9 Wellness Trends for 2024
From AI to a reconnection with the natural world, next year will be one of contrasts as fitness fanatics follow their fix. Leading specialist health and fitness agency, Action Group, highlights wellness trends to watch in 2024
Reading time: 5 minutes
1. Back to Your Roots
2023 was another big year for fitness with more advancements in technology, hundreds of new fitness studios and gyms opening, and thousands of new apps launching. But with every action there is an opposite reaction: many are finding the ever-evolving techsphere daunting, and there is an attrition to a more natural form of fitness and training. MAVERICKS Life Co. provides an antidote with The MAVERICKS Way: inviting individuals to embrace their roots and reconnect with the essence of being human in a natural world, to discover a more sustainable approach to training.
“People are looking for an opportunity to tune in to their bodies and explore the outdoors, appreciating the natural simplicity of training instead of wearable tech and fitness machines*,” says Jessica Christensen, CEO and founder. “MAVERICKS teaches a natural way of tuning in to your body to improve strength, flexibility, mobility and balance and to learn how to hone your skills using movement patterns that form the baseline of human movement. Holistic training helps us to foster a strong connection between humans and the natural world through an active lifestyle.”
2. Gamified fitness evolves into extended reality
Mixed reality may sound like a comic book skit, but it’s real – and fitness has entered this next-generation arena. First there was augmented reality, then virtual reality and now extended reality is making waves, with the Quest3 headset from meta launching soon, combining the real world with the virtual world. And, it’s not just gamers that are reaping the benefits of this futuristic tech.
Fitness brands like Les Mills, which has the world’s number one fitness app on the Meta store in the form of Bodycombat, see this extended reality as a huge opportunity to get harder-to-reach audiences active. “Mixed reality is the new and immersive way to bring fitness motivation to the masses,” says Rachael Newsham, Les Mills programme director and instructor. “From Bodycombat to dance, fusing the real world with virtual training spaces where they are transported through the music, design innovation and incredible tech, helps break down barriers to exercise to help people enjoy an active lifestyle – in every universe!”
3. Menopause goes luxe
From a subject that faced unlikely taboo only a few years ago to becoming one of the most talked about trends of the year, the lid has well and truly been lifted on the subject of menopause as women across the globe embrace and invest in their midlife years. From specialist fitness offerings to spa days and luxury retreats, women are championing education, awareness and honest dialogue about menopause* — and brands are answering the call. As a midlife exercise specialist and menopause* retreat host, celebrity trainer and founder of the Eastwood Fit app, Monique Eastwood is well-versed in this burgeoning movement.
“Through the countless menopause* retreats I’ve hosted across the world, to training women at every stage of their hormonal journey through my app, what is clear is that no matter their age women want to arm themselves with the right resources, proven research and wellness tools to support their constantly evolving hormonal lifespan. As a 56-year-old who has been through it all myself, it’s something I’m pleased is finally becoming mainstay in the health, fitness and wellness market.”
The real super-power of exercise is that, if you choose the right modality, you can age better, free from the aches and pains associated with getting older, and keep debilitating health conditions at bay. The concept of ‘prehab’ – exercising to protect the body from injury – is not new, but in 2024 we will see exercise mentality evolve further to support the idea that the right forms of exercise are the key to longevity. The mantra of ‘go hard or go home’ is out, and modalities that champion consistent, targeted and low-impact holistic exercise, such as yoga and Pilates, are in.
Reformer Pilates brand Ten Health & Fitness, which has 11 studios across London, was one of the earliest adopters of this ‘circle of care’ approach to holistic health in the early 2000s and still thrives today. “We are seeing this trend investing in the quality of their lives not just today but for their future,” says Joanne Mathews, founder. “Our focus on quality of movement, technique and alignment promotes greater longevity not just on the reformer but in every area of life. Ten’s approach has always championed an immersive fitness experience, leaving customers feeling energised rather than exhausted.”
5. AI Democratises Wellness
Wellness services and health diagnostics that were once only accessible to the elite, are now available at our fingertips for an affordable price thanks to developments in artificial intelligence. Everything from sleep analysis and mental health diagnosis to personal training has become highly accessible thanks to AI-based apps that range from free to a few pounds each month. “We’ve seen AI algorithms, LLMs and sensors being increasingly used across the health and fitness industry to create more personalised help and expand user insight by creating everything from custom workout programmes, to tailored counselling support services,” says Robbie Johnston, co-founder of corporate wellbeing brand HAWQ. “It’s not a silver bullet, as each individual employee’s needs differ, but having technologically advanced wellness support is a benefit countless businesses across the globe are keen to utilise for their workforce.”
6. Eco exercise
Forest bathing, sea lane swimming* pools and pop-up saunas by the sea are just a few of the innovations we’ve seen throughout 2023. As research in the Journal for Extreme Physiology & Medicine indicates, natural environments may provide some of the best all-round health benefits by increasing physical activity levels with lower levels of perceived exertion, altering physiological functioning including stress reduction, restoring mental fatigue and improving mood, self-esteem and perceived health. It’s no surprise that brands such as running race organisers Nice Work are seeing an increase in demand for events across the country. Managing over 250 races nationwide, it has taken the decision to focus on its scenic and forest routes, reducing city-based events. “Our scenic approach to running allows individuals to disconnect and embrace mother nature with open arms,” says Rachael Wood, managing director. “Runners taking part…receive a healthy dose of ecotherapy to escape from the stress of modern-day life.”
7. Mind matters
Mental wellness has become so important to overall health that in 2024 we will see it surpass fitness as the number one reason people choose to be active. This shift in fundamental goals is also changing the traditional gym landscape with some forward-thinking operators and boutiques designing their facilities around the mind, rather than the body. Following the monumental demand for mental health resources from customers during and after the pandemic, London yoga chain MoreYoga unveiled its newly revamped MoreMind studio in Old Street.
It is committed to bringing a whole new catalogue of mental health and mindfulness to Londoners with regular mindfulness, meditation, breathwork and mental health focused sessions. “This isn’t a fad, it’s not a one-time thing. The non-stop nature of our lives now is creating a demand for calm spaces where people can just slow down and simply be,” says Shamir Sidhu, founder of MoreYoga. “We plan on rolling out MoreMind studios across London and beyond to champion the importance of good mental health in the battle for the better emotional, physical and mental health of our nation.”
8. Palm cooling: better than steroids?
The benefits of ice baths and cryotherapy are widely understood, but did you know that cooling your palms during exercise can actually have an even more powerful effect? Palm cooling reduces fatigue, enabling athletes to increase the total number of reps completed each session and achieve a significantly greater overall workload. Stanford University research indicates it could even be “better than steroids” for performance. A peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning recorded a 40% increase in bench press work volume in three weeks and a 144% increase in pull-up volume over six weeks. CET, has supplied cold therapy solutions to elite sports teams such as Manchester United and has created a palm-cooling device, the CoreTx GO, which is the next frontier in elite and beginner athletic performance.
“The device works by cooling circulating blood through glabrous skin in the palms, returning it back to the body to subsequently cool it,” says CET director Colin Edgar. “Palm cooling for just two minutes between sets has drastically enhanced repetitions performed, increased time to 7 fatigue and overall workload.”
9. Elite-level fitness training for everyday athletes
Physiology and all-round fitness know-how has grown exponentially over the last decade. You now don’t have to be a professional athlete to access the kind of expertise that was once reserved for elite performers. In 2024 more of us will be training like an athlete. Brands like Orangetheory Fitness, which has 1500-plus studios globally, cite “delivering professional level training to members” as a primary objective.
“Our heart rate-based interval training workouts give each individual the power to feel and train like an athlete, no matter their age, stage or goal,” says Sean Johnson, regional fitness manager. “Thanks to accessible technology and data at our fingertips, our workouts indicate when people should be going all-out in class and when they should pull back, optimising the training session and helping them achieve personal bests in class, just like an athlete.
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