning to turn. “Everyone wants to come on board the wellness train,” says Berg. “As an industry, we just need to keep innovating and figuring out how everyone can afford a ticket.”

For the full digital edition of American Spa's 2020 Trend Report, click here.


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