TREND: Wellness Meets Happiness
Engineering Social Connection & Community
A storm of forces is creating a new wave of loneliness and a decline in what’s called “social capital” (connection and trust in other people): More people now live alone, with later marriages, fewer children, the demise of the intergenerational household, and the rise of the isolating “gig” or remote working economy.
With face-to-face human community being the happiness magic bullet, more businesses are creating new concepts that engineer in desperately needed social connection while serving up a whole lot of wellness experiences alongside.
A huge trend: new co-working, co-living and social wellness spaces/clubs hyper-focused on building strong “hang out” communities. The 12-story Assemblage in NYC, one of the new “third place” membership clubs, blends co-working space, daily events/workshops, mindful exercise, and an Ayurvedic restaurant, as they put it, “to transition from a society defined by separation into one of connectedness.” At the UK’s co-working and wellness space Mortimer House, each floor addresses one of Maslow’s (8) Hierarchy of Needs—from “love and belonging” to physical health.
Co-working goliath WeWork is on a global expansion tear with its work, wellness and community spaces designed for the gig economy and is now launching other new community- and wellness-focused concepts, such as WeLive (urban co-living residences rich in gathering places, such as pubs, cafes, fitness classes and open spaces) and Rise by We (social fitness/wellness centers). See the “Feminist Wellness” trend for examples of new co-working and wellness clubs designed to give women places to network, make friends, and empower each other…with much wellness on tap.
The boutique fitness boom exploded in large part because it offers people an intimate, social “third place” beyond home and work: The “soul” is as important as the “cycle.” If the powerful community aspect of fitness studios has been implicit, now it gets more explicit with the rise of hybrid social and wellness clubs.
For example, the new Club W concept just launched in Sydney, Australia, is part community teahouse, part social club, part wellness education center, and part fitness/movement studio—specifically designed for older Baby Boomer women who are lonely and crave community and conversation in a space where they can also immerse themselves in wellness. It combines virtual studios that serve up unintimidating and “smaller bite” virtual group exercise classes (from yoga to Pilates to meditation and cardio) and virtual education on everything from nutrition to relationships. But its goal is to be that place where women can just come and “be” and connect, a place to spend hours. And with a membership price-point under $20 a week, it’s one happy sign of more wellness for people beyond wealthy elites.
Forecasting The Future
- New wellness club concepts mixing super-creative wellness offerings with programming that sparks conversation and bonding will surge: The Well in NYC, The Lanesborough in London, or Six Senses Place opening in Manhattan in 2020.
- New hotel brands will revolve explicitly around social connection, such as LA’s Everly Hotel, which turns your stay into a creative social experiment, or Silicon Valley-backed Life House, a tech-driven hotel concept that will creatively unite guests and locals.
- New urban spa and bathing concepts make wellness an accessible (and affordable) “hangout” experience. Examples: Paradise Now, a multisensory “wellbeing playground” that hit London in September or the new “neighborhood sauna” coming to Tampere, Finland, specifically designed to fight loneliness in the city.