Mindful fitness surges

One of the most powerful wellness trends is adding mindfulness to the workout, either in fitness classes where you’re trained to move consciously with intention and/or by ending classes with a dose of mindful meditation (this trend’s practices fit into the open monitoring category). That long-lived hyphen between “mind-body” is being strengthened and literally addressed in this trend, and the new mindful fitness speaks to people wanting solutions that meld physical and mental wellness in one class or platform. You can see fitness expanding to mental wellness everywhere, such as in Peloton’s recent foray into meditation (and yoga), and they’re now serving up on-demand meditation sessions, such as breath-focused and guided visualization classes.

Being mindful while moving has ancient precedents: Walking meditation has long been a Buddhist practice where one focuses on the breath or on the body’s movement through space.

And now there is a rush of mindfulness-meets-fitness moves globally. Pioneering fitness chain Equinox (US and UK) integrates mindfulness meditation practices into classes, with a fitness class called HeadStrong revolving around mindfulness. Running shoe company Asics just created “the world’s first running track to train your mind” (called the Blackout Track), which removes light and all distractions to create a “meditative running environment.” SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain has a new weeklong fitness program that intersperses physical workouts, such as boxing and hiking, with stress-reducing practices, such as meditation and sophrology, to work both the body and mind in equal parts. The NYC fitness program Body Activation, created by a professional dancer, blends the hot trend of stretching with the open monitoring-based body scan, progressing from the feet to the head—and ends the physical training with meditation.

Combining mindfulness training with fitness obviously seems best suited for exercise that’s more “mindless,” such as cardio and running, because with sports that require intense concentration (such as boxing or football), you would run the concentration needed for mindful meditation right up against the intense focus needed to execute the moves—diminishing, rather than adding to, both. There isn’t much clinical evidence yet around the mindful fitness concept, but an interesting study from Rutgers University found that MAP (Mental and Physical) Training (combining aerobic exercise with silent mindfulness meditation) led to some eye-opening results, including significant neurogenesis and a greatly boosted ability to concentrate—while 40 percent of participants in the “combo” clinical intervention found a permanent solution to their depression issues.

More mindful spa experiences

More spas are creating mindfulness and treatment mash-ups. Some might begin with a guided mindfulness meditation session, then move on to treatments, and finish with a guided visualization—like those at Mexico’s Nizuc Resort & Spa. Things are getting pretty creative. At the Shore Club Turks and Caicos, they offer an out-in-nature Twilight Ceremony (held at twilight), which combines mindful meditation with massage, sage burning and prayers.

The Mindfulness Spa Experience at Santuario LeDomaine spa (at Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine) in Spain, uses virtual reality technology to deliver guided meditations—a pretreatment ritual that focuses the guest’s mind on the treatment to come while guiding their breathing—to make the touch experience and stress-reduction deeper. One of the hottest treatments in L.A. is Jeannette von Johnsbach’s BioMeditation sessions at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, a long, hands-on therapy that combines meditation to incite a dream-like state with touch and energy healing to clear energy blockages.

Forecasting the Future

  • The desire for experiences that meld physical and mental wellness in one experience, class or platform will only rise—whether meditation apps being used in the downtime of manicures or boutique fitness concepts mashing up meditative and movement experiences.
  • With spas all about the multisensory journey, it was only a matter of time before VR/AR technologies would be unleashed, creating new “wellness sensorium”: environments that mash up sound, light, imagery, scent and vibrational experiences—to take you on a meditative journey to the rainforest or the moon.
  • With 5G just about to hit the tipping point in 2020 and its insanely fast wireless speeds and network power, more immersive VR/AR in wellness is ahead—whether in dentistry, medicine or psychotherapy.
  • More people will embrace these multidimensional, multimedia environments—others will say we have too much tech/media stimuli and retreat into a real rainforest. The wellness world is always, especially, understandably bifurcated on these lines.

This is an excerpt from the “Meditation Goes Plural” trend in the 2019 Global Wellness Trends Report.

This is an excerpt from the TRENDIUM, a bi-weekly communication exploring the wellness trends identified in the Global Wellness Trends Reports.

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