Looking back on a year of wellness trends

Looking back on a year of wellness trends

Locked out of our gyms, glued to our screens and strangely attracted to crystals and mushrooms - the last year in wellness has been a weird and wonderful ride.

Exercise at home was fun - for a while

Will we keep using all the kettlebells, resistance bands, foam rollers and other at-home fitness paraphernalia we hastily online shopped during lockdowns? Maybe not.

Months of exercising in a lounge room amid our nearest and dearest has taught us gyms exist for a reason, even if it's only to avoid the dog from humping your leg while you lunge. But I'm told dumbbells make great bookends.

Technology was our trainer

Remember when Wii and those other computer games designed to encourage lounge room exercise seemed lame and laughable?

Nobody's laughing now. Especially not the owners of streaming fitness and equipment company Peloton, recently valued at $4 billion, nor Lululemon, whose at-home streaming fitness device Mirror generates upwards of $250 million a year.

The personal trainer in your pocket, whipping us into shape on-screen wherever there's wifi, is a 2021 trend that's likely here to stay - especially if you've splashed $2,295 on a Peloton stationary bike. And you're never fully dressed without a wearable fitness tracker.

Garmin is the new Pandora bracelet, because even if you don't count your steps and monitor your heartrate, you should absolutely look as if you do.

Also in the news:

We learned to sleep

In 2021 nobody said: 'I'll sleep when I'm dead.' In fact, how to sleep better was one of Google's most searched terms, as we all decided that shuteye was no longer for wimps.

Instead of an involuntary reaction to the last 45 minutes of your weekly all-teams Zoom, sleep became one of our most important and proactive pursuits.

We came to understand that 'clean sleeping' and 'sleep hygiene' are nothing to do with clean sheets and everything to do with good bedtime prepping and relaxation habits.

More power to your pillow!

We bossed our breathing

Another function that once merited little scrutiny, this most essential action became an obsession. Famous breath masters like Wim Hof (who enjoys submerging himself in ice, like a human mojito), box breathing, and other oxygen sucking secrets were trending wherever there was air, and entire books were written on the subject, including New York Times bestseller Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor and Exhale by Richie Bostock, the 'Breath Guy.'

Booze got healthier (sort of)

In keeping with the general boundary blurring that defined 2021, liquor and lycra were no longer mutually exclusive. Better-for-you booze in the form of lo and no-alcohol wines, spirits and beers, hard seltzers and spiked kombucha all promised to bridge the gap between gym and pub, offering fun with fewer consequences. Even Shane Warne joined the action with a low-cal, lo-alc canned G&T.

Crystals rocked our world

While the market for diamonds declined during the pandemic, the crystals business boomed.

"Crystal healing" was one of Google's most popular search trends last year, and fans Katy Perry, Adele and Lady Gaga showed they were more rock than roll when it came to wellness (although Gaga did roll around nude with a giant rose quartz, neatly ticking both boxes).

Melbourne healing crystals business Myles Gray saw its revenue rocket to $100,000 a month this time last year and has grown ever since. Whatever your views on gemstone juju, they sure are pretty and it's hard to see the harm in that.

We mainlined mushrooms

If you were wowed by the mighty powers of the humble mushroom in the trippy Netflix documentary Fantastic Fungi, you're not alone.

From antibacterial properties to transformative mind-altering capabilities, the wellbeing potential of 'shrooms hit the spotlight big time last year and along with it came an insatiable appetite for fungi in coffee, smoothies and skin products.

If you don't now know your Shiitake from your Chaga, you must have been asleep for a year - which, given our newfound slumber skills, may well be the case.

We sweated with celebrities

You're never alone with a celebrity fitness buddy, and with the entire showbiz spectrum from A list to Z taking their fitness game to social media and apps, your fitness routine can now have a movie cast list.

Chris Hemsworth translated the popularity of his Instagram workout posts- featuring endless angles on his rippled surfaces - to a fitness app called Centr. On Apple Fitness+ you can take a chatty virtual stroll with Naomi Campbell, Stephen Fry, Dolly Parton. Jane Fonda even revived her eighties workouts on Tik Tok.

Pseudoscience was sillier

Anxiety, insecurity and genuine health fears were fertile ground for an outrageous explosion of questionable diets, potions, tonics and quacks, all brought to you by social media's bazaar of the bonkers.

A finely tuned BS detector became a must-have wellness tool.

Moving made us happy

For many, beset by the blues and anxieties of lockdown, exercise went from chore to soul nourishment.

A bike ride, run or even just a stroll within our 5k became a mental health life raft. When the walls were closing in and the future was frightening, exercise was medicine, escape and solace.

Let's hope we continue to move for the right reason: because we love to.

  • Amy Cooper is a journalist who embraces wellness, but has also used kale to garnish a cocktail.
This story Looking back on a year of wellness trends first appeared on The Canberra Times.