People are choosing health over hangovers
Booze-hounds may be a dying breed if the accelerating wellness trend is anything to go by. While ditching the hooch is no longer the social suicide it once was pre-Dry July, many events that once encouraged a drink (or four) are being replaced with alcohol-free alternatives.
And people aren’t just socialising sober, they’re also treating themselves to healthier holidays, where they practice yoga, sip on biodynamic tea and develop meaningful relationships.
According to IBISWorld, the demand for services in the Health and Wellness Spa industry has soared over the past five years in Australia due to an increased focus on health. Annual revenue is likely to reach $399 million in 2015-16, and forecast to continue growing at a rate of 4.1 per cent each year over the next 10 years to 2020-2021.
The enormous growth is likely being driven by the perceived stressful nature of our day-to-day lives.
“We live in such a fast paced, technology rich culture that to get away for a few days is not only a joy but I think required to reset and ‘repump’ the cells,” says Kate Kendall, a Sydney based yoga expert who hosted a yoga retreat at Halcyon House in July this year (2016). “It’s incredible what just a few days of no tech, nourishing, clean food and yoga can do to the mind and body.”
“We’re simply not designed to sit for copious amounts of time at a desk nor stare at screens for ten hours a day. Health retreats give you the chance to begin counteracting the effects and remember that we’re here to live, not work,” says Kendall.
It’s not just women wanting healthier experiences – there are many men looking for new ways to socialise that don’t revolve around booze.
“There’s a major shift happening in Australia where men are turning to activities like yoga and meditation as a way to de-stress and, to a certain extent, become a better version of themselves,” says Ben Gould, co-founder of Bondi Yoga House which is hosting a guys-only retreat day in September.
“Blokes are used to getting together at the pub, watching sport and sinking beers. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that and it’s part of our culture in Australia. However, the new generation male has been brought up in a culture where wellbeing and fitness is important and they are happy to sacrifice an afternoon on the beers for a surf or yoga class.”
Adventure holidays are another way in which people are escaping from the stresses of modern life.
“It is ultimately urbanisation that drives the current interest in health, fitness and adventure,” Professor Ralf Buckley from Griffith University, an expert in conservation, ecotourism and adventure holidays.
“There are many people with indoor desk jobs, who want some excitement on holidays. People recognise that their day to day lifestyles are unhealthy, so they want to use their holidays to regain health and fitness.”
New research commissioned by Ski and Ride New Zealand revealed that almost all of us (96 per cent) place importance on a holiday where we can relieve stress and forget about our worries, with millennials feeling it the most (31 per cent). Being steeped with technology and social media from an early age, young Australians are looking for a proper ‘escape’ when on holiday, where they can unplug completely.
The study revealed that 77 per cent of Aussies prefer a holiday where they can be active outdoors, with 44 per cent more likely to forgo a metro city break in favour of an activity-filled holiday such as skiing or snowboarding.
For those who can’t afford a wellcation, alcohol-free events such as ‘juice crawls’ are also rolling out in major cities such as New York. Instead of knocking off and heading to the closest bar on Friday night, juice crawl participants spend the afternoon sampling non-alcoholic concoctions such as ‘Motherf*#king Fireball,’ an orange based shot with a spicy kick of cayenne pepper and ginger.
“I just feel like you have deeper conversations with people when you’re not distracted by drunkenness,” June Zhang, a 26-year-old MBA student told The Guardian.
If a wild weekend on the juice isn’t enough to get your heart rate going, you can back it up with a 7:00am rave on Monday morning. The Daybreaker dance party offers audiences in Brooklyn and Manhattan an alternative morning workout option, where they can enjoy electronic dance culture in a new and healthy way. Australian residents can upvote your hometown to host one of these early bird dance parties.
Closer to home, alcohol-free dance events such as No Lights No Lycra, Synergy, Tribe One Heartbeat and 5Rhythms offer Aussies a place to get high on nothing more than dancing and hand-blended organic teas. Tribe One Heartbeat organiser Paras Yazdani, 35, says she believes the trend is a natural evolution driven by a desire for a greater connection between people without minds clouded with alcohol.
“I hate going to a nightclub, but I love music and I still want the high and the social experience. If we can combine exercise with something that’s fun and gives a social release, that’s great,” said Libby Babet, personal trainer and founder of BUF Girls.
Healthy hens parties
Even the wedding industry has tapped into the lucrative wellness market. Yoga and granola making classes are now a legitimate way for brides-to-be to celebrate their final days of singledom.
“Traditional hens parties are synonymous with penis straws and tacky venues so we wanted to turn this idea on its head and offer the complete opposite – amazing food, great music and a beautifully styled space,” says Zoe Dent, one half of the duo behind Healthy Luxe Hens.
Workshops attendees can expect to leave feeling inspired, happy and relaxed. “Our workshops are an opportunity [for participants] to step outside their comfort zone, master a new skill and most of all have fun with their friends and family,” says Dent.
While a healthy hens is definitely a sight for sore, bloodshot, eyes there maybe room for a happy medium as we saw at Bianca Cheah’s hens party earlier this year. The weekend away was attended by a bunch of Bianca’s girlfriends, including beauty vlogger Chloe Morello, Stylerunner founder Julie Stevanja and Kate Kendall.
“B’s was fun. We all happen to enjoy coastal living, healthy food and nourishing company so we combined it all together and took off to Palm Beach,” said Kendall. “Yeah we practiced yoga, meditated and munched on healthy snacks but we also drank champagne, played cheeky hen’s games – including pin the (something) on Channing Tatum’s (something) – and ate a decadent lunch at a local restaurant.”
“We mixed the yin with the yang. I think if you tell yourself, ‘I’m never drinking again’ or ‘I’m never eating chocolate again,’ you’re going to feel deprived and want more which leads to blow outs. Let’s be real and take one day at a time. If we’re healthy living most of the time, the days when we want to be decadent – we can.”
And as someone who loves a margarita as much as a sweaty yoga class, this seems like sound advice to me.
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