5 Wellness Trends to Watch in 2021

December 4, 2020 Katherine Wernet

5 Trends 2021 Mindbody Wellness Index

Welp, 2020 wasn’t exactly what anyone could have predicted. With the coronavirus pandemic, routines were disrupted, and, as many Americans began to work from home in March, offices were abandoned. What Americans saved in commute time, they put back into their jobs. Those who couldn't work remotely began investing a lot more time and care into trying to stay safe and protecting others. What once felt invigorating (it was a new challenge working during a crisis) has left Americans depleted over the long term.

More than four in ten Americans say it’s affected their physical health, and 45% say it’s negatively impacted their weight. More than half (53%) say it’s negatively affected their mental wellbeing. In 2021, we can refill the tank.

The results of our annual Mindbody Wellness Index look a bit different this year, but one thing is clear: 2021 demands a re-prioritization of self-care. That commute time needs to convert to wellness time. We need to take better care of ourselves moving forward, and that might require a bit of creativity.

Here’s what you can expect to see in 2021.

1. No touch, no problem: Touchless spa services offer a safe way to destress

Gone are the days when you can pop in for a massage without a worry. In 2019, 42% of Americans said they had gotten a massage during the year. Since COVID, though, only 19% have received a massage. High-touch services are of high concern. Nearly six in ten Americans say they’re less interested in getting high-touch services like massages during the pandemic.

Touchless services like cryotherapy, compression therapy, salt caves, infrared saunas, IV drips, hyperbaric chambers, and float tanks offer a way for consumers to relax and recover—without any additional contact. More than three in ten are interested in trying a new no-touch service during COVID.

Remedy Place in Los Angeles offers several no-touch services, the most popular of which is the hyperbaric chamber. Clients can book sessions in a chamber with air pressure three times higher than normal, allowing more oxygen into the body. A recent trial of hyperbaric oxygen therapy suggests it may reverse biological processes associated with aging.

Don’t expect touch to go away, though. A study from early 2020 found that 54% of people have too little touch in their lives. Remarkably, this was pre pandemic. While these no-touch services are ideal now, they’ll likely be a complement to massages and other high-touch spa services after COVID.

With 46% of Americans reporting that they’re stressed or extremely stressed, they need a way to decompress now. No-touch services provide no additional worry. Many of these services are new or even unknown to consumers. As Americans learn more about them, expect them to explore and try more no-touch services.

2. Virtual fitness is here to stay

Ironically, in a time when Americans are seeing how important it is to stay fit and invest in wellness, studios and gyms have been forced to close intermittently. New virtual options allowed fitness studios and gyms to offer workouts and personal training—even when their doors were shut. Pandemic disruption and a new global wellness imperative have ushered in a new wave of wellness—defined by both in-person and virtual experiences.

More than one third of Americans (37%) join for live stream workouts at least once a week. Even more (40%) exercise to a pre-recorded fitness video. Americans are forming new workout habits. It’s now possible to try any workout type from studios all over the world—from the comfort and safety of one’s living room. The most popular type of virtual workout class on Mindbody? Yoga.

When virtual exercisers rushed in earlier this year, they came to realize the benefits of virtual workouts. A virtual option is commonly offered at a lower price point and requires no commute time. Americans can also take advantage of new fitness types that might not be offered in their area. Even as in-person workouts are more accessible post pandemic, many Americans will continue to incorporate virtual workouts for optimal flexibility and benefit. This hybrid approach to fitness offers the best of both and provides more opportunities for busy Americans to focus on wellness.

3. Snackable workouts will continue to hit the spot

Workdays are more fluid than ever before. Childcare, work, and wellness are all happening in the same space—and often at the same time. Americans are grabbing time to work out whenever they can, and it’s not always the longer sessions they used to log at the gym.

Nearly four in ten Americans say their workouts are a half hour or less. These snackable workouts are giving Americans a chance to get a workout in when they might not have otherwise. Shorter sessions are proving effective and convenient when juggling competing priorities, so don’t expect to see them go anywhere any time soon.

Shorter sessions may also make virtual workouts more palatable for those hesitant to try them. Those who aren’t leveraging virtual workouts say they’re boring (28%) or that they get too easily distracted when they’re exercising at home (24%). It’s not easy living in a pandemic, either. Snackable, shorter workouts are ideal for those who are experiencing burnout or just generally feeling depleted (hi, everybody).

4. Above-the-mask beauty services are front and center

As we don our masks to explore the world beyond our homes, we only have so much canvas to work with. The Tyra Banks smize are back. While the percentage of Americans getting manicures and pedicures has dropped 55% from 2019 to 2020, many above-the-mask beauty services have stayed strong. Permanent makeup (including eyebrow tinting and microblading) have remained steady year over year. BOTOX®, fillers, and similar treatments have been consistent, as well. Lash extensions have only seen a 13% decrease.

More than half of all Americans (52%) say they feel more confident when they get regular beauty and grooming treatments. Many beauty and grooming services are even seen as vital; 41% of Americans say beauty services like facials are a necessity. January has long been a time for resolutions. Come 2021, you’ll see a lot of Americans hitting the refresh button. Many will resolve to return to their old routines and will book long overdue services. Beauty and grooming are back. In a time when there’s so much out of our control, self-care through beauty and grooming services (or even trying an at-home version) can feel pretty liberating.

Beauty and grooming are a big part of overall wellness, too. Astoundingly, despite being clad in masks and spending time predominantly at home, 20% of Americans say they’re spending more time on beauty and grooming than they were pre pandemic. Their main reason for enhancing appearances? They have more time, and they want to look and feel good. The biggest impact is above the mask.

5. 2021: The year of overcoming fitness fears

COVID-19 forced Americans to reconsider their health and wellness. Almost 60% of Americans say they’re more focused on their health and wellness since the pandemic started. Of those who say they’re more focused on it, 60% say the pandemic has made them realize they need to be healthier to withstand disease and illness.

Knowing it’s important to work out is different than actually doing it, though. Despite many Americans’ renewed interest in health, 17% say they rarely or never work out, and 18% are less focused on their wellness since March. Gym intimidation (aka gymtimidation) is stopping many.

When asked what would make them less intimidated to join a gym or studio, 56% said getting in better shape first. Ah, the Catch-22 of gymtimidation!

In 2021, virtual fitness offers a solution. Nearly a quarter say watching informative video tutorials would lessen their intimidation, and 21% said that taking virtual classes first would make them more comfortable. There’s a real option now for gymtimidated Americans to engage in fitness in a way they haven’t been able to before. With a virtual option, wellness is increasingly inclusive.

Whether it’s taking time to refresh and recover with a beauty or wellness service or finding a workout that fits their schedule and comfort level, Americans will be more proactive with their overall health than they were in 2020. They have to be.

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