Trend: Wellness Retreats Finally Take a Human Approach to Men  

 The wellness world has reinforced clichéd views of masculinity: all the warrior-like fitness challenges and extreme biohacks. But a shift is underway, and a key example is new wellness retreats that focus on men’s social and emotional wellbeing. There’s a huge opportunity for the wellness industry if it embraces a more nuanced view of masculinity.  

While wellness has always provided spaces for women to open up, explore their emotions, and build community, the same can’t be said for men. When men have been served wellness, it’s been centered on the physical and old-school manliness, with “get ripped” fitness studios, barbershop spas, or new biohacking clinics focused on extreme self-mastery. Telehealth startups are even pushing masculine stereotypes to sell men the new weight loss drugs, with The New York Times calling it a new era of “Brozempic.” Wellness has been a reinforcer of performative masculinity, not a corrector of it—and it hasn’t addressed men’s dire need for social connection and emotional support.  

Countless studies reveal how men are in a loneliness crisis and in a “friendship recession.” For instance, in 2021, 15% of American men stated they have zero close friends, compared to only 3% in 1990. A similar trend is shaking out in the UK, Australia, Singapore, South Korea and elsewhere. Men are not doing well and falling behind women in education and at work. Experts point to everything from declining marriage rates and rising divorce rates, to a toxic online “manoverse” rife with pornography and political divisiveness, as contributing factors. 

Our 2024 trend, “From Manning Up to Opening Up,” explores how a cultural shift–and a shift in wellness–is now underway, with a rise in retreats, small groups, and apps focused on men’s social and emotional wellbeing. Wellness retreats that help men reconnect with themselves and one another—helping them to unlearn stoicism and share their fears and problems—are a striking development. Shifting gender roles and a societal revolt against old-school masculinity have left men without a rulebook for what it means to “be a man” today. These retreats help them explore what a healthier version of that can look like. Like men themselves, the retreats come in a wide range of shapes and vibes.  

At two pioneers, EVRYMAN and Junto, learning emotional intelligence and authentically sharing your feelings is the name of the game. Many retreats combine the physical and emotional, to set men who might not be ready to spend days in a sharing circle at ease. At Menspedition pilgrimages, men scale the UK’s highest peaks and take part in meditation, cold plunges and cacao ceremonies, along with workshops that push them to reconsider what it means to be a man. “Brotherhood Remagined” retreats in the California desert bring Black men together for mental health workshops, sound baths, yoga, bonfire chats, and stargazing. Beyond dedicated retreats, the big wellness resorts—–from India’s Ananda in the Himalayas to Miraval—are seeing far more male guests and doing more programming around men’s emotional wellbeing (see below).  

The Future? The trend predicts that the wellness offerings for men will become more nuanced. If they still largely exist in the extremes (the ultra-aggressive and ultra-sensitive), more will make room for men in the middle, those who enjoy some “bro time” and working out, but are also making an effort to prioritize their emotional and relationship health. And if the retreats are mostly now in the West, they will become more global, as new research presented in the trend shows that it’s actually men elsewhere who are most eager to connect: men in India (40%), South Africa (29%), Brazil (29%) and China (26%) are the most willing to spend on wellness solutions that “intentionally nurture and prioritize relationships.” 

There are suddenly many more offerings that are bringing men into the wellness market, from longevity clinics to sports and recovery programming. But there is also a big and growing opportunity to create solutions that tackle men’s loneliness and emotional challenges—that embrace the whole man, not just his body.  

Our trend explores the solutions and the companies blazing that trail.  

Discover the 10 Trends Shaking Up the Wellness Industry in 2024 Here

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